I have worked from home for years. When someone asks me where I work, and I tell them I work from home, their eyes light up. I can tell right away they think I have it easy, goofing off when I want to, and spending all day in my pajamas. There are definite perks to working from home – no commute, quiet, excellent coffee, relaxed dress code – but a pajama party it is not.
Working from home is still work. I have commitments and deadlines. If I need to collaborate with someone at a certain time or attend a meeting I still need to be at my computer and prepared.
There are many types of working from home. I have worked for a company who expected me to be in front of my computer from nine to five from Monday to Friday. Meetings were held online throughout the workday – I was just sitting at home in front of my computer instead of sitting in the office. I have also worked with a flexible schedule and had to plan my time wisely or be constantly scrambling to finish things, feeling out of control, and actually working longer hours during the week. Both of these types of working from home (and there are many others) have their advantages and disadvantages and experience will help to determine what works best for you.
Discipline is the number one prerequisite to successfully working from home. If I don’t seem professional and meet or exceed all my work assignments then pretty soon I will be out of a job.
A daily routine is essential. By getting up at the same time and preparing for the day, it gives your body and brain cues that you are getting ready to start your work day. I generally follow a weekday pattern of getting up at the same time, sitting down at my computer at the same time, planning time for coffee and lunch breaks, and finishing the workday at the same time. Although I have flexible hours, I try to keep to the standard nine to five work week. My husband is working, my son is at school, and most clients are available during this time which is also quiet and conducive to working. I can still schedule a lunch date with a friend, or help out at the school now and then (I mean they ARE flexible hours), but keeping to pretty much the same schedule for the Monday to Friday work week helps me to perform at my best.
I can honestly say I have never stayed in my pajamas the whole day while working from home. I just don’t feel like I am in the right mindset if I haven’t at least put on some decent clothes. I definitely do not look as nice as I would if I went to an office, but being presentable and ready for a client to see me at short notice motivates me to stay professional and on track. I also have a weird fear of accidentally enabling the webcam when talking to someone online!
I have learned the hard way that I am still responsible for hitting deadlines whether I want to sit down on Tuesday morning and complete a task or ruin a Friday night because I put things off all week and now have to stay home and finish. Realizing that there are consequences to putting off work, and having no one to blame but yourself, can make you much better at time management. No Friday cocktail hour at the Tiki bar, if you don’t get your work done, can be a strong incentive! On the flip side, working hard and getting things done ahead of schedule can free up the time to work on extra projects – or maybe take a Friday afternoon off and head to the beach!
My current goal in running my own business is having a completely flexible work from home schedule. It sounds wonderful. I picture myself sitting in the backyard with my computer writing all day with lots of breaks to walk the dog and grab a coffee. The reality is Not like that!
Creating and running your own business is not easy. It takes constant motivation to find paying gigs, keep a marketing plan moving so people can find and hire you, and keep up with the business side of things such as website upkeep, money management, and taxes. I am not complaining because I chose this path. It is different than what I thought it would be, but the big payoff for me is that it is MINE. I take on all of the responsibility but I also can be really proud when things pay off. So although it isn’t a pajama party, and it is hard work, I get to do what I want and, some days, wear jean shorts and a Tom Petty concert tee – which definitely wouldn’t fly at the office!