Thursday, February 17, 2011

Working at home and time management

Working from home is not a new thing for me.  I've been doing freelance editing and translation for home pretty much since I graduated, so incorporating design into my home work schedule hasn't been too big of a deal.  However, there are some issues with working from home that people who have never done it don't think of.  The main issue is time management.  People tend to assume that, since you are at home, you are going to watch the kids, clean the house, AND work a full day, all at once.  Because you are at home after all, doesn't that mean you take care of the home things?

I probably don't need to tell you that this is blatantly impossible.  Full time stay at home moms with no other job have a hard time finding enough hours in the day to take care of the kids and keep the house up, because those are HARD JOBS.  They are not things that automatically take care of themselves just because you happen to be at home.  And work at home jobs aren't either.  When I have an editing job, somebody has to watch the kids so I can work... just like if I was going in to the office.  Hours I spend writing up proposals, running tests, and making samples, likewise, are hours that I can't spend mopping or doing the dishes.

Why the office-working average doesn't understand this, I will never know, however when I first started this, I did get a lot of "since you are home anyway, could you..." "your house must be so clean since you work from home," and so on.  The assumption is that if you are home all day, you must not be working!  But you have to learn to set firm boundaries (no I cannot run errands for you I have to work!) and explain, occasionally, the realities of working from home.  Another useful skill is letting things like that roll off your back.  It doesn't matter what your neighbors think of your housekeeping!

The upside to all of this (and how we make it work) -- working from home is extremely flexible.  Because you have no commute, there's no wasted time driving.  Because you make your own schedule, you can take advantage of nap time and after the kids go to bed, and do most of your work then.  "But isn't that like working two jobs?!"  you may say.  Well, yes, it is.  But so is working at an office and having a family.  It's just a different method of managing your responsibilities.


  1. I find the hardest part is making sure I take some time for myself. When I worked in an office, I made a point of leaving work there. When my office is in the exact same spot as I play from, I forget that I need to play.

  2. Yes exactly that, too! It's hard to stop working when it's RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU.

  3. Well said!! I've been working from home for over three years now and I still feel like I'm totally misunderstood by those who work outside of the home or moms who don't work from home. Hardest part for me is letting myself off the hook for not getting it all done!