Doing your “Homework”

My name is Joan Isabella, and I work at home. I made that decision so I could stay home with my son. My number one job is being a Mom, yet, working as part of a team and contributing to a larger goal is a big part of who I am. I set out to create my own “best of both worlds” by taking on clients who needed a little extra brain power on their projects and were willing to put up with someone whose priority was to be home with her child. So far, so good: My son is five and fabulous. My business is small and rewarding.

According to the statistics I’ve seen there are about 20 million of us working out of make-shift offices in the dining room, bedroom or fully equipped basements and offices. I read in Jeff and Rich’s blog that 53% of new businesses created this year will be based at home. At least in that big picture, we are not alone!

Working at home has both its advantages and its challenges. This blog is about sharing them. I look forward to learning about your triumphs and your obstacles. I hope we can help one another do it all better.

I’ll start.

A few weeks ago, I was listening on the StartupNation website to an interview with one of my heroes, Patrick Byrne, founder and president of Overstock.com. The first time he was on the radio show a couple of years back, I became a fan of his entrepreneurial spirit and of his online store. Half way through this interview, I drifted off and next thing I knew, four new kitchen stools were delivered to my house (they were a great deal). How I got from working to shopping involved only a few clicks and keywords. No mall; no car ride; no lunch-hour rush; no one watching.

If distraction could be considered an art form, I might be Edward Hopper.

I am an expert at wasting time. In college, my entire apartment building looked forward to midterms and finals because I cooked like a madwoman. I couldn’t go to concerts or parties because I had to study, but I had to eat. There was homemade cornbread, turkey with stuffing, brownies, and– during one particularly stressful semester– Coquille St. Jacques and a Black Forest Cake that took two days to make. I like to believe somehow all that chopping and stirring contributed to my GPA as well as my waistline.

I once read an article that said if you get distracted, maybe working at home isn’t for you. I say if you never get distracted, you’re not human. I’d like to announce that distraction makes you a better worker, but I think that might a stretch.

When you work at home, no one is watching–no one but you. I want to know if you struggle with an occasional lack of concentration. Maybe you consider it a constant battle like I do. How do you work when there are so many worthy distractions? Do you have rules? What strategies have you developed to get the job done? If you don’t mind taking a few minutes from your work, I’d love to hear from you.

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