with Aliza Sherman
If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.
To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.
Do as I say, not as I do. In the constant struggle of running a company well from my home, I find myself committing typical work-from-home blunders so am listing them here to both confess to them and bring them to light so I can work on changing, fixing and improving things.
1. Lack of a defined workspace. I moved my home office from the basement - where I never ventured - to an upstairs former guest room that is next to our bedrooms. On the one hand, this is great in terms of proximity, sunlight, and it has a door to define a clear space, but on the other hand it is too close to the bedrooms. I tend to bring my laptop out of the defined office space “just for a little while” and then watch the lines of workspace begin to blur which causes strain on family space, cooking space, eating space, and leisure space.
2. Lack of a defined workday. Until recently, I had no clearly articulated work hours for my family, only for my team. Over time, however, I’m working hard to be clear that my workday starts as soon as my husband leaves the house with our daughter to bring her to day care and then ends as soon as he gets home from work. The latter has been hardest for me to adopt. When I was single, my workday was permeable and limitless until sleep. Now I have to shut down my computer, shut my office door and totally shift gears. A struggle but important.
3. Lack of a childcare backup system. I live in a rural area with very limited childcare options. When my daycare provider is away and the backup babysitter is also away, I’m out of luck. If you have a steady and affordable daycare situation, consider yourself very lucky. But what happens if that changes? What is your backup? Mine is to drive 7 hours to the city where there is a daycare provider that takes drop ins and where I can work from a friend’s house with wifi and have a support system in place to help me continue to run my business. And if your child is sick, does your home office shut down for the day or week? What is your contingency plan?
4. Lack of proper equipment set-up. Because I don’t have the luxury of a nearby Kinkos, having the right office equipment is critical. I have, however, an equipment quandary at the moment that I need to address. I have an all-in-one printer/scanner/copies with a cracked glass surface so I cannot scan or copy on it, just print. Then I have a newer printer/scanner/copier/fax with an ink cartridge problem that I can’t seem to troubleshoot so I can only use it to scan and fax. I need to take the time to optimize the newer system - figure out the ink cartridge issue and also connect it to wifi for wireless printing. Note to self: Do it.
5. Lack of sufficient (and organized) supplies. I’m constantly searching for staples for the stapler, scotch tape for the tape dispenser, paper clips, pens with ink in them, manila folders, hanging folders, you name it. I just need to make my office supply shopping list with the staples of a home office just as I’ve furnished my kitchen with staples of cooking. Then I need to buy a minimum amount of each item and designate a supply drawer to the purchases so I can get my hands on them when I need them.
6. Lack of a filing system. I once hired a professional organizer, and my filing system was outstanding for about a year. These days, my filing system consists of piles on surfaces and then hiding said piles in drawers. I should invest again in a professional organizer and get my new home office in shape with a sensible and accessible filing system and then get in the
7. Mixing Household with Work. I was between conference calls the other day and walked to the kitchen to get more coffee. On the way, I grabbed laundry out of my daughter’s room, ran it downstairs, tossed it into the wash, came back upstairs, started emptying the dishwasher, then stopped. What was I thinking? I am not Superwoman. Why was I trying to do everything at once? I also used this litmus test: Is my husband stopping by the house to do a load of laundry or get dinner ready during his work hours? If the answer is no, why am I taking it all on? Just because I’m there? I vowed to be more focused and less stressed about trying to do it all.
What work-from-home blunders are you committing, and how are you fixing them?
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