From the outside looking in, many people assume that the biggest benefit to working for yourself and living the dot com lifestyle is the limitless earning potential. They go into blogging or YouTubing or Internet marketing with dollar signs in their eyes, envisioning a glorious future where money flows like water from the tap. And yes, there is definitely the opportunity to make money online, no doubt, but the money in and of itself is not the greatest or most valuable aspect.
It’s the freedom of time and location. You can work when you work, where you want, on what you want, within some reasonable constraints of course, because no one is going to tell you what, how, when, and where to do anything except for yourself.
Freedom from the Rat Race
With the dot com lifestyle in their sights, many people look forward to the day when they no longer have to endure a daily rush hour commute or meaningless chit-chat by the water cooler at the office. They see themselves working from home in their pajamas. That works for some people. It doesn’t work for others, and that’s where alternatives like a coworking space can come into the picture.
And then there’s the freedom of flying to far flung locations around the globe, keeping your business running anywhere you have reliable Wi-Fi, from the sandy beaches of Bali to the charming villas of Italy. That’s all within reach.
Deciding on where you work is completely up to you. And this affords you the power and opportunity to find the place to work that, well, works best for you. Some people really value the convenience of the home office, because it means you can sneak in a bit of work in between household chores. Other people find the social isolation of the home office to be overwhelming, or perhaps there are too many distractions at home and you need to remove yourself from the situation to get any work done. These are all perfectly valid concerns.
Tick-Tock Goes the Clock
But one area that so many would be online entrepreneurs overlook is WHEN they work. It feels counter-intuitive, in some sense, because you’re kicking the 9-to-5 schedule to the curb for the “time freedom” of working whenever you feel like it. This translates very quickly into a double-edged sword, however, particularly if you have a strong work ethic and a strong drive to excel. Because you can work at any time, you feel like you should be working all the time. That’s a fast path to burnout.
To this end, you might find it beneficial to set some regular working hours for yourself. Again, this isn’t for everyone, but it could be really useful for some people, because it establishes much clearer boundaries for when is “work time” and when is “home time” or “leisure time.” Sometimes, you need those defined lines in the sand. But if you don’t need them, then you don’t need them, and that’s okay too.
Working with Your Energy
I’ll end with two very important considerations. First, everybody has a different kind of natural rhythm. Maybe you’re a morning person. Maybe you’re a night owl. You might be the most energetic and productive in the middle of the afternoon, or you might suffer from the post-lunch food coma on a consistent basis. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to identify your natural rhythm and, since you can set your own schedule, play into your strengths. Work when you’d work the best.
Second, and this relates to the first, you’ve got to play to your energy levels. Since I work from home, I also take on a lot of the parenting responsibility during the day. This means that, on days when we don’t have childcare, I’m pretty drained by the time the little one goes to sleep at night. What I’m coming to learn is that I should focus on more creative tasks, ones that require more mental energy and focus, during the day when my energy levels are still high (relatively speaking). Then, after my daughter goes to bed, I can perform simpler, less intense tasks, like administration, social media scheduling, or data entry.
At the end of the day (no pun intended), just find the system that works best for you, both in terms of location and time. That’s the first step in getting ahead when you work by and for yourself.