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?