Working at Home in Singapore: Great Tips from MompreneurAsia

Singapore Work at Home BusinessI’ve been working from home in Singapore for two years, and over this time I realise I have cultivated a few practices that make my home entrepreneurship successful.

Over on the blog, Moon Loh has highlighted a few tips on how to be a successful work at home mum. While she specializes in Work at Home mums, I feel these tips are extremely useful for just about anyone who is looking to work from home in Singapore (or possibily just anywhere in the world).

Here are her tips:

  1. Don’t give up – That’s the golden rule. You can fail, suffer from a burnout, tire yourself out, but NEVER ever give up.
  2. Keep inspiration close by – Quotes work for some people, not for others. Personally, I listen and relisten to motivational seminars as often as I can, and look at photos that tell me why I am working for. This inspires me to get back on my feet.
  3. Find a good example – The fastest way to success is to model after someone and do exactly what he or she does. Success leaves clues, and you need to be vigilant in spotting clues left by successful business owners.
  4. Write down your goals – I have started doing this everyday, have you? Do you have goals in the first place? If not, go take time off and set some goals. My goals help me set priorities in today’s never-ending workday. It tells me what I MUST do today and what not.

These work from home pointers seem common sense but the question is “Are you DOING it?”

What other principles, tricks and tips do you have for work from home entrepreneurs?

3 more tips to productivity in working from home

Char from Essential Keystrokes highlighted 5 tips for working from home with kids in an earlier post:

1. Get Caller ID…
2. Divide and Conquer…
3. Enlist Some Help…
4. Communicate…
5. Put the Kids to Work…

Those were great points, and ones shared much from a parent’s perspective. I thought there were just a couple more based on my short 5 – 6 months (that’s 10 years less than Char!). :mrgreen:

#1 DON’T check your mail too often!

While this might not apply to everybody, I find that I tend to spend too much time reading and replying to my mails. While tending immediately to emails may win you a reputation of great customer service, it might not work out well for a solo man operation.

Without setting limits to how much time you spend time on email, it might just take up easily half of your day! This is not very useful, especially if you are planning to work on your own projects that will take your business to a next level.

On this thought, if you realise customers are asking similar questions, consider either setting up a FAQ page where you can direct your customers to, or have pre-made email templates where you can answer the most common questions.

#2 Work when you work best

One of the things you get to enjoy when you work from home is that you can work as and when you like to. So, don’t limit yourself to working in the day during official office hours.

Try working late into the night and sleeping till late in the morning, or start work much earlier than others working in offices, and end earlier so you can fit into the other things in life. Test out different timings to see which your are most comfortable with, and most productive.

For myself, I work best over the night, and sleeping at 6am! 🙂 Recently, I tried to switch to working in the day and my productivity dropped.

Oh, and more to this – since you have full control over your working hours, you might be better off working in short sessions (maybe 2 hours?) and taking more frequent short breaks of half an hour, rather than one long hour after 4 hours of work.

#3 Motivate yourself

In the office, you have your boss and colleagues to put pressure on you to get on with your work and keep your eyes open, no matter how tired you may be (if not you might get fired! :mrgreen: ), but working at home can be demotivating, and lonely.

One way I used to keep myself motivated is to paste my goals right in front of me, or buy motivational posters and paste them over your work desk.

Working from home? Here are 5 things you will need.

As we would have all realised by now, things for going to change so much in the next few years – Internet transactions are going to get more secure, so more people are going to trust the Internet, more people will get connected and there will be more people working in the comfort of their own home, sitting in front of a computer – whether it is trading, blogging for dollars, eBaying, or just selling stuff online.

Unfortunately, some common beliefs about working from home are that “If you work from home, you will have more time for yourself and your family”, or “You can spend more time out”.

I think while working from home could mean that you have greater flexibility of schedules, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have more time – you just work at different times. The keyword is flexibility, not less work.

In fact, for the hardworking peeps, I think we work MORE at home than if we had to go to the office.

Many would agree that working at home is not easy. Afterall, your home is the place you have associated to as a place to relax, sleep, munch titbits, laze in front of the TV… etc.

How do you ensure success if you work from home? Here are five key things you WILL need.

#1 – A Work Schedule

Work at Home - ScheduleAs mentioned, working at home is not about less work, but about more flexibility with work. If you are employed but your boss allows you to work at home, chances are that if your colleagues in office are working 8 hours everyday, you’d probably need to spend at least the same amount of time working at home. If you are a business owner or work freelance, the schedule becomes even more important. Without it, your life will be in a mess.

In your schedule, depict your time for meals, your time to rest, and your time to spend time with your family!

I realised I started bring food to the computer last month as I started working from home – which is never a good thing to do. Meal times must be stipulated and spent away from your computer so you take longer breaks. Sleeping time also must be stipulated so you don’t end up sleeping at 7am! :mrgreen:

#2 – Good Goal Setting Habits

My definition of schedule and goals are different – the schedule depicts when you work and when you don’t. The goals determine what you target to complete within that time you are supposed to work!

Nobody is watching you when you work from home, and its easy to let “Mr Hyperlink”, “Ms Firefox”, or “Mrs Outlook Express” take you on an 8 hour journey into the amazing cyberspace… and after you are done with your journey, you realised that your work for the day has been stagnant.

I start my day by looking at my long term plan, and then deciding what I must to today – and then I transfer this to a “today must do list”. Slowly, as I complete each task, I will cancel the item off, and I scream “YEAH!!” when the last item is cancelled.

Only then, do I accept the date with “Ms Firefox”. :mrgreen:

#3 – The Correct Working Environment

Work at Home - EnvironmentWhen an office is set up, very often the workplace environment has been thought of, with comfortable tables and fitting chairs, a good air-conditioner to make sure the temperature is right for working, and when many colleagues come to the same place to work, very often everybody will do their best to work as silently as possible, doing their best not to irritate their fellow colleagues.

However the home environment is different.

Home tables may not be meant for working, the lighting may not be good for long hours of reading, the computer chair may not have proper support for the back and you can’t stop your dog from chasing next door’s kitten! So take these into consideration, keep your distractions away, and make sure you are really comfortable with your working environment set up at home.

#4 – Understanding Home-mates

Work at Home - FamilyNot everybody works from home – you may be living from spouse, or parents… or anybody for that matter. Chances are when these people see you “at home” they readily assume you are “free from work”. So naturally, they will ask for hand to get the door, retrieve the letters, answer the call, pick up the kids, and feed the baby.

This is okay if your schedule allows you to be free when your home-mates are at home with you, but it is terribly disruptive when you are not free!

Let these people know exactly what you are doing, let them understand that you are working from home and you need private time. Even consider investing in a sign, like the ones in the hotel – one side saying “Do not disturb” and the other side saying “Please make up my room” to hang at your door, to let them know if they are welcome or will they be breaking your work momentum.

#5 – A TON of Discipline

This is BY FAR the most important thing to have.

In the office, you struggle to keep your eyes open no matter how sleepy you are, because you don’t want to portray yourself as a sleepyhead. Your boss makes his routine checks, always ready to pounce on you at your slightest 5 second nap, and even if you have your own private room, the cleaning lady is there to watch you nap as she comes in to change the lining for your waste paper basket, and before you know it, your name will THE name mentioned at the gossip pantry. :mrgreen:

Working at home is different – nobody cares if your nap is 5 seconds, 5 minutes, or 5 hours! Oh, and you don’t have to sleep if you are not sleepy… there always the fridge, the TV set, and the PlayStation 3 as alternatives to spend your time. 🙂 In fact, if I just straighten my legs right now and give my chair a little push, I’d be right beside my nice comfy bed. Awww… the softness of the bed and the warmness of the blanket and my nice saliva-fragrace pillow… irresistible! :mrgreen:

I hope you get my point – you have to answer to yourself! At the end of the day, you reap only the effort you put in, so that ton of discipline is needed to keep you stuck at your computer when you are supposed to!

Are you blogging for money at home? Are you working from home? Are you missing out on any of these, or could you add more to the list?

Working at Home in Singapore

Work at Home in SingaporeTwo days ago met up with a few officers from a reputable educational institution in Singapore and in our discussions I was telling them about my endeavours on blogging and my dream lifestyle to be able to work at home (or rather, anywhere with an Internet connection).

It seems to me that the notion of being able to “work on the net and reach out to the whole wide world” still sounds unbelievable to many who have been in the job industry for most part of their lives.

But it is true isn’t it?

… and I won’t say it is easy, because the ability to do so requires a real paradigm shift, and a true belief in technology overcoming all those challenges that were faced by businesses before the Internet started.

From my own server stats, most of my readers are from the USA, and Singapore, my hometown, comes in second!

So while Singapore can be much more technologically advanced, it still takes time for people’s beliefs to change.

The Internet is just born.

Just for the fun of it readers, do drop me a comment on this post, and tell me where you are from! 🙂

Work at Home Mums

I just came across this blog yesterday, maintained by a Work at Home Mum (WAHM). Right on the top of the page was the description:

Work from home Moms these days are WAHMS. Millions of Mommies that stay at home are finding ways to earn money online. Networking with other WAHMS and discussing ways to generate income will be the focus of this Work at Home Mom’s journal.

Wow! The Internet has really revolutionised the world!

Work at home mumAnd here, I’m not talking about instant access to information or all the online payment stuff, I’m talking about mums “stuck at home” now having something real to do online, managing a business online!

In the past (before the time of the computers), I remember people in my area used to take “freelance jobs” like folding carton boxes and assembling a small part of a gadget or things like that… then it slowly moved on to paperwork like data entry, 5 cents a piece… and today, you don’t even need to think about securing jobs! All you have to do is to get started with a blog in Blogger, add some Adsense ads, and start posting about anything and everything.

As long as you keep your topic niche and put in real effort (well, its so much less effort than folding carton boxes!), your blog will get noticed and you are on your way.

In fact, this opportunity is so wonderful that even dads starting to get sick and tired of being under the peril of their bosses, and are starting staying at home.

I know of another mother of four who has a parenting blog. Liz also posted yesterday about her experience “replacing the salary of her husband“, and you can see from her blog that she’s really enjoying herself everyday conversing with her readers.

The best part is, as Liz says:

These days no one has job security. Everyone needs an updated resume. Why settle for a only resume?

You can blog your way to brand that defines who you are and what you do much more completely. Make your blog a foundation — a career basecamp in cyberspace — a showcase skills and expertise you have that future employers and clients need.

That’s so true – why settle for a 2 page cover letter and resume? Your blog is your “360 degree resume”, and should you consider to get a job back, your blog will show how much you know about the subject of interest!

Mama! I know you read this blog (you told me so!), so after you read this, let me help you get started with a blog at least okay? In fact, you already know how to do it!

How many of you here are full time WAHMs? Come on, let it out.

How has the Internet changed your life? What were you doing before you started blogging and how did you transit from a full time job to a full time WAHM? Could you give me advice on how I can help my mum transit?