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Be Prepared to Work at Home

Aug 4, 2008
If you're working at home, one of your concerns is probably how you're going to make it all work. It's tough. Getting the cooperation and support from family that you need can be a challenge.

1. Consider the space you need and the space your home can spare.

If your business is purely online you may not need a lot of space as such, but having an office door you can close can be a big help when you really want to get things done. That doesn't mean you can't use the kitchen table, but other places may be more effective for you.

2. Have someone who can help watch the kids.

No, not a babysitter, unless you need them gone for that many hours. I've had a neighbor girl come over and just play with my kids while I work. I've had other parents take my kids to their homes to play with their kids.

If it's something where you can trade with another parent and get your kids out of the house for free in a fun way, so much the better! And if you don't need quiet, even letting your kids have friends over to play can let you get some work done, so long as they don't argue a lot.

3. Expect to be taken seriously.

It's easy for people to think that working at home is a hobby. Even when I had a work at home job as a medical transcriptionist I had people not take it seriously. Do your best to show that you are serious and professional.

Set up working hours, for example. If friends or family call on you, do not lightly break into your working hours. You wouldn't do that outside the home, so don't let others force you to do things during your work times just because you're at home.

4. Take breaks.

Just like you would in a job outside the home, take breaks when you need them, every few hours at least. It can be very refreshing and may help your productivity rather than hinder it. Walk around a little, play with the kids, just do something that isn't at your desk.

5. Email is more convenient than phone calls.

While sometimes a conversation is the only way to get things going, email can be much easier on your schedule. You can control how often you check it (really, you can!), and it only interrupts your day when you allow it to.

Email can also allow you to think through the things you need to say. The disadvantage is that there's no tone of voice, so jokes may not go over well, but it's great for passing along information.

6. Don't work all afternoon and evening.

Especially when the kids are in school you don't want to take up all the time that they're home trying to get work don. Same for when your spouse is home. Make time for your family every day.

For young, impatient children a timer can be a big help. They may not understand when you say you need to work for just a few more minutes. But saying you can come play when the timer goes off gives them something they can deal with... so long as the time is not excessive.

My own best times are when the kids are asleep in the later parts of the evening into the night. Much less guilt and fewer interruptions although there still has to be some time for my husband!
About the Author
Stephanie Foster runs http://www.homewiththekids.com/ for people who want to work from home. She offers more tips on successfully working at home at her site.
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