Interview of the Month: Judy Heminsley

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May 24, 2012 - 08:05
Judy Heminsley

Meet Judy Heminsley: one of the UK’s top Work From Home authorities. She’s even written a book about it: Work from Home, published by How To Books.
Judy worked as a personnel officer before setting up and running a successful cleaning business in Bath that employed more than 20 people. She has also worked as a business adviser and helped her partner run his training and coaching practice, all from home. We ask Judy about her career, her home life, and asked her to divulge some of her top tips for others starting out on a career working from home.

What do you do?

I run, a website that provides information on all aspects of working from home, a place where home workers can share experiences and pick up tips. I’ve just completed an online programme for people just starting to work from home, so that they know about the challenges in advance and have a range of solutions to choose from. Otherwise everyone has to find out the hard way for themselves, which is time-consuming and demoralising.
Work From Home Wisdom

Tell us about your book

Work from Home is a down-to-earth guide to getting the best from living and working in the same place. It’s packed with case studies from over 50 home workers I interviewed as well as my own experiences of working from home for 20 years. I’m delighted to say it’s got 10 five-star reviews on Amazon and is now available on Kindle as well as in paperback.

How did you come to write it?

It was originally my thesis for the MA Professional Writing course at University College Falmouth a few years ago. I researched the books available about working from home and there wasn’t much apart from a few out of print titles, so it seemed like a good gap to fill! Having handed in my thesis I pitched the idea to publishers and got a contract with How To Books.

What does working from home mean to you?

It means the freedom to live my life as I wish and not around the hours someone else dictates. It means not having a split between work and the rest of life because I can combine working and everything else however I like, on whatever day I like.

What are your work hours?

They vary quite a lot because of the freedom I’ve mentioned. When I have a project to complete I might work long hours, weekends included, because I’m on a roll and want to get it done. Then I’ll take time off, whatever day it is. Generally though I start any time between 8 and 9.30 and stop for lunch when I’m hungry. I always go out in the afternoon to get a breather and do some more work when I get back. I’ll stop around 6 to 7.

How do you separate work and play?

Well, the thing is that like lots of home workers I’m doing what I love, which in my case is playing with words! So for me there’s not that much of a distinction.

How has technology allowed you to live and work like this?

Computers, mobile phones and IT equipment have come down in price and broadband has become quicker and more freely available. It’s all happened very quickly over the last few years.

How did you cope before social media? Has it become easier with social media?

The funny thing is that although it’s not that long ago, I simply can’t remember! I always say that this is the best possible time to be a home worker because of all the connections we have with other people all over the world that we couldn’t have dreamt of a few years ago. Although I suppose it’s also brought potential procrastination problems too!

Your advice to people to start working from home

I believe that to get the best from working at home you need to be very self-aware. Because nobody else is going to tell you when to work, how to work, chase you up etc, which can be a shock for people used to going out to work. But you can now do your work at the times you are most productive, in the places you feel most comfortable, in quiet or with the radio on etc etc, there are so many different factors to consider. But of course you have to be aware of your own personality, habits and preferences to do that.

How to Work from Home event at
How to Work from Home event at Central, Bloomsbury

Top advice on maintaining sanity when working from home

It’s essential not to get isolated, because that leads to a drop in confidence, loss of perspective and a drawing-in of your horizons. I recommend making meetings and business events a priority in your diary, even if you feel you don’t have time. My theory is that if you go out regularly and maintain your levels of inspiration and motivation, the work will flow easily. But once you get isolated - and it can creep up on you before you know it - everything seems so difficult and it’s hard to get your momentum back.

How do you unwind?

A nice meal and a glass of wine is a good start! I’m very lucky that my partner Andy is a much better cook than me and enjoys trying out recipes. Then a good book or a DVD that takes me into a different world. We’ve been glued to the recent Scandinavian dramas - great characters, good plots and lovely interiors, the perfect mix!

Your favourite food?

To be totally honest I should say chocolate, but that’s not really a food, is it? So that’s my favourite treat. My favourite food changes with the seasons so right now it’s probably homegrown rocket, which has a real kick, and rhubarb compote with yogurt.

What did you want to be as a child?

I had no concept of wanting to be anything other than grown-up, because I thought grown-ups knew everything and could do whatever they wanted - hah!

Define happiness
Apart from hearing Andy shout ‘Supper’s ready’ just as I finish a piece of work, I think happiness is having people pay you to do something you really enjoy and would do anyway.

Would you recommend working from home

I would to anyone who wants to create their own life and is prepared to make the effort this involves.

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