How to Be a Renegade At Home

work from home If you don’t know Jonathan Fields, he’s the author of a book called Career Renegade that shows people how to become entrepreneurs and make a career out of something the love. He’s also a wonderful blogger.

In a recent post, Jonathan talks about the renegade employee — basically, how to love what you do in the confines of working for someone else – and outlines eight qualities that must exist. In reading the post, there were a couple of things that struck me.

First, I noticed that many of the factors outlined by Jonathan on how to love your job were dependent on your environment – working with good people, the vibe in the office, the culture of the organization, etc. Second, Jonathan notes further down that 80 percent of small business owners were one-man shops and that 50 percent of those were home-based.

It left me with one question: When your “mission” and “people” and “setting” play such a large part into your performance, how do you replicate that working alone from the comforts (but isolation) of your home?

This is something I’ve often struggled with, working out of a home office over the past year. Here are some ways I try and combat the “working from home” blues.

Create an Alliance: We all learn from other people. That’s one of the biggest benefits of working in an office – being surrounded by great minds and having people to bounce ideas off and share theories. Unfortunately, when you’re a one-man shop working from home, that can be hard to come by. In a great post by Darren Rowse, he talked about secret blogging alliances – a group of bloggers who regularly meet to strategize and help each other meet their goals. The concept really stuck with me. As a SMB owner, you need to create your own alliance. There are probably people in your community, whether in the same industry or not, that you can start a partnership with to help everyone. Use it talk out and understand what’s happening in your industry, to try out new ideas, to help each other strengthen certain skills, and to have people you can mentor and be mentored by.

Join a coworking group: Coworking offers those of us who work independently a way to benefit from the electricity (and productiveness) that exists from working around other people. You can do this informally by grabbing your laptop and heading to a local coffee shop for instant social interaction (I do this a lot) or you can make it a formal thing by hooking up with a local coworking group. For those of us who are easily distracted, getting out of your house and putting yourself around other people is a great way to stay on task and helps you to feel not quite so isolated from the rest of the world.

Attend local events: Local events are a great way to meet other entrepreneurs and find people you can just commiserate with. You can use MeetUp to find other professionals, throw tweetups, attend the various social media breakfast events if you’re in the tech space, etc. Regardless of your industry, chances are people are meeting up to talk about what they do and love. Get involved.

Read a lot: When you work for yourself, the burden falls on you to read everything you can to keep up with the latest trends and advancements in your industry. If you don’t get your hands on tons of material to stay in the loop, it can put you seriously behind your competition. You should be seeking out the conversations on Twitter, reading forums, checking out blogs, subscribing to industry newsletters and magazines, listening to podcasts, etc. Red whatever reading material is available and absorb it. If possible, you may also want to seek out online training courses or more structured ways to keep yourself educated.

Create lists: Create daily, weekly, monthly and even quarterly things that you’re looking to do and accomplish with your business. Prioritize your list each day so you can do those things that are most important first. Otherwise, with no one bugging you to get that new area of your site done, it may stay on your “wish list” instead of your “already done” list. I also set time goals for projects and use an egg timer to keep me on task. It sounds silly, but it’s been monumentally helpful with keeping me focused and off Twitter on task. It also helps you feel like you accomplished something after a hard day.

Get out of your house: If you’re not feeling very inspired and your creative juices aren’t flowing, don’t force yourself. Go do something else. Sometimes we all need a day out to let our minds rest before the ideas come flowing back.

How do you stay motivated working in your business, especially when working from home?


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

13 Reactions
  1. This is a real problem for me too Lisa. Working from home can be pretty isolating. It’s Thursday already and I haven’t been out of my house since Sunday. I get a little stir crazy being cooped up like this. I need to make more of a point to get out every other day or so. These are some really good suggestions to consider.

  2. I’m a big fan of lists myself and I’ve found that when I get stuck on one task, a list helps me find a different task that gets the juices flowing again.

  3. I can totally relate! My first year in business was highly profitable but very depressing. I’m not a social person, but realized that I still needed regular face to face contact in order to stay energized. I started scheduling play/food dates with colleagues, friends, and new acquaintances. I make sure I have a non-business appointment with someone every week. It forces me to put on decent clothes (instead of my daily sweats and tank tops) and does loads for my business!

  4. Hey Lisa, thanks for the kind words. Love the additional tips on building a community when you work from home. I’ve actually looked for coworking spaces in NYC, but it’s amazingly short on cool, genuine coworking/interactive locations. Twitter has been a huge tool, also, for staying social while working from home and, even cooler, it lets me hang out with friends from all over the world every day without leaving my home office.

  5. Lisa,
    I have had a home office for almost a year now, and it has positives and negatives, for sure.

    I can get a lot done, but I find that it is harder to walk away.

    I do try to hit a cafe once a week-with laptop, of course.

    A change of scenery is always good. I get toms of new ideas for articles and marketing, when I do that.

    The Franchise King
    Joel Libava

  6. Jonathan: I searched on coworking and found for example this place: @nwc – New Work City. Have you been there? Anita Campbell wrote a post on Sunshine Suites on September 7.

    Could someone give me a list of the top cities with coworking spaces? I am fascinated about The Third Place concept. I want to return to an area in America with great meeting locations.

    Amanda: I try to go to the city of Gothenburg a couple of times per week. Today I met with the owners of an advertising agency, talking about social media. I met them the first time when they came to a Rotary meeting, listening to my talk on social media. I had been invited by a Rotary chapter do give a short presentation at their lunch meeting.

    During the weekend, I take several walks around the neighborhood. I am often walking for about 5-6 hours. I am listening to podcast shows on my MP3 player during the walks.

    Robert: You probably know that I am a fan of writing lists, after reading my post on productivity tools on Open Forum.

    I haven’t really created a “secret alliance” conducting meetings with other bloggers, but I am staying touch by email / chat / phone with some bloggers around the world. I am thinking of starting a book / study circle with some fellow social media enthusiasts.

    I have attended a couple of Open Coffee Club, Social Media Club, BNI, and Rotary meetings during the past year. I will soon start my second course on social media at an adult educational association.

  7. Martin – Not a huge fan of Sunshine Suites in NYC, too boxy, cubicly feeling to me. I hear Austin, Phoenix and Portland have some cool coworking scenes.

  8. Jonathan: Thanks for the tips. I visited Austin in 1996. I have a friend living in Portland. I want to visit her sometime in the future. I haven’t been in Phoenix.

  9. I wholeheartedly agree that productivity is driven by your passion. If you want to be doing something, for the most part you will be naturally motivated to do so.
    If you don’t have passion and purpose, greater productivity won’t help you!

  10. I enjoy the quiet of working from home. The hardest thing for me to adjust to was making myself ‘leave’ work.

    I think it’s really important to get away; go out for lunch with a friend, don’t work on the weekend sometimes – work can become all consuming and that’s when the creativity and fresh ideas stop flowing.

  11. Thank you for the great info. I enjoyed reading it.


  12. Jonathan, there are several good coworking communities springing up in NYC now, including the aforementioned New Work City (which I cofounded) and one of the world’s first, in Williamsburg (The Change You Want to See).

    NYC’s taken some time to catch on to coworking, but we’ve got some real momentum now. We’d love to have you by if you’d like to come visit!