Tag Archive | working from home

Commuting from Work to Home… When Home is Where You Work

By Jen Ashenfelter

One benefit of working in an office is the commute home. The 15, 30 or 45 minutes of “me time” between the office and home = valuable transition time from work to family. Whether singing with the radio turned up too loud, finishing another chapter of an audio book, or organizing your thoughts on the evening To Do list, the ability to disconnect from the office is essential for maintaining sanity.

But if you work from home like I do, then you feel the loss of that all-important “evening commute.” I’ll take working from home over being in an office any day, but creating that transition period should still be part of the routine.

My dining room table is my desk which makes walking away from work more challenging. With the computer staring back at me, there’s always one more email, one more sentence to write, or one more items to cross off the To Do list.  Meanwhile, everyone is coming through the door requiring my help or waiting for dinner. (Note: The ability to multi-task with my attention … and patience… simultaneously divided between work and home is a chaotic scene at best.)

Recreate that "welcome home" feeling...

Recreate that “welcome home” feeling…

Here are my tips and ideas for creating that transition time between work and home when you work from home:

Schedule. First, decide when your work day is officially over and schedule a “commute time” into your daily routine. Develop a plan of action—without one, there’s no doubt your “commute time” will get shorter and shorter before there is no transition from work to family. (I hear you, making the time is easier said than done, and believe me, I know. There will be days when work takes over but if you give yourself the period—however brief—to transition, you and your family will be happier.) 

Leave. Back away from the computer, files and phone, and physically leave the house. Walk the dog, train for that upcoming 5K, go to the grocery store, or stand in the yard and stare at the sky—doesn’t matter what you do as long as you pass through the door and return later. This will give you the best sense of separation of office and home. Of course, weather extremes such as a polar vortex, record-breaking heat wave, or super storm, may require an alternate plan…

Read. Find a book you hate to put down. When all you want to do is bury your face in that book, quitting time will be easier. (Warning: A riveting story could cause a longer commute.)

Bake. I don’t usually have home-baked goodies in the house for dessert but when the urge for a delicious treat takes hold, cooking seems more fun and less annoying…and you’ll score dinner-time points with the family.

Listen. The right music can adjust a crabby attitude, lift your spirits, or make you dance, so crank up the volume and let loose.

Play. From crossword puzzles to knitting to gardening, set time aside for your favorite activity.

Socialize. Call your sister or best friend to catch up. Invite a few mothers from the neighborhood or school to pop by to chat over a glass of iced tea (or wine). Attend a networking event with people you know in the community. Working from home can be socially isolating so add activities with other professionals, family or friends into your schedule.

With a few moments to unwind from work before getting involved with family responsibilities, you’ll feel less rushed and stressed and, hopefully, much happier. Do you have a “commute time” routine or ideas for making the transition from work to family fun and easy? We’d love for you to share your thoughts on this topic.

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What’s Not to Like About Winter?

Snow Shovel

Who needs a fancy treadmill when a simple shovel and free snow will do the trick?!

By Jen Ashenfelter

There’s plenty of negativity and whining throughout social media. In an effort to always look at the glass half full, I offer you these thoughts on the recent string of snow storms blanketing my little slice of Pennsylvania–might I add–before the “official” start of the winter season. (Tiny bit of snarkiness intended…)

• Shoveling snow is great exercise which I don’t seem to get much of lately. I love that my entire body, right down to the tips of my fingers reminds me of this glorious fact for days following my winter workout.
• Working from home on snowy days allows me to be with the kids during a two-hour delay, and I don’t have to drive on the roads with the rest of the yahoos. This also gives me additional opportunities for exercise (read the previous point) as there’s no one else at home to shovel the driveway before everyone returns home or to clear the deck and backyard for the dog to do her business.

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Shoveling the deck and part of the backyard for the dog is one of the many perks of working from home when it snows….

• I love the refreshing crisp air nipping at my nose and giving me goose bumps because it clears my sinuses and the cool 68 degrees inside my house feels amazingly warmer than it did before I went outside. Venturing into the winter wonderland frequently, especially without a coat, is a great way to save money on heating my home.
• Living in Pennsylvania, I get to experience all four seasons which makes me appreciate three of them so much more and gives me the chance to lovingly invite Mother Nature to “bite me” every winter.
• Cabin fever takes me back to my days as a real estate agent because I begin to notice all the positives about my home. This comes in handy as I offer Realtors the opportunity to sell my home because I’m moving to Southern California…

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“No really honey, I’ll be happy to shovel the driveway by myself before everyone gets home.”

The Myths About Working from Home (No, I Don’t Wear Fuzzy Slippers)

By Karen Hendricks

It’s always interesting to see the reactions of others when they learn that I work from home. They usually have a picture in their heads that falls into one of the following categories:

  • “Awesome! I’m so happy for you.” (These people truly “get it” and are usually friends who are moms too.)
  • “Really? That’s great. What do you do all day?” (These people think I just own a home office for the fun of it.)
  • Oh, how nice—that sounds comfy.” (These people doubt that I am actually doing WORK. They probably think I wear fuzzy slippers all day. Sigh. I wish…)
Fuzzy Slippers

In the market for fuzzy slippers? These are called “Shagilicious” by Patricia Green. Credit: Zappos.com.

The fact is…

More and more Americans are working from home.  According to the latest numbers from the US Census Bureau, about 13.4 million Americans worked from home at least one day a week in 2010, an increase of about 1.6 million from 2000. That accounts for almost 10% of the entire U.S. workforce.

Home-based benefits

For me, working from home has provided a multitude of benefits. I feel very blessed to do what I love and love what I do. Owning my own business, a communications firm, has its share of challenges but the benefits are plentiful:

  • Zero commuting! No driving, no gas money required, no parking costs or hassles, no wear and tear on the car except for appointments. You have more time to spend on work and there’s no loss of time from commuting.
  • The ability to set your terms and limits. In terms of a workload, I try to stay between 30-40 hours per week. Owning your own business also means you can choose clients and projects. Not that I say “no” that often, but if a project or client doesn’t resonate with me or doesn’t represent something I believe in, I have the ability to “pass” and say “thanks for thinking of me, but no.” I enjoy maintaining a variety of clients who challenge my work skills on several levels, involving a mix of marketing, PR, and freelance writing, with a dash of photography.
  • Being motivated has its rewards. Freelance work, especially freelance writing, relies heavily on skills like creativity and perseverance. Working for yourself can provide a great sense of satisfaction when freelance assignments are accepted by editors and magazines for example.
  • All the comforts of your home office. It’s a wonderful feeling to be “at home” and at ease while you work. And you don’t have the temptation of co-workers bringing calorie-rich doughnuts or muffins into work. (But you can do that all by yourself if you wish!)
  • Few interruptions. I find that my work flows better without the frequent interruptions experienced in a typical office setting. This is most beneficial for writing!
  • Flexibility in scheduling. I try to pace myself in order to power through my work projects Monday through Thursday so that I can give myself every Friday off. It doesn’t work every week, but it’s a great feeling when it does. Friday serves as my “back-up day” to finish projects, make calls, or tie up loose ends. If I can complete my work by noontime on Friday, I still feel a great sense of accomplishment.
  • Family flexibility. Being able to schedule around my children’s sporting events, doctor appointments, etc, is simply invaluable. Being at home when my children arrive home from school is also a bonus.

It’s not all fun and games

Working from home isn’t for everyone, however, and there are some pitfalls to avoid:

  • Maintain a structure to your day. It’s helpful to set “work hours” for yourself and then stick to them. Be disciplined.
  • That being said, build small breaks into your day or else you’ll burn out. Reward yourself with several small breaks, just 5 or 10 minutes to take a short walk outside, make a personal phone call, or grab a healthy snack. These pockets of time can also be very helpful with household chores such as throwing a load of laundry into the washing machine or popping dinner into the oven. Switching gears and taking breaks is reinvigorating, especially when you incorporate physical activity. Make sure you don’t “forget” to return to work.
  • Set goals for yourself. Set daily goals every morning and weekly goals every Monday. Check them frequently to make sure you’re on task.
  • Ask for family support. During your work hours, make sure your family knows your primary focus is on your work. (Would it be wrong to tell your kids to only interrupt in the case of a fire? Hmmmm…)
  • Define your work area. Make is as functional and professional as possible so that it helps you set the tone for productive workdays.
  • This is the big one: casual vs. professional attire. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you should wear sweatpants or fuzzy slippers. It’s great to have the option to dress casually, but this might impact your work performance (just as the tip above advises you to create an environment conducive to productive workdays). Be comfortable but not too casual. Now… where did I put my fuzzy slippers…. under my desk? Just kidding. 😉

Are you self-employed? Do you work from home? Please pass along your tips and strategies too!