Working from home. Ahh, don’t you love the sound of it? If you’ve never done it, my guess is you have this romantic vision in your head of a nice cup of coffee, the television on your favorite show or some nice music playing with your laptop where it was designed, on your lap, with your feet up on the couch sporting the new slippers you purchased in honor of being “virtual.” The day I started my business and began working from home, I too romanticized it. No makeup, doing laundry during the day, PJs until noon, being available for my kids at all hours of the day? Sign me up!
The first couple of weeks were amazing. I was able to go to my daughter’s Halloween Party at school, my house was spotless, I had everything prepared for when I got my first client and I had great ideas for the layout of my website. There was one major problem; I had no clients. As the days wore on I became increasingly less motivated, spent more time watching television, baking and other things and found I wasn’t even getting dressed or taking a shower until it was time to pick up my daughter from school. I got to a point where I was about to lose my drive when I heard about this little thing called networking.
Networking was everything I didn’t want which is why I started my own business; waking up at O’dark thirty, getting all dressed up to go to a meeting where you give a 30 second presentation, hand out some business cards and make plans for lunches to meet other people. This sounded like everything I was trying to get away from by creating a virtual environment, but I didn’t want to go back into the corporate world, so I gave it a shot. After the first meeting I had my first interested client… SCORE! I went home only to find I was more motivated than ever and began knocking things out and making calls left and right. I think someone spiked the punch.
Networking quickly became my addiction, it was my drug of choice. It didn’t matter if I had only 3 hours of sleep, only 5 people showed up, no one talked to me, the food was terrible or I didn’t get a single new business card. Every time I went to a meeting I came home with a renewed sense of purpose. But after two years of chasing that first high and drinking the Kool-Aid, time began to ware on me and I was back in PJs, lacking motivation.
During my slump I went to my husband, who had been working with his business from home for 10 years, sat in a chair in his office, with my PJs and slippers and started to cry my eyes out. I wanted to quit. I couldn’t get motivated and didn’t know how to move on. He reminded me of his advice when this all stared; “get up in the morning and go to work as if you were going to work”. When he said it, it all came to me. The reason I was so successful when I was networking had everything to do with the way I approached my day; getting dressed and preparing to give my best.
Now I get up every morning, take a shower, do my hair and put on make-up as if I’m headed into the office. I began to notice when my employees were feeling down, getting stressed, being unproductive or just “not in it” they typically were lounging in their PJs answering phones. When we implemented a policy for everyone to be dressed as if coming to the office, we not only noticed a change in productivity but a boost in moral. They were genuinely happier. Although I still have my occasional lazy Saturdays where I’ll lounge around until late morning or early afternoon, especially in the middle of winter, I always feel more productive and happier when I awake with a plan and a purpose.