Working From Home - A Dream Come True or A Nightmare?

Ever since making the decision to work from home, I have encountered two kinds of people. First, those who enviously say they would do anything to escape from the inevitable office politics and harried rush hour traffic they must face each day. Others look at me as if they don't believe I have a "real job." It's an interesting feat to try to explain the reality of working from home.

Whether starting your own business from home, telecommuting, or taking office work home with you, the task is always a daunting one. There is no official boundary between your work life and your personal life when your office is a room in your house. There is no drive home to think about any unresolved issues from the day, no punching a time clock, no one to reprimand you for being late. You must have a high degree of self-discipline and enjoy what you do to make working at home a success. As with any life decision, there are positives and negatives.

Working from home provides a wonderful opportunity for many women who choose to try this option as a way to care for small children while continuing their career. For some, it works beautifully. For others, the distractions are too great. And, as the children grow, the likelihood of a productive workday becomes less and less.

Setting Boundaries

On the topic of boundaries, it is important to make sure that you set some before putting your office in your home. It's easy to get carried away with work and find that your husband and/or children are not getting the time and attention that they need from you. You may notice that you are easily sidetracked by work during your "off" time in the home, and that a quick trip to the bathroom can easily turn into two hours at the computer. Don't let this happen!

Take some proactive steps to make your stay-at-home decision a positive one. Think about the following:

Structure your work hours for the week.

Know when you will start and end your day, and stick to this schedule as much as possible (there may be exceptions when big projects come up).

Free yourself from distractions.

This goes both ways. Will a closed door stop you from finishing a project late at night? Can you realistically expect to knock out your "to do" list with a toddler in the house? Think of how to eliminate these distractions: going for a walk at night to get out of the house, hiring a babysitter to come to the house (even if just for part of the day), turning off radios and television sets, etc.

Balance the extra time you must put into your work (i.e. during a big project) with extra time for your family. Go out and celebrate together or take an extra day off to spend with your spouse or child doing what he/she wants to do.

Break up your day by "getting away from it all" for a little while.

This may mean running errands, going outside to eat lunch, or going for a walk or run (my choice!). Even though it may not seem like you can spare the time away, you will feel refreshed and more productive when you return!

Find a group to network with to save your sanity

Not being forced into office politics or the pettiness that often comes with some workplaces may seem like a dream. However, having no human interaction while working from home can be just as bad, if not worse. Plan on how you will interact with others who are in your profession: join an existing networking group, form your own, communicate with other stay-at-home women via a newsgroup, message board, or chat room on the computer. Don't allow yourself to become too isolated. When this happens, you and your business are in trouble!

Be honest if this option does not work for you. While it may seem the ideal situation, be frank if you are feeling isolated from others in the field or are not getting anything done because of distractions. Working at home works for some women, but does not for many more.

Resources for You

For more information on this topic and to meet other women who share in your work-at-home situation, try these websites:,Online Women's Business Center, and WHAM - Work at Home Moms. Good Luck!!

Written By:
Molly Mulhern
Work-At-Home Staff Writer

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