Archive for December, 2011

13 Simple Ways to Get Motivated and Stay There

how to get motivated

You too can get this motivated.

Even if you love working from home, there will be times when you find your energy and enthusiasm waning. The goods news is that this reaction is completely normal in any work setting, and can be easily remedied.

Here are 14 quick strategies to get and keep yourself motivated.

1. Think positive. Train yourself to think positive thoughts while avoiding negative ones.

2. Stay healthy. You need energy to take action, so plan to eat healthier and exercise more. It will keep you motivated for the long haul.

3. Stay away from negative people. Don’t let them drain your energy and waste your time.

4. Seek out positive people. Let their positive energy rub off on you, and imitate their success strategies.

5. Keep your goals flexible. Don’t make the plan more important than achieving your goal.

6. Always keep higher objectives in mind. Avoid any activity or action that doesn’t serve your higher goal – it’s just a waste of your time.

7. Take responsibility for your own results. Don’t attribute everything to luck, fate, or divine intervention. You’ll be more motivated to do thing right and get things done if you own your results.


13 Expenses You Can Deduct When You Work From Home

tax deductions

Take advantage of all the tax deductions available to you when you work from home.

A benefit of working from home that you should definitely take advantage of is the fact that you can deduct a lot of your home office-related expenses.

Here are 12 expenses you can and should claim:

1. Home office

According to the IRS, a home office must be a space devoted to your business and absolutely nothing else. It won’t do to use the room that houses the family computer, because it won’t count if anyone else in your family uses it. Your home office can be a full room or part of a room. You can find out how much of the space is deductible by measuring your work area and dividing it by the square footage of your home. You can claim the fraction of your rent, mortgage, insurance, electricity, and more that is encompassed by this.

2. Office supplies

Hang on to the receipts for the office supplies you buy, because you can use them to offset your taxable business income.

3. Furniture

You have two choices when it comes to the office furniture you acquire. You can either deduct 100% of the cost in the year you purchase it, or deduct a portion of the cost over seven years, a practice known as depreciation. If you choose to depreciate the furniture, you will have to use an IRS chart to make separate calculations each year. You can’t just split the cost into equal portions over the depreciation period. The option that is better for you depends on when your business will need these deductions the most.

4. Other equipment

Items such as computers, photocopiers, fax machines, and scanners are also tax deductible. You can take 100% of your deductions upfront or depreciate them over five years.

5. Telephone charges

The IRS assumes that you have a phone in your house, so don’t try to include your regular fees and charges toward your deduction. You can deduct 100% of the cost of the business calls that you make from home at the end of the year. All your phone charges are deductible if you have a second phone line installed that you only use for business.

6. Software and subscriptions

You can fully deduct costs for computer software, as well as business and industry-related magazine subscriptions, in the year they are purchased.

7. Travel and meals

When you’re travelling for purposes related to your small business, the cost of travel (whether by car, plane, or train) and hotel expenses are 100% deductible, as are costs associated with your day-to-day travel expenses (e.g. dry cleaning, rental cars, etc.). Only 50% of your meals are deductible when you’re traveling, however. Your on-the-job meals are normally not deductible unless you’re talking business with a client while dining. Then you can write off 50% of your meal as a work-related dining cost.

8. Entertainment and gifts

A direct gift to a client or employee is 100% deductible, up to $25 per person per year. You can also deduct 50% from most client entertainment expenses.

9. Mileage

If you drive for business, you will need to keep a notebook in your vehicle to log the date, mileage, tolls, parking costs, and the purpose of your trips.

At the end of the year, you can total the mileage and add in the tolls and parking to calculate your deduction. Alternatively, you could measure your business use against your personal driving and deduct that portion of your auto-related expenses, including gas, repairs, and insurance.

If you are leasing your vehicle, include those payments. If you are buying the car, factor in the interest on your loan and depreciation on your vehicle.

And if your company’s office is at your house, you can deduct the entire business-related mileage, from the minute you pull out of the driveway until you return home. You can only start deducting at your first business-related destination to your last when your business isn’t home-based.

10. Insurance premiums

If you are self-employed and paying your own health insurance premiums, then you can deduct 100% of these costs, as long as they are not more than your business’ net profit or if you are eligible for other health care coverage, including that offered by your employed spouse’s medical plan.

If your spouse worked for you last year, then you can get the full medical premiums deduction on your return. As an employee, your spouse’s premiums are 100% deductible; if you and the children were on her policy as dependents, so are those costs.

You must make sure that your spouse’s employment is real (not in name only), and you must offer coverage equally to any other employees. If you don’t meet these requirements, you could end up with a lawsuit, an audit, or both.

11. Retirement contributions

If you are saving up for your retirement, you can deduct your contribution on your personal income tax return.

12. Social Security

The downside of being self-employed or starting a small business is that you will have to pay double the Social Security contributions you would as an employee. (Federal law requires the employer pay half and the employee pay half, and you are both when you are self-employed.) On the upside, you can deduct half of the contribution on your 1040.

13. Employing your kids

If you operate as a sole proprieter or partnership in which you and your spouse are the only partners, you can deduct the salary of your children if you employ them. If they are 17 or younger, you won’t have to pay a Social Security tax. Depending on how much you pay them, they may be able to avoid paying income taxes.

Figure out which of these expenses you can start deducting from your taxes to reap the full benefits that working from home can bring!

By Cathy Lau


Top 20 Ways to Say No

Just say no!

Sometimes, it's just better to say "no."

It might be difficult for you to say no to requests people make of you when you work from home. You might be asked to do chores by your spouse, or for other favours from neighbours who don’t understand that you need to use your work hours to do work. At the same time, you might get requests from clients for projects you would rather not take on.

Here are 20 things to tell them so they understand why you can’t help them.

1. I already have my plate full with several projects.
2. I don’t have any more room in my calendar.
3. I can’t take on any new responsibilities at the moment.
4. I have another commitment.

These reasons let people know that you don’t have any free time because you have already accepted too many other responsibilities you need to take care of. Know when you have scheduled as many projects as you are willing to take on and stop at that.

5. I’m not comfortable with taking that on.

This is a respectful way for you to avoid doing something that deals with issues that would complicate your relationships.

6. I’m not qualified to do that job.
7. I don’t have any experience with that.
8. This really isn’t my strong suit.
9. I’d rather decline than do a mediocre job.

If you don’t have the skills to do something, admit it up front and suggest that the person find someone with expertise in that area.

10. I need to focus more on my personal life.
11. I need to focus on my career right now.
12. I need to leave some free time for myself.

Your personal time is important. It’s okay to be selfish – be willing to put your personal needs first!

13. I don’t really enjoy that kind of work.
14. I’d rather help out with a different task.

If someone asks you to do something you really don’t like, you can refuse and offer to help them with something else they need help on.

15. Something else has come up that needs my attention.
16. I can’t help right now, but I’ll do it later.

If you want to help but can’t at the moment, say so and offer to help at another time. If it’s time-sensitive, they can find someone else to do it.

17. I don’t like splitting my attention among projects

Let people know that you can’t help them if your focus is too divided, and that you’ll be more effective if you focus on one project at a time.

18. I know you’ll do a great job with it yourself.

Most people ask for help when they doubt their own abilities. Let them know that you are confident they will succeed.

19. Let me connect you with someone else who can help

If you can’t help out but know someone else who can, refer them to that person, but make sure the person will represent you well.

20. No

Sometimes you can just say no, as long as you do it in a way that conveys respect and courtesy.

By Cathy Lau


5 Benefits Of Not Multitasking

The Stress of Multitasking

Multitasking can be incredibly stressful.

When you’re working from home, you may find it especially tempting to juggle your many different tasks. You may feel like you are wasting time or won’t be able to get everything done if you don’t. But there are drawbacks to multitasking that can hurt your productivity.

Here are 5 benefits you can derive from NOT multitasking.

1. Less stress

Trying to lessen an over-packed schedule by taking on multiple tasks at once can stress you out a lot, especially if you’re constantly worried about forgetting something or letting someone down. Doing one thing at a time will put less pressure on your brain to try and process lots of information at once, which will help ease your stress.

2. Greater efficiency

Instead of constantly pulling your mind in different directions by trying to complete more than one task, concentrating on a single issue without distraction may help you work more efficiently by reducing the time you spend on it and helping you complete the task better.

3. Increased awareness

Multitasking can encourage you to only half-listen to what is going on around you. This can affect your relationships, as your family and friends will not appreciate you trying to have a conversation with them while squeezing in some tasks at the same time. Not only will they like you more if you actually pay them full attention – you’ll also be more aware of what’s going on in their lives.


How to Handle a Crisis When You Work From Home

Work from home crisis

You won't need to panic in a crisis if you follow these tips.

Most people who work from home don’t think of having a plan for the unexpected until it’s too late. It’s important to have a plan before you experience your first crisis so you don’t suffer because of it.

Here are 7 tips to help you handle the unexpected.

1. Create a contact sheet.

Have an emergency contact sheet with clients’ contact information available in case something serious happens to you. Only let trusted people know about this sheet and its contents. These people can use this information to contact your clients if you are too sick or injured to do so yourself.

2. Get a plan.