I’ve worked from home alone for nearly ten years. It’s definitely a way of living as well as a career change. It really works for me but I realise it’s not for everyone. Being self-employed has lots of pros and cons- as does working from home alone. It’s not always easy. Here are five tips to help you work alone at home (some of which are reminders to myself):
1. Find Your Community
Yes, you work from home alone but you can still be part of a community. Find your tribe. There are many online groups for freelancers, bloggers, and most industries. If your particular career is new, start your own community- build it and they will come. Online groups serve as a staff room, you may find help and advice on issues, such as chasing invoices, or just enjoy the social aspect.
With Covid restrictions easing, where possible, swap your video calls with clients for a real-life meeting. Perhaps you have a suitable home office to meet clients or you may hire a meeting pod at a shared office space. I enjoy working, quietly at home but I know many freelancers prefer working at co-working spaces.
2. Keep Active
When you work from home at a desk, you tend to be less physically active. You no longer have the walk to and from work or even the natural exercise of walking around a large office. When I was teaching, I was on my feet all day. When I first began working from home I used to sit down for most of the day, resulting in weight gain and backache.
Make time for physical activity in your daily routine. Go for a walk or run, pop to the gym or complete an online exercise video. You could also consider using a stand-up desk which has many health benefits.
3. Professional Development
Studies show that the self-employed often neglect their professional development due to time and financial concerns. However, even when you work for yourself it’s just as important to keep up to date with your development and to find training courses to help you progress further. Things are changing all the time and there is always something new to learn. Keeping up with your professional development will help you in your current self-employment and it will also be of benefit if you do apply for jobs in the future.
4. Self Appraisal
One of the hardest parts of working for yourself can be knowing how well you’re doing. We tend to measure these in terms of how much money we’re making, there’s no one above you just to say “well done” for working hard. Self-appraisal is an opportunity to reflect and give yourself feedback. It’s important to take time to think about what you are doing well and what you could do better. It’s too easy to be hard on yourself when you’re self-employed. Remember to give yourself achievable goals and to reward yourself when you achieve them.
5. Be a Fair Employer to Yourself!
If you were an employer to a paid employee you would need to make sure you’re a fair employer who enables their employees to work in good conditions. Therefore be a fair employer to yourself! Many people set up their own businesses to enable them to work flexible hours and to improve their work-life balance. They then discover that unless you set boundaries you begin to work or be available for work 24-7. Most self-employed workers tend to set themselves work goals to achieve each day rather than set hours. Of course, this works well as you do need to make sure those goals are achieved every day. However, once you begin to block time for each project, you’ll find you become more task-orientated and get more work done in a smaller amount of time. Don’t overwork yourself, it will only lead to burnout.
Thinking of Becoming Self Employed?
If you’re thinking of going freelance remember to check out the HMRC website for help and support on becoming self-employed.