My biggest challenge in working from home

Laptop and Home Office Desk

Staying motivated while the TV is calling in my home office.

A handful of us have made changes in life that seem bizarre to normal people. ‘Crazy’ is a term regularly used to describe the choices I have made. I threw in the towel, giving up a well-paying management role to relocate over 8,500 km into a country with no idea of my next step. I was in need of something new, however in hindsight I do agree this was a rather extreme decision

I justified the choice to my wife, my family (and most importantly my mother in law) with a need to recharge, revitalize and discover a different type of income that would give me both flexibility and freedom. I had savings to get me through the dry spell in the beginning, reassuring the largest doubts in my mind. I was also lucky to have fantastic people close to me, and received phenomenal understanding and support through the transition. Would I recommend this path to everyone? Probably not. I jumped off the deep end, and failure was an outcome I had to stare in the face each and every day.

Fortunately, there are less dramatic options for those of us seeking something new. Even a small change can be a very good thing, revitalizing our passion for the job and recharging our batteries. When you want to keep your day job but take more control, I recommend negotiating a work from home arrangement with your employer. Conducting business from your sofa in your pajamas is a dream of many office employees. I have been consulting out of my home office on-and-off for over a year, but believe me, it comes with it’s own unique set of challenges.

Managing distractions is simply the hardest thing to do. For anyone even considering this change of lifestyle, you will not succeed if you cannot take responsibility for your own actions. Before you take that first step, ask yourself if you are ready to handle being your own boss. You will have no one in your lounge room forcing you to turn off the TV and focus on work, no colleagues to keep you on track when you hit a slump after lunch. This is what I personally have struggled with, staying on task when there are so many other things to do!

My house is my castle, and unfortunately, coping with the call of the latest Xbox games, fantastic movies queued up in Netflix  or my dog calling for attention means that it can be very difficult to remain productive. In the last 12 months I have learnt how critical it is to be disciplined, otherwise nothing ever gets done. Being strict with yourself is very, very hard. In the beginning I thought that I was doing incredibly. I was always ‘busy’ and the day’s seemed to fly right past. Looking back, I know now I could have achieved much more in my first months. Time and goal management needed to right up top of my priority list, as I was now my own boss. I realized the change in my lifestyle would also require a change in me. Success hinged on my ability to adapt, and only I could bring this change in myself.

Today, I am more scheduled than I ever could have imagined. I start my day at 7 am, with a ridiculously large coffee and build a task/reward list. This is what I developed to keep me motivated and on track, essentially its a to-do list with a reward for finishing each task. Some are small, like reading all of my new emails before I can send one. Other tasks are much larger, like finishing this article before I can head to the gym! I have found that making sure I achieve something before I can go for lunch, turn on the TV or even walk my dog is an excellent motivator. It forces me to get things done when otherwise I will have an empty belly or a grumpy puppy on my hands.

Working from home is a fantastic change, whether its for yourself or for your employer, make sure you understand the challenges involved before you take the leap. You won’t get anything done if you think checking your emails while you watch 4 hours of daytime soaps is working. Learn to manage your time and you will find that both your lifestyle and happiness will improve. Remember, working from home is a privilege you get from your employer. It’s not a right, and you need to earn it. Once you earn it, make sure you continue to deserve it.

It’s challenging to be your own boss, but the rewards are phenomenal.

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Expats, Motivation, Preparing to Breakaway, The Breakaway, Work and Business

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