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When my husband and I first decided to open our own business, it seemed natural to it out of our own home. He works full time, and keeping a home office would allow me to manage to the company while taking care of my motherly duties as well. It would be simple, we figured.
Boy, were we wrong. Now, a year into it, I can definitely say that working from home has certainly been a learning experience. For example, I know now that when you work out of a home office, convincing your mother-in-law that you have a “real” job will be difficult. So if you’re thinking about working from home any time soon, do yourself a favor and read these tips on what you can expect.
1) Taxes are tedious. How I long for the days when all I had to worry about when doing my taxes was a W-2. When you’re working from home, expect you’re the difficulty level of your taxes to increase significantly. You’ll have to consider your home office space and utility bills when calculating your write-offs. Additionally, if you accept credit cards and other payments from clients, you’ll have to keep a very detailed ledger of transactions in case you get audited. In light of this, I highly recommend using QuickBooks or a personal accountant to keep your finances in order.
2) You might regress into a caveperson. Being home alone all day might be great at first, but over time it can be grating. Without the social interaction of an office motivating you to stay fit and clean, it’s easy to let yourself go. At one point I was only showering every other day and wearing sweat pants around everywhere because what did I care? Nobody was going to see me. For the record, this is not a good habit to pick up. If you’re going to work from home, make a checklist of the basic things you need to do to pass as a human – like “shower” and “put on pants” – and stick to it every day. Otherwise, you might regress into one of these poor creatures.
3) It’s really easy to get distracted. Here’s a tip for you – don’t operate out of your living room or any other room with a television in it. One of the biggest pitfalls of being a WAHM is that it’s far too easy to get distracted by TV or your grocery list or Pinterest or anything other than the work you have in front of you. This can be a productivity and profit killer. My recommendation is that you find a secluded corner of the house to set up shop, where the only thing in the room besides your computer is a filing cabinet. Putting yourself as far away from temptation as you possibly can will dramatically improve your time management skills.
4) You never really leave work. As your home transforms into your office, your office also transforms into your home. Some WAHMs have the ability to “clock out” at five in the evening and hit the reset buttons on their brains. I’m not one of those people. Working from home has turned me into an unwilling workaholic. When you’ve got clients to handle and an office on-hand, you feel like you always need to be doing something productive. These days, for instance, I might take a three hour break to fix dinner and pick up the girls from school and then jump right back into my work until nine at night. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the stress of keeping your clients happy will definitely take some getting used to.
5) For all of its faults, working from home is still pretty awesome. Working from home definitely isn’t a pretty job. I haven’t had a weekend off in forever, I’ve grown to really, really hate my email inbox and I’m pretty sure I’ve put on weight from sitting on my rump for eight hours a day. But as bad as that may seem, I still really like it. I have a flexible schedule, and a lot more time on my hands to do errands and exercise. The business is growing, and the added stream of income really helps my family. So while it might not be for everyone, I’d say if you’re thinking about working from home then you should definitely give it a try.
What have you learned from being a work at home mom? Let me know in the comments!