Working for Yourself

While working at home can provide you with a freedom from structure not possible in a traditional work setting, it can also result in loneliness and lack of concentration. However, if you make a conscious effort, these common pitfalls of working at home can be overcome.

Don't make the mistake of believing that working at home necessitates feeling lonely and out of touch with others in your line of work, particularly those who work in traditional settings. When you work from home, it's your responsibility to figure out what you need to run your business at its best and then take active steps to achieve those goals!

Avoiding isolation. When you're working at home, it's easy to feel isolated. In a traditional work environment, you work and network with co-workers, you might commute back and forth to work with co-workers, and you might socialize with your co-workers at work or after hours. Working at home, especially if you don't have employees or co-workers, can be lonely.

If you work at home, there are steps you can take to avoid feeling isolated and to make and maintain new business contacts:

Keep an eye open for business contacts and interaction wherever you are. Don't overlook the health club, the supermarket, the bookstore, or the neighborhood block party as places where those with interests similar to yours will be found.

Staying focused. Working at home can make it difficult to focus on your work. There are many distractions that don't exist in a traditional workplace such as chores and errands that need to be done and interruptions fromfriends, family, and neighbors. In the home workplace, guilty pleasures such as watching television or going to the beach on a beautiful, sunny day are very tempting. After all, there's no boss to answer to!

So how do you stay focused and get your work done when you work at home? We have a few suggestions.


Jason starts work in his home office each day at 10:00 a.m. Every day, his mail is delivered at 12:30 p.m. The mail carrier usually has packages and certified letters that must be signed for, and he and Jason usually have a brief conversation as well. Jason finds it hard to get right back to work after this daily interruption. To avoid this problem, Jason decides to take a break every day at 12:30. He's been at work for two and a half hours at that point and it's a good time to get something to drink and have a snack. By fitting the mail delivery into his workday schedule as a conscious decision to take a break, Jason finds he doesn't feel his work is disrupted. In addition, knowing he has a break coming up makes it easier for Jason to stay focused on his work until that time.

You can also stay focused on your work at home if you make every effort to set up a work area away from distractions. Stay away from the kitchen (unless your workplace is the kitchen!), away from rooms in your home where the television or radio are on in the background, away from areas where you are bothered by street and traffic noise, etc.

Your tolerance for distractions is a highly individual matter. While some people can write an entire novel with a television blaring in the background, others need total silence to compose a sentence. Here's an exercise we suggest. If you find yourself unable to focus on your work, take note of what exactly it is that distracted you. Was it a car alarm? The phone ringing in your bedroom? A neighbor's dog barking? The doorbell? Can any of the distractions be eliminated or minimized in the future? Once you determine what's necessary to keep you focused on your work when you're working at home, you'll be on your way to productivity!