If you are like most people, working from home, you have probably figured out how many hours are between the times when you start and finish work for yourself. So for example if you start at 9am and finish at 5pm that's eight hours, right? Wrong!
Firstly you have to knock off half an hour or an hour for lunch. That's fair enough, so we are down to, say, seven and a half hours each day. But what about all those little coffee breaks you take, maybe ten minutes here and ten minutes there? It is also far too easy to get distracted by the television when working from home too. All those minutes really add up and that means you probably have less than seven hours of true working time per day instead.
But we're still not done. There is a big difference between the hours you spend doing some actual work - work you are going to receive a payment for - and work you are doing simply as part of your business. For example let's say you have to create a website for someone. The time you spend building the website is time you will be paid for. But when it comes to invoicing them for that website, you won't be paid for that. And if you happen to have quite involved invoices that need to list several payable things on them, it can take a few minutes to create each one.
You can probably see where we are going with this. If you keep a close eye on the amount of time you spend working each day, you will see that the actual working time is a lot less than you might think. For example out of those seven hours you may only actually spend five of them doing work that you will be paid for.
Why is this important though? The answer is that you need to be sure you know what you are capable of earning with the time you have available. For example you might earn typically around 20 an hour doing whatever you do. It would be easy to think that you work five days a week from 9am until 5pm, excluding a generous hour for lunch. This translates into a 35 hour working week, which multiplied by 20 an hour means you will be earning 700 a week. Not bad for someone one working from home without any employees?
But we have just seen that two hours a day on other tasks is not unusual. You will need to work out realistically how long you personally spend working and how long you spend doing other work related tasks. Working on five hour days, this gives us a 25 hour working week and an income at 20 an hour of 500 a week. That is very different from 700, isn't it?
So you have two choices. You either need to put your rates up so you can cover those periods of time when you won't be paid for what you are doing, or you need to settle for that lower rate. You can also try and reduce the amount of non-billable time you have built into your week, but this can be hard to do. So make sure you consider all your options carefully before choosing the right path for you.