You’ve probably heard of Parkinson’s Law. The law says that work expands to fill the amount of time you’ve got to do the job. You may not have heard of Beverages’ Law, however, which says that coffee consumption increases as the time to start a job approaches. Parkinson’s Law is aimed at bureaucracies; Beverages’ Law is aimed at those who choose to set up a business and work from home.
The stories are legion of people who have given up the rat race to start a business that allows them to work from home. How true it is that the grass is always greener. A few may have had get rich quick ideas; only a very few of those few may have rapidly achieved the riches they have dreamt of. For many, reality bites very sharply, very soon. And there is no greater hard hitting reality than the fact that home and work are as compatible as the opposite poles of a magnet.
If you haven’t yet severed the umbilical link with your 9 to 5 existence, consider this. Working from home is not for the ill-disciplined. The successful home worker will need to master the art of time management. I’ll bet you’ve sneered at, scoffed at and smugly placed yourself above all those exhortations to improve your time management. You’ve probably had the opposite problem: how on earth can you possibly fill a whole working day now that the use of Facebook and other social media has been banned?
Here’s a story to learn from. Adam was an accountant. He’d worked at the same firm for close on fifteen years. He was also a very gifted cabinet maker. Most evenings he would spend time in his workshop turning out pieces of furniture mostly for relatives and close friends. Adam wanted a change from accountancy. He quite liked the job, got on well with his clients and the salary wasn’t bad. He just wanted to be able to do something that allowed him to use his creative talent far more. He made the decision to give up his job and become a full time cabinet maker.
As you would expect from an accountant, his planning was meticulous. He produced a three year business plan that his bank said was the best they had ever seen. Adam had covered everything. He’d even scheduled in his retirement day in twenty years’ time. On the day he left, he had work booked in for the next two months. He left his office on the Friday and scheduled his start for 8.00 am on the Monday following the weekend. Now, instead of being in his workshop in the evenings he’d join the book club that he’d always wanted to.
Adam’s alarm rang at 7.00 am on Monday morning. He didn’t get up. He turned over and had an extra forty minutes. He got to his workshop at 10.00 am and had coffee at 10.15.
Adam went back to accountancy after about six months of home working. He still makes furniture in the evening. He’s thought about trying again, but Adam’s a realist. He knows that his defeating Beverages’ Law is more a triumph of hope over expectation than a realistic expectation of victory.
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