As I sit here listening to a podcast about productivity for entrepreneurs, I am certainly not surprised to hear the guest and the host mention outsourcing not just business things you need done, but also personal responsibilities like cleaning. While I wholeheartedly agree with the base concept, I must correct something the host mentioned.
She stated that she and her husband hired someone to come in a few hours a month to do the deep cleaning that they don’t have time to do. Something that I can empathize with. It was her lack of logic that twisted my brain. She stated they did it because of how much time it would free up for them to focus more on their business.
Outsourcing to Free Up Time
Outsourcing to free up time is common. Outsourcing is also both a convenience and a necessity for many. However, outsourcing does not free up your time from a certain project…if you weren’t working on that project to begin with.
And It’s Not about Freeing Up Mental Space
Your brain creates an unlimited universe for you. Outsourcing something you’re not doing doesn’t free up any mental space. It relieves your self-imposed guilt. It gives you a reason to think you can be more mindful with what you believe is a better use of your time.
Yet, if you can’t be mindful now on this most important project that you’re doing instead of doing X, it’s likely that the X isn’t the problem. You are the problem. Your intimidation toward the important project is your problem. Your procrastination is your problem. Your lack of follow-through is your problem.
Your lack of self-honesty through self-assessment is your problem. It is not mental space. You will not focus any better just because you’ve outsourced something else. You’ll find something else to fill your thoughts instead of fully engaging in the project in front of you.
Work at home life has a unique set of challenges. One of those challenges is making sure that you have enough work to pay your bills and have a comfortable existence. The thought of not having enough money can make any work at home soul cringe. It’s nice and (almost) esoteric to fall into the “I don’t need to make a lot of money – I do this cause I love it!” routine. Read more
There aren’t any shortcuts to work at home success. While many people are certainly more productive when they work from home, working from home is still work. Various articles related to productivity state that people who work from home get more done and we often work more than our more traditional counterparts.
What sets the successful apart? Why do some clients return to their contractors over and over again? The answer is agile thought. Hiring a work from home contractor saves a business money on various overhead expenses. And, you know, there’s that productivity thing I mentioned. Yet,the real reason we’re successful is agile mental acuity. We have the ability to quickly assess a situation and come up with a solution. We’re able to isolate problems and determine the best course of action. Why? It’s a mix of experience, talent, and the fact that we know we don’t always have access to the client to ask a question. This leads to the development of problem solving skills that are quickly implemented.
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- Abide by city, state, and federal laws because a law suit is really the last thing that you want or need to deal with when it comes to business. For instance, did you know that in some towns you can’t run certain types of businesses from your home? Some cities or states may require you to have a certain type of license to run a specific kind of business. It doesn’t matter whether you think the law is stupid.
- Respect client confidentiality. You may or may not sign an NDA with your client. Even if you don’t, remember the golden rule and treat others how you want to be treated. If you’d like to share something related to their project, get the permission of the client.
- Be honest and upfront with clients and potential clients. No one likes a liar.
- Be respectful with your words and actions toward your clients and prospective clients. Not everyone is going to be a good fit. You can part ways amicably. Remember that the entire world is watching you on social media. Everything you say and do even on your personal accounts is subject to scrutiny. You’re free to say what you want, but you won’t be free of the consequences.
- Be honest in your advertising or description of services.
- Stay away from slang words and misleading phrases.
- Deliver on time, every time. The only exception is delivering early.
- Clear, concise, and professional communication with clients, potential clients, former clients, and other providers.
- Use contracts that are fair to everyone involved.
- Stay committed to education.
- Stay committed to excellence.
- Uphold your promises and agreements.
- Act like a professional. I realize we live in the information age and people want everything now. That’s no excuse for being unprofessional. That’s no excuse for treating people poorly. Remember that others who work from home are your colleagues. You may need a reference or you may want people to send you overflow work. That’s not going to happen if you’re unprofessional. Don’t act in a demeaning way toward clients or potential clients…or anyone else. Not only is it rude, it can also affect your business in the long run.
- Be courteous. Basic courtesy can go a long way in growing your business.
- Don’t talk down to anyone. Clients have a choice. They can find another provider.
- Keep semi-regular hours. I know that part of the draw to working from home is flexibility. I know I appreciate being able to set my own hours. Remember that many of your clients already keep regular hours and they need to know when they can talk to you.
- Be honest about your policies. If you plan to act as a middle man and outsource all your projects to others, make sure that clients know and that they are okay with this. Otherwise, you could hurt your reputation.
- Respect the time of others. Your day is no more or no less important than that of anyone else. While long-term clients may be very understanding of a day where your child is sick, it’s really not the problem of your clients and I’d bet a nickel that you could have avoided missing a deadline by better time management earlier during the project. One of the ways you can respect the time of others (and your own time) is by setting up a schedule and sticking to it. When school is in session, my work hours are 9 am to 3 pm. That’s six hours of uninterrupted time. During the summer, I get up before anyone else and work. I also work throughout the day.
- Stay on top of your email and reply where necessary. Triage and trash. Triage your email to determine if you need to respond or put it on a to-do list. Trash what you don’t need. Clients and others you work with shouldn’t have to wait days or weeks to hear back from you because you lost an email.
- Understand what your responsibilities are and uphold them. If a client or other work from home professional sends you a project, you get on the same page about the requirements. You ask questions where necessary. You adhere to what they say they need done. If they say no outsourcing, then you do it yourself. Anything less than upholding your responsibilities is a form of dishonesty.
If you haven’t already experienced this phenomenon in life, rest assured that not only does it happen when you work from home, but it does not ever improve. Any time you need or want to do something, something comes up. If you’re lucky, that something is cute and worth it and not annoying.
Dan Bull the Anvil and I have tried to record the Sunday edition of Black Moth Radio all morning. It happens with work, too. It is one of the many realities of the work at home life.