First, I'll preface this post by saying every life situation has its own positives and challenges. It can be challenging as a single person to work from home (I'm sure of it. I'm not single so I can't vouch for that). This post should be thought about in terms of the largest work at home demographic...rather, the demographic that would most love to work from home: married women. That being said, this article isn't what you think. I won't be singing the praises of working from home as a mom. I won't be condemning it either. It's just the truth of the matter. Further, it can be said that these things are also experienced by married men who work from home. If you want to freelance or work from home, that's great. Just realize that it's not always a picnic. Unfortunately, when you look around on the Internet all you will see are pictures of happy, smiling people who work from home. Those people are actors and lying bastards. With that said, let's get started.
There is a difference between working from home while being self employed and being a telecommuting employee. If you are self employed (like me), you get to ride the waves of financial instability at least once in a while. This is particularly true in the beginning. Thankfully, Bull and I can almost always predict what I will make in any given week. You learn to do that after a while and if you pay attention to trends. If you are a telecommuter, you are an employee. You have your own struggles. I can pretty much whenever I want (or on some days whenever I can). You generally have set hours. So, if you are thinking about working from home, you need to decide if you want to be self employed or if you want to be an employee. Lots of companies hire telecommuters.
There is a difference between working whenever I want and just when I can squeeze it in. Being self employed, I can more or less set my own hours...but there are some serious restrictions. First, I have clients in London and in Spain (and many in the states). I must be available to them in some capacity during their working hours. In fact, at 4 am this morning I received a Skype message from a London client. It was about 10 am for him. He knows about the time difference, but I do my best to make sure I respond during his business hours. I responded around 8 am my time (1 pm or so his time). I can't always work whenever I want. I also have to work when I have the time. I learned the hard way not to work at my leisure. Something always comes up that continues to push back client projects or make me absolutely frantic while I rush to complete projects for clients. No. Never again. I keep a client calendar to schedule projects. They don't have definite times past "afternoon" or "evening" unless that deadline was set in advance. Mondays I can't really accomplish much in terms of the afternoon. I have to either work in the morning or work at night. Either way, that makes for a long day when you mix in the rest of the responsibilities that come with owning a business and being an adult. Yet, that's a much better option than freaking out because I'm behind. Tuesdays I can't really get much done in the mornings. So, I work in the afternoon and in the evening. Thursdays I am not available to clients after 5 pm my time because of my middle son's football schedule. My weekends are absolutely crazy busy with three kids and a professional musician for a husband. That's the ugly truth: when it comes to being self employed and having a family, you often work when you can and not when you want. If I had my way, I'd forget about time all together and would live my life according to my own body clock...but - that's not reality.
There are too many lies on the Internet about working from home. You will not get rich in 24 hours. You will not make $500 in 24 hours unless you're out robbing PayPal accounts. Don't buy into the hype you see online. If it says no selling and no recruiting, be wary. How are you supposed to make money by just existing? Wal-Mart doesn't make money by just existing. They sell products. They might not do a hard sell, but they do sell. If you are promoting an opportunity or a product, you are in sales whether you realize it or not. If you don't talk to people about those things...guess what? You'll fail and you'll be bitter. With that said, there is a huge difference between a work from home job and a business. With a job, you are an employee of some kind. Maybe you are a non-traditional employee who works from home, but they withhold your taxes. Maybe you are a contract employee and you do your own taxes. The point is...they tell you to do something and you do it. Then, they pay you for it. That's a job. You don't pay McDonald's for the honor of working for their company. They pay you for slinging fries (and hey - that's an honest job and I have no problem with people who work in fast food...it's just the first example that came to mind). A business or even a business opportunity requires some amount of overhead. That overhead could be one time, yearly, or even monthly. It could be a reputable MLM that requires a yearly fee. It could be one that requires you use their service every month to stay active to receive commission. I own a business. I have overhead. My overhead includes advertising. So, please know the difference between a job (they pay you) and a business. I'll say it again - don't fall for the hype. Also, there isn't a business "endorsed" by the IRS. I keep seeing that on Facebook and it's driving me crazy. I help a ton of people involved in MLM with their business needs, but I won't help one that is dishonest. Working from home is work.
Working from home still requires you to work at home. I've learned one important thing: dishes really can wait. Of course, for me it helps to break up my client work (so I don't overwork myself which is a common occurrence here in House of Punk) by doing house work, too. If you have small children, you still have to focus on them and your work. It's not a matter of choosing one over the other. It is a matter of balance and working where you can (just like me). If you're complaining about how no one helps you even though you work really hard at home remember this: they probably wouldn't help you if you worked outside of the home either. I know how lucky I am that my husband does help around the house. Remember that your significant other also works. My husband works 12 hours a day, five days per week. I do what I can to keep things picked up. He helps out, too. Our theory is this: if we were single the choice would be to either do it on our own or hire a maid. We don't have a maid. We just act like adults and do what needs to be done. Of course, this will work much better for you once you are turning a profit and your spouse sees that you really are doing more than sitting on the couch watching cartoons. You might find that doing chores (like the dishes or a load of laundry) after every 90 minutes of work helps you stay focused. This has actually reduced eye strain for me. I get a lot more done.
You will get overwhelmed. This doesn't mean you can't do it. This doesn't mean that you are failing. It just means that you're an adult with adult responsibilities. If you know in advance you can't make a deadline, don't take the gig. If something comes up, let the client know. You'd be surprised at how people are willing to work with you. Being overwhelmed is part of life. You'd also be overwhelmed if you were stuck in some cubicle and left your kid with a babysitter so you could work and he was sick. Things in business will overwhelm you. Things at home will overwhelm you. Balance is not easy.
It is hard to break out of business mode. Last Sunday I was worried about a blog post I needed to complete for a client. There was no hard deadline. I wasn't worried about the subject. I was worried because I hadn't finished it already. I hadn't even started it between getting everyone where they needed to be and a raging headache. I decided to lounge on the couch and read my library book. During that time I figured out exactly what I was going to write and how I would write it. Your brain will switch to business mode and it's hard to switch out. That should've been down time for me....but it wasn't. I rarely have true down time. I keep notebooks in my truck. I keep notebooks by my bed. I keep a way to jot something down at all times. I email ideas to myself. People either think I'm brilliant or stark raving mad (my bet is on the stark raving mad). There is nothing wrong with you as long as you can still function with your family.
Those are some of the dirty truths involved with working from home. Now, if you'll excuse me I need to go finish the two articles I more or less wrote in my head for a client while doing this.