Working at HOME: Strategies for Success


Working at home sounds great until you try to do it. It’s amazing how many issues and obstacles can pop up between you and your original goals. Creating a smooth blend among home, family, and business can be tricky at times. Here are some suggested strategies:

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Take yourself seriously. This is probably the most important key to your success. If you don’t take your work seriously, no one else will. When working, try to look and act professional, even if it’s just you and your kids at home. In conversation, refer to your work as a business, rather than a hobby or pastime.

Have a family meeting. Your family needs to know that your work is important, and that you need certain amounts of uninterrupted time to do your work well.

Working at home: Strategies for success

Delegate responsibilities. Stop trying to do it all! Let other family members shop for groceries, plan menus, do laundry, drive kids around, etc. Certainly, you can do some of that, but there’s no reason that you should do it all.

Be flexible. Setting strict work hours often leads to frustration when family life cuts into your schedule. Aim instead for a number of hours per day, and feel good if that total number is met.

Will power! When you find time to work, get to work quickly. Resist the temptation to watch a little TV, get a snack, or make that social phone call.

Keep an organized office. You will probably be interrupted throughout the day. A neat and orderly office means you can return quickly to the task at hand, rather than searching through piles of papers, trying to figure out what you were doing last.

Be efficient. Organization leads to efficiency. Have supplies stored where you can find them. Deal with paperwork and mail right away. Develop a filing system, so that you know what’s coming in, going out, and where you can find things in the meantime.

Value your time. You’re at home, so you’ll still get phone calls and visitors. Be polite but firm. Tell friends you’ll call back when you’re not working. Firmly explain to telemarketers that they have interrupted you at work, and you have no time to listen to their sales offers. Ask visitors to drop by later, when you’re not working.

Avoid the “Neighborhood Mom Syndrome.” If you work at home, there’s a good chance that you’re on more than one or two “emergency contact cards” for neighborhood schoolkids. Don’t allow friends and neighbors to assume that just because you’re home, you’re available to drive, babysit, or otherwise care for their kids.

Be there for your own kids. They will be happier, and that will make your life happier. If you find that your work is cutting too deeply into time with your kids, it’s time to reevaluate your goals, your schedule, or how your other systems are working. Are you getting enough support from your spouse? Should you hire extra help? Where should you cut back, to make your life better? Work? Housecleaning? Cooking? Decide where your priorities lie. If you can fit good work and good parenting into your day, but the breakfast dishes are still in the sink at dinnertime, who cares? You’ve done your two most important jobs. The rest is fluff.

Ask for help. Don’t suffer in silence. If the above-mentioned “fluff” starts getting you down, it’s time to ask for more help from the family. If that doesn’t happen, it’s time to hire some outside help. Go professional, or hire an older child to be a “mother’s helper” for babysitting, washing dishes, or light housework.

Involve your kids. Your older children can stuff envelopes, apply labels or stamps, or do simple filing. Your younger kids can play quietly in your office, read books, color. Check out “Child-Proof Your Home Office” for more ideas.

Take time for you. One problem of working at home is that your work is always there. Home workers often work through meals, or work late at night, after the kids are in bed. Don’t let your work take over your life. Make time for fun, for relaxing, for being by yourself or with your partner.