Thursday, March 11, 2010

Working from Home - The Reality

“Oh, you work from home? Must be nice to stay home all day and do what you want!”

LOL Yeah, right!
Yes, there are advantages. I’ll not deny it. I’ve been fully self-employed since 1999 and couldn’t imagine working a J-O-B now. However, there are a lot of disadvantages as well.

So for those who’ve always wondered, let me give you a run-down of the nitty-gritty. And my fellow authors and bloggers who also don’t work a job outside the home, feel free to chime in with your thoughts! Let’s paint as real a picture as possible.

So from Spunky’s viewpoint…


I set my own hours - when I get up, when I go to bed, and where I go.

When I’m at home, I can wear whatever I want. (I REALLY hate sharp-casual, so that's cool!)

If I get hungry or thirsty, the fridge is not far.

I can make phone calls, respond to emails, do interviews, and meet with people at any point in my day. I don’t have to wait until after work or cram it in during my lunch break.

I have more time to write and promote. I can do more online.

I’m in my comfort zone when at home.


I set my own hours - which means I need to be a self-motivator or I’ll never accomplish anything.

More time to promote means I’ve taken advantage of that - and quadrupled my workload to keep up with my efforts.

There’s a constant parade of distractions - phone calls, emails, deliveries, errands to run, etc. that aren’t business-related. Stupid things vie for my attention - the Internet, snacks I shouldn’t eat, falling snow, etc.

There’s an even bigger parade of necessary distractions! Household chores - laundry, dishes, cleaning house, taking out the garbage, taking care of the cats, preparing dinner, etc. When you’re home, you see these things need to be done - so you do them! There’s also business distractions - phone calls, emails, book requests, trips to the bank or post office, etc. And for those with kids or pets, there’s times when you have to tend to their needs and play with them. (My cats a necessary distraction? Hey, YOU try ignoring those two and see what happens!)

Since each day is always different, I have no set pattern. So I rely heavily on my calendar and to-do list to maintain order among the chaos.

Often, I’m not so much working from home as I’m working out of the home. I’m a professional speaker, so I do speaking engagements and many are during the day. Most media interviews are also during daytime hours. Sometimes it’s book events or I’m meeting with someone or visiting a school or whatever. But often I am gone all day, racking up the mileage on my little SUV. (And besides author & speaker, I’m a pro photographer and I own another business that requires my attention 15-20 hours a week - so I can be really busy during the week.)

When I’m home, especially for more than a day, the temptation arises to retreat and withdraw from the world. And that’s never good!

I don’t receive a steady paycheck, but I still need to bring money into my household. Therefore, my income is totally dependent on my efforts, and it fluctuates with changes in the economy and the seasons. Some months are really good - some really suck!

That is my work-at-home world and the advantages and disadvantages. What are some of yours?


Rowan said...

Work-at-home is something I'd like to do.
It would bring me back to work after that looooooooong break due to being ill. I am still not fit for work so working from home would be awesome.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I've tweeted this one! :)

Sometimes I absolutely can NOT write at home. Today seems to be one of those days. I'm off to the library in an hour. :) Sooooo many distractions and housework to do here.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

I work from home occassionally. I do like it because there are less distractions than in the office. I usually get work done faster.

I hope you can visit today! I did a creative writing exercise.

Mason Canyon said...

When working from home you have family and friends who ask for favors because "you're at home and have the time." They sometimes forget you have work that needs to be done the same as them. They mean well. :)

Creative Chronicler said...

I would love to be able to work from home, but I know even though my schedule is packed and hectic with my day job, it also forces me to be more productive with my time. Maybe if I could clone myself and let one work from home on all my projects.....

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Ash, that would suit you perfect then.

Elizabeth, I'm with ya!

Brooke, if I could close my office door, it would probably help lower the distractions - but my cats would not allow that!

Mason, that is very true.

Unknown said...

I LOVE having a home-based career!

This is a great topic, because everyone, at some point at least, dreams of pre-conceived notion of the "luxury" of working from home.

Keep in mind that my comments reflect the fact that I own my own business. I don't work out of my home for or under obligation to someone else, or a company that hires at-home workers.

There are of course the obvious advantages. Not HAVING to be at work by a certain time, being chained to a desk, having to answer to someone else, no commuting, no fuel expense, being able to schedule appointments whenever I want – the list goes on …

I could expend on the list of disadvantages, but just as with the advantages, they're fairly obvious to most. You still have bills to pay, you now have to rely on yourself for health insurance, you may feel disconnected at times since you don't have that daily interaction with co-workers.

Being your own boss is a LOT of work! It takes commitment, dedication, determination; a genuine desire to achieve and accomplish. Starting out, there are countless hours and long days (and nights) of learning and research. And this is a learn-as-you-go process.

Establishing a presence; creating yourself, your website, your blog. Networking, getting your name out there, promoting yourself …

You're continually jumping into unknown territory.

You have to realize that this is a long road; it's going to take TIME. "They" say getting a new business off the ground takes on average of two years. That's just off the ground. Once things start happening and your efforts begin to pay off, you have to continue venturing into new territory and promoting yourself and networking WHILE you have work coming in. You learn to prioritize, then how to make amendments to that and re-prioritize.

You've made this monumental decision because it's your dream; it's what you love doing. Looking back at my beginning and everything that has brought me to where I am today, I can honestly say it is and has been SO worth it.

There is a lot of GIVE to branching out on your own. The rewards, satisfaction, sense of accomplishment, and yes, the freedom and luxury of being my own boss and working from home FAR outweigh everything else.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

CC, if you are successful, please pass along your cloning device.

Crystal, you touched upon so much more! Owning a business is so much different from being an employee and requires double and triple the effort.

Natasha said...

I tried working from home for a little over a year, but failed miserably. And all for the reasons you listed - I was doing laundry when I should be working, and working when I should be cooking dinner. I snacked too much, checked my Facebook profile seven times an hour, and scheduled in unnecessary trips to the supermarket and the bookstore.

I now work from an office, and though I spend a couple of hours commuting and getting ready for work, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am just not disciplined enough to work from home, and I accept it.

Helen Ginger said...

Distractions are a downfall when you're working from home. Kids interrupt, husbands talk too loud up in their own office, and instead of focusing on one thing at a time, you're constantly multi-tasking three or four different things.

Straight From Hel

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Despite the disadvantages, after the week I've had, I would still rather work from home.

And glad I could host you today, Diane.

Missy B. said...

I have always wished that I could work from home. As a matter of fact, that was my plan after I finished my pet grooming work out of my garage. However, our town does not permit "services" to be provided out of residences (we live within town limits). If we had lived a little further away, I could have done it! So disappointed......especially since I have found a groomer who lives less than a mile away that has transformed her garage into a grooming salon...that was my dream. Oh well....if it was meant to be , then it would have happened. Great post, Diane....there are a lot of distractions that you mention that I have never thought about!

Jeannie said...

I work from home on occasion, however, I find that it's more likely that I work from a Starbucks. The act of getting out of the house does wonders to my writing.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Rayna, it doesn indeed take discipline!

Helen, thanks for mention multi-tasking. I do that a lot as well.

Thanks again, Alex!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Oh, Missy, I am so sorry!

Cricket McRae said...

I love the flexibility, but discipline is a must. I'm not great at routine, and instead fill time quotas each day. Each day there is at least some writing, promotion, home & gardening, and exercise. But days are always affected by urgent projects or deadlines, appointments, events and signings, socializing and even the weather.

Sometimes I have to get away from "home" demands. My town has a writing organization that rents studio space for members to use for free. It's like an office for writers!

The only drawback I'd mention is no weekends, and no days off all unless I actually schedule them in my calendar.

Christina Rodriguez said...

I'd have to say the number one advantage to working from home is that I am completely comfortable in my environment. Working in an office had its own stresses just because of the uncomfortable furniture, gross bathrooms, noisy coworkers, etc. Working out of my home doesn't carry nearly as much "mental weight" because of those physical comforts.

That's not to say that I don't love getting out of my home office from time to time. Plus, when all of your work is always with you at home, it's harder to end the "working" day.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

As I said, Karen, I start withdrawing without contact, because you're right - it can be lonely!

Cricket, good point - I work all the time as well.

Christina, it is less stress at home. Even with all the disadvantages, I wouldn't change my position now. Besides, at this point, I would make a REALLY lousy employee!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

i hear you. If i don't do it, it won't get done. So though being home with the little one is delicious, i still have a crap ton of stuff to do on top of that.

Arlee Bird said...

Even when I was not working from my home there were always distractions that could divert me from my work. I guess I almost always been fortunate to mostly be in management where I could set my own schedules and duties to some extent.
I can't imagine working on a produciton line or some other job where there was alwaya a focus on the sameness of what I was doing hour after hour, day after day. Drudgery is not for me.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it. Working from home is waaaay better than clocking in 9-5. I want to get a shirt that says "Work is for Schmucks," but that might be a bit too sensitive considering our present economy and people out of work. But yeah, I love working from home.

Stephen Tremp

Jai Joshi said...

You said it, girlfriend. Working from home is alternately heaven and hell. What I love is that it's my zone, my playground and I can do whatever I want when I want to.

What I hate is the distractions from family and friends who see no problem with butting in on my work session to make me run their errands because, like, I'm "just sitting at home doing nothing, right?" *growl*

The flunctuating pay is also something I sigh about but it's the price I pay for doing what I love.


The Old Silly said...

Love this post. Reminds me of the saying I heard a long time ago about being in business for yourself. You get to choose your own hours.

Yeah, right ... you get to choose WHICH 100 hours of the week to work, lol.

Marvin D Wilson

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Michelle, you understand completely.

Lee, that sounds so awful, doesn't it?

Stephen, I'd save that shirt for later...

Jai - yeah, you and me both - we're just 'sitting at home.'

Marvin, that 100 hours thing is too scary accurate!!!

Jemi Fraser said...

Distractions are definitely endless! I always find it funny how people think people who work at home have tons of time. Real life is still there!

Jenners said...

I agree with you ... I think working at home has a lot of disadvantages that people don't always see. What I want is to be paid to work at home and I spend something like 3 hours a day assembling packets or typing documents or something but I get paid like $25 an hour!!! Dream on!!!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jnners, that is the ultimate reality check, isn't it?

Jemi, yes! We still have things to do!

Lisa said...

Wow, wow, wow! I can soooo relate to this. Actually, I could probably write a novel on it. I also work from home, but according to family and friends, this really means I don't work. I get everything from people wanting me to babysit, take them places, yap on the phone (the one thing I wish was never invented), etc. Like you, I must motivate myself to work. All I really want to do is write, but usually guilt keeps me from doing this. I must paint to make money. I love to paint though, but writing is where my heart is. "One of these days writing is all I will do", is what I keep telling myself. I have one more son to graduate this year from highschool, so I must paint to help him with college. Yikes, time flies.

Mayra Calvani said...

I can truly relate, Diane--especially about all those distractions!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The evil phone is countered by caller ID - and if I suspect I might be roped into an overlong phone call, I just don't answer!

Lyn Fairchild Hawks said...

I have a few days of working from home, and I find that some friends think that I'm available, any time. If I'm working, I ignore the phone, even turn it away from me, ringer off, so I don't see it light up. It is so hard to tell myself that writing comes first when you think someone might need you. But almost all the time, the person just wants to catch up and chat, so I find time later to do so. People understand that I can't be interrupted at my office job; so, why when I change venues, is my work at home not as important?

Clearly, it's myself I have to convince as much as anybody! :-)


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Lyn, it's funny, isn't it? You're right, they won't bug you at a JOB but they will if you work from home.

The self-employed are so misunderstood!