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12 Jul, 2009

How to Work Successfully From Home

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Coaching Articles|Small Business Coaching Articles

Working From Home - Coaching Blog

Home and Office Organising Expert (and Coaching Academy graduate) Rachael Ross explains how to ensure your ‘working from home’ dream is transformed into a successful reality.

It is an exciting moment when you receive your coaching qualification, especially after having worked so hard for months and months to achieve it. (Or at least that was the way it was for me when I qualified: I had put blood, sweat and tears (many tears) into the course!). Now comes the best part - setting up your business so that you can start helping people with the amazing skills you have acquired.

Coaching is a great job that you can do from home: conducting a coaching session over the phone is a very successful and practical way to work. Working from home enables you to create a coaching schedule that complements your life. It makes it easier to keep the rest of your life in balance – you are available for your family, you can fit in your own self-development as well as visits to the gym.

In the first rush of excitement when starting your own coaching business, it’s easy to overlook the practical side of running a business. For example, in the beginning it may seem perfectly acceptable to just sit at the dining room table with your computer and use the old microwave box as a ‘chuck everything in’ storage system. It may initially seem acceptable to just wing the other aspects of your business and only focus on the coaching.

Within a short few weeks however, you’ll realise that you can’t find any of your clients’ information since the original filing box has grown into several piles of paperwork which have spread all over the house. The family has not been able to eat a meal at the dining room table because that would require clearing it off and having to find somewhere for all the paperwork. The excitement of running your coaching business from home can so quickly turn into a nightmare.

Do not despair. It does take a bit more discipline and organisation, but working from home can be all you had hoped and dreamed of. Make sure that right from the start you are focusing on the practical side of running a business: get your office set up, you filing organised and all systems in place.

While there’s no ‘one perfect way’ to work from home, it is important to remember that your office-based habits won’t necessarily transfer to a home-based work environment, so be willing to try something new. Everyone has very different personal circumstances. With your situation in mind you need to establish a working environment that fits in well with your family, the size of your home, the type of coaching you want to do and your own individual working style.

A benefit of coaching and working from home is that you can work when you are at your best. Keep track of how the next few days go and see what you can learn. When are you more productive and when are your energy levels low? Are you more of an early riser or do you work best late at night? This is your chance to establish your very own ‘best’ way.

The idea of a paperless office is not really an idea that has taken off. As a coach, there is plenty of paperwork that you will need to store, file and keep. There are the signed contracts from clients, possibly several brilliant coaching books kept for future reference, materials and booklets for group coaching or training courses you lead and session paperwork (not to mention the legal requirement for you to keep your business tax/accounting paperwork and receipts for 7 years). If you are going to buy an organising piece of equipment for your office then make it the largest and most effective filing system/cabinet that you can.

With that in place the next most important thing to do is to file on a regular basis. As I always say, it needs to be as much part of your working day as checking your email or calling clients, not something you do if you have time.

Whether you have a separate room or part of another, you will need to clear the space and make sure to get rid of anything you no longer need or which should be stored in another room. From there, decide on the layout of your desk, filing system, storage units and anything else that will allow you to work successfully. Once the office is set up, use the units you have and don’t let your work spill into other rooms unnecessarily.

This one as well could be further up the list, but since you are a coach I know you realise the importance of goals. Even coaches can forget to set goals for their coaching business… but goals are the number one tool learnt as a coach and are the number one tool to help you work most effectively at home. Decide what you want to accomplish in the next day, week, month or year and set some goals. With those goal to hand write in your work schedule (as previous) the tasks you need to complete and start working towards a great coaching career.

For me sometimes this point should be further up the list. It never is a surprise when clients complain that once they start working from home their friends or family think it is okay to pop round ‘because they think that you aren’t really working anyway’.

You will need to set boundaries for yourself too. This means, for example, that your ironing doesn’t take precedence over chasing up an unpaid invoice, no matter how enticing the ironing pile may look! Let friends know when you are free and nip in the bud any uninvited visitors during your working hours. For the family I encourage clients to have a ‘family meeting’. Get together everyone who will also be using the home while you are working, listen to their wants and issues and talk about what you need to happen for a stress-free environment. If everyone feels respected and heard, you can prevent many issues from arising. However, if a problem does occur call another quick family meeting and resolve the situation.

I am sure there are several reasons why you have chosen to work from home. Whatever the reasons are, you need a schedule which will enable you to focus on your business and make it a success. Planning and organising a schedule is always the best use of your time because it lets you be in control and not let time control you. I have recently decided to rename time management to self-management because unfortunately time is constant (wouldn’t you love to create a extra day on the weekend?) and the only thing we have control over is how we manage our time.

There are several different layers to a schedule; each layer becomes more and more detailed. The first layer is a broad view looking at the days and specific times you will be working. The next layer will need to include any upcoming article or proposal deadlines, meetings, projects, training courses etc.

Moving onto the next layer, this will have plenty of detail and is focusing on your day to day and weekly tasks. At the start of the week, have a look at your schedule and plan what tasks you need to do each day to accomplish all your goals. Then each morning have a quick review of your schedule and change and adapt as necessary. Remember to include some dead air time within each day because not everyone will be working to your schedule.

Working from home can be a huge success. It can allow you business success and personal success, but it does take some discipline, forward thinking, organising and commitment. Like all things worthwhile in life you need to put the effort in to reap the rewards of success.

Rachael Ross of Purely Peppermint is a Coaching Academy graduate who specialises in helping people organise their home or office through coaching, hands-on help and training. For more information you can visit her website at

1 Response to "How to Work Successfully From Home"

1 | Carol Skolimowski

August 26th, 2009 at 11:06 am


This is a great article and captures most of the stuff I have had to learn the hard way, especially around boundaires.
I have also joined the home business network on which is full of tips from likeminded people. Rachel has an article in the latest newsletter on motivation.

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