I knew the day I started working from home was going to be fabulous. I didn’t have to get up early, I didn’t have to wear nice clothes, and I wasn’t stressed about arriving to work on time.
Five friends and two family members called me that morning. Another friend called and invited me to lunch. It would have been rude to turn her down, so of course I went — after showering and getting dressed in “nice” clothes. (I’d been wearing sweats when she called.)
Not having to get back to the office, I had a long, leisurely meal. On the way home I remembered several things I needed at the grocery store and noticed my gas gauge was near empty. I ran my errands and walked in the door just a scant 30 minutes before my children came home.
Where had the day gone? What was I going to tell my boss? I got some writing done between snacks and dinner and finished up late into the night. Was this going to work?
I needed this to work. After all, my employer had agreed to let me work from home three days a week. This came about for several reasons. The big one being that I convinced him I would be able to get my writing projects done more effectively without all the distractions at the office. Little did I imagine the distractions that awaited me at home!
Home Office Routine
Over the next several weeks I worked on my “home office” routine. I began getting up earlier. I exercised, got dressed, had the housework done, and was ready to begin work at 9:00 sharp — well okay, sometimes 9:15 (but absolutely no later than 9:30).
I also bought a timer and used it to monitor everything I did. I set the timer when I started to write. I set the timer when I ate lunch. And I set the timer whenever someone called. I still remember the first time it beeped — a mere 10 minutes after a phone call began. I was talking to a good friend and told her, “Gotta go.”
“But who am I going to talk to while I fold my laundry?” she said.
“I’m sorry,” I answered. “I’ve got to finish this project. I’ll call you when I’m done writing.”
“It worked,” I thought as I put down the telephone. For several months I’d been trying to nicely tell people I was working. No one listened. Some people don’t consider working from home “work.” I decided to politely educate them.
Training Family and Friends
Surprisingly, my family was the easiest to train. I loved being at home when my children got out of school. As they would come through the door and drop their backpacks on the floor, they would invariably want a snack and to talk about their day.
Sometimes I was on the phone with the office. My children would noisily interrupt. After blowing up at them a couple of times, they came up with a solution. They made a sign for me to put on the door if I was on the phone. They would know I was not available for a bit and take care of themselves. When I got done, I again set my timer for some space with my kids. I’d fix snacks and talk with them about their day. This allowed everyone to enjoy my working from home.
My Best Friend — as a Freelancer
As I transitioned from working for my employer to freelancing, my timer became my best friend. Setting the timer let me know how long I worked on each project. It helped me accurately bill for my time, and it helped me estimate how long projects would take.
As I became active on Facebook and Twitter, my timer really paid off. I know I tend to get distracted when I’m online, so I set my trusty timer. When it goes off, I move onto my next project.
In fact, I set my timer while I wrote this article. Writing against a deadline helps me be more productive and stay on task. It keeps me focused on what I’m doing because I know I can take a break when the timer beeps.
Did I mention my timer is my new best friend? Indeed my timer is such a good friend my husband teases me about it. He’ll say, “Can I get on your timer’s schedule?” (Now if I could just get him to use one while he watches TV!)
Julie Gubler is a creative copywriter who enjoys writing special reports, ebooks, and other corporate materials. She thinks of her clients as Heroes, and of herself as their Sidekick. She’s committed to helping her clients look their best, and blogs about boosting their superPOWers at http://www.hero-stories.com. All business Heroes need to look good in print, and Julie helps them POWerup their printed materials at http://www.hero-printing.com.