Five dirty little secrets of working from home

April 28th, 2011

Last week my editor at asked me to write a column outing what goes on behind the closed doors of freelancers, telecommuters, and kitchen-table entrepreneurs who work from home. I had a load of fun collecting the confessions of virtual employees and self-employed folks who work from their domicile (catnap, anyone?). As you’ll see below, I’ve got a handful of confessions of my own. Feel free to chime in with yours in the comments below.

Last fall my significant other and I moved in together. Although he was no stranger to my feral freelancer habits — living in my robe, working late into the night, not leaving the house for days on end — I cringed at the thought of him seeing me daily in all my unkempt, agoraphobic glory.

So I did what any disheveled freelancer would do: I got an office job — one that required me to show up at approximately the same time each day, looking fresh and professional.

Three months into the gig, I began to miss my bathrobe. Six months into it, I gave notice.

Now that I’m back to full-time freelancing, I’m trying to prove to myself and my new husband that working from home doesn’t necessarily mean living a life devoid of structure. But it’s not easy.

On any given day, my best-laid plans for a morning walk with the dog might be foiled by an urgent question from an editor about a story I’ve filed or an elusive source calling to say she’s available now, and only now, for that needed quote. Although I no longer skip the daily shower, I do sometimes skip out on date night with my sweetie when work gets too overwhelming. And while I’ve stopped working in my robe every day, I’ve taken to working in his.

Not all freelancers, telecommuters, and kitchen-table entrepreneurs are untamed insomniacs given to various states of undress. Many boast of adhering to professional attire and rigid work schedules. I’m convinced, however, that they’re in the minority.

To prove my point (or perhaps just make myself feel better), I informally polled dozens of self-employed professionals about their dirty little secrets of working from home. Here’s what they had to say.

[Read the rest of this story on]

Entry Filed under: Balance,She's the boss,This freelance life,Working moms

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. eunice  |  April 28th, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Liked the article alot. I am embarking on a parttime career myself. And it is not easy, especially with a full time job and family responsibilities.


  • 2. Brett Slater  |  April 29th, 2011 at 5:04 am

    It’s not that we freelancers are lazy… We just get wrapped up in whatever work we’re doing, and simply FORGET to get dressed…

    All too often I’ll be in the middle of editing a TV spot or working on an animation project in the morning, and the next thing I know, it’s 3 in the afternoon, and I find myself saying, “Well, the day’s almost over. No point in getting dressed now.”

  • 3. Rachel  |  May 4th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Im so glad I found this blog. Now I dont feel quite so bad about my work habits. Showers, matching clothing and make up VERY optional are in my job description too!

  • 4. Beeno  |  May 5th, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I too am a work from home-er for the last 8 years now. What I missed most was the office “chatter” and socializing. Working from home meant lunch by myself (usually over the sink and in my briefs), limited contact with people, and limited hygiene. So I thought one day, there has to be other people in my area with my same situation, missing the “lunch time” socializing. So I went on and put out a (serious) ad for other telecommuters who would like to join me for an extended lunch on Fridays at a local watering hole. And, as to not make my wife jealous, I asked that it be only males that responded. I called it a “work from home men’s lunch club”….(can you see where this is going).

    I had to pull my ad when all of the responses were from emails like “manlover22″ and usually had phallus pictures attached to them. I still catch hell from my friends for that mistake.

  • 5. Erica  |  May 9th, 2011 at 2:00 am

    After a decade in corporate PR, I’ve taken the plunge and am now trying to build up the freelance work I always did on the side into a full-time freelancing career.

    For the first three months, it was sheer bliss not having to put on my “bossypants” (LOVE that Tina Fey title!) or business suit everyday. Shelves of gorgeous high heels now languish and collect dust since at home, I can run around barefoot all day! But I’ve discovered that lounging around unshowered in a bathrobe or tanktop and underwear (I’m in Europe and Europeans are more cool about people in their skivvies than Americans are!) makes me feel lazy, and personally doesn’t work for me.

    An unexpected video call on Skype recently made me realize that even if I’m mostly working solo all day, I still feel better wearing makeup. It’s also totally embarrassing to answer the door for a UPS delivery guy at one pm (okay, THREE PM!) STILL unshowered, not made up and STILL in a bathrobe–or just in my underwear. So my strategy now is to get showered, get dressed in some “real” clothing (even if it’s just a clean pair of jeans and a nice top but still sans shoes) and made up within half an hour of getting up so that I don’t feel like I’m turning into a moss-covered, three-toed sloth at my computer.

  • 6. Paula Saardchit  |  May 22nd, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I love this article. I almost felt like you were writing it about me (LOL)! I work from home also and while I do have the best intentions in the morning to get up, shower, get dressed and act like a professional, I sometimes find myself at my computer and 2 hours have gone by and I’m still in pj’s. But I am working on having better self-discipline. Othewise, the day gets away from me and I don’t get all I need to get accomplished. I’m glad I’m not the only one in this boat.

  • 7. Hannah  |  June 17th, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I loved this post. I kept reading it on ABC and it was pretty funny. Although I have never worked from home, (and am secretly very jealous of people who do), I have a feeling that if I ever did I would need to make a very strict schedule for myself. I can only imagine how hard it is to resist temptations of the comforts of home while working….I remember in college how hard of a time I had concentrating if I tried to study at home…yeesh!
    This article is along the same lines, and might be of interest:

    Thanks for the great post!

  • 8. Robert  |  December 9th, 2011 at 7:24 am

    After 16 years as a self employed IT consultant I’ve overcome the distraction of not finding time to get dressed in the morning.
    Now I just sleep with my clothes on.

Leave a Comment


Required, hidden

Some HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

Books I've written

My other blog

Popular articles

My Twitter handle

Posts by category