Posted by: crustynomad | February 23, 2008

The Reality of Working from Home

The following article was first published on the helium.com writers website.

You can view some of my other articles here.

The Reality of Working from Home

My reality of working from home is either really similar to your experience or the polar opposite. You see, we start off the best of intentions but whether we like or not we can find ourselves unavoidably distracted from the real purpose of being out of the office.

I don’t have a home study so I spend my time at the dining room table using a wireless Internet connection to stay in touch with the company base. This is fine if there’s no-one else in the house but makes effective working very difficult if the wife and kids are at home.

Here’s an example time log of a typical day:

8:30am – I would normally be heading off for work at this time though being home has made me a convenient back-up to help on the school run. I cannot argue too much as I’m not due to start work till 9:00am but I do however lament the rarity of being able to spend time alone in my own home. There is almost always something going on and with three children under nine it can be a noisy place indeed. When I get that opportunity for a bit of quiet I try to grab it if I can.

9:10am – Back home again but I fancy a coffee before I get cracking so I make one for me and my wife. We get chatting and before long another 20 minutes have passed. That’s OK because we have flexible working hours anyway but I really must get on. I sit down to work and begin on the emails. I get a couple of instant messenger prods from both work and from friends which delays me a little longer. My wife tells me she’s going shopping but will be back in time to pick our son up from nursery at midday. Great – peace at last!

10:45am – Elevenses comes early where I come from so I make another coffee. For once I have the chance to turn on the TV and watch something other than Power Rangers or Hannah Montana so I’ll take five minutes to see what’s on. Big mistake!

11:20am – My wife’s phone call interrupts me and she says that she’s been delayed and can I pick-up my son from nursery. Oh, Joy! Fortunately this is not too far away but it means that there’s not that long before I have to leave with impromptu baby-sitting duty chores to perform too.

12:05pm – We’re home. Well, as it’s lunch-time I may as well grab something for myself as well as my boy. My wife shouldn’t be too long now anyway.

12:40pm – C’mon Jo – this is ridiculous! I try my best to get back to working and the TV comes on as a substitute in the child care stakes but it isn’t long before requests for additional snacks and game playing are made.

1:00pm – My wife returns saying that she needs something printing off for a school governor meeting and can I (quickly) do it for her. This is fine until I realize it means that she’ll be going to a meeting straight after to school at 3:150pm. Though never said this is clearly a euphemism meaning ‘Can you collect the children from school at 3:00pm’. Sigh…

2:45pm – Time for a quick coffee and a catch up on email and a couple of phone calls. School beckons.

4:10pm – The last hour has been hell. All three kids have been involved in a three-way fight for the TV remote and someone has knocked blackcurrant squash all over the kitchen floor. It’s no good, this home working just isn’t working so I decide to write the rest off the business day apart from periodically checking and posting messages and emails to make it look like that all is well at the office.

8:15pm – All the kids are in bed but I want to chill-out for a bit before playing catch-up. Before long it’s gone 9:30pm and I’m thinking about whether it’s worth starting again at such an hour but I do what I can to make it look as if my day at home really was in the interest of the company.

10:50pm – Time for another coffee. Not a wise idea at this hour but I’m beginning to flag. I decide to quickly go on one of my forums and subsequently waste another 40 minutes. I’ll just do another half an hour and I’ll go to bed I think…

12:00am – Midnight and all of a sudden I’m wide awake – I knew I shouldn’t have had that coffee. I decide to turn the TV on to wind down and before long I’m watching re-runs of 70s sitcoms and America’s most wanted.

As I stare into the middle distance I reflect on the day. I’ve been working on and off for 15 hours but probably could say that only five or six resembled anything like being effective. Woe betide me if I decide to give up the day job to become a writer!

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Responses

  1. I find that one of the most helpful things to do when working at home is to take a nap. What that does is make the phone ring, often with some new business. I’ve talked with other consultants and we all have similar experiences. It’s that old saying, when the going gets tough the tough take a nap.


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