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Dave Kopperman
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Joined: 27 December 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1781
Posted: 20 May 2006 at 5:38pm | IP Logged | 1  

This is for JB and anyone else on the board who works out of their
home.


I'm going to be working from home starting Monday and I want to get off
on the right foot - not make any mistakes and get back into habits from
the office that could end up being either pointless, or depressing, or
pointlessly depressing.

Any advice that anyone can give? Mostly, I'm a little concerned about
becoming even more of a misanthrope than I already am from the lack of
normal socialization that a traditional work environment provides.

Sadly, I've discovered that too much time on message boards (such as
this one) aren't the cure - it's interaction, but of a type that's best taken
in moderation, for me.

Also, anyone else who works from home who ISN'T JB (who seems to have
a superhuman work ethic), what methods do you use to keep yourself
focused on actual work when you have the freedom of being in your own
space and essentially setting your own hours?

Feel free to add any points or comments that I may have missed. I need
as much experience as I can borrow...

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John Dallaire
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Joined: 16 April 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 137
Posted: 20 May 2006 at 7:01pm | IP Logged | 2  

Well, I'm coming up on ten years working from home as a freelance
illustrator, so here's my take on things.

1. Try, try, try to get out of the house for at least a couple of hours a day.
Even if that means taking your work with you and doing it at a local cafe
or something. You need to at least see other people out in the real world.

2. If you can, make sure you have a set area to work in. I use a spare
bedroom as my office/studio. When you're done with work, shut the door.

3. Along those same lines, if you can afford to (and if your work is
computer based), get a laptop for your second computer. You can always
use the second computer for extra processing during the workday if you
need, but you need to clearly separate your work tools from your play
tools. That means, no games on your work computer.

4. If you don't already have one, get a gym membership. YMCA
memberships are really affordable - it's a deductible business expense,
and your heart and waistline will appreciate it. Also, it's another chance to
get out of the house and see other people doing their things.

4b. Now, I may have taken things to the extreme here, but I suggest
getting rid of your microwave. Having a microwave in my house made it
way too easy to buy crap food that I could nuke in a couple of minutes
whenever I wanted. Now, I'm forced to actually get up and make myself
something proper if I want a hot meal. Once again, waistlines applaud.
Also, I try to limit my grocery shopping to what I will need in the next
three days. Allows me to purchase more fresh stuff, and I'm not tying up
a bunch of cash in frozen foods and canned stuff I never get around to
eating. And, you guessed it, another chance to get out of the house and
interact with civilization.

5. Take advantage of the benefits of being a home-based business. Go
see a mid-week matinee if you really want to. Visit the comic shop
whenever you want. Go to the museum when the crowds are lowest. If
you want to take a nap (I'm a HUGE fan of the afternoon siesta), take one.
You're setting your own hours here...if you're more productive in the
evening, set your work/play day accordingly. Any time you miss at work
doing fun stuff during the day can be made up whenever you like.

6. Schedules suck. Do the work, hit your deadlines, but stay flexible. One
of the greatest joys of working from home is being able to work until
you're done, then go do something else. Nothing drove me more nuts
than getting work done, then having to make myself look busy for the
remaining XXX hours of the day. Of course, there will be times when
you're working 18 hour days just to get the job done...but you have all
the flex-time in the world available to you as well.

7. When you feel like you're going to go crazy working at home, or you
just miss being in the work environment, go get yourself a part time job
at a cafe or bookstore or something. It'll be fun for a while, the pressure
won't be too great because this is your "fun" job. But most importantly,
you'll get to reminders of all those things that drove you nuts about
working for someone else to begin with. Makes the inevitable retreat back
into your home office "shell" that much sweeter.

8. Keep every single receipt for everything you do. You never know what
will be deductible a year from now. For example, I used to collect PEZ
dispensers. One day, I had a client ask me to design about a dozen
different PEZ-like candy dispensers that were themed to their hotel/
casino. Guess what? I got to deduct a bunch of my PEZ purchases on next
year's taxes as research.

Okay, that's way more than enough from me.

Enjoy your newfound freedoms!

John Dallaire
http://www.go-logowear.com
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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 21 May 2006 at 8:40pm | IP Logged | 3  

Thanks, John. I'll put as many of these into effect as possible. I'm not so
concerned about gaining weight - my eating and exercise habits, if
anything, improve when I'm away from the office. But I'll be vigilant.

When my G5 lease expires in November, I'm definitely planning on getting a
MacPro Intel laptop (and an asbestos apron, because they apparently get
groin-scorchingly hot). Good timing, too, becuase at that point I can move
out of the temporary office I've created and repaint and decorate it for its far
more important purpose - as the room for our first child.

But, please, tell me more about these XXX hours I'm going to enjoy now that
I work from home? :)
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Rich Henderson
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Posted: 22 May 2006 at 8:24am | IP Logged | 4  

John gives some solid advice but I believe your individual circumstances will change and, yes, dictate how you go about this.

One thing I would disagree with tho is the schedule aspect. I'd suggest one, at least when you're starting out. I found that I enjoyed doing art at home better than in an office atmosphere because I felt much more free to experiment. Not that I'd miss deadlines, I just felt more comfortable with the work. But also with this comes the "18 hour day" for little reason than you were "in the flow". Setting up an initial schedule will help with this, at least until you run into the inevitable "impossible" deadline.

It also depemds if you live alone or have a spouse, family or roommate. The big "problem" I see with your situation Dave is your upcoming offspring. Children change the situation very drastically, as does a pregnant wife. A friend of mine in a similar situation almost lost his house because of the "quality" time he spent with his family. His thoughts were that he could cater to the every whim of the wife and new baby and work while they slept. What he found was they were never asleep at the same time and that a person can only function properly for about 36 hours with no sleep. And the work tends to suffer a bit too.

The good thing is you're actually thinking ahead, inquiring from others and trying to set things up in a manner that will be beneficial to you. God luck and have a great time. 

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John Byrne
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Posted: 22 May 2006 at 9:11am | IP Logged | 5  

Most simple and straightforward advice I can give:

TREAT IT LIKE A JOB!
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Marcel Chenier
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Joined: 19 May 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 2723
Posted: 22 May 2006 at 10:46am | IP Logged | 6  

Good thread, Dave--thanks for starting it.
I just landed an 'at home' job for a few months myself. It's a short, well
needed break from university studies.
So far, all the advice given is excellent. So, if no one minds I think I'll tap
some of it for me own self.

Good luck, Dave!
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Jeff Fettes
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Joined: 01 October 2003
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Posted: 22 May 2006 at 12:32pm | IP Logged | 7  

Since you asked for specific methods, try playing two roles, that of the "boss" and that of the "employee". At the end of the day, switch to "boss" mode and review your day objectively. As boss, did your "employee" get an acceptable amount of work done given how important it all is? Would you have been pleased with the day had you actually paid someone else to do your job?

The self discipline thing seems easy at the beginning, but it can slip slowly without you noticing it.

Good luck!

 

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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 23 May 2006 at 9:22pm | IP Logged | 8  

Update:

Thus far, I've been so busy getting organized that actual work has taken a
backseat - but I think I'm getting into it.

Thing I've noticed the most: I sure do get a lot of phone calls offering me
free vacations and lower interest rates.

Thanks for all the advice, people. And to JB: well, it's sort of like my office
job, but combined with janitor, cook, laundress and dishwasher... so I'm
treating it more like a host of jobs...
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Frank Lauro
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Posted: 23 May 2006 at 9:24pm | IP Logged | 9  

Dave:

Wear pants.

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Joe Zhang
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Posted: 23 May 2006 at 9:28pm | IP Logged | 10  

Work out every morning, preferably at a gym, if possible. 
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Christopher Arndt
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Posted: 23 May 2006 at 10:41pm | IP Logged | 11  

make sure you change clothes from sleep-whatevers to some sort of designated working-type garb.

Make sure your work-area is already set up for work.

RIP YOUR SNOOZE BUTTON OFF THE DAMNED ALARM CLOCK.


CJA
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Joe Franklin
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Posted: 26 May 2006 at 3:36pm | IP Logged | 12  

To John D. and John Byrne,

Thanks for the great work from home adivce.  I'll be on that track myself starting Tuesday.

Joe
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