A question I get asked regularly is what do you most struggle with being self-employed working from home?
So, today I want to answer that question and share what I’ve done to overcome them.
You can also watch my video 3 Things I’ve Struggled With Being Self-Employed and Working From Home
First, I want to say that I love being self-employed and I love working from home. That’s definitely not to say that it’s always been easy for me. There have been tears and tantrums along the way but being self-employed and working from home has given me the freedom and flexibility I love. I hope that by sharing the struggles I’ve faced and what I’ve done to overcome them, this will help you with your own struggles.
Here are the 3 things that I’ve most struggled with being self-employed and working from home.
Now, before I jump in, I just want to let you know that affiliate links have been used in this post. That means, some of the things I recommend and link to offer me a commission if anything is purchased through the links. Please note that I only ever recommend things I use personally or have had a high recommendation for from a trusted business friend.
Time-management was a big problem for me. I’d spend weeks being busy but not achieving very much at all in my business. This meant I was working stupid hours, I was exhausted most of the time and I wasn’t making anywhere near enough money.
As it turned out, for me, this was a blessing in disguise. You see, I knew that if I was going to be able to continue in business, I had to overcome this issue and fast. So I put all my energy into creating systems and finding ways to manage my time well and make the most of my work time. I knew I couldn’t continue working such long hours with little results.
From there, I did manage to massively improve my time-management – I wrote a whole series of blog posts sharing really simple time-management tips that made such a big difference in my life and business. Read the full time-management series.
I wrote a book on time-management It’s Your Time It’s a collection of the blog posts in e-reader form.
One of the biggest changes to managing my time was getting clear about what my goals were in my business, creating achievable action steps and prioritizing them. This made the biggest difference in my business. It meant that every business day, I was focusing and taking action to move my business forward. I created an online course sharing my goal setting formula for business success (it’s perfect for procrastinators).
Top Tip: Plan your day out the night before and schedule in your priority tasks as early in the day as possible. This way, even if things go off course the rest of the day, you’ll still have achieved something important in your business.
Too many distractions
Seriously, I’m so easily distracted, it’s ridiculous. I still am and this hasn’t gone away, but I have found ways to overcome the situation.
First I needed to work out what distracted me the most.
These are some of those things:
- Family/friends (when you work from home it’s hard for other people to understand you’re not available all the time.
- Social media
- People walking by outside
Really these are just a small example but probably the biggest distractions.
Here are a few things I did to overcome this problem:
- As much as possible I explained to close friends and family what my work times were and I was super strict about this for a good year and a half to two years. Now I’m more flexible but they and I, realize that work comes first on these days.
- Social media – I created a rule that social media time was purely for business during work hours then I can do what I want on social media during breaks and in the evening.
- Google, I love google so much. Again, I created a strict rule that I only google for business during work hours then whatever I want on breaks and evenings.
- TV – Okay, so I can work with the TV on. It’s one of the few multi-tasking things I can do, but I have a rule that during focused work, I work at the table and no noise, then for work that needs doing but isn’t really focused work, I can head to the sofa to work and pop the tv on if I want to. No judging, I know I’ll get people reading this who think TV should be banned completely and it’s a mindless activity, but hey, I like it.
- Housework – I do a quick clean and put washing on in the morning when my son is still home, then I have a set time in the week for a top to bottom clean and a quick tidy in the evening after our evening meal. This schedule helps me stop getting distracted with house jobs.
- Cooking – I meal plan and this really helps me to be organized. I make sure I know what the meal is the night before and take anything out the freezer I need. If it’s a slow cooker meal (Slow cookers are great time savers) I pop everything in the slow cooker in the morning before work starts and leave it to cook on low. When you plan your meals this also helps avoid extra supermarket shops.
- Shopping – Plan your meals, mostly I shop online. If I’m not doing a weekly online shop, I schedule a supermarket (weekly) shop outside of work hours. By meal planning, I don’t run out of food and need to do top up shops.
- People walking by outside. When I do focused work I work at my dining table which is toward the back of the house. The window looks out onto the garden but I usually sit with my back towards it so that I reduce distraction further. At the front of the house, there are often people walking by or deliveries etc to distract me.
The key tip is to be aware of what distracts you and then find a way to reduce or eliminate those distractions.
The thirds struggle I’ve faced being self-employed is dealing with money management.
- Keeping my accounts up to date – I’m not a numbers person, so I’d typically just bury my head in the sand and put this off, then panic at the end of the tax year. YES, there have been lots of tears with this struggle.
- Knowing where the money goes. I never had any sort of budget or plan for my money and I didn’t really know where the money was going (it was rarely still in my bank account the first year or so).
- Increasing my income and grasping at straws.
So here’s what I did to overcome these things.
Note: In my personal life I’ve had big money blocks and hangups. So, a big part of my journey and that’s ongoing, is to create a positive relationship with money and building wealth.
- I do my accounts every business day – I add my income and expenses from the day before. So on a Monday, I’ll add expenses and income for Friday, plus the weekend. On Tuesday, I’ll add expenses/income for Monday. I tally everything up at the end of each month so that at the end of the tax year everything is already done. No more stressing. Oh, and I keep a running profit total which really motivates me. After I add the income and expenses for each day, I have a column that shows me my total profit for the month. Then at the end of the month, I add that profit to the profit for the year. This also helps me to monitor where I am with my financial goal for the year.
- I categorize all expenses – for example, equipment, training, software, advertising… At the end of the year, I know exactly what I’ve spent money on and also, on a month by month basis. At the end of each month, I look at these expenses and see if they are still relevant (if ongoing, such as Tailwind scheduling for my Pinterest posts) and how they have impacted my business. This is a learning curve. If you’ve made a purchase and then find it wasn’t a good investment, learn from it for the future.
- Planning spending – I think, for me, this has been one of the most important factors in my spending (and saving) habits. I used to be grabbing at straws in my business, I didn’t have a clear plan or a clear spending plan. Now, at the beginning of each year, I know what my goals are for the year and I plan any spending around those goals. I don’t necessarily dedicate a set amount to specific things but I know if I do spend it will only be in these areas. Here’s an example: This year (2017) my focus is on growing my blog, Pinterest, and YouTube. So any expenses will be in this area. I also have a wait at least a week rule before purchasing. This helps avoid rash and expensive mistakes (I’ve had quite a few). I also, plan for equipment upgrades such as a new laptop – By the way, I recently bought myself a Chromebook which I absolutely love. I’m heavy handed and a bit clumsy with my laptops (learn from experience) so I want a good, fast, nice looking (yes, it’s gold. How amazing is that. Not real gold of course) and doesn’t cost a lot. I’d love an apple laptop but honestly, I’m just not prepared to invest that kind of money when I know my track record is not great. When you plan your spending you’re not tempted by sales pitches. If someone comes to me this year and says, “Hey, buy this and your Facebook likes will skyrocket.” I just say NO. This is NOT where my focus is and there is no spending temptation in this area.
So, those are the 3 things I’ve struggled with being self-employed and working from home
I hope that by sharing my own struggles, this will help you in your business. I want to just do a quick sum up with my top tips.
- Know what’s really important to you and within your business – Plan out and prioritize these things
- Set goals and create an action plan – work on it EVERY business day
- Communicate with others in your life, so that they know your work hours
- Remove as many distractions as possible from your work day and work environment
- Plan your spending based on your goals and needs not temptations
- Do your accounts on a regular basis. I recommend every business day if this is an area you struggle with. And find the simplest way that works for you.
There we go, I hope this helps you. Let me know in the comments below, what struggles you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them, or maybe you’re dealing with struggles right now and have no idea what to do. let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my very best to give you some useful advice.
P.S. If you’re struggling with procrastination, definitely go and check out the Goal Setting course.