I have the sense that many, if not most, people in the developed world would love nothing more than to have the opportunity to work from home, whether it be as a consultant, freelancer, or online small business operator. What’s interesting, though, is that the vast majority of these people will never actually follow through on this urge, and the ones that do quite often find that they simply can’t hack it.
In my view the main culprit behind this phenomenon is the lack of focus and discipline that characterizes a good proportion of today’s workforce. This is not to say that most people are lazy – I’m simply saying that most people are too easily distracted to ever become effective home-based workers or business owners. I’m suggesting that though most cubicle dwellers complain about constant oversight and micromanagement by higher-ups, the truth is that without this external pressure to perform and meet timelines many of them would probably get very little accomplished.
So what often happens is that the typical, disgruntled employee quits his job and strikes out on his own, confident that he can make more money from home anyway while creating his own schedule and answering to nobody but himself. He quickly discovers, however, that he’s not getting anything done from his new home office. Instead of actually working he’s doing a lot of TV watching, internet surfing, refrigerator raiding, and sometimes even napping. He simply does not have the self-discipline to push aside distractions and focus on getting things done. Does this sound familiar? I hope not. If it does, let me suggest a few ideas for finding the focus and motivation necessary to be a successful work at home individual.
First of all, get rid of the TV. Okay, for most people this simply isn’t possible, but something you can try is to forcibly cut yourself off every morning. My wife leaves every morning for her job while I stay at home and work, and I’ve gotten in the habit of tossing the remote control in her car’s back seat before she leaves so that watching the tube during the day simply is not possible! Sure, there are times when I wish I could just take a break and do some channel surfing but by eliminating this possibility I dramatically increase my daily productivity.
Another easy way to cut out wasted movements is to switch to energy drinks from coffee if you need a morning jolt. I used to be a big coffee drinker but I started to track how much time my habit was costing me every morning. Between grinding the beans, brewing a pot, mixing in cream and sugar, cleaning the filter, and walking back and forth to the microwave ten times to reheat I was throwing away a good thirty minutes of valuable work time every single day. Now, I go to the fridge, grab a cold can of Monster, and I’m ready to roll. Same result – less hassle.
Perhaps the biggest impediment to productivity for most home based business owners is the internet itself. This used to be a big problem for me, but I have worked hard to curtail it. For example, instead of actually getting work done on the computer I was spending ridiculous amounts of time checking email, checking website stats, and reading blogs that had nothing to do with my business. I even decided to track my own activity one day and I’m embarrassed to admit that I checked my email over 30 times in an eight-hour period! Why was I doing this? Because checking my email was easier than working, to be blunt. So was checking the stock quotes, reading the news headlines, and surfing over to weather.com to check the 10-day forecast. All of these kinds of time-wasters will absolutely destroy your ability to achieve both your short and long term goals as a home based entrepreneur, and if you’re not careful they will end up sending you back to the dreaded 9-5 office cubicle quicker than you can say “tps reports”.
So how have I mastered my terrible internet habits? I haven’t, really. Much like my method for reducing TV time, I’ve simply removed myself from the problem. Since most of my at-home work involves content generation I bought a word processor that is good for producing documents and that’s about it. It’s the cheapest, most simple little tool imaginable and cannot be connected to the internet, so it’s perfect for me. This way I’m not even tempted to surf the web because it is not even available to me. I work on the word processor on the main floor of our home and only go into the basement twice a day to flip on our internet-enabled desktop so that I can check email and upload content. This new ritual has proven extremely effective, and the amount of content I’m now able to churn out on a daily basis is simply staggering.
These are just a few ideas for reducing distractions and ramping up your productivity as a home-based worker, but the possibilities are endless. Use your mind and I’m sure you can come up with some creative ways to cut out the “fat” in your daily routine so that you can meet your goals faster and create the kind of lifestyle for yourself that you’ve always dreamed of. There are a million great business ideas that you can run from the comfort of home, but there’s only one way to make them successful, and that’s with good old-fashioned hard work, dedication, and self-discipline.