Listening to Your Life (the Past and Present)


The question is not whether the things that happen to you are chance things or God’s things because, of course, they are both at once.

There is no chance thing through which God cannot speak …

  • Even the walk from the house to the garage that you have walked ten thousand times before
  • Even the moments when you cannot believe there is a God who speaks at all anywhere

He speaks, I believe, and the words he speaks are incarnate in the flesh and blood of our selves and of our own footsore and sacred journeys.

We cannot live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned to pillars of longing and regret, but to live without listening at all is to live deaf to the fullness of the music.

  • Sometimes we avoid listening for fear of what we may hear
  • Sometimes for fear that we may hear nothing at all but the empty rattle of our own feet on the pavement.

But be not affeard, says Caliban, nor is he the only one to say it.

“Be not afraid,” says another, “for lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

He says he is with us on our journeys.

He says he has been with us since each of our journeys began.

Listen for him. Listen to the sweet and bitter airs of your present and your past for the sound of him.

– Frederick Buechner

 

I think, in our day, in our age, we tend not to listen deeply to our lives because there is so much else vying for airtime. 

So much else that fills our day with noise.

So much that draws our attention away from the practice of listening.

But if we did listen, I wonder, what would we hear?

If we took the time to reflect on our lives, on the daily events within them, would we catch within those moments the voice of the one who has promised to be with us, always?

I believe we would.

At least sometimes. 

And sometimes heavily disguised.

A catch of the breath at the end of a sentence. Tears rising from somewhere beneath the surface. A single star shining through a veil of clouds.

What do they say? Sometimes wordless, sometimes almost incarnate. 

Perhaps catching the exact words, understanding the timbre of the message, is not as important as simply knowing that there is a voice on the wind. And a voice in the silence. 

And knowing who it is that speaks.

The Word. The Logos. Meaning. Purpose.

With us always, even unto the end of this wracked and shadowed world that somehow still catches the light of a million stars.

If God Speaks …


If you’ve read my posts for any length of time or happened on my Facebook page, you’ve likely noticed how often I share quotes I’ve shared by Frederick Buechner.

I know I’m not the only one who feels a deep resonance with his writing. I’ve seen him quoted by Andrew Peterson and Ken Gire, whose writings first introduced me to Frederick Buechner. Just today, I saw a long quote of Buechner’s shared by Jason Gray in a YouVersion Bible App study. 

This morning, I read the following quote from Frederick Buechner’s book, Listening to Your Life, and once again I felt the truth of the words resonating with me… 

If God speaks anywhere, it is into our personal lives that he speaks. Someone we love dies, say. Some unforeseen act of kindness or cruelty touches the heart or makes the blood run cold. We fail a friend, or a friend fails us, and we are appalled at the capacity we all of us have for estranging the very people in our lives we need the most.

Or maybe nothing extraordinary happens at all—just one day following another, helter-skelter, in the manner of days. We sleep and dream. We wake. We work. We remember and forget. We have fun and are depressed. And into the thick of it, or out of the thick of it, at moments of even the most humdrum of our days, God speaks. 

It’s been a challenging year.

There have been extraordinary things that have taken place this year, but for the most part, what we’ve faced has been the mundane, the humdrum, the put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-and-just-keep-going moments.

The sleeping and the waking … working and resting. The joyful moments with sorrow sapping color from the edges like the aging of an old photograph. 

It is not easy to hear God speak in such moments. Not when I’m barely managing to put one foot in front of the other. Not when I’m distracted by outward circumstances and inner voices that make it so hard for me to let go of so much I still hold inside.

Yet still, He speaks. Not just in spite of these distractions, these sorrows, these hurts … but through them. 

And maybe a task, a goal, a hope for the new year is to allow myself to listen and to hear. To focus on the joy even if sorrow whispers at the edges. To focus on the beauty of a new day and the hope that it holds even if depression tries to sap colors from the sky. 

“We fail a friend. A friend fails us.” We feel estranged and we feel alone. It feels almost impossible not to feel this way … especially this past year. 

What would God speak in such times? What words might He say?

To try to express in even the most insightful and theologically sophisticated terms the meaning of what God speaks through the events of our lives is as precarious a business as to try to express the meaning of the sound of rain on the roof or the spectacle of the setting sun. But I choose to believe that he speaks nonetheless, and the reason that his words are impossible to capture in human language is of course that they are ultimately always incarnate words. They are words fleshed out in the everydayness no less than in the crises of our own experience.

Perhaps, then, not words. Perhaps nothing more than a presence. The presence of a whisper of hope. The presence of enough willpower to make it through one more day.

Even, at times … or all the time although we do not know it, cannot feel it … the presence of God Himself. Incarnate. Made flesh. With us. 

A Self-Discovery Quiz: Is Working from Home for You?


Have you been considering your options for working from home? Maybe a number of your friends work from home and you wonder if that’s something you might try.

Only you can determine whether a work-from-home career is the best option for you. Only you can decide if the right time for stepping out on this path is now, or if you need to wait. Only you know if you need to start out slowly or jump in with both feet.

But then, you might ask, how do you know whether working from home is the best option for you? Well, you can start by asking yourself a few questions and answering them honestly. Your answers might not give you a definitive answer, but they are a good place to start and will give you a clearer idea as to whether or not you should pursue a work-from-home profession.

A Self-Discovery Quiz

How comfortable are you using the internet? (Even if the work-from-home career you choose is not internet based, you might want to promote your work on websites such as Craigslist, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, through a blog and/or via direct email.

  1. I’m completely internet-savvy.
  2. I know nothing about the internet.
  3. It’s a process but I’m getting there.

 

Do you have the time (or can you make the time) in your schedule to research, prepare, and launch a work-from-home career, or take steps in that direction?

  1. I’m ready and raring to go.
  2. I’m totally maxed out right now; don’t know how I’ll find the time.
  3. Life is busy, but I think I can fit it in.

 

Can you “afford” a work-from-home career that might not start bringing in the bacon immediately?

  1. I have a three-to-six-month budget in savings.
  2. I have no money; that’s why I want to work from home.
  3. I think I can plan for a few financially rocky months.

 

Are you an “idea person” who has practicality and determination to create “landing gear” to those ideas?

  1. I am both creative and tenacious.
  2. I have a ton of ideas but never do anything about them.
  3. I am determined, but not very imaginative.

 

When you have a great idea, what is the next step you take?

  1. I look at all the pros and cons and chart out the practical steps to make it happen.
  2. I tell a friend or post it on Twitter and then promptly forget about it.
  3. I write it down so I can come back to it someday.

 

Do you work well independently? Is it easy for you to remain motivated, efficient, and productive without a boss overseeing you and making sure you perform?

  1. Yes, I can work well by myself, start to finish.
  2. No, I need someone to tell me what to do and check in regularly to make sure I get it done.
  3. It really depends on the project.

 

Can you “tune out” distractions, such as ignoring the desire to check Facebook or your inbox while you’re working? (Or concentrating on your work with your kids having a pillow fight in the next room?)

  1. I’m like the Hulk; nothing can disturb me.
  2. Can’t I browse the net while I work?
  3. I might take a break from time to time to make a status update.

 

What reaction have you gotten from friends and family (those who know you well) regarding the idea of working from home?

  1. “That sounds like the perfect job for you.”
  2. “What are you thinking? There is no way you could pull it off.”
  3. I’ve had mixed results, or haven’t told anyone.

 

What is your personal reaction to having a work-from-home career?

  1. I would love it! It’s perfect for my skills, interests, and schedule.
  2. I’ll do it if I need to in order to make some money.
  3. I know it will be a challenge but I’m going in with my eyes wide open. I can make it work.

 

You probably figured out the pattern for the above questions. If you answered “1” to most of the questions, then working from home is likely a great choice for you.

If you answered “3” to some or many of them, you have the potential to create a work-from-home profession. With a little tweaking of your schedule and goals, you should have the confidence that you can make it.

If you answered “2” to most or all the questions, you might want to rethink your focus, as working from home might not be the best option for you. At the same time, just because you might face more of an uphill climb doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about working from home. Perhaps you lack a few skills, but you are motivated and organized.

***

This post is an excerpt from Work from Home: Find a Passion. Forge a Path. Fulfill a Purpose by R. J. Santiago.

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.

Some Pros and Cons to Working from Home


I recently read a great description of the word “vocation” that explains how it is related to purpose:

[Vocation] comes from the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a person is called to by God.

There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Superego, or Self-Interest.

By and large a good rule for finding out is this: The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. … The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. – Frederick Buechner, from Wishful Thinking

A sad fact is that many do not pursue their calling, their vocare. They do not choose a vocation that they love. The reasons why this happens are as plentiful as the people themselves, but it makes you wonder just how much is lost when someone does not pursue what they feel deep in their heart is their calling or purpose.

This doesn’t mean that every person in the world must have some famous and world-renowned calling or purpose. A number of people make money doing what they love and what they feel called to do, while they are at the same time raising children, or continuing their education, or pursuing greater opportunities to do what they love even more.

These are all honorable purposes and can infuse a life with meaning.

A Few Pros and Cons to Working from Home

Possible drawbacks to working from home:

  • The “buck” stops with you.
  • You aren’t paid for sick days.
  • You don’t get paid vacations (but you can vacation anytime and often take your work with you).
  • Others might not consider your work a real job.
  • You do not usually get a steady paycheck, or the same amount of income every month.
  • You will put in unpaid hours (especially at the start) for research, communication, looking for projects, and advertising your business.

Other advantages to working from home:

  • You can be more involved in your children’s lives and/or education.
  • You can determine your priorities and alter them as needed.
  • You can quickly switch focuses if something comes up and get back to work as soon as you’re done with it.
  • You can take as long a maternity (or paternity) leave as you like.
  • You don’t have a specific dress code for your job.
  • You can grow in confidence and independence.

***

This post is an excerpt from Work from Home: Find a Passion. Forge a Path. Fulfill a Purpose by R. J. Santiago.

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.

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.

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!

Make Sure You Research Working from Home before Starting


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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

 

***

 

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!