Working From Home


Last year was a big year of change for me. Not only was I getting married and moving to Philadelphia, I was going to be moving far away from my family and dearest friends. Not many of you know this, but in Rhode Island I worked for my dad alongside my brother, sister in law, cousin and more. I saw some family members every single day. In fact, my cousin and I even lived together for two years! While I was so excited to begin this whole new life, the thought of leaving Rhode Island left me choked up on many occasions.

When I began to look for jobs in the Philadelphia area, I didn’t know that it would be possible to continue working for my father from home in Philadelphia. Luckily, with the amazing expertise of my brother (our IT guy and much, much more), we were able to figure out a way for that to work! While I don’t see my family every day anymore, I am so happy to still be a part of the family business and talk to many of them on work related business on a daily basis.

Working from home has brought on new challenges. It is NOT easy. Yes, I feel so blessed that I am able to do this, but it was a major adjustment. Over the last six months I have finally learned what works for me, and a recent Ask Me Anything question sparked this post.

“I am pretty sure that since you moved to Philly you are working from home (if I’m wrong feel free to ignore!) – a few questions on that front: How do you stay motivated to focus on work? Where do you work? (Office? Living room? Kitchen?) How come you don’t go for runs at ‘lunch’ time rather then getting up super early or at night? How do you not eat all day long?!?”

First, let me set up the scene for you. My daily winter routine:

6 AM: Alarm goes off. Grumble about it being so early. Hit Snooze.
-If it’s a morning workout day: Roll out of bed with a smile, change into workout clothes, brush teeth and head out for a workout with PhillyBoy (yes, we mostly exercise at the same time, but not always together).
-Make breakfast while PB showers and makes the bed. Pack his lunch if I haven’t packed it yet. If I am feeling extra nice, I make him coffee.
-PB leaves for work and I jump in the shower. I blow dry my hair as fast as possible and consider throwing my pjs back on. I don’t, but I settle for almost that bad. For example, right now I am wearing PB’s Princeton sweats, an Old Navy tank, long sleeve thermal shirt, socks, and slippers. I wore this same outfit Monday & Tuesday, only having changed the socks to fresh ones.
-I quickly do 10 minutes of cleaning as fast as possible, unless the clock is past 7:45. In that case I put on a pot of tea and make my breakfast.
-I sit at my desk (which is set up in the guest room) and eat breakfast while checking emails and reading blogs. I don’t fully get settled into work for another 20 minutes, but I eat my lunch and afternoon snack at my desk too, so I make up for the time. I watch Hulu on my laptop while I work, which helps me not get distracted (sounds counterintuitive but it works). While I make my lunch I do a quick load of laundry or empty the dishwasher or some other menial home task.
-When the day is over I try to remember what my Nonna taught me about looking nice for my husband, but instead I stay in my sweats.

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I thought that I would wear real outfits every day, but it is too easy to just work in comfy clothes and not bother spending the time to get properly dressed. It has made me really appreciate those moments when I get out of the house, and I try to look nice on those days. I was having lunch with Leslie almost once a week, but work and life have been too busy lately to allow that. So for now I eat all my meals during the day at my desk.

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View from the door:
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View from the window:

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Here are my tips on working from home.

1. Remove all distractions.

I can’t focus on my work when Mela Mia (my laptop) is staring me in the face with sparkly blogs to read and emails to reply to, so I watch Hulu. It really works for me because I get to listen to the latest junky TV show or news segment while working, and I don’t get distracted. In the same regard, I keep the guest room clean at all yimes. I shut the door completely and focus on what is going on in the room, at the desk. If I think about the dish that needs to be washed or the toilet that needs cleaning, I can’t focus on my work until that task is done. On days where the house is a mess, I start work 30 minutes late so I can get those tasks done, and then work later that evening. That way I don’t get distracted thinking about the mess.

2. Plan your meals.

Eating was a major issue for me those first few months. In fact, I contribute working from home to the few lbs I gained after our wedding. The kitchen was RightThere, and every time I got stuck on an order or needed a break or felt a little hungry I would head into the kitchen and eat a snack. I keep our kitchen well stocked with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods, but of course I also have chocolate and fun treats. I ate all the fun foods first, and my pants got tight. Now I plan breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack to have every day. I know that when I get hungry, the next meal is only a short time away, and by planning something healthy, I don’t raid the chocolate in the freezer as often.

3. Get out.

In the same regard, I try to get out of the house at least once a day or at the least once every other day. I do an errand or meet up with a friend (like Leslie!). CVS, the drycleaner, and Whole Foods are all less than a mile away. After work (and before PB gets home) I make an effort to run a small errand. At first I even purposefully didn’t buy certain items from the market so I would be forced to go back. Now I notice that if I don’t get out for a couple of days I start jabbering to myself or don’t stop talking from the minute PB gets home until we go to bed. That is not healthy. Get out of the house.*

*Note: Our gym is in our building, so I don’t consider the gym or an outdoor run to be “getting out”. Luckily, we just joined a gym and will be going to that one once or twice a week before work!

4. Work hard.

I noticed that it some ways working from home is easier. In Rhode Island my cousin and I would often chat for 20 minutes about the latest gossip or story, or we would all sit in the lunch room for 20 minutes slowly eating lunch. Without those small bits of time, I am able to get a lot more work done. When I am working now, I am working. I can accomplish a lot more in a shorter amount of time because I am completely focused on the task at hand.

5. Bites add up.

Admission: I no longer keep cereal in the house. Granola, fine. Oats, no problem. Yummy cereals, however? The enemy. At the beginning of fall I bought a box of Puffins. Two or three times a day I would go into the kitchen and fill this tiny bowl with a few puffins. I thought that over the course of the day I was eating a total of one serving. When I finished the box in a couple of days, I realized that every time I filled the bowl was an entire serving. Bites like that add up, and I know now to just not keep cereal in the house. This tip goes in line with item #2, plan your meals.

10 Things You Didn’t Know about Working From Home.

1. Even if you say you’ll dress up every day, you won’t.
2. Your friends will think that since you work from home you can meet them at any time to do any thing.
3. The kitchen will tempt you, even if you never had that issue before.
4. If you stay at home too long, you will start singing to yourself in crazy voices or read emails aloud with an accent. This is not ok, and is a sign to leave the house immediately!
5. Managing your time well will become your greatest asset.
6. Your friends will be jealous that you are working from home, and you’ll be jealous that they get to get dressed up and go to an office.
7. You will watch more TV than you used to, especially if you have two computers and like Hulu.
8. House bills will be higher.
9. If you smell delicious and you’re in a fresh outfit, it is a good day.
10. Your life will be more amazing than ever.  

Now, please excuse me while I get back to my desk and my Hulu.

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33 responses to “Working From Home

  1. I always wondered about the dressing up thing! Hahah my grandma taught me the same thing. And even thought I do leave the house for work, by the time my hubby gets home and sees me I am back in sweats!

  2. Just wait until you’re a Mommy-you won’t be getting those clean socks πŸ˜‰

  3. That sounds like fun to work at home, but I am not a VERY out going person, so if I were to work at home… I am sure that I would stay at home for days and not leave and I know that is NOT healthy for me…. so I am now going to school at an actually university and not online so that I can have physical contact with people on a daily basis. The working at home thing sounds like a lot of fun and if I had a different personality I think it might work, but it doesnt and I am okay with that!!
    I hope you have a great day… only two more days till the weekend!! πŸ™‚

  4. Word up! I work from home and experience lots of those same things (also for a family biz!). Trying to tell your friends that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be is something that took me along time to get used to — I’ve been doing this for about 3 years. Getting out is *super* important, luckily my dog helps me with that. I also decided a few months back that I HAVE to shower and get dressed in real clothes, otherwise my day just feels off. I may not be winning style awards, but just putting on my mascara and jeans helps me be so much more productive! One other thing that I do is allow myself to IM with friends — otherwise, I’d get bored outta my mind not talking to anyone all day.

    Thanks for this post!

  5. I hope to someday be able to work from home. I think I would be a must less stressed out human being. I always get stressed about packing things for work the night before, making sure I am not forgetting things, etc. Ahhh, maybe someday. πŸ™‚

  6. LOL I relate all too well with that list

  7. Great post! I occasionally work from home and I know what you mean. Part of me would love to work from home all the time but the other part likes the social interaction that comes from interacting with people everyday.

  8. I totally identify with this! I work from home right now while looking for a full-time job and definitely identify with wearing sweats all day. At least it’s not pajamas…! πŸ˜‰

  9. Your list made me smile πŸ™‚

  10. While I don’t work from home (as in I don’t have a job), I am in law school and do most of my work at home. It’s definitely a challenge since I have four full days every week where I don’t need to be anywhere. I also don’t like to pack up and head to school on my ‘days off’ because that would require packing lunch, snacks, drinks, etc., and it’s just much easier to set up shop in my apartment.

    I’ve struggled with dilly dallying for hours on end, cleaning, cooking/baking, blogging, and anything and everything else to avoid law school work! (I’ve gotten really good at procrastinating). This term is particularly hard because I’m so close to being finished and the dreary, gray days (I’m in Michigan) make it really hard to stay motivated!

    I just started actually writing out a to-do list with times and everything on a large white board – this helps me to stay focused and on track with school work!

    Oh and I definitely know the feeling about NEEDING to get out of the house. Living alone with no social interaction for a few days (other than phone/internet – and I wouldn’t count those as ‘social interaction’ anyway) can drive me insane!

  11. I wish I listened to my Nana about the dressing up thing 😦
    Thanks for the tips!

  12. I think I would be more tempted by that bed in back of me than the kitchen! Nap times at work are my dream.

  13. I love this! I work from home (sort of) now, and I switch the sweats up on a weekly basis. Socks daily. haha

  14. I’m embarrassed to say I actually got emotional reading this! I’m so lucky to have someone who is so positive about everything. πŸ™‚

  15. i miss our lunches toooo! tear!

  16. great post…i found it all fascinating, honest, and insightful.

    i was totally laughing at #4
    since i work random days of the week, my days off are spent in PJs. in fact the only clothes i wear EVER are scrubs and sweatpants. kyle gets SOOO excited when he sees me in jeans now, haha. talk about low expectations!

  17. OMG love this post!!!! You hit it right on the nail! Michelle and I always try to get dressed up for the day but it never really happens. And since we work in the kitchen 24/7 due to our bakery. We totally understand how the kitchen tempting you πŸ˜‰ And getting out is always a good day for us! My bf loves it when I go outside of house because that usually means I will do my hair! I sometimes would go works without doing it, I would just throw it up in a ponytail. And when I would actually do my hair I would even forget how long it is πŸ˜‰ Yikes!

  18. What a great post. I’m a law student and on the weekends I rarely every change out of sweats and usually don’t leave my apartment on at least one of those days.
    Your “office” is super cute and looks very work inducing!

  19. Great post! I work from home sometimes and I get so much more done, although there are the constraints of not actually being in an office with all the office tools!

    I also love your new header!

  20. Very interesting read! I did not take a job offer with another company to work from home because of some of the topics you discussed, so it was interesting to see someone else’s take on it who is actually doing it. I am still dressing up for work…in my maternity clothes!!

  21. Great tips! I work from home on Mondays and Fridays, so I can totally relate to the struggles. You have to find what works for you and stick to it. So funny- my mom always says the same thing about looking nice when the man comes home. However, I teach most nights, so Josh enjoys seeing my super sweaty and nasty most nights until I get in the shower…at which point I roll into PJs haha

  22. I currently have a job that allows a good amount of flexibility, so I’ve been known to work from home on occasion, and I definitely hear where you’re coming from on a lot of these points! Oddly enough, when I have something really big to work on (a creative project or major reporting), I tend to like working from home, since I don’t have the usual work distractions. We don’t have cubicles, so it gets noisy — working from home allows me to focus!

    Getting out is SO key — have you ever considered taking your show on the road once a week, maybe to a coffee shop for the morning or something similar? A change of atmosphere definitely gets my brain working in new ways.

    • Thanks Jenny! I wish I could take my work out, but unfortunately my connection is only with my desktop. I can do a small amount of work on my laptop, but it is quite incomplete. Thanks for the suggestion though!!!!

  23. This is a great post–and really funny πŸ™‚ Great image of reading emails aloud in funny accents.

    I’m currently doing some part-time work from home that I’m hoping will turn full-time in a month or so, and it helps to see some of the pluses and drawbacks outlined. Kitchen issues now noted–I will make sure I face away from the kitchen if this gig gets going (and I’m the same about cereal–I don’t ever stock up the ones I like lest I turn cookie monster over the box).

  24. You are too funny! Great post!

  25. this is a great post. I recently started doing more work at home and it helps to see how someone else manages it!

  26. Thanks so much for the great tips! I’m not necessarily working per se (I’m a part time unemployed student currently) but with all my extra at home time I need all the help I can get.

  27. Yes! All these descriptions apply to me and being a mommy too!!!

  28. Wow. I LOVE that bedspread. Where did you get it?

    I loved this post but even more, I love the way PhillyBoy loves you. This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed how much he seems to cherish you. I’ve read his blog a bit too and it’s endearing to read how innocent he was as a kid. You guys seem so happy. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much! I feel so lucky I am with such a great guy… with such an entertaining childhood diary!

      The bedspread was from Target 3 years ago (thanks for the compliment). It was my first purchase for my new bedroom when I first moved out of my dad’s house!

  29. OMG! It is SO TRUE about working from home. I said I’d dress up every day but only did to leave the house. I watched more TV, house bills are higher and I’m totally jealous of people that work in offices!

  30. I just found your blog last night can’t stop reading it. πŸ™‚ So now I’ve finally made it to your more recent posts.

    Your list cracks me up b/c it’s so true. DH has worked at home the last 5 years and I’m a SAHM so we are here ALL THE TIME. We call our house our “space station” b/c sometimes we feel so isolated.

    My grammy used to get on my case about looking nice for my husband but after 11 years she’s given up! πŸ˜‰ I still try to make an effort.

  31. just found your blog as well and love it πŸ™‚ great post about working from home! i am in the medical field (a resident) and my responsibilities change monthly. on a scrubs month all i want to do is dress up in dresses and heels, and when i’m used to dressing up all i want to do is wear scrubs!

    i had a month (december) where i was getting some research done from home and HATED it. maybe i would have been better with your post as a guide!

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