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Six tips for the home-worker

27 January 2016 11:45

I'm a home-worker and I love it. Although it actually came about through necessity. As a single parent of a young family of two, I needed a way to combine my role as a full-on mum-type person with keeping the roof over our heads. (I've since discovered that's the reason many of us start.)


More than ten years on, and my children are fully grown. But I'm still a home-worker and I still love it. It suits my life and my personality. It allows me to use my skills (the editorial ones I've studied and the writing ones I continue to develop). And, despite the inevitable uncertainties, the constant checks on the bank balance, that awful moment once a year when I realise I can't put off doing my tax return any longer - I wouldn't change it for the world.


So, a quick super six: six things that have worked for me over the years as I've beavered away behind my own front door. They may not be new to you, but they're fully tried and tested - right here.


1 Make a morning routine. Whether that's getting straight up and at it, or at it after taking children to school and walking the dog, develop a rhythm that works for you. Oh yes, and never skip breakfast. Make time, even for just five minutes, and really savour that first meal of the day. It's good for you.


2 Create a dedicated workspace. I'm fortunate. In the words business, I don't need much room. I have a desk in a corner of my bedroom. Underneath is a tray of folders - my filing system. To my left is a shelf of regularly used reference material. Other than my computer, a changeable montage of photos and postcards, and a rather funky green desk lamp which offsets everything beautifully, that's it. That's all I need. Depending on your business, you may need more. So decide what you need and want - and create it.


3 Don't feel bad about saying no to people. Because you're at home, friends and neighbours may assume you're available - for coffee, to child mind, to pick them up from the station because the bus is a pain. Just remember that a work day is a work day. You couldn't help if you were out at work. You're in at work. You have bills to pay, and only so many hours to spend at your desk. Don't feel bad about saying no.


4 The same goes for cleaning. The stairs may need a hoover. There may be splatters on the cooker from some rather over-enthusiastic porridge-stirring. Leave them. Leave it all. You'll make time later. On a working day you need to be in your lovingly created workspace. Working.


5 If you find it hard spending your days alone and you have what you need to make your business mobile, pack yourself up now and again and go and work in a coffee shop. You'll find plenty of others doing the same. Personally I need the peace and quiet of my own desk, but if you're the sort who can zone out and not be distracted by noise around you, a different view and a large, steaming latte can make a refreshing change to your work routine. It might even kick-start new inspiration.


6 Network. You can do a lot online. There's LinkedIn, which helps you to connect with others in your line of business - or with those who might be looking for the services or products you provide. I use Twitter a lot too. And if there's a professional body associated with your work (I'm a recent member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders), look into the cost of joining. There will often be local meet-ups where you can get together with people who understand because they do what you do and face the same pressures (and rewards) as you face.


I know. You've probably heard all this before. But sometimes it's good to remind ourselves how to frame a home-based working life so that we can build it into what we want it to be. It's certainly the way I've kept things ticking over through the years, and so far, I've managed to hold on to our roof whilst working under it.

With thanks to Lydia Tewkesbury (follow @LydiaTK on Twitter) for blog inspiration.