Thursday, 21 November 2013

Rules To Working From Home...

Hello and welcome back!

I’ll briefly do a roundup of what has happened recently with Panto in a Day and then I’ll move onto the body of this blog. I realise it has been a near millennia since the last blog update, but we have been busy! Great for us, not so great for our ocean of readers (sure, maybe it’s a puddle, but who’s counting)!?
We have jumped in leaps and bounds since we last wrote about Panto in a Day and the lead up to this Christmas. We have had over 250 applicants apply to work in teams travelling around the country performing Cinderella. We have auditioned in the two biggest cities in the country. Both London and Manchester has helped us cast this year’s pantomime. We’ve visited our home from a home, The Three Minute Theatre and are looking forward to starting rehearsals.
I met with Laura Darrell the new addition to Panto in a Day, hopefully someone here to stay. She’ll be managing the new team and will be a stand in for any complications. We have had the set created, costumes accumulated and realised that the price in car hiring has inflated hugely over the last year! Gosh, there is a business start up there. We’ve spent a ludicrous amount on car hiring this year. Soon we will have our own branded vans travelling around the country. The script is finished and is another exiting, fun and interactive show prepped for some pre-Christmas hyperactive children. We are 10 days away from starting our first day of rehearsals and we have 11 people on the payroll this year! As you can tell from my excited drivel of letters stringing together words of positivity things are ‘kicking off’! We of course will not be getting too complacent until everything is to the high standard expected of the company...Which is a very high one!
Since our last addition a lot has developed, one of which was my talk at Exeter University as an alumni. I spoke to undergraduates from 18-23 years old. We went through their aspirations and future goals. I’ll try to cover my exact talk and through line in another blog addition. However, one thing that did come up was; How do you keep yourself strict enough to work as your own boss. It is something that has come up in the past and I thought about putting words to paper through this blog. In short, the answer is discipline, and I spoke to these undergraduates as if I was worlds away from putting off an essay to go to the pub. But as you grow so do your thoughts, sure it sounds obvious and a classic father son conversation but it is true. I have tried to go through and break it down with sub-headings in taking the first steps to working from home and becoming your own boss.

Know Your Weaknesses
As we just mentioned, discipline is one of the most important aspects. It is so easy to say, ‘I’m working from home, I’ll start a couple of hours late today. No! Our office hours are 10:00-18:00. That means, we are in the office from that time and very frequently work beyond that 18:00 (which maybe we shouldn’t). But at the weekend, we don’t send a tweet, an email or even think about schools. After 18:00 it is rare we’d reply to an email. (Believe it or not we have received e-mails from teachers on Saturdays, Sundays and a couple of times past 10pm!!) It would look highly unprofessional to reply. We work hard and we work within office hours. If the phone goes off on the Friday evening the messages won’t be picked up again until Monday. But the other side to that is you need to put the hours in where necessary, there is always something to do. Even if it is the dreaded tax return or receipt filing.
Distraction is of course the second biggest black hole to fall into when working from home. ‘Check facebook for five minutes’, very quickly becomes 20! And you’ll never just watch one YouTube clip. If you know you’re going to get distracted go out. There are so many working spaces out there, coffee shops being the most obvious. You can run any small business anywhere with the internet and a calendar.

Dress Up
Get showered and dressed for your days work. Most people have this misconception that we sit here in our pants and bed clothes. I only wear boxer shortrs to bed, so it’d not only be cold but highly inappropriate. Shower, dress and turn up to the office. I’m not talking a tuxedo but whatever clothes you feel comfortable in. Personally I love wearing a suit, usually it’s only for weddings though, but there is a certain self respect that comes with donning a fitted shirt and smart trousers. Our new branded t-shirts and hoodies are clothes I now live in.

Create an Office
You can’t sit on the couch. Why? Well that is where you sit of an evening, sipping a beer, watching a film or just slobbing about. The connotations do not point at work. Sit as a desk, a separate chair. Somewhere you wouldn’t normally sit in ‘leisure’ times. Usually facing away from the TV. Are you someone who can listen to the radio when working? It works for some by creating an atmosphere and falters others because they’ll constantly be shazaming every song. I know where everything is in my office, usually because it is positioned within an arm’s reach. Surrounding myself with the things I’ll need throughout the day means I don’t have to leave the chair.

Stick to Deadlines and Lists
I am a person that has always created lists. I love lists! Do they work for you? Have the niggling feeling or just remembered a small yet important e-mail you need to send? Make a quick note of. And although I seem to constantly add to an ever growing list it does feel good crossing something off. A physiological victory but PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) creates a positive environment.

Stay in Touch
Are you the only person in your small business? Do you know anyone else with a small business? E-mail them every now and then. Knowing there are other people outside your front door makes it all worthwhile. We all love to bitch about the boss and other colleagues, but if you are the boss, or the only colleague it can be difficult. But you can share success and failures of your business. Sharing what you’ve done and saying things out loud makes everything real and relish in the fact you’ve just crossed a job off your list!

These are just a few pointers that will help you change from a social working environment to a secluded self disciplined working environment. I get more work done from home than I ever would in an office.  These sub-headings help create a far more professional feeling with you and your own company. And this in turn exudes from your skin and passes a level of professionalism onto your customers. 

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