Running to Work at Home Success

Working from home can be compared to running a marathon -- you have dedicate yourself to your craft, train every day, learn how to overcome obstacles, and be comfortable with competition. Working from home and running are both investments you make in yourself, and you will have to commit to reach the ultimate goal.

When you're training, there's one very important key word: discipline. Focusing on your goal each and every day -- and pushing yourself to move forward even when you don't feel like it -- are critical for building up to a marathon. The same regimen will help you to succeed when you choose to embark on a work from home career.

Honing Your Skills

When you train for a marathon, the main goal you should have is simply to participate. The same can be said for working from home. It generally takes a few months to get a good client base under you, so have fun and stay relaxed.

Most of us aren’t in the right shape to just wake up and say, “I’m going to run a marathon today” and actually accomplish it. Working at home is no different. There are some skills and abilities you need to discover and acquire before you can feasibly achieve your goal:

  • Self-motivate – If you work from home, the good thing (and the bad thing) is that you don’t have someone leaning over your shoulder telling you what to do. So, if you can’t make yourself do something, even when you’re not in the mood, working from home is going to be rough.
  • Commit – People are well known for falling short in this department, whether it's in relationships, exercise, or work. Working from home is basically like a relationship with yourself. You have to be willing to invest in you.
  • Organize—Working from home means being accountable to yourself and others. No one else is going to take responsibility for your mistakes and missteps. Invest in yourself by designating a specific office area in your home. This is a work from home area only—nobody should be in that bubble unless they plan on doing your work for you. And you shouldn't be there unless work is your main focus.

Prevent Burnout

Another hurdle to working from home is paying attention to both the big picture AND the details without burning out. If you jump up one day and decide to go run five miles, you’ll more than likely want to pass out before you hit that first quarter mile. You’ll have burned yourself out and may not want to try again. On the other hand, if you set five miles as your goal and keep adding small bits every few days to your run, you’ll be running five miles in no time.

When you work from home, it’s important to schedule your work. People who successfully work from home more often say “I get to set my own schedule," than "I get to work when I want to." Generally speaking, you'll likely still need to work during times when you'd rather not. Am I splitting hairs? Not really. Working whenever you "want" means chaos waiting to happen, working from home on a set schedule means discipline and routine.

For the first six to eight months of working from home (while you’re still training for your marathon), set aside a certain amount of time each day to commit to working from home. Don’t start early, and don’t work late. You have the allotted time. Period. That will prevent you from doing too much too soon and suffering burnout -- or having any other mental stumble.

Each Run is a New Adventure

When you run every day, it’s easy to get bored with your routine if you don’t change it up or have a different goal each day. This is similar to working from home. Each job you do, whether it’s self-designating or for a client, should be looked at as a new adventure. There will be different expectations, different outcomes, and different goals.

The most important element of this is making sure you're always improving. View each job as an opportunity to an even better job than the last. The only thing that should be the same is that you do your best to go above and beyond how you did on the last job. If you keep improving, you'll be able to command more money and better jobs.

Master Solo Existence

Whether you work from home because you hate having a boss, or you work from home to be close to your kids, you must learn what makes you tick. You know what it takes to push yourself, so (to borrow Nike’s slogan) just do it!

Working from home means no boss, and no one saying you have to be somewhere at a certain time. You are completely self-accountable. It’s a great feeling if you can master the art of being alone. You have to know how to keep yourself from falling asleep, because no one’s going to buzz you or prod you if you get sluggish.

Each day you work from home, the more efficient you will become at your craft, just as in running. You’ll learn how much time you need to schedule each client for what job, and you’ll learn how to negotiate timeframes with clients that don’t meet your actual abilities. Trust me; a client is going to be much happier in the long run if you say you need more time in the beginning than if you have to ask for more time in the end. Runners are constantly trying to shave time off their runs, and so should you.

The profits you make working from home are limited only by the number of hours in a day and the effort you're willing to put forth to make it work. If you're ready to start training to run the marathon, get ready to practice discipline and persistence.

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Anonymous's picture

Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog wrote:

Fri, 02/04/2011 - 15:37 Comment #: 1

These are some great tips. I always find that there are distractions when I work from home - there's always something around the house that needs to be done. I think that setting my own schedule will be key in the future, so I need to get better at it!

Anonymous's picture

Shaun wrote:

Sat, 02/05/2011 - 12:40 Comment #: 2

Hey Jessica,

A good analogy and some great tips. As Jeff says, it's tough trying to be productive at home, but it can be done if you get yourself in the right frame of mind. There are tons of benefits to working from home, so it is definitely worth it, I just hope I can get better at it this year!

Anonymous's picture

Sunday Link Love: Superbowl Edition | Ultimate Money Blog- S wrote:

Mon, 02/07/2011 - 02:23 Comment #: 3

[...] Running to Work at Home Success @ Momvesting [...]

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Mon, 02/07/2011 - 15:18 Comment #: 4

Jeff, when I first started, I had to wear noise-blocking head phones, keep my office door shut, and I just kept reminding myself, "If I was at the office, I wouldn't be able to take care of this. I have to pretend like I'm not at home."

Shaun, I'm glad you liked the analogy. There's nothing like running to wake the mind up and come up with post ideas.

Anonymous's picture

Ultimate Guide for How to Work at Home | MomVesting wrote:

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 21:48 Comment #: 5

[...] Being a successful WAHM requires discipline and motivation. We to take an in-depth look at each. [...]

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