Your home office

If you're working from home already, or you've made the decision to be a Work At Home Mom, there are some important things to keep in mind about your home office or work space.

First of all, don't lose sight of the fact that your home office or work space is exactly that: work space. It's hard to keep it separate when you're working at home, but this is something that you need to do. Make it a priority! Don't allow your home office to become cluttered with a lot of extraneous stuff from all over the house. This usually means all the things that nobody else wants in their room, or stuff that is brought into the house that just doesn't seem to actually belong anywhere in particular and is dumped in your office temporarily, which means it's there to stay.

If this has already happened, if your home office looks like what's leftover after the church rummage sale---clear it out! Get rid of it! Pack it up, sell it, give it way or haul it off, but get rid of it. Once you have your work space cleaned out, keep it that way. Hang a "No Dumping" sign on your office door if necessary, but make sure this space stays free of useless debris that simply doesn't belong there.

Why? Because you'll have enough things that you need in there in order to conduct your work or business properly, without a bunch of things you don't need taking up room and getting in the way. Also because it' a bad idea, psychologically. When you work at home, it can be challenging to be a self-starter, to have the self discipline necessary to start work and keep working for the period of time you've allotted for work.

Therefore, when you enter your office, you need to be in the proper frame of mind for work, with a business-like mind-set. That's difficult to maintain if you're surrounded by un-businesslike paraphernalia that can distract you from your true purpose in being there. And if you need another reason, there's this: If you're working in chaos---crowded, cluttered, messy---it makes it that much harder to work efficiently.

So get last year's Christmas decorations out of there, and the stacks of magazines and junk mail that mysteriously migrate to your desk, and the cases of Girl Scout cookies your daughter brought home to sell....anything and everything that does not related directly and specifically to your work...OUT!

Now, you have your home office neat and tidy. Don't you feel better? More ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work?

Besides maintaining the right environment for your home office or work space, there are other problems you'll undoubtedly face if you're a work at home mom. The whole idea, of course, is to have a way to earn money while still being home with your children. Ah, but there's the rub! The children. Much as you love them, to be successful working at home, you will have to set some ground rules for the kids and stick to them.

What rules you set and how you enforce them is a matter of personal choice and what works best for you in your particular situation. You might want to set your working hours before the children get up in the morning or after they go to bed at night. Or maybe you can arrange to schedule the time you'll work around the hours your kids are allowed to watch TV and during nap time, with the strict understanding that you are not to be summoned for anything short of a life or death emergency.

However you work it out, teach your children to respect your work space as well as your work time, and explain to them that this is something you're doing for the good of all of you, as a family. If they get that message, they'll be more likely to cooperate in helping make sure you can do what you need to do to succeed as a Work At Home Mom, including treating your home office as just that---an office!