Money - Jobs
By: - at June 3, 2013

How to Successfully Work From Home

The evolution of a business man

When you think about working from home, what pops into your mind? Do you think of freedom, not having a boss, being able to work whenever you want? Have people told you it's easy?

If so, get ready to have some of your preconceptions challenged.

Man working while also taking care of babySure, once you get going, you might be able to hang out on the beach with your computer, but for most people, working from home requires even more discipline than a regular job. When you have a job, you generally have to show up at specified times and perform assigned duties. Regardless of the complexity of the job, someone else is usually telling you what to do and when to do it.

When you work from home, it's up to you to get the work done. It takes a certain amount of discipline and self-motivation to actually sit and work from your home. You can become easily distracted by everything from the TV to barking dogs to children clamoring for attention. Many people think it is easy to work at home but that’s often not the case when they actually start doing it.

Qualities required for a Work at Home Career
Before you think about ditching your job, take a look at the following list. How many of these qualities or personality traits do you possess?

  • happy woman working from homeSelf-motivation and self-discipline
  • Persistence
  • Patience
  • Ability to work independently
  • Organization
  • Skill Set

Now, let's go over each of the above qualities so you can see why each one is important and what it means in terms of your potential work at home career.

A lot of people think working from home isn't a "real job" – in fact, be prepared some lack of understanding from friends or family, at least initially. But make no mistake. Working from home is VERY real.

Don't let anyone tell you that you are not really working or that your work from home job is not “real." Your job is every bit as real as that of your friends in the "brick and mortar" world. The truth is that I have worked harder and longer from home than I did when I worked outside the house. Working from home requires qualities that may not be needed in a "real" job. Read on to see if you have what it takes.

1)  Self-Motivation and Self-Discipline
These two qualities are arguably the most important, and you'll need them right from the start. It takes motivation to search for work on an ongoing basis.

Not everyone has the discipline and self-motivation needed to work from home. And that's fine! Some people work best in a more structured environment, with someone telling them what to do, when to do it, and for how long.

If you're one of those people, it's important to recognize that you may not thrive in the self-driven world of telecommuting. If you have small children, it can certainly be a challenge to organize your time. Without self-motivation and self-discipline, it can be virtually impossible!

When you work at home, you and you alone are responsible for organizing your schedule and sticking to it. Take a look at whether you're easily distracted. Can you sit down to work without jumping up to do a load of laundry, watch TV, chat with your friends on the phone, or play with your kids? Sure, you can take breaks, but you have to be able to focus and get the work done.

2)  Persistence
Frustrated business manPersistence is just as essential as self-motivation and self-discipline. Competition for work at home jobs can be fierce, and you'll need to keep plugging away. You'll probably get rejected (or not hear anything back at all) more often than you get the gig. That's all part of the process.

And when you nail down a gig that's not the end of it, most work from home jobs aren't full-time, nor are they secure. Seasoned home workers often talk about not putting all their eggs in one basket, in other words, not relying on any one gig. So think about the fact that looking for work will be an ongoing part of your life.

3)  Patience
Patience ties in with persistence. You'll apply for jobs and may not get a response for weeks, sometimes even months. Or you may be told you have an assignment and then have to wait while the company or client works out the details.

Many companies that hire are fairly new (less than five years old), and you have to be patient with the kinks they may have in their system. With the number of people they hire, sometimes their taskforce gets overwhelmed and issues such as pay, scheduling, and system issues may not be as streamlined as in a company that has been around for a while.

4)  Ability to Work Independently
You won't have a supervisor looking over your shoulder, so you'll have to be able to complete tasks and meet deadlines on your own. Are you starting to notice that many of these qualities are closely related? Being able to work independently isn't possible without self-motivation and self-discipline.

Another aspect of independence is the ability and motivation to search for jobs on your own and do the required research. I see people on work from home forums who expect others to hand them the work on a silver platter. They'll come into a forum without checking out any of the job leads on their own and ask where they can find a job, even when the forum is filled with potential job listings.

If you're going to be successful at this, you have to take the initiative and check things out for yourself. You can't rely on other people's research. Do thorough research on the company you're interested in working for. Read about the company's policies, the duties required for the job, any equipment you might need to have, etc.

Once you've completed your research, decide for yourself if the company is a good fit for you. You're the only one who knows your circumstances. A job that's perfect for someone else may be completely wrong for you.

When you do get a job, in most cases you will be provided training and assistance, but be prepared to figure out some things on your own. If you do have questions, please ask the company and not another co-worker. And DO ask when you have a question. That's much better than making assumptions and possibly making a mistake that could have easily been averted.

5)  Organization
This can be tough for some people. When you're working at home, it can be easy to get distracted by your kids, by phone calls, by a million other things. Can you organize and prioritize your work and home life?

That's one aspect of organization. The other is the organizational skills you'll need to keep track of your jobs and to do the assignments.

Note: I've often hired people to work for me. Based on our initial communications (and often from observing people's forum behaviors), I can tell whether they're disciplined, whether they're quick learners, and whether they're able to communicate effectively. If you're looking for work, think of everything you do online as part of the job interview.

Working from home can be a great way to avoid the rat race (and yes, you CAN work in your pajamas!), but never forget that it IS work.

6)  Skill Set
Once you've determined that you have the qualities needed to pursue a work at home career, you need to look at the skills you bring to bear.

There's a wide variety of available jobs and many of them require specific skills, such as customer service, technical support, medical transcription, or coding. Before you apply for a particular job, make sure you have the skills needed for that job.

There are a few required skills that most work from home jobs have in common (as with the qualities, I'll list the skills and then go over them in detail):

  • Research Capabilities
  • Computer Literacy
  • Ability to Follow Instructions

1)  Research Capabilities
searching for jobs onlineThe jobs are out there, but you can't rely on others to do the legwork for you. You'll have to do your research, both to get a job and to keep the job.

Part of proving that you can work from home without close supervision includes being able to do your own research and work independently. Friends with work at home jobs and people on forums will be more than willing to help as long as you're prepared to do your part.

If you consistently ask questions that could be easily researched, you may be categorized as lazy and lacking in initiative. And be aware that companies and potential clients often keep an eye on job forums, so the impression you make is important. In many cases, you can get the information you need through a simple Google or forum search.

As you start your search, you'll find that there are a lot of scams in the online world. So you'll need to research every listing you find.

Don’t assume a job is a scam just because everything's not neatly organized. It may be growing pains. On the other hand, you need to look for certain warning signs. If a company continually pays late, or if you can't get responses in a timely manner, cut your losses and move on. NEVER work for free.

Note: Because I've already researched the listings in this book, you can feel relatively confident using them. But even here, it's important to do your research. Companies can go out of business or change management, the pay system can change… a company with a stellar reputation today may be a loser tomorrow.

2)  Computer Literacy
I'm constantly amazed at the number of people who don't have even basic computer skills, but somehow think they can work from home. If you don't have these basic skills, make sure you acquire them before you look for a work from home job. Otherwise, you're just wasting your time and that of any company where you apply.

Here are a few of the essential computer tasks you should be able to accomplish:

  • Know what a browser is and be able to open your browser.
  • Know how to save files into your My Documents folder (and of course know what a folder is and how to create new ones).
  • Open software programs like Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Be familiar with your anti-virus software and know how to keep it updated so that your computer remains free of spyware and viruses.
  • Know how to save documents.
  • Know how to add attachments to email messages, as well as how to open attachments.

This is just a short list, and some jobs may require more specific computer skills. If you're rusty, brush up on your computer skills before you look for work, or perhaps take a class. An employer will train you on the specific skills you need for the job, but they won't be willing to teach you how to save a Word document (just one example of a very basic skill).

Since most of your communications will be through email, you need to be comfortable with your email program. Additionally, even if a job doesn't revolve around typing or writing, you should be able to type at least 30 wpm.

3)  Ability to Follow Instructions
Typing at keyboardIf you can't follow instructions, why should a company hire you? Because you're working remotely and without supervision, you need to be a quick learner and be able to easily understand and follow precise instructions.

Part of following instructions is paying close attention to what a potential employer asks for in an ad. You won't have the opportunity for an in-person interview, so all the employer has to go on is your online interactions.

So, for example, if a company states in an ad not to attach your resume, DO NOT ATTACH THE RESUME. If you do, it tells the company that you didn't read the instructions and that you don't follow directions. They'll figure that if you can't follow instructions in a simple job ad, you probably won't read the training manual or take the job seriously.





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