By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
Working from home is something that sounds amazing for many people. Who wouldn’t want to work from home, right? No commute. No dry cleaning bills. No annoying coworkers. No gasoline budget, parking decks, or lunches packed.
The truth is that working from home is great. Sometimes. And sometimes it’s not as great. Take this blog post, for example. It should have been written yesterday (at the latest) and scheduled to post right after midnight this morning. But it’s been a crazy last couple of weeks because my children have been frequently at home due to teacher workdays, a national holiday, and an odd midterm exam schedule.
Sometimes unusual weeks like these will knock me right off my game. Maybe I can meet my writing goals (I have), but supper for the family ends up being canned soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Maybe I’ll meet some goals and not others.
But I can’t blame the children for all of my issues. Sometimes working from home is difficult and there is no one here but myself, two cats, and a dog. There are no excuses for poor performance then, but it happens.
These are some truths I’ve found about working from home:
Sometimes home isn’t the best place to work because it’s distracting.
Sometimes home isn’t the best place to work because the sameness of it isn’t inspiring.
If home isn’t the best place to work today, for any reason at all, realize that fact quickly and pack up our stuff for the coffeehouse/library.
Timers are helpful for any social media time while working at home.
Friends and family might need parameters. I would be on an interminable coffee break if I didn’t have clear working hours.
Write the absolute minimum we feel we must meet that day for our goal…first. Sometimes this is easier before anyone else gets up.
If we have young children at home, consider using a timer to show them when we’re available. Be very explicit about what we need from them.
Occasionally we must have nice clothes for various writerly functions. Or even weddings and funerals. We should also sometimes update the nice clothes that we do have.
Sometimes setbacks to our writing schedule aren’t really setbacks—they just need to be thought through. The mother in my middle school carpool who drives in the afternoons isn’t available to drive for the next few weeks because of a family emergency. That means I’m driving mornings and afternoons. I’m looking at the afternoon carpool line as an opportunity to work on one of the books I’m writing.
How is your writing going? When do you fit it in with your family time or your other obligations? Tips for working from home?