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Working from Home?

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Working from Home?

This is an excerpt from our Start Your Own Business course, if you wish to know more, please contact us.

If you’ve ever considered working from home, even part time, there are some things you may need to consider. Time, location and resources will be your three big enemies. Toady we are looking at each of these in turn.

Time

 up until now, your time has been pretty much your bosses. Now it will be yours. It will be up to you to organise your day. Easy! You say. You may find it is not so easy, unless you are very organised. You may find it useful to purchase a task board, either a whiteboard or magnetic or cloth for adding notes and ideas. Purchase the largest one you can afford, you may also be able to obtain one that is combination such as a magnetic whiteboard. I would suggest dividing the board up into sections for each day of the week and adding underneath the MAJOR tasks you need to be completed for that day. You may also like to include space for the weekend, or upcoming events, or notes on tasks for major projects.

Another option is to use our free planner templates. We have two styles available for next year. The template packs include a monthly calendar, weekly overview and daily lists.

Diary

A diary is an essential, not just for making appointments, but also for taking note of accounts due and a number of other items. If you like a printed diary that you can write in, and can afford the expense, consider the Happy Planner system. The Happy Planner comes in a range of designs and styles and is expandable with budget packs, project packs, notepaper and more.

What I like about the Happy Planner is that you can pull the pages out to write without the bound rings getting in the way. This means you can also photocopy pages if required. The planner also comes with pretty divider tabs for each month with an inspiring message.

You can purchase a Happy Planer online, Carefully Crafted  have a wide range, plus other stock for crafting if you enjoy that as a hobby or to decorate your planner.

Create Lists

You may also like to create a daily task list for each day that outlines the tasks you must complete and those you would like to complete that day. When creating your task lists, remember to make it achievable. Don’t add to many things to your day and estimate how long it would take you to complete each task.

Software that may help

You can use templates such as those from Canva or you can use the scheduling options in Microsoft Office Outlook which is great for scheduling appointments and to-do lists. You may also like to use Free Mind which is a free mind mapping tool. If you prefer a digital option, you can also use your phone with Googles calendar and free office suite.

There are many free and almost free programs on the Internet. www.sourceforge.net is a great place to start looking.

Location

If you have decided to set yourself up to working from home, it is important that you find a good location for your home office. If you have a spare room in the house, you may need to ensure that it has 

  • Sufficient power outlets
  • Internet access and telephone
  • Room for furniture including desks, chairs, filing cabinets and bookcases

You should also make sure that it is in a fairly quiet location where you will not be disturbed by the general running of the household.

Resources

If you are working from home, you are no longer going to have access to a larger variety of tools, equipment and other staff to help you if you need assistance. Working from home, you are pretty much on your own.

Purchase a laptop

If you haven’t already got one, a laptop can be a great asset to your business. You can use it at home in your office to update all your files, keep track of all your appointments and expenses. Pretty much everything you can do on the old desktop you can do on a laptop. A laptop also offers great flexibility, if you need to travel from home to a client, you can take your laptop with you to show presentations, update the client database and more.

Laptops these days can be fairly cheap, but you need to watch out to make sure you get what will suit your needs. If you are unsure of what you need, read the blog post at Networx Computer Solutions that may help answer some of your questions about buying a new PC.

I would recommend that you avoid the smaller Netbooks as in general these do not come with DVD drives and have smaller screens that can be difficult for those of us with older eyes.

A good laptop should have

  • Dual core processor  around 2.4 GHz (Avoid Celeron or Atom processors, as these are slower than regular processors)
  • DVD drive
  • Wi-fi and Ethernet ports
  • 4 GIG RAM (think of the RAM as your computers work bench, the more RAM, the better)
  • 750GB to 1TB Hard Disk Space (HDD) (This is your computers storage, think of it as the “boot” of your computer)
  • Minimum of 3 USB ports
  • HDMI port (so you can connect the laptop to a LCD or LED tv or monitor if necessary for presentations)

You should also make sure that you have a good Anti-virus program such as Trend Micro. Most anti-virus companies now offer their programs with a three user licence, which means you can install the software on three different machines. That means with one single purchase of around $100, you can protect the laptop, the desktop back at home, the kids machine, or even your mum’s. 

$100 for one years subscription is a small price to pay for peace of mind – and it’s tax deductable

Purchase a All-in-One Printer/Scanner/Copier/Fax

Many companies are now making a single machine that you can use as a printer, scanner, photocopier and even a fax machine. This will help to unclutter your desk by combining up to four different machines in one.

Make sure that you check the scanning and printing capabilities of the machine, particularly if you wish to use the images for publication. You should also check to see what type of ink cartridges are required for the printer. A printer that uses single cartridges will be more cost effective than one that uses just two – one for black and one for colour. This will mean that if you use a lot of Blue ink for example, when you run out of blue, you can just replace the blue cartridge which would be cheaper than having to replace an entire colour cartridge of red, yellow and blue combined.

While a laser printer will give better results, they are expensive to purchase and may be out of your initial budget.

If your printer is also wi-fi friendly, you can set up the home network that will allow you to print from the laptop from any where in the house. 

You may need to get specialist advice on setting up the network.

USB External Drive

To keep your work files secure, you may like to purchase an external drive. This can be anything from a small flash drive that is small enough to keep in your pocket up to a large box type hard drive that requires it’s own power source.

It is particularly important if you share the computer you use for work with anyone else, particularly your partner or children that you keep the work files separate from other material. That way, if something were to happen to your data, you can keep a copy of it in a safe place.

USB external hard drives range in price from around $10-$100, depending on size and power requirements.

Cloud Storage

You should also consider using Cloud Storage as an additional backup for important documents. I recommend using Google’s services as they are free, although if you have a subscription to Microsoft Office, you also have access to One Drive. 

Cloud storage, particularly with Google Drive, will allow you to share documents and folders with others. You may not have a work team, but you may like to share contracts or project documentation with your clients.

 

Work Mind Set

Finally, make sure you get yourself into the work mindset. Even though you are home, you should still prepare yourself for getting to work. Dress up, do your hair and makeup. This will help towards putting you in the right mind to behave professionally.

 

You are your businesess greatest asset.

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