Home Away From Home

Dear Debra: After being laid off, I started a small web design business. It’s great commuting to my office (my couch) in pajamas. I have paying clients. But some days it’s hard staying motivated, disciplined, and organized. –Solo in New York

Get out of bed on the right foot. Even if you know you’ll be working from home all day, get up, shower, and put on clean clothes; sweats are fine but no pj’s. Don’t work in socks or bare feet: there is something about wearing shoes when working from home that is grounding and legitimizing.

Get off the couch. Find a designated makeshift space for your office. A coaching client who lives in a studio turned a tiny walk-in hall closet into his office by removing the vinyl-coated wire shelves and installing Ikea bookshelves, a chair, and small desk.  Another client discovered a small, unused alcove is the perfect spot for a desk and workspace—the bonus window offers light and an inspiring view.

Break isolation. A colleague working from home recalled not having spoken to anyone for several days during the intense, laser-focus phase of launching her start-up.  Only when her mother phoned and she felt compelled to take the call did she realize she had laryngitis. Working alone, we risk losing perspective, sounding boards, and reality checks. Phone (e-mailing doesn’t count!) at least one colleague (not friend) a day; go for a coffee or lunch brain exchange weekly; attend one monthly networking event.

Dress for success, mark your territory, stay connected—and watch your business mojo flourish.

« How To Take It Back | Main | Malkin, Nina. "5 Best Looks to Land the Job." Good Housekeeping 8 Feb. 2010. Print »

More Like This: Ambition , Career , Coaching , job search , layoff

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I am a business psychologist, researcher, author, executive coach, and career advisor. I lead workshops and lecture frequently on women’s need to embrace our ambition. I founded the Women’s Business Alliance, a motivational think tank for more than 2,500 women. For more details, see my about page.

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