For many people, working from home sounds like a dream job. The opportunity to set your own hours, wear whatever you want, and not deal with the stresses of a boss and an office place is alluring. Soon, however, the disarray of a home office and difficulty keeping track of work opportunities can diminish the excitement of working from home. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2010, 13.4 million workers spent at least one day per week working from home. That represents a 35% increase over the past 10 years.
With working from home becoming more popular, it is essential for workers to maintain an organized home office. An important part of this — especially for freelancers or consultants — is cataloging new opportunities to keep a strong revenue flow.
Create a Spreadsheet
Spreadsheets are an excellent way to keep information organized, but setting up a logical structure is key. Create columns with relevant websites and contact information. Then, add cells that allow you to update the status of the opportunity. This might include the date and type of contact made, pitches delivered, work orders, job completion, and payment status. For example, when filling out applications on www.job-applications.com, write the date, company name, and any notes about the position. Sophisticated spreadsheet users can make use of pivot table functions to identify the number of freelance jobs left uncompleted or pending applications.
Maintain Current Contact Information
It is especially important for individuals who work from home to maintain steady contact information. Specifically, try to maintain the same email address and phone number that you have used previously. This allows former contacts to reach you regarding work opportunities. To facilitate a long-term email address, choose an email platform that isn’t tied to a specific corporation or work domain name. Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo! are good options for professional email addresses that you can keep for years.
Network, Network, Network
For freelancers, consultants, and other individuals working from home, networking is key. Although working from home gives you flexibility, it can also be isolating. Make an effort to get in touch with professionals, whether in-person or online. Using sites such as LinkedIn.com or websites specific to your industry can facilitate contact with others and offer new work opportunities. Treat every encounter as a potential new client (without being obnoxious about it and being overly self-promotional). Keep a stack of business cards on hand to pass out when you run into a former coworker or meet someone new at a coffee shop. Developing your networking skills is a great way to strengthen your business and increase work flow.
Organize Your Job Search
The Internet is a vast place, but it can sometimes feel as though you’ve already looked through every opportunity online. Make use of Google Alerts to monitor the Internet for relevant keywords. Google Alerts are simple to set up and can automatically notify you of new opportunities within your niche. The organizational tool, Evernote is a cloud-based web app for note taking, and is another great way to keep track of new ideas or potential job contacts. Keeping this information on the cloud makes it accessible from anywhere you go, instantly boosting your efficiency and productivity.