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. But, 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, childcare is 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. 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 workspace in the corner of their kitchen; others prefer an entire room dedicated to being the home 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.
Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Director of Communications for Our Milk Money, the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of Buy By Mom and Buy By Mom Blog. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.