A typical week in my home office…

Mary in her home office

As I move into my fourth year of business, I’ve developed a schedule that works around my lifestyle.  A typical work week “at Fletcher Prince” is not a typical work week for many people, but it works for me.  I thought I would share what my work is like, and I would love to hear what your work week is like.

David and I (and most independent consultants we know) work out of our homes, and around the schedules of our families (which means I had to get a special permit from the County to work in my house!)

The nature of our wired business means that I rarely get a full day off, even on weekends and when I’m traveling on vacation, but so far, that’s been okay.  And my son has been understanding when I need to put in a few hours here or there.

I try to be available during most business hours for my clients.  As an independent consultant, I have to take the work that comes along when I can get it.  But Monday’s a short day in Fairfax County schools, so I like to spend that afternoon spending quality time with my son, and I use my morning for errands or catching up on small projects.  And there are a lot of school holidays and teacher planning days on Mondays.  So that’s the reason why I almost never schedule meetings or video shoots on Mondays.

Tuesday through Friday, I’m generally on the clock from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Even if I don’t have a client project, I’m working on Fletcher Prince promotions, paperwork, or pro bono work.  But closer to 4 p.m., I’m clocking out to spend time with my son.  Being there for him is — for me — the best part of working at home.

Many Tuesdays, David and I meet and have a production meeting over lunch.  He also has his own clients, so we don’t always meet.  But if we’re working on a big project, we do try to have face time so we can work it all out and coordinate schedules and deadlines.  But usually, he works in his home office in Bethesda and I work in mine in Falls Church, and we keep in touch by email and phone.

Then, to make up for the time in the afternoons that I spend with my son, I usually put in a few hours every Wednesday night.  That’s also when I try to attend networking events.

Every other weekend is usually a crunch weekend for me (when my son’s with his dad).   Remember in college when you were trying to finish a paper or cram for an exam?  Those weekends often feel like that.   A lot of work in a short period!  I try to schedule projects that require intensive attention — like setting up blogs or editing video — on those weekends.

Working at home is convenient, especially if you are balancing the demands of family and work.  And I love being able to work in a space that feels just right for me, with my paintings, and messy desk, and photos everywhere.

I wonder if working at home will become more of a trend, even for employees of other companies.  My sister works for a major corporation.  She travels a lot for her job, but when she’s not on travel, she works out of a home office, and she loves it.

There are some downsides to working out of your home.  For me, I think the biggest downside is knowing when to quit.  The work is always there (so is the laundry).  Meetings can also be challenging, and I have to be more proactive about networking opportunities.

The biggest drawback for me about working at home is the isolation.  Most days, I don’t mind having the quiet time to work.  But sometimes, I do get lonely.  I wish I had a dog or cat to keep me company sometimes.  I play the radio when it feels too quiet.

That’s why I will make it a priority this year to attend the IPRA (Independent Public Relations Alliance) luncheons.  Not only is it fun for me to touch base and eat lunch with a great bunch of people, but the speakers have also been terrific.  I have also obtained some of my favorite clients through my connections with this organization.

If you work out of your home, what tips do you have for me?  What have you found that works well for you?

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on January 25, 2011, in Fletcher Prince News and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’ve been working at home for 10 years (minus that 1 year I had an office, but I try not to think about that).

    You’re spot on with the downsides. People who work in an office always ask me if I’m distracted by the TV or laundry. Those of us who do this every day know that shutting the office door and being 100% with your family is much, much harder.

    On the other hand, no commute. No annoying office politics. No idle chit chat. No need to justify yourself when you feel like you need to take the afternoon off, even if you know you’re going to pay for it on the weekend.

    To me, working at home is about having flexibility. So my advice? Just keep doing what you’re doing and enjoy it, because it’s a pretty sweet ride.

  2. I have always looked to my interests and passions as a guide for career development. So, for me, there is no work vs play. It truly is all one and the same. I strongly believe that life is too short not to love what you do. I am excited and anxious to “get to work” every day. I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn, what problems I may solve and especially, who I might meet.
    Yes, I do have an office/studio in my home. However, it is designed to be easily and instantly portable. My main tools include a wireless Internet card, iPhone 4 and a MacBook Air. I am comfortable working at my desk, on the sofa, on a plane, in my car or the DMV. Because my work is researched, developed, executed and measured almost entirely on the Internet, there really is no break from the job. I’m almost always connected in some way. I find it fun to explore unique and interesting locations to serve as my temporary work environment. . . another part of loving what you do.
    The biggest, and really only, drawback is the isolation from others. Being a geeky type, it is very easy for me to live online and forget about the rest of the world. Without human interaction, not only do I “get weird,” I get very depressed.
    For this reason, I make sure that my schedule is frequently and regularly filled with appointments that get me out to the client site for a face to face meeting. Isolation issue solved! As an added benefit, the scheduled interaction strengthens our rapport and ultimately improves the quality of my work.
    In a one-on-one, I get to know my client on a much deeper level. It affords the opportunity to to identify characteristics that make them or their business intriguing and unique. This discovery becomes the basis and inspiration for their social media marketing strategy. You have to know what you sell!!!

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