Productivity as a WAHM: Your Daily Action List

June 17th, 2009

Hi again, I’m Nicole Dean. I’m a Guest Expert here this week at Lexi’s request and I’ve been talking about “Productivity when Working from Home”. If you missed the previous lessons, you can find Day One here: Valuing your Time & Day Two here: Timing your Work.

Today I’d like to talk about something that’s huge as far as being a Work at Home Entrepreneur.

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Scary home business stuff

May 29th, 2008

scary home business stuff

Photo by Bob Jagendorf

I have resumed reading The Girl’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business: Candid Advice, Frank Talk, and True Stories for the Successful Entrepreneur and now I realize that setting up a home business is more complicated than I thought.

I’ve been thinking of registering my freelance editorial business, mainly for the tax benefits. Even if I did it as a sole proprietorship there are still many business-like things to consider. For instance, I’ve just been reading the section about insurance and now know that I need to get at least three types of insurance: expanded health insurance (to supplement the provincial health insurance provided by Ontario); disability insurance (to help replace my income should I become too ill to work); and, home-business insurance (to cover the cost of my laptop and other home office equipment should they get damaged or lost). Whew!

And now that I’m about to get my certification in childbirth education, I’m considering registering that business as well. Then I would need even more insurance, such as general liability insurance – to protect me should, for example (and God forbid!) a client slip on the floor during a class, break her ankle and decide to sue me.

No wonder authors Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio called this chapter “The scary stuff: legalities, licenses, permits, financials, and funding”.

Now I have to buckle down and figure out a budget to cover “the scary stuff”, including fees for a lawyer, an accountant, and an insurance broker. I have to admit, this business of setting up a home business is not that easy.

At least I have this book. I’m the type of person who needs step-by-step instructions for the simplest things. And setting up a home business is far from simple.

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Stay at home – are you ready for the loneliness?

May 22nd, 2008

stay at home loneliness by tom@hk on flickr

Photo by Tom@HK

Loneliness is a common experience for stay at home individuals. Even an introvert like me needs human interaction to stay sane and happy. And I mean interaction beyond one’s spouse or partner and children, especially if, like me, you spend the entire day with a semi-verbal toddler who always needs to be cleaned or fed.

Having spent 14 years in my last job, I made lifelong friends of my co-workers. No wonder I miss them terribly now even though I’m living my dream of becoming a stay at home Mom – especially after the little one is napping and I’m the only one stirring in the house.

It doesn’t help that I moved across the globe to become a stay at home Mom, and I’ve landed where everyone outside my family, save for four people (relatives), are complete strangers. It isn’t that simple for me to pick up the phone and call a friend. It’s expensive and we are separated by 12 hours’ time difference. Besides, the four people I know have full-time jobs or are in school and wouldn’t be home.

Rather than wallow in my isolation, here are seven things I’ve been doing and plan on doing, to ease the loneliness:

1. Get out of the house everyday.

Now that spring is here, I indulge in a daily walk every afternoon. I strap the toddler in his stroller and take in the fresh air and all the greenness for at least 15 minutes every day. It’s great for my body and for my mind. I always come home feeling refreshed.

2. Keep in touch, the high-tech way.

Most of my friends and family are thousands of miles away and it would be too expensive to call them often. Fortunately, we live in the digital age. Last weekend, we had a video chat with some good friends and boy did it feel good to hear and see them in real time. Technology rocks! We used Skype (with the friend who wasn’t using a Mac) and iChat (with the friend who was). No web cam? Instant messengers are the next best thing. And there’s always Email.

3. Minimize TV watching.

It’s easy for a stay at home Mom to get trapped into the TV viewing habit. After all, you can do household chores, entertain a toddler or even surf the Net while doing it. But I’ve noticed that watching too much TV leaves me feeling a bit depressed and detached. Besides, it isn’t good for my toddler (which I’ve been telling parents for a decade now while I was still in UNICEF).

4. Keep a positive attitude.

One of the things I learned from Flylady is to always smile, even if I don’t feel like it. I try to do this even when the toddler has just had a screaming fit, or when I’m worried that DH still doesn’t have a job. Somehow, it works. What we do on the outside affects how we feel on the inside.

5. Make new friends.

I have to admit, my older children are better at this than I am. In fact, their social calendars are filling up fast. I have the feeling it may be difficult for me to make new friends at this stage in my life, but I’m not giving up yet. I have run into parents of toddlers in the library and park. Maybe I’ll overcome my introversion and bring cookies to our next-door neighbor. Maybe.

6. Create or join a network of like-minded individuals.

I’ve got virtual networks on Facebook and Yahoo! Groups but I think a network you see face-to-face is better. As soon as we have a car I’ll join monthly meetings of the local La Leche League or maybe attend a knitting group.

7. Talk about it.

I write a weekly Email to my friends back home about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of immigrants in Canada. I began writing them when I was very depressed and homesick and thought we had made a big mistake moving here. Being able to express myself, even in writing, truly helps ease some of the pain. Talking to DH about my feelings of isolation also helps a lot.

Surprisingly, I didn’t find a lot of articles about loneliness in my favorite work at home websites. I did find these:

How to overcome loneliness when you work at home

10 tips for overcoming loneliness

6 practical and powerful ways to overcome depression

If you’re thinking of becoming a stay at home parent, seriously consider how you will cope with the inevitable feelings of loneliness.

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Does anybody really make money from “paid” surveys?

May 3rd, 2008

Thumbs-down by desi.Italy

Since my last post, I’ve moved halfway around the globe to Canada. I hadn’t anticipated the impact this would have on me physically and emotionally. I’ve only been able to do the most basic things to keep myself and my family functioning and blogging was all but forgotten. I realized that with the major changes in my life, I needed a home business that was really easy and took almost no time at all. And so I tried … paid surveys!

I signed up with Survey Club and almost immediately received an opportunity to make $4 by joining an online music club and then giving my feedback about it. The whole process took probably 20 minutes and the next day, I had $4 in my Paypal account.

Pumped up by this instant gratification, I did as advised and signed up for half a dozen paid survey membership sites — all for free. Actually, the advice was to sign up for at least 10, but I hadn’t had the time for it. Some sites require you to fill up voluminous pre-screening surveys — to place you in the proper demographic for the surveys. These take up a lot of time.

Six weeks later, I have made … still only $4 from the surveys! I have filled up dozens of them but all I got in return was the chance to win this or that raffle and to accumulate points. I have not won a single raffle. Neither do I remember what the points are for.

Meantime, I have found a website that will pay me $5 for a 250-word article. Takes a bit longer than answering a survey but I will definitely make more money than I have so far from answering surveys.

Perhaps I have simply signed up for the wrong survey membership sites. If you’ve had better luck from paid surveys, do let me know how you did it.

Update on my work at home project: The Thirty Day Challenge!

February 27th, 2008

Photo by Scootie

I’m on Day 10 of my work at home project, the Thirty Day Challenge. I have identified one niche for internet marketing and am now writing three articles for it. I need another niche and fast! With our move to Canada one week away, just keeping up with the challenge is proving to be a challenge in itself. However, I have managed to join a team so I’m trudging along. Perhaps, as for others, it will be more like the Sixty Day Challenge for me.

So far, I have learned how to do market research on possible niche topics using Freewordtracker, Google and Google Trends. The techniques that Ed Dale and his colleagues teach are so simple but unintuitive that they’re so cool! And then Mike Stenhouse and Mike Mindel put these together in an amazing tool — Wordtracker GTrends.

The “golden nuggets” technique is used to “mine” for the ideal niche — one that has a lot of demand but little competition. You’ll have to go through the challenge yourself to fully appreciate what I’m talking about.

I got a bit sidetracked because I had misunderstood the bit about measuring the amount competition for a particular niche. Fortunately, I found some clarification in the Thirty Day Challenge forums, so I think I’m back on track to finding one more niche.

Just got an E-mail today from Ed saying that the Thirty Day Challenge has just produced another millionaire. Now that’s encouraging!

Watch out for my next article: How to avoid work at home scams, part 3. In case you missed the earlier installments, here are the links:

How to avoid work at home scams, Part 1: Do your research

How to avoid work at home scams, Part 2: Use only legitimate job leads