By Jan Lundy
I have been my own “boss” most of my life. It is such a privilege to set my own work schedule, to discern whom it is I work with and for, and when I work. To work independently has also been my greatest challenge, for in the freedom that self-employment brings, there are also potential pitfalls. At times my office has been in my home. The worse case scenario was a desk in the corner of the kids’ playroom/laundry room. Horrors! Other times it has been in a more professional setting, my favorite being an upper room in an old Victorian house that had been beautifully transformed into offices.
The convenience of having my office in my home was wonderful, yet, I must admit, I haven’t always fared well with balancing home and work responsibilities. With the playroom/laundry room office, it was just too tempting to forego making business calls for throwing in a load of laundry, or sitting on the floor to do a puzzle with one of my kids.
The office away from home had its disadvantages, too. For one, the kids loved to go to “mom’s office.” I didn’t always get a lot of work done when this was the case. They would bring their favorite toys, playing patiently while waiting for the special time we’d spread a picnic blanket on the floor and have our lunch together. I even bought big pillows so my youngest could nap there when needed.
What I learned by being self-employed and having to maintain an office in a variety of settings was invaluable. These learning’s have definitely contributed to my earning power as a writer and public speaker. Here are a few of them for your consideration. Here’s to your success!
1. Set specific office hours.
It’s truly tempting to throw schedules to the wind and fly by the seat of your pants, putting in office hours here and there, when you are self-employed. To stay on track with your business goals, select specific days and times when you will be at your desk. My creativity is highest in the morning so it has been best for me to claim that time as office time. Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. worked for me, and fit in well with my children’s school schedules. Determine your high energy times and build a workable (but flexible) schedule around them.
2. Take at least half a day a week for self-organization.
Despite the fact that you may work alone, it’s amazing how much mess one person can create! Stay on top of filing and take time each week to organize. Mile high stacks of paper can overwhelm and de-energize you. Clutter can also be a source of great stress; frustration grows when you can’t put your hands on what you need immediately. It helps me to keep the current “hot” files in a decorative holder right on my desk so I can access them quickly and easily.
3. Make your office a “feel good” place.
Even if you are operating your office on a shoestring budget, you can still decorate to give it ambience. Your desktop can be the ideal place to showcase a few special items that help you feel good. Right now, a small shamrock plant (for good luck), two pictures of my children, a small votive candleholder that boasts “Peace,” and an inspirational card someone sent grace my desktop. Minimalist decorating, to be sure, but it makes my desk a more enjoyable place to be. Select pictures and objects for shelves and walls that speak to you of motivation, fun, success—items that convey a message that says, “Yes, going to work is a good thing!”