7 Tips for Time Management When Working from Home


Developing Time-Management Skills

A large part of managing your time consists of taking a step back and managing your life. When you work from home, it is important to deliver projects and complete your work within deadlines, to be on time for appointments, and to give yourself enough time to get from one place to another. But there is also a deeper aspect of managing not only your time; it involves managing your life as a whole.

Ask yourself:

  • “Is my time dictated by urgent matters rather than governed by a proper sense of priorities?”
  • “Do I try to accomplish too much at any given time, and fail to do a complete and professional job in many of my tasks?”
  • “Do I procrastinate doing larger or more unpleasant tasks, and busy myself with smaller or easier jobs, even though they are not as important?”
  • “Do I over-schedule and try to accomplish too much, and then crowd out my time with the unexpected or tasks that take longer than expected?”

If you realize that your answers to the above questions were mainly affirmative, here are a few tried and tested time-management tips.

1. Plan your day the night before.

Try to be one step ahead of your day by planning your work the night before. Write it down; don’t depend on your memory.

2. Maintain a daily schedule.

Schedules help you determine what you should be doing at any given time during your day. You don’t have to spend time worrying about the things you need to do or wondering if you’ve forgotten to do something important (like pick up your kids from school, for instance).

3. List your goals and plan to meet them. 

Once you have your goals listed out, all you need to do is set definite priorities toward reaching those goals. Then focus on them.

Start your day with your most important activities. Saving them for later often means the unexpected will crowd them out.

4. Allow for the unexpected.

Speaking of the unexpected, give yourself small gaps in your schedule to allow these interruptions to take place without ruining the plan you made for your day. Also, give yourself adequate time for meetings and phone calls; they often tend to take longer than you anticipate.

5. Own your time.

Don’t just “manage” your time. Own it. Treat it as the most precious commodity you possess, because it really is.

6. Make a list.

List the things you need to do each day – such as laundry or meal preparation or yard work. Make sure you slot time for them in your daily schedule.

Also create a second list of the things you wish you could do if you had time. If certain items on this second list are important, schedule them into your day.

7. Estimate your commitments realistically.

Determine how much time each item on your schedule will take. If you have regular activities, write down how much time they really take.

 

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This post is an excerpt from Work from Home: Find a Passion. Forge a Path. Fulfill a Purpose. by R. J. Santiago, available to purchase on Amazon.

Learn how to start a new career or earn needed income on the side by working from home. Author and freelancer R. J. Santiago shares tried (and proven) tips and step-by-step instructions to help you launch a work-from-home career. This book covers various avenues of online earning, the process of defining your area of expertise, and using it to fill a need in the market. You’ll also learn tips on finding clients and customers, practical strategies for working from home, and essential factors that will help determine your success.

Also included in the book:

  • A Self-Discovery Quiz
  • Pros and Cons to Working from Home
  • Signs of Online Scams and Schemes
  • Over 25 Work-from-Home Opportunities
  • Start-up Costs and Other Money Matters
  • Legalities and Creating a Business Plan
  • Time-Management and Efficiency Tips

Most importantly, discover the satisfaction that comes from finding your passion, forging a path, and fulfilling a purpose as you work from home.

Buy the book!

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Work from Home Tips: Getting Started


If you are ready to begin working from home, the next step is actually getting started. You need to get a few things in order – practically and logistically – before you launch your work-from-home business.

1. Purchase Work-from-Home Supplies.

Your shopping list will likely grow as time goes on, so for starters, buy only the items you need. Some important supplies to start with include:

  • Business cards
  • Letterheads (you can create your own)
  • A computer and printer
  • Equipment pertaining to your work/business

You might try to find your equipment secondhand (check Craigslist or Letgo) or “shop” around with friends and acquaintances to see if someone has equipment you can purchase for a lower price, or even trade for.

As an example, I have a friend who started making candles, and she found most of her wax at garage sales. She scoured estate sales and thrift stores for candle-making supplies for a few months and found most of what she needed that way. She purchased wicks and a few other necessary items but saved a lot of money by making secondhand purchases.

Note: If you are purchasing used material, make sure it is of high enough quality to sell or market.

2. Create a Dedicated Space in Your Home.

If your work-from-home venture is something like soap-making or clothes design, you’ll need a good amount of space for your work – most likely an entire room set aside for that purpose. Even if your venture is solely online, you need some space for a desk, a calendar, a notebook or two, a printer, and other office supplies.

Besides the practical aspects of creating a work area, having that location specifically for your work (even if it’s a smaller space than you would initially like) helps you stay focused. When you sit down, you can say to yourself, “I’m at work now. I need to concentrate and not waste time.”

This dedicated space makes you feel more legitimate as well. You want to sit up straight and get something accomplished because you are in your place of work. With this in mind, keep the area clean, tidy, and clear of extra clutter. Make sure your children (and spouse) know that this room (or desk surface) is not a catch-all.

3. Create a Schedule.

We will cover specific schedules in greater detail in a future chapter, but for starters, make a schedule for your “office” hours (even if it’s in an art room or a kitchen rather than an office). Once you’ve created your schedule, keep to it as well as you can. (If you have children at home, this might be difficult; don’t give up.) Make sure your family and friends know your work schedule, so you don’t get unexpected phone calls or visits during your work time.

If you do get phone calls or visits, kindly let them know you’re working. Of course, you’re not going to slam the door in their faces, but slowly help train them to understand your work is important, even if it takes place at home. By doing this, you are training others as well as training yourself. It will take time at the start but save you time later. …

4. Dress the Part.

It helps if you dress as if you’re going to work. You’ll find dressing well makes a psychological difference in the way you view the tasks at hand. You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit, but if you sit down at the office in your pajamas, you’ll be more likely to browse Facebook or start chatting with friends than to begin working. You feel more professional by dressing the part, which shows in your actions and demeanor.

“You mean I can’t work in my pajamas?”

Okay, if one of the primary highlights for working from home was so that you don’t have to get “dressed up,” the final decision is yours to make. Perhaps you can strike a happy medium by having “casual days,” or determining that by a certain hour, you will be dressed for work (even if it’s not first thing in the morning).

 

***

 

This post is an excerpt from Work from Home: Find a Passion. Forge a Path. Fulfill a Purpose. by R. J. Santiago, available to purchase on Amazon.

Learn how to start a new career or earn needed income on the side by working from home. Author and freelancer R. J. Santiago shares tried (and proven) tips and step-by-step instructions to help you launch a work-from-home career. This book covers various avenues of online earning, the process of defining your area of expertise, and using it to fill a need in the market. You’ll also learn tips on finding clients and customers, practical strategies for working from home, and essential factors that will help determine your success.

Also included in the book:

  • A Self-Discovery Quiz
  • Pros and Cons to Working from Home
  • Signs of Online Scams and Schemes
  • Over 25 Work-from-Home Opportunities
  • Start-up Costs and Other Money Matters
  • Legalities and Creating a Business Plan
  • Time-Management and Efficiency Tips

Most importantly, discover the satisfaction that comes from finding your passion, forging a path, and fulfilling a purpose as you work from home.

Buy the book!

A Personal Work-from-Home Lesson


My third work-from-home project, back in 2010, involved ghostwriting 20 children’s stories. By far the “biggest” job that I had thus far, it also paid decently. By the time I was done writing those, I considered myself an expert on children’s stories. Over the next several months, I wrote another 16 or so children’s stories for various clients.

I then placed a bid for writing “personalized” children’s stories. I briefly researched the concept of personalized stories and was convinced I could do the job without a hitch. They wanted two sets of ten stories each. I combined an overall theme with educational topics. One series of stories were about animals and colors. My client asked me not to write about pigs, as their readership base did not associate with that type of animal.

No problem.

I wrote the first set of ten stories and submitted them. My client mentioned again that I couldn’t use pigs as animals in the story. I looked over the stories. I had not written about pigs. I sent them back, stating that I wasn’t sure where the pigs were referred to in the story. … Apparently, guinea pigs were on the list of no-no’s. I considered mentioning the guinea pigs were actually rodents and therefore not in the pig family but decided against it.

The next set of ten stories contained one story in which the child got a baby rabbit at the end. The client sent that one back as well, mentioning that a personalized story could not contain the child receiving a present. In real life, he explained, the child would expect the same gift because the story was about that child.

I finally began to understand what my client meant about personalized children’s stories. After similar back-and-forth communications, I completed that project. I even wrote a few more personalized children’s stories down the line — avoiding the topics of pigs and baby rabbits.

Work from Home Lesson: Minimal experience in a subject does not mean you are an expert at it.

I learned that I needed to research all pertinent aspects of a project rather than depend on limited or surface understanding of a topic if I was writing about it.

Many experienced authors tell novices, “Write what you know.” The same holds true with this line of work. Either write what you know, or what you are willing to research and learn about. Don’t try to wing it; your client deserves better.

 

***

 

This post is an excerpt from Work from Home: Find a Passion. Forge a Path. Fulfill a Purpose. by R. J. Santiago, available to purchase on Amazon.

Learn how to start a new career or earn needed income on the side by working from home. Author and freelancer R. J. Santiago shares tried (and proven) tips and step-by-step instructions to help you launch a work-from-home career. This book covers various avenues of online earning, the process of defining your area of expertise, and using it to fill a need in the market. You’ll also learn tips on finding clients and customers, practical strategies for working from home, and essential factors that will help determine your success.

Also included in the book:

  • A Self-Discovery Quiz
  • Pros and Cons to Working from Home
  • Signs of Online Scams and Schemes
  • Over 25 Work-from-Home Opportunities
  • Start-up Costs and Other Money Matters
  • Legalities and Creating a Business Plan
  • Time-Management and Efficiency Tips

Most importantly, discover the satisfaction that comes from finding your passion, forging a path, and fulfilling a purpose as you work from home.

Buy the book!

When Should You Start Working from Home?


There will never be a “perfect” time to start. I considered waiting on working from home until I earned my degree. I also thought that perhaps I could better focus on it once my children were school age. Perhaps you’re planning for your teenager’s graduation, or until they have gone off to college. Maybe you are still in college, or you are waiting until you have saved up enough to quit your present job. The pins will likely never all be lined up perfectly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get an awesome strike.

When should you start?

Start when your heart tells you, “Now is the time.” Yes, you need to factor in logistical and practical aspects. You need to count the costs. You definitely need to first decide that working from home is what you want to do, and you should have a developing skill-set to match your desire. But don’t be afraid to take that first step, whatever it might be for you. Right now, you’re reading this book, which is a great first step in understanding the ins and outs, pros and cons, and other specifics of working from home. Try not to stop here though. You’ll know when it’s time. And when it is, don’t hesitate to get your feet wet.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to jump in with both feet. As people often advise aspiring writers, actors, or artists, “Don’t quit your day job.” You might have to double-task for a while – making strides with your work-from-home career while still maintaining separate employment. During that time, you probably can’t manage to give your new venture eight hours a day, or even four hours a day.

So, do what you can.

Start by researching your options, reading books on the topic, and talking with people who have worked in your niche and know how to succeed there. Start small but start somewhere. With something.

You’ve likely happened upon a website or blog where someone claims they tried some work-from-home venture and found that they could go from zero to a $60K income in a matter of three months and now they enjoy holidays on the shore of a pristine Caribbean Island while managing minimal work from their handy laptop (or tablet or iPad or iPhone). You’ll notice that they don’t post pictures of those perfect vacations. Even if they are telling the truth, those lucky people are few and far between. If you’re attempting to work from home for fast money, you will likely be disappointed. (I know I’ve mentioned this before; I simply want to be realistic and not give you empty promises that would leave you disappointed.)

However, if you’re looking to work from home because you found that you can do something you love from home while caring for your children or recovering from an unexpected job loss, you will likely find the perfect work-from-home career. If making money is your sole motive, developing slow and steady income might not appear to be worth it.

But if a deep sense of purpose or following a lifelong passion is your objective, you are probably on the right road.

If you have an awesome plan to go with it, great! Follow that path and see where it leads.

***

This post is an excerpt from Work from Home: Find a Passion. Forge a Path. Fulfill a Purpose. by R. J. Santiago, available to purchase on Amazon.

Learn how to start a new career or earn needed income on the side by working from home. Author and freelancer R. J. Santiago shares tried (and proven) tips and step-by-step instructions to help you launch a work-from-home career. This book covers various avenues of online earning, the process of defining your area of expertise, and using it to fill a need in the market. You’ll also learn tips on finding clients and customers, practical strategies for working from home, and essential factors that will help determine your success.

Also included in the book:

  • A Self-Discovery Quiz
  • Pros and Cons to Working from Home
  • Signs of Online Scams and Schemes
  • Over 25 Work-from-Home Opportunities
  • Start-up Costs and Other Money Matters
  • Legalities and Creating a Business Plan
  • Time-Management and Efficiency Tips

Most importantly, discover the satisfaction that comes from finding your passion, forging a path, and fulfilling a purpose as you work from home.

Buy the book!

The Importance of Research in Working from Home


Research the ideas you have and see what is already out there. You might find similar work-from-home businesses, but nothing exists locally. If that is the case, there is probably a great need in your area. Or maybe there is something local, but you can still take it up as a business because there is obviously enough of a demand for it.

Next, look at reviews or testimonials online by people who participate in this work-from-home business practice. Are there “horror” stories about that particular business? If so, does your interest in it outweigh the challenges you might face at start-up, or with the occasional difficult client?

Then consider whether there are other things you need to make sure you’re doing to keep it legal. For instance, baking from your home and selling pies and other treats might be a great idea, but you need to have certain things in place to keep your kitchen up to code. If you have a cat who likes sleeping on your table, that might not be the job for you.

Take the time you need to do the research, especially if it’s something new and “big” and different. Talk to people who have done it. Don’t hesitate to take the time you need to figure out what you want to do. You want to start out on the right track rather than wasting your time on a venture that you wouldn’t enjoy, or that won’t pan out because it’s not conducive to your personality or family’s needs.

For instance, if you suffer from social anxiety, maybe hosting parties would not be the right job choice for you. I did suffer from social anxiety as a young teen and I helped at a couple parties to raise funds. I dressed up as a clown and made balloon sculptures. I hated being the center of attention, but it was a learning experience. (Most of all, I learned that it was not a vocation I would choose for the long-term.)

Consider this, however: sometimes it will be helpful to grow in an area you might not be great at, especially if it’s something that will help you grow your overall business idea. For instance, teaching courses at a local adult school helped me to overcome my fears of public speaking. That was one good result; it also helped expand my income base and place a new item on my personal resumé.

***

This post is an excerpt from Work from Home: Find a Passion. Forge a Path. Fulfill a Purpose. by R. J. Santiago, available to purchase on Amazon.

Learn how to start a new career or earn needed income on the side by working from home. Author and freelancer R. J. Santiago shares tried (and proven) tips and step-by-step instructions to help you launch a work-from-home career. This book covers various avenues of online earning, the process of defining your area of expertise, and using it to fill a need in the market. You’ll also learn tips on finding clients and customers, practical strategies for working from home, and essential factors that will help determine your success.

Also included in the book:

  • A Self-Discovery Quiz
  • Pros and Cons to Working from Home
  • Signs of Online Scams and Schemes
  • Over 25 Work-from-Home Opportunities
  • Start-up Costs and Other Money Matters
  • Legalities and Creating a Business Plan
  • Time-Management and Efficiency Tips

Most importantly, discover the satisfaction that comes from finding your passion, forging a path, and fulfilling a purpose as you work from home.

(Buy the book!)

Which Work from Home Career Is the One for You?


Start by taking a trip through memory lane. What did you have a passion for as a child or young teen? I read somewhere that by the age of two, you know what you want to do with your life, but then afterwards you forget about or lose it. Think back to your own childhood. What did you love doing as a child? What did you dream about becoming? What were your favorite activities?

Did you enjoy having your own little garden space in your mom’s backyard, where you could plant tomatoes or squashes and beans? There is a growing interest in organic and locally grown foods these days. Explore the opportunities for starting a business in which you offer home-grown vegetables or herbs to local businesses and restaurants, sell them to neighbors, and have a stand at farmer’s markets.

Or perhaps when your friends would plan parties, you were always right there in the middle of the action – planning, making sure there was enough of everything, double checking that nothing was forgotten. Why don’t you consider making a business of event planning?

Were you always the life of the party, and dressing up is your favorite thing in the whole wide world to do, even as an adult? I know two women who have become very successful dressing as characters for parties. They have skills like storytelling, face painting, clothes design, and balloon art. They dress up like the character in the theme of the party – imagine how excited those children are when Cinderella (or the latest in a long stream of Disney princesses) appears at their birthday party!

If you’re great at designing and fashioning costumes or hats or designer wears, start up a website or a blog with photos of your designs. Sell them on Etsy or eBay.

Assignment:

Spend time looking back on your life, your childhood, and your teen years. What were your interests? What was your personality like? What kinds of activities did you gravitate toward?

Take five minutes writing down a list of things you would enjoy doing working from home. Start by answering these:

  • What do you enjoy doing? Write down your regular hobbies (i.e. gardening, cross-stitching, candle-making).
  • If you had the full weekend to do whatever you wanted, what would it be? Camping? Curling up with a good book? Visiting friends? Hosting an event at your house? Traveling?
  • If you go to bookstores, (or to the “book” area of Amazon), what area of the bookstore do you gravitate towards? How-to books, self-help, do-it-yourself, fantasy?
  • What would you consider a dream job? What vocation do you see others doing and say, “I wish I could make money doing that”?
  • What areas do you already have experience? Perhaps you’re nearing retirement age and have been involved in a line of work for 20 to 40 years. That is experience you can use.
  • Is there an area where people often compliment you? When there’s a party, do friends always ask you for planning or decoration advice? Are you the person family members call when they have a computer problem? When acquaintances need a resumé proofread, do they ask you to check it before they send it off?

Read back over the answers you came up with. Do you recognize a similar vein? Does one skill (or two or three related ones) keep popping up? Is there a way you can consolidate these somehow? Or simply choose the one that interests you most.

Then consider how you can develop it to start getting jobs. Is it something you can visualize expanding?

For instance, if your area of interest is gardening or plants, you might be able to choose from:

  • Landscape consultancy
  • Online farming/gardening advice
  • Writing articles on gardening/plants for a magazine
  • Selling herbs or flowers to nurseries
  • Selling fresh herbs or vegetables to a local organic market or restaurant
  • Participating in local farmer’s markets
  • Teaching classes on gardening at local adult schools

Or combine a number of these options and have a great time with them all!

***

This post is an excerpt from Work from Home: Find a Passion. Forge a Path. Fulfill a Purpose. by R. J. Santiago, available to purchase on Amazon.

Learn how to start a new career or earn needed income on the side by working from home. Author and freelancer R. J. Santiago shares tried (and proven) tips and step-by-step instructions to help you launch a work-from-home career. This book covers various avenues of online earning, the process of defining your area of expertise, and using it to fill a need in the market. You’ll also learn tips on finding clients and customers, practical strategies for working from home, and essential factors that will help determine your success.

Also included in the book:

  • A Self-Discovery Quiz
  • Pros and Cons to Working from Home
  • Signs of Online Scams and Schemes
  • Over 25 Work-from-Home Opportunities
  • Start-up Costs and Other Money Matters
  • Legalities and Creating a Business Plan
  • Time-Management and Efficiency Tips

Most importantly, discover the satisfaction that comes from finding your passion, forging a path, and fulfilling a purpose as you work from home.

Buy the book!

A Few Work from Home Ideas


“Cottage Industry” Opportunities

The cottage industry is simply a term used for manufacturing performed on a small-scale, usually from home, which is the definition we will use here. Interestingly, before the industrial revolution, cottage industries were the primary form of industry throughout the United States, Britain, and many parts of Europe. With the development of large factories and similar places of work, however, many small, home-based manufacturers went out of businesses. They could not compete with the prices and production of large businesses. (This is not a book on economy, however, so let’s get back to the main subject.)

These days, you’ll find more and more small businesses – more entrepreneurs who are slowly bringing back the cottage industry, one cottage (or home, or apartment, or garage) at a time. Following are several work-from-home opportunities that could be classified as cottage industries. They basically involve goods you create at home and sell from home.

Home-Prepared Goods

Do your coworkers always beg for the recipe when you bring your famous double-chocolate-mint-chip cookies to work events? Does your mom always ask you to make that fiery salsa for get-togethers? If your friends keep reminding you that they’d buy your goods if you ever chose to sell them, maybe selling baked or canned products from home is a good move for you.

Some options include:

Canned Goods

  • Jams, Pickles, Organic Blends, Herbs

Baked Goods

  • Pies, Cookies, Cakes, Bread
  • Organic / Gluten-free products

If this is a direction you might consider, take time first to research state laws regarding selling foods from your home. States have unique health laws, and some have zoning restrictions to ensure the wellbeing and safety of potential customers. Also, laws change frequently, and new bills can easily (and swiftly) alter previous laws.

For instance, in California, a law passed in 2012 allows people to sell certain non-perishable foods that they have prepared at home, such as baked goods and candies. They still need to jump through a few hoops such as a home inspection to ensure they are following various health and safety laws. At the time of writing this, another law is in the works in California called the Homemade Food Legislation Act, which would allow people to sell not only baked, non-perishable goods, but also prepared meals from home.

Crafts and Artistic Creations

You might just be a crafty person. No, not cunning and full of schemes, but great at making crafts. You have probably noticed (especially if you have a profile on Pinterest) that people these days absolutely love crafts and décor that appear homemade yet have been professionally created.

If this is a direction you want to consider, identify your strongest craft skills. You may be good at creating a variety of different crafts, but you want to be objective when it comes to deciding which of your craft skills will actually make money. Which craft or artwork can you create that is unique, requires skill that not everyone has, and that looks great?

Additionally, your crafts need to be:

  • Professional
  • Durable
  • Original

Here are a few craft ideas, many of which you could adapt to fashion something completely unique:

  • Outdoor/garden décor: birdhouses, welcome mats, gnome houses, wind chimes, fairy houses.
  • Paintings, sketches, personalized art (they send you a photo and you create a work of art with it).
  • Indoor décor: (get creative!) bookends, photo frames, wall hangings, candles.
  • Christmas crafts and ornaments.
  • Original artwork painted on coat racks, cabinets, towel bars, and other household items.
  • Needlework creations of all kinds: knit gloves and blankets, cross-stitched and framed art, needlepoint embroidery on clothes or linens, quilts, crocheted doilies or stockings.
  • DIY craft kits for parents of small children who don’t have time to prepare the kits themselves.

Consider that you would need to market/advertise these items. Some online sites have been created specifically for selling these kinds of products, such as Etsy.com. You can also rent a booth at craft fairs, trade shows, and farmers markets. These ventures might be costly, however, so make sure that you can afford such investments. Also, you will need to purchase any needed materials in advance of selling the items you create.

***

Find many more ideas on work-from-home options in R. J. Santiago’s book, Work from Home: Find a Passion. Forge a Path. Fulfill a Purpose. This post is an excerpt from Chapter Five: “Some Work-from-Home Options.” The book is available to purchase on Amazon.

Also included in the book:

  • A Self-Discovery Quiz
  • Pros and Cons to Working from Home
  • Signs of Online Scams and Schemes
  • Over 25 Work-from-Home Opportunities
  • Start-up Costs and Other Money Matters
  • Legalities and Creating a Business Plan
  • Time-Management and Efficiency Tips

Most importantly, discover the satisfaction that comes from finding your passion, forging a path, and fulfilling a purpose as you work from home.

Buy the book!