Jim was tired of commuting to work in two hours of rush hour traffic every day. He thought, “If I could only work from home and avoid the stress and monotony of driving day in and day out, I’d be much happier.” Trading from home offered him a solution. No more commuting. No more worrying about his boss’s performance evaluations. Finally, the freedom to do what he wanted and when he wanted.

Many are lured to trading for the sense of independence it offers, but working from home isn’t always as advantageous as one had planned. It requires discipline, self-control, and in many cases, the ability to protect one’s time assertively. Let’s review some of the pitfalls to watch out for. Make sure you’ve identified them and have a plan for dealing with them.

These days, most couples have two family incomes. Both partners work. When children are involved, however, the trader who works at home may be expected to pitch in more than he or she had done when commuting to work. This is a reasonable expectation, but as a novice trader, one may not have enough free time to devote to extra child-rearing duties.

Indeed, one may end up devoting so much time to taking care of the kids that insufficient time is devoted to trading. Similarly, when one partner is at home, it may be expected that he or she put in extra time to do the needed chores around the house. Again, it’s a reasonable expectation, but it’s important to realize that a novice trader may not have the time to devote to these errands. One must assertively protect his or her time.

Another problem is self-motivation. It may be stressful to work in a structured office environment, but structure and routine have its advantages. One knows what he or she is supposed to do and when to do it. When one works at home, in contrast, the rules are often left to one’s discretion, and that can mean no structure or no clear reward systems.

One must motivate oneself to get work done, and since trading is a demanding profession requiring an enormous amount of self-restraint and discipline, one is prone to procrastination. Time may slip away with little accomplished. It’s easy to get distracted. Your wife or children may expect more time now that you’re at home. There may be endless interruptions and distractions, such as trips to the kitchen for a snack, or flipping on the television for a quick break. These distractions can sap up precious time.

If one is not careful, he or she may waste more time working at home than it would take to commute to the office. But there’s a lot you can do to remedy the situation. First, separate your office space from your workspace. Second, set clearly defined times for work and make a clear distinction between work hours and leisure/family hours. And finally, perhaps the most important issue is to communicate clearly and assertively with your family.

Make it clear that you have specific hours in which you plan to work, and that just because you are at home, it doesn’t mean that all hours are available for leisure activities, family discussions or chores. By establishing firm agreements between you and your family, you can prevent them from distracting you from your trading tasks. So, learn how to work at home efficiently. You’ll be more productive and profitable in the long run.

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