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Blog: The Pile High Club--how NOT to become a member
Working from Home

I subscribe to a daily e-newsletter from www.RealSimple.com called Simply Stated.

The below is a reprint of that newsletter from May 6th of this year. I thought it would be especially helpful to some of you all. It certainly was for me, as I have a home office as well. Enjoy!


A friend of mine is a psychologist who specializes in child and family treatment. I ran into her last month and before I could get out the standard niceties, she was bombarding me with questions.

"How do you do it?" she asked. "How do you work from home? More importantly, how do you work from home with your husband without getting on each other's nerves?"

Since she and her husband don't telecommute, my assumption was that she must have a client who has just started working from home and is having difficulties. I told her that I would forward a list to her that I started about a year ago on this very subject. After I sent her the list, I realized that some readers also might benefit from seeing it. So, if you're considering working from home, here are some tips for making it an easier task. A few of these items are specific to working next to your partner at home, but most of them apply to anyone who is telecommuting.

Must Have/Do:

1. Designated workspace with a door.
You need to be able to shut the door on your work, literally and figuratively. There are times when you just need to put physical and mental space between you and your work. Also, there are times when the creative process takes control and your desk becomes a mess of outlandish proportions. Most importantly, though, you need to find a way to feel that you're not always at work when you're at home and a door is a good starting point.

2. Separate workspace from your partner.
I'm not advocating that you need two rooms in your house set aside for offices (our desks share the same room), but each person needs a defined "my" space. This means that you need two desks, two computers, and two phones. Experience shows that the minute you need to make a phone call is the minute one of his clients calls with an emergency.

3. Knowledge of your UPS/FedEx/Mail carrier's first name.
Delivery people are not accustomed to your being home during the day. Make friends with these people so that they will actually ring the doorbell and wait for you to answer the door when they have deliveries.

4. A cleaning service.
Feel like procrastinating from your work? It's amazing what you'll clean when you don't want to write a report. Additionally, it keeps you from being upset about working somewhere that isn't clean. An office building has a cleaning staff, you need to afford yourself the same luxury. I'm serious about this one, even if it's just twice a month.

5. Earphones.
Ultimately, there will come a time when you're in "the zone" and your spouse decides to play music, talk loudly on the phone, or feels compelled to tell you about something funny one of his clients just e-mailed to him. Music playing through the earphones allows you to tune out his conversation or bad music selection. Additionally, if he wants to be chatty and distract you from work, he most often chooses not to do so if you're wearing earphones even if you're not actually listening to music.

6. A dedicated work phone line with a Do Not Disturb button.
Often, clients assume that because you work from home that it's okay to call you at all hours of the night and on the weekends. If you worked in an office building, they would never have the expectation that you would answer your phone at 2:00 a.m. Just because your office is in your home doesn't mean that your home is in your office. When your work day is finished, press the Do Not Disturb button on your work phone and let it ring straight to voice mail.

7. Your desk and television in separate rooms.
You won't be tempted to watch television when you should be working if work and the television are in different rooms.

Good to Have/Do:

1. Single brew coffee maker.
My husband likes dark coffees and I despise the foul nastiness, preferring milder blends. Instead of brewing two pots, we simply brew our own cups. I highly recommend the Nespresso C190. Plus, you order your coffee over the internet and the nice UPS delivery person you've befriended delivers them right to your door. Yes, the machine is expensive. However, it's much cheaper than going to the local coffee shop everyday. We learned that the hard way.

2. Get ready at least a little bit every morning for work.
It's fun to work in pajamas, but it's not fun to work next to someone who hasn't showered in three days. Brush your teeth, it's good for your teeth and your relationship with your family.

3. Leave the house once a day.
You need to get out into the big blue room at least once a day, if not more.

4. Agree when work will be done for the day.
I usually finish working around 6:00 and my husband typically finishes around 6:30. I will answer e-mails, start a load of laundry, or just play busy quietly until 6:30. Flipping on the tv or doing something to rub in the fact that you're done isn't fair to the other person. The same applies to family members coming home before your work day is complete. They need to know that you're in the office until a set time and respect that boundary.

5. Have breakfast and/or lunch together.
Take turns making meals and spend time together. One of the benefits of working at home together is being able to spend quality time with each other.

posted on: 6/16/2008 10:30:00 AM by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

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The Pile High Club--how NOT to become a member

by Heather Lambie

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About Heather:

My Husband - "Honey, how thin can you spread yourself before you're no longer there?" Me - "I don't know. But I'm in it to win it, so we may have to find out."

Heather's Website:


Favorite Websites

  • The Sartorialist
    This site appeases my hunger for all things New York, reminds me of my time there, and gives me great ideas for unconventional looks.
  • Toffee To Go
    They are located in Tampa, very near me, but they deliver/ship nationally. They have THE BEST toffee EVER. It's buttery, salty, sweet--all my favorite things in one bite.
  • The Container Store
    I know this is a no-brainer for an organizer...but this place really turns me on!
  • The Poetry Foundation
  • Because I Said So (blog)
    As a mom myself, this mom of 6 (!!!) has me in stitches.
  • Michael Buble
    If I wasn't happily married, I might be stalking him. Bar none, the best voice and best sense of humor!

Quotes That Move Me

  • General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
    "The truth of the matter is, you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it."
  • Ivern Ball
    "Most of us ask for advice when we know the answer but we want a different one."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    "The secret of education is respecting the pupil."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    "Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."
  • Abigail Van Buren
    "The best index to a person's character is how he treats another person who can't do him good, and how he treats people who can't fight back."
  • Dorothy Galyean
    "Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."
  • Aristotle
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
  • Mark Twain
    "To be satisfied with what one has; that is wealth. As long as one sorely needs a certain additional amount, that man isn't rich."
  • Jackie Kennedy
    "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much."

Places I'm Dying to Visit

  • Hawaii
    Any how, any way, any time.
  • Los Cabos, Mexico
  • China
  • Japan
  • Alaska (via cruise ship)
  • Marbella, Spain

Places I've Already Been

  • Australia (Sydney)
  • New Zealand
  • Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora
  • London
  • Paris
    Spent only one day here (took the Chunnel from London when I was there) but it was one amazing, beautiful day where I walked the flea markets, visited the Louvre, people-watched and used all 6 senses to experience it.
  • Trinidad & Tobago
    My husband is from here, so we go several times a year to visit family.
  • Italy (Milan, Vicenza)
  • Jamaica

Things I'd Like To Do Before I Die

  • Run a leg with the Olympic torch before the games begin
  • See the monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico
  • Ride a horse on the beach (in the water)
  • See a prize fight (boxing) in Las Vegas
  • Run the NYC Marathon
    I ran the Disney Marathon in 2000 (pre-kids). Would love to run another post-kids, to prove I can.
  • Have washboard abs.
  • Eliminate self doubt.
  • Own an apartment in Manhattan.
  • Watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve.
  • Take an RV trip down the coast of California.

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