Yesterday’s post focused on How to Choose the Right Work-at-Home Idea for You. Today I’d like to discuss what you need to start working from home. Getting started working from home may involve a lot of preparation or very little, depending on what you already have and how far you’ve already gone with your work-at-home plans. The following is a basic checklist to help you get started.
Of course, you’ll need a computer – you knew that, right? Nonetheless, it’s not necessarily enough just to have any old computer. For working from home, you will need a computer that can be your daily work horse – it needs to be up to date, have plenty of memory, and functional USB ports. If you know others who work from home, ask them what computer they use, and why. Also ask them if they would choose a different computer if they had to do it over again.
Laptop or Desktop?
While you are considering what computer will best serve your purposes, you will probably need to decide between a laptop and a desktop. Most sources recommend both – using your desktop for daily tasks (desktops usually have more memory) and your laptop for certain projects and for back-up.
The ideal situation is a desktop and router, and a laptop with a wireless card. The wireless card plugs into your laptop’s USB port, picking up a signal from the router and allowing you to connect to the internet using your laptop. Then, you can do the bulk of your work on the desktop and grab the laptop when you need to finish something up or work on a project somewhere else in the house.
Broadband Internet Connection
It’s pretty much impossible to work from home effectively without a broadband or high-speed internet connection. Dial-up takes far too long and will greatly inhibit your business capabilities. So sign up with the internet service provider (ISP) of your choice and get set up for high-speed internet.
Family and Childcare
Many people choose to work from home in order to be near their children. However, depending on your circumstances, ages of your children and requirements of your work (if you need a quiet background when you’re on the phone, etc.), childcare may be necessary during your work hours. This can be a dilemma – making enough money to pay for childcare right off the bat is challenging. Try relatives first – grandparents, aunts, and so forth may be willing to watch your children for a few hours a week each, and for free.
Then you can check into mother’s helpers; these are childcare providers who come into your home and take care of your children while you are there. Mother’s helpers are much less expensive than conventional babysitters, because you are on the premises and the helper is using your home.
Babysitters who will watch your child in their home are more expensive, and traditional daycare is probably the most expensive. If your children are in school, you can arrange your work hours around their school hours.
While this goes on your checklist, it’s highly individualized. Some people are happy with a work space in the corner of their kitchen; others prefer an entire room dedicated to being the home office. When I first started working at home, my work space was a desk in the corner of my bedroom. Now, 7+ years later, I finally have my own office!
The important thing is to have some kind of area set aside for you to work in. This helps you get in “work mode” more quickly since you will associate your surroundings with working, and it also sends a signal to other family members that you are working when you are in that area.