Andy Vaughn

Do not disturb

…and other fun rules for running a successful home business.

Sign of a curvy road ahead

Close the door

When I first started Breakaway Web Design, I had a ‘mobile office.’ Meaning, I didn’t have an office (or rather, didn’t use it), and instead worked from the couch, dining room table, bar-table, etc. The problem with this as a habit, is that your ‘office’ has to be cleaned up for dinner. You can’t leave notes, letters, CDs, drawings, etc. lying out. It’s communal space, and your family shouldn’t be expected to work around you.

Also, how enticing is it to your spouse, if you are in constant visual proximity? Of course (if she/he likes you) you will be like dangling steak in front of a labrador. For the sake of your familial relationships, and your own good habits, get an office-room, and close the door.

Put on your shoes

Take off your shoes. It was the first lesson I learned upon marrying an Asian wife. Always take off your shoes when you enter someone’s home, especially your own.

One designer mentioned this tactic a while back (I think Mr. Boulton), and it has really helped me define to myself when I am working and when I am not. Put on your shoes when you start work for the day, and take them off when you are done. It may seem rude or uncomfortable at first, but it is a good way to create boundaries and definitions.

Put the laptop away

If you work on a laptop, it is important to not bring that laptop into the bedroom, to the dinner-table, etc. The reason? You will create a conflict of intention.

Stacey and I used to enjoy watching Netflix on-demand movies in bed on the laptop. Booting it up and signing in, I would notice that I had two new messages in my business email inbox. Now what? I’m thinking that I need to respond to these emails, given that they are guaranteed to be client emails. Stacey’s thinking if I had never brought the laptop in the room in the first place, I wouldn’t even know about these messages (and she’s right).

Did you ever study on your dorm-room bed in college? Fall asleep? Me too. This is another reason for separation of work and play/rest. When the lines are fuzzy, you will create poor work and poor rest. Can’t get that client project off your mind? Once your head hits that pillow, you better be able to rest-up for a powerhouse work day in the morning.

Creative mornings

Replace “mornings” with your particular power-cycle time of day. When I wake up, I usually have a topic on my mind, or a client-project that is just burning to be worked on. So, before I start emails, I immediately start in on unleashing my creative monkey.

Email tennis

One successful technique that I picked up from following the Four-Hour Workweek is to check emails less. At my old work, the email system was basically used as an instant-chat, since everyone always had it up, and was willing to sacrifice attention for surface communication. This was disturbing to the creative process – to say the least. However, one habit that I took-up and still hold to, is checking email and immediately responding to it. I check it less, but give more quality and consistent responses. This builds communication trust between me and my clients.

Jumping Jacks

Have a set time of day that you have routine activity. Before we had Lily, my time of day used to be around 2:30pm, since it was sunnier at that time of day, and allowed for some awesome mountain biking. Now, I like to get up an hour before my girls do, and get my run, bike, or gym-trip in. It provides a schedule for my body, and let’s me know that I have already accomplished something towards one of my goals (health) before I’ve even started work for the day.

Et tú?

I would love to learn more successful habits of successful home business-ers. Please share, if you have any new ones that I didn’t mention.

Posted by Andy Vaughn on June 22, 2009

One Comment to “Do not disturb”

  1. Good points raised here. I am grateful to you for that, however you deserve more thanks than that. I suffer from color blindness (deuteranopia in my case). I mainly use Opera browser (no idea if that changes anything), and a considerabland a number of web sites are challenging to comprehend thanks to a careless range of colours used. However, here, as the range of colors is good, the design is extremely tidy and pleasant to comprehend. I don’t know whether it was a premeditated and conscious undertaking, or just the ‘luck of the draw’, but I still thank you.

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