Hi, I'm Ashlie. Owner and lead designer at Wolf & Willow Design! I'm a 12 year corporate accountant turned full-time designer helping other small-business entrepreneurs chase their dreams. I'm also a wife, #girlmom, and Air Force veteran.
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If you’ve achieved your dream of working from home and you’re currently blazing your own entrepreneurial path — congrats! If you’re anything like me, you are probably loving the no-commute life, waking up with the sun (instead of the mind-numbing sound of your alarm), and wearing whatever the hell you want.
But you might have also noticed that working from home has its challenges. This kind of lifestyle — although freeing — requires discipline, self-motivation, and determination. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear new entrepreneurs struggle with staying focused on their job and getting distracted by other things. (P.S. If this is you, don’t feel bad. That was me not too long ago!)
If you’re ready to make the most of creating your own empire in your comfiest fuzzy slippers, here are a few tips for how you can make work from home effective and productive!
If you want to make the most of working from home and building your business, the first step is to be crystal clear about your goals.
I would encourage you to write down answers to the following questions:
What is my 1-year goal?
What is my 5-year goal?
What do I want to get out of this working situation — emotionally and financially?
How will this positively impact my life?
To paint a concrete example, I’ll share my reasoning for quitting and becoming an entrepreneur!
My goal was (and still is) to create more flexibility in my life to be with my family. After essentially selling my soul to corporations, I was burned out and miserable because I couldn’t see my daughters as often as I had hoped. So I quit and started Wolf & Willow to be more present in their lives. My secondary goal was to show my girls that if they could set their mind to something, they could be successful in more ways than one.
For you, you might value the financial freedom aspect and being able to create your wealth. Or maybe you also want more flexibility in your schedule. Or perhaps you want to fill a gap in your market of expertise and offer a much-needed service.
No matter your reasoning, it’s important to keep your answers to the questions listed above nearby to remind yourself why you’re doing this when the motivation runs dry.
Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that you’ll have some off days — so getting clear about why you’re working from home and your goals can help keep you on track and stay determined.
A lot of people have the idea that working from home means working in your pajamas, sprawled out on the couch with a laptop balanced on your knees. Or maybe you picture being in a hammock on a tropical beach, sipping a piña colada under a giant palm tree.
It’s true that working from home can look like that sometimes, but it’s not always that comfortable or glamorous. In fact, working in either of those scenarios can be demotivating or distracting if you do it everyday.
Working in pajamas is something I definitely indulge in most days of the week, but it’s nice to get dressed and set the tone for a productive work day a few times a week. And I just don’t think I could concentrate on work if a beach was calling my name! Plus, have you ever been in a hammock? Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion, but I’ve never found them that comfortable.
That’s why I recommend creating a workspace (or renting an office) that’s comfortable and convenient. You can personalize it with succulents, a bookshelf with your favorite books, hang up some artwork on the walls, get yourself some cute office supplies… The key is to create a space that supports your workflow and makes you feel productive and happy!
Pro-tip: It helps to create a space that’s solely dedicated to work so that your brain can switch gears easily from “home-mode” to “work-mode.” Since there’s no commute from the office to home, you’ll need some other barrier to help you transition.
If you’re anything like me, then you might find working from home a bit addicting. And it’s not necessarily because we love every second of working on our businesses — it’s just because it’s really hard to “turn off”, especially when you’re in a state of flow. And since you’re already at home, it can be easy to lose track of time or ignore the fact that you should probably log off.
Working from home also could mean easily dismissing times to take breaks. At an office, you might be required to take a 15-minute or 20-minute break. But when you have tasks to complete and clients to attend to, it can be easy to ignore that important boundary.
However, if you take away anything from this blog post, it’s that I don’t want you making the same mistake I did: working way longer than you should. This is a recipe for burnout.
When my daughters told me that I worked more on my business than I did at my corporate job, I knew my schedule had to change. As soon as I implemented (and adhered to) a schedule with a log-on and strict log-off time, I noticed significant improvements in my mental health and my relationship with my family.
Working from home affords you freedom and flexibility, which is obviously, amazing. But it can also be easy to get stuck in a rut or get lost in your to-do list and ignore your physical and mental health.
Ideally, you’ll be able to balance working from home with having some sort of active life — socially, physically, and mentally.
Working from home can be incredibly stressful, especially if you have a lot of pressure to perform. You might feel like you’re racing the clock to check off to-dos and chasing after clients — this kind of pressure can build up over time! Especially if you don’t have any other activities to relieve your stress or to help you keep your mind off work.
So I suggest to find ways to relieve stress.
Incorporate some physical exercise into your week. It can be as simple as taking walks around the block, a bit more involved like going to yoga classes, or just getting in some type of movement into your day. You can also pick up hobbies that help you decompress like getting out into nature or embroidering. Or make plans with friends at the end of the week so you have something to look forward to that isn’t work-related.
To summarize, find ways to destress that work for you and can be done regularly!
Running your own business doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. In fact, one of the best ways to keep yourself from burning out and creating an efficient schedule is to outsource.
If you can delegate some of your work to other people, even just for a few hours a week, you could get a lot more done, focus on the bigger tasks when it comes to your business, and avoid overworking yourself.
I know it can be nerve-wracking to invest in outsourcing, but you’ll be so relieved once you do. Outsourcing has allowed me to work on my business instead of in it so it can grow. It’s also allowed me to remove tasks off my plate that I don’t find joy in (and therefore, kept putting off) and place certain tasks in experts’ hands (because we’re not experts in everything).
The only thing you’ll regret is not delegating earlier!
Working from home and working for yourself can be an amazing experience, but it does require a little bit of extra effort for it to work well. If you’re in the process of creating your perfect schedule as an entrepreneur, I hope this blog post helps you so you can truly enjoy the benefits of working from home while still being productive and successful!
Till next time,
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