Today we’re going to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of working from home. On the plus side, you get to ditch the commute which can be a lot of lost time. On the minus side, working from home takes some getting used to. You have to learn how to stay focused and get rid of or at least avoid the distractions of working from home, and that’s what we’re talking about today.
Most Investors Start Out Working from Home
Most real estate investors work from home at least in the beginning. Very few start out with an outside office and even fewer start out with an office and a staff. A large percentage of people that don’t have an outside office work in coffee shops, and other remote places. Even if you eventually get an outside office, it’s inevitable that you will end up working from home at times. So, what are the pros and cons of working from home?
The Pros and Cons
Working from home saves a big chunk of your day because you no longer have to commute. The real trick here is to fill that time you save commuting with something useful to your business. You may know that I’m a big believer in planning your day the night before. But if you prefer to do that in the morning, I recommend that you do that the very first thing in the morning. It’s also good to set aside some time during this same period of time, maybe a half-hour to an hour, to do some long-term strategic planning or to just check in with yourself and see if you’re making progress on your big goals. It’s essential to do this in order to stay on track.
There are So Many Distractions!
Let’s face it; it’s easy to get distracted when you work from home. Here’s a perfect example:
Does this sound like you?
You grab something to drink and you notice the dirty dishes in the sink. Then you think, “I’ll put these in the dishwasher. It will only take a minute”. In the process of doing that, you spill that left-over cup of coffee on the floor. So then…. you grab a dish towel, wipe up the coffee, then hit the start button on the dishwasher. Next, you take the dirty towel you cleaned up the coffee with to the laundry basket when all of a sudden you think, “I’ll just throw this load of clothes in the washer”. It will just take a minute.
Do you see how you’ve just lost control of a big chunk of your time? It’s one tiny little thing that starts the process and suddenly becomes a giant time waster. You get the picture; you have just become a victim of the shiny object syndrome, or the “I have totally lost my focus” syndrome. So, what can you do to make working from home as productive as possible? I have some tips for you today.
1. Have a Dedicated Work Space.
It’s great if you have a whole room that you can use for your office. Ideally, there should be a door so you can leave your office at the end of the day, but that’s not always possible. There may not be an extra room to call your home office. But if you can, try to separate your office workspace from the rest of your home.
If this isn’t feasible for you, then pick an area in your home that you designate as your workspace. Maybe it’s a corner in the unused dining room. Wherever that is, try to make it as functional as possible. Find a little bit of storage space in that room for things you need all the time.
2. Being Productive While Working in your Pajamas is a Myth
You need to get up and get dressed if you want to be productive.
I like to get ready in the morning as if I were going to an office; that is except for one thing. When it comes to this “one thing”, I have a confession to make. I’m probably going to be wearing sweat pants.
While I’m making a video, recording a podcast, or have a video coaching call I’m all put together except for that one thing; real, go out in the public, pants. Lipstick on, check. Hair done, check. I’m completely pulled together if I have to jump on a call or record something on Zoom. But if I have to leave home for any reason… I’ll need a different pair of pants before running out the door.
Another thing I would like to mention here is if you plan to be doing video calls or recording any type of videos, you need to have some type of backdrop or clutter-free area that folks will see. Most people don’t have a dedicated studio for video, but you do need to be aware of your background. You want to come across as a professional even if you are working in a corner of the living room.
3. Even Though you are Working from Home You are Still Running a Business
You should treat your business you’re running from home the same as if you were working from an outside office. That means you should start to delegate all that you can as soon as you can. As the business owner, you should be concentrated on one thing, and that is how to grow a profitable business. Your role should ultimately be only to be the visionary in your business. You are the person that knows where this ship is headed. You can’t do that if you’re always knee-deep in admin work or things that you can outsource.
As time goes by and you have people doing some of the work in your business, you’re going to need to add a person that manages all of those other people AKA your team. That person might be called the integrator or the project manager. He or she is the person who manages all the other people that get stuff done. This is going to require a mindset shift in most cases. You want to move from being a one-man or one-woman show to building a team. This one shift will allow you to concentrate on the big picture and grow a much bigger business.
Remember that your role is to be the visionary in your business. You let your integrator know what tasks and projects need to be done, and they manage all the people doing the tasks and the project work. This person also sets up the systems for all your other team members.
Can you see how your integrator is the person that makes things happen? How would that feel if you were no longer in that role?
This won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you focus on making it happen.
4. Get Out and Network
When you first start working from home, you won’t immediately feel a sense of isolation. However, over time you’ll start to feel like you’re living in a cave… by yourself. You will no longer see people on a regular basis. You will need to make a concentrated effort to maintain current relationships and make new ones. It’s also important to keep up with networking opportunities such as your local REIA’s or any other groups you belong to or have an interest in. If you’re not already doing this, consider joining a non-real estate group like the Chamber of Commerce, NAWBO, or other business groups that interest you. This is important, and it’s part of the work you do to grow your network and your business.
Let’s talk about social media for just a minute. A lot of people just cannot see the value of social media. I can tell you from experience that using these platforms can be vital to growing your network and your brand. In fact, we could do a whole show on that topic alone.
5. Managing Distractions is Crucial
I can tell you this one is easier said than done. First of all, turn off the TV. There’s no real work getting done when you’re half-watching or listening to the television and doing a little work on the side. When you’re working from home, it’s easy to find ways to not work. It’s challenging especially, in the beginning, to get a routine and stick to it. Half the battle is just being aware of some of the pitfalls of working from home.
6. You Need Some Sort of a System for Managing Your Time
Having some sort of a system is really important when you work from home. You have to manage your days, your weeks, your months, and your quarters if you’re going to win at your annual goals. I still recommend what is one of my all-time favorite books as a resource for learning how to manage your time. It is the “12 Week Year” by Bryan Moran. This book gives you a framework to work with for staying on track and accomplishing your goals.
I have found that if I plan my weeks in advance, and plan each day (my tomorrow) the night before, my weeks get better and better. I get a lot more done. These weeks turn into months, and months turn into very productive quarters. Keeping your quarterly goals at the forefront makes it so much easier to nail those big annual goals you set each year.
Tools for Time Management and More
Trello and Asana are two tools that I really like. I love Trello because it is a very visual tool I love the colored boards. One of my VA's turned me onto Asana. Asana is a great tool for teams. I have used both of these, and they both have a free version so check them out.
This is what I know for sure. The benefits of being able to work from home are too numerous to count. Once you get a grip on distractions, you’ll probably never want to go back.
Don’t Forget Your Freebie
Be sure to pick up a brand-new freebie that I have for you. It’s my Probate Investing Roadmap. You can get that by clicking here:
Here's Your Podcast – The Good, Bad and Ugly of Working from Home
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