How to work from home in 9 easy steps
Working from home might sound like your idea of heaven, but it's actually a lot harder than it sounds. Here are some expert tips on how to earn some extra cash without leaving the sofa...
The web is crammed full of work from home job opportunities, and since so much business is done online these days, working from home jobs have become the norm.
While the possibility of 'going to work' by simply rolling out of bed to get your laptop is undeniably dreamy, working from home can have its challenges.
If you're considering the WFH (work from home) lifestyle, be it as a freelancer or in a flexible job, it's worth taking these pointers into consideration.
And, if you're already living the dream, these tips will help you get the most out of your working day.
How to be productive when working at home
Try these top ways to work from home successfully:
Find the right work from home job for you
Once you've decided that earning from home is the ideal setup for you, and you're stocked up on tea and comfy pyjamas (of course), all that's left is... finding a job.
Finding an online job requires just as much effort as finding any other type of job. Fail to take it seriously and you'll fail to make a profit.
As a starting point, we've got our very own part-time job search engine. But, it's also worth checking out job sites, like this one which focuses on startups. As they may have fewer resources than bigger companies, startups are often keen to recruit remote workers.
You could also check out our step-by-step guide to freelancing for everything you need to know, including tips on how to land different projects.
Don't get conned by fake job adverts
The mantra to remember when on the hunt for your dream stay-at-home job is: if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
You can forget your dreams of a £70 an hour gig – unless you're very highly skilled or have a super niche skill to offer, you're not gonna be making that much dough.
It seems that students and recent graduates are popular targets for online job fraud, so it's important that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself.
Do your research – check out the company online before you apply. Expect at least a phone interview before being offered the role and check their office location on Google.
If the address they gave you looks like a kebab shop on Street View, it probably is a kebab shop (and let's face it, you probably can't work for a kebab shop from home).
Find ways to stay motivated
Having a job where you can work from the comfort of your bed definitely earns you bragging rights, but you need the self-discipline to not roll over and go back to sleep every morning.
There will be no one to ring you up and leave angry messages if you don’t show up for a shift (great!) and no one to tell you off for slacking halfway through the day (also great!).
But this also means that no one has your back to say you really are a hard worker when you're failing to meet deadlines or turning in sub-standard work.
You need to be your own boss in this game, and a hard-arse one at that.
Your housemates may be playing a game of FIFA, and last night’s photos may well have just hit Facebook, but if you don’t find the time to work you’ll find your chances of holding down this job evaporate very quickly. Resist!
Set a routine for working from home
You might be revelling in the fact that you don't have the mega-strict hours of a normal job, but the danger of this is that a lack of routine can really mess with your motivation and productivity.
Assign yourself fixed hours for starting the day, taking breaks and ending your day. If you don't, you'll find yourself working over lunch breaks and having to stay behind on your laptop until 2am because you've procrastinated all day.
And, if you can squeeze in a walk around the block or a jog outside before you start, that's even better.
Treat working at home like you would a job where you have to show up at an office – don't work in your pyjamas. Although it might sound obvious, getting dressed every day will help boost your motivation and prevent you from lounging around in front of the TV all day.
Manage your time on social media
We spend so much time on our phones that your hand will instinctively reach into your pocket without you even noticing. Checking what your friends are doing on Instagram or what outrageous thing Donald Trump's said on Twitter is almost second nature.
Social media is a massive distraction. Before you know it, you've watched 20 videos of cats meowing to Britney and have wasted half an hour.
Put your phone on silent and keep it lying face down. Or, even better still, put it on aeroplane mode.
This doesn't mean you have to go cold turkey all day. Social media is a great way of keeping up with what's going on in the world. But, make a rule of only checking it once every hour and staying on it for no more than three minutes at a time. Of course there's an app for this.
There are even web browser extensions nowadays that will help keep you off Facebook and focused on raking in the cash.
Don't spend too much time alone
In many ways, working from home is so flexible that it can be the most social kind of work you can find. Meeting a friend for a coffee or inviting them over for lunch is easy as pie, and WFH tends to be a lot more flexible when it comes to your work/life balance.
However, there's no denying that this can also be one of the loneliest ways to work.
One thing we do recommend highly is getting out of the house and working in a local library or cafe so you get some human interaction.
Don't underestimate how crazy it can make you to be sat alone staring at your computer for eight hours a day! You could do with the fresh air, anyway.
Don't work too many hours at home
When working involves sitting on your bum at home and using your computer, you're probably well aware of how quickly time can disappear before you know it.
It's important that you give yourself a set number of work hours per day and stick to it.
Most uni courses suggest a limit of 15 hours a week for any kind of term-time job so you can still concentrate on your studies. If you do work part-time at uni, have a look at our top tips for balancing work and study.
It’s probably better to go for a lower number of hours at first and then add a few more later if you think you can handle it.
Become a self-starter
Although most decent companies will give you as much help as they can to settle you in, that doesn't mean someone will be there to help you when it’s 3am, you’re shattered and you haven’t the foggiest idea what you're meant to be working on.
You simply have to get used to the idea that there will be no one there to hold your hand, no instant feedback and that help only comes in emails between nine and five – no matter what sort of schedule you're running to.
If you do run into a problem, try and work it out by yourself before resorting to emailing someone. There are YouTube tutorials for just about every piece of software under the sun.
Getting organised and planning your workload ahead will really help, and gives you plenty of time to get sh*t done.
Resist the urge to binge eat when working from home
Managing what you eat while you work can be tough. Having packets of biscuits and crisps lying around to graze on will only encourage binge eating.
Be mindful of what and how much you're eating, and aim to stock up on brain fuel food. Having proper breakfasts and lunches (not just an apple or one slice of toast) will keep the urge to snack at bay.
Preparing your meals the night before is also a good way to save time on cooking and make sure you stick to a healthy diet.
Keen to make some cash at home but don't have the time for an online job? Have a read of our extensive guide on how to make some quick cash online instead.