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Four ways working from home is different from going to work

An older work-from-home tool
An older work-from-home tool
photo by ede design/stock.xchng

As someone who has transitioned from the corporate world to freelance writing in the Detroit economy, here are a few things I've learned as a mom trying to work from home.

1.  You have to create your own structure.  One of the beautiful things about going to work is that the structure is already in place.  There are work policies and procedures that help guide you through your daily work.

At home, you really have to work hard at creating a sense that work is important and requires some sort of self-imposed structure to get it all done, and to get it done well.  It's not as easy as it looks without the support of co-workers and standardized work processes.

2.  There's a never-ending flow of distractions.  Young children aren't the only ones guilty of creating distractions; teenagers can distract you from getting work done too.  They often need rides, clean athletic gear, and meals they seem to think only moms can make.  To say nothing of endless amounts of laundry, dirty dishes, bills, yard work, etc.

Though it's a challenge, you almost have to develop a mind of steel for a few hours each day in order to block out distractions.  The rest of the time you have to accept that distractions are inevitable and you'll need to incorporate the ability to bounce back and forth between the personal and the professional.

3.  You have to remind yourself that the work is important and it's worth pursuing.  In your previous work life, perhaps you had colleagues or bosses that reminded you that the work you did was appreciated, important and contributed to the bottom line.

When you work from home, you don't have access to that kind of feedback; and you have to develop your own reasons why it's important for you to work, especially when you aren't drawing the regular paycheck you'd been accustomed to.  Maybe it's the long-term goal and satisfaction of building something on your own.  Whatever it is, you need to find it and permanently paste it into your brain.

4.  You have to be open to completely new ways to work.  You won't have the defined hierarchy of bosses, peers and employees.  And you may have little face-to-face communication with people you depend on to do your work; unlike the daily interaction you have when you work in a cubicle where passers-by who stop by to chat may be key to the office grapevine. 

Most of your communication may very well be online only with people whom you've never met face-to-face.  This represents one of the ways in which you may work far differently from the days where you went to meetings in conference rooms and engaged in a fair amount of face time with co-workers.


  • 5 years ago

    Even at a home office, you have to assume the work position. That means setting aside a specific area and time that is off limits to all family social discussions. That's not easy when kids or grandkids are in the house. In that case and depending on the type of work, use after-5 hours for office work, especially if you are a writer. It's a self discipline thing that has to be honored and respected by all in the household.

  • Pam Houghton 5 years ago

    Frank - that's a great point. Everyone in the household needs to respect that you are required to get X number of work hours in per day, whatever you determine X to be.

  • Marian C Hobson 5 years ago

    I've found the same stuff and your comments are VERY similar to the post I posted today!
    Titled "I'm JUST as Stay at Home Mom"

    Look at www dot BetterYouBetterBiz dot com

  • carol anne 5 years ago

    Just a note: I will speak for my husband only. He would have written how much he got done plus take a nap.....

    We wouldn't nap we'd be doing another load of laundry......

  • Pam Houghton 5 years ago

    Hi Carol Anne - that is funny!

  • Marla 5 years ago

    My sweet spot for productivity is when my son is at school and sadly (and to my husband's chagrin) between 10:00 and midnight. I don't permit myself to do any household or kid-related chores then. Summer is the most challenging when my son's home. Great article. Thanks.

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