One of my happiest memories is the day I quit my job. No longer was I a mere office shlub, meekly thanking life for the cold mashed potatoes it deigned to drop onto my plate. I was somebody now—somebody with a destiny. I was a web designer.

Times being what they are, more and more of us are working at home, not always by choice.

Working from home as a freelancer or remote employee can be fabulous. But if you share that home with a family and kids, creating a productive, professional environment can be challenging.

In Issue No. 263 of A List Apart, for people who make websites, Natalie Jost discusses the joys, sorrows, and coping techniques of Walking the Line When You Work from Home.

Natalie is a great writer and as a freelance web designer, wife, and mother of three girls, she knows whereof she speaks.

If you identify with what Natalie has to say, and if you have some home-working tips of your own to share, please tell us how you overcome distractions and deal with deadlines while walking the blurry line between work and home.

[tags]freelance, working, workathome, alistapart, nataliejost[/tags]

30 thoughts on “Underwear

  1. Would I be correct in thinking that the title refers to working in your underwear from your home? I work from my home, but I live in Ireland so it’s never warm enough, even in the middle of summer, to work in my underwear. I think I’m missing out.

  2. Would I be correct in thinking that the title refers to working in your underwear from your home?


    I’m sorry it’s too cold for that in Ireland.

    On the other hand, dude, you live in Ireland! I envy you.

  3. Ireland of the monsoon climate. It has rained every day since the start of June. We don’t get summer anymore, we get ‘the wet season’.
    Still, I’m supposed to be working, so ‘weather’ is definitely going to be one of my tips for the working from home survey! Kind regards.

  4. Raining steadily today in Yorkshire as well and guess what day it is, yup St Swithin’s Day.

    Folklore has it; St. Swithin (Saxon Bishop of Winchester) asked to be buried out of doors, where he would be trodden and rained on, his wishes were followed for 9 years, but then his remains were moved on 15 July 971 to a shrine inside the cathedral. There was a heavy rain storm during the ceremony, now if it rains on St Swithin’s Day, it will rain for the next 40 days in succession.

    It’s not looking good…

  5. When I work from home, I usually send the kids (my 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son) to run errands, do all the chores and make breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    They get $0.04/hour and are damn appreciative of the recent raise.

    I send them text messages on the tracphones I got them to give out orders and tell them what to do, when to do it and when to go to bed when the racket they make is driving me crazy.

    Actually, they usually come and watch what I am doing and ask a lot of questions which I answer, and my daughter (who just so happens to be named Natalie and read the article cause she thinks Natalie Jost is now cool because they share the same name) is getting a lot better in Photoshop. I may have her do my design work for me.

    I don’t do my work in my underwear, because that is just plain creepy.

  6. Ok, so maybe not underwear, but definitely pajamas. It’s nice to be able to roll out of bed and not have to change clothes and drive somewhere just to “work”.

    I am more productive because I am comfortable — all the time. Plus, I eat better lunches and dinners.

  7. Been working at home since 1997. Working in underwear or PJs is completely out of the question for me. I need at least some formality around my day or I’ll never get anything done.

    Best of working at home? The list is long but as of late I’m loving not having to commute anywhere. Saving the money on gas.

    Worst part of working at home? Family distractions, difficulty keeping the work day below 8 hours, and the impression that everyone else has that if you work at home you’re not really working.

  8. I don’t currently have enough space for a home office, so when I work at home I’m constantly surrounded by distractions. But with proper boundaries set up for time and distractions, it’s great working at home. However, I prefer to get dressed for the day before I work. Working in my PJ’s or whatever makes me feel disconnected and by the middle of the day I feel like I’ve missed the day. So, no underwear. I will, however, wear more comfortable clothes than I do for work in an office.

  9. Working from home is a dream of mine. Although I wonder if I was able to one day do this, would I be as productive? Would I spend the morning watching ESPN, laying on the couch drinking coffee? I don’t think I would, but the temptation would sure be there.

  10. I stopped working from home a few months ago. I still miss it. I remember one of the things that helped me be productive was setting up the “den” as an office. Separating the work space from the living/eating/sleeping space was key for me. It also helped because when 5pm/6pm rolled around, I could step away from the computer and my workday would be done (until I decided to sit back down – usually at 11pm)

  11. I also work in my underwear. Just to make those that can’t jealous. It’s evil really. And, only on warm days, because… I’m a boxer man. Too Much Information… perhaps! ;)

  12. I’ve been working from home for over a year, and I still love it. I have a loft. My ‘office’ is actually on the second floor, completely separate from the living areas.

    Although… I do miss bouncing creative ideas off others… in person… the energy that generates. I fly to our NY office sometimes, but not often enough.

    I wear ‘normal’ clothes during my ‘normal’ work schedule… but there are the occasional middle of the night ideas that launch me out of bed in my pjs. Couldn’t do that if I had to catch the subway into Soho. ;)

  13. I love having the option of working from home, though I don’t take advantage of it often enough. It best when I have work that just needs heads down time – writing requirements or responding to emails. I find I need to get dressed – need to change out of my actual pjs into clothes that are basically pjs but not the same ones I sleep in. I find if I don’t it’s harder to focus.

  14. The key for me is separation. My basement office is my domain and during work hours house rules dictate that the family leave me be. This setup works because of the physical distinction and single purpose the office as well as the ground rules to go along with it. If I was camped out in a common room somewhere else in the house I never get anything done.

    My biggest problem is that I’m in basement and the sun has nearly become a distant memory. I’m seriously considering the tax write off and backyard studio would provide. http://www.summerwood.com/products/home-studios

  15. I live in the suburbs just outside of Toronto with my wife and family…i found that while I was freelancing, it helped to book client meetings a few times a week in downtown Toronto…Sometimes it wasn’t entirely necessary..but just having somewhere to go during the day sometimes broke up the monotony of being at home day after day…

    staying at home and working in your pajamas (or underwear) definitely can be fun, but i wouldn’t recommend it over a long period of time…

  16. I work in an office and they frown on it if I am in my undies. Soon I hope I will be able to work from home or the beach, and not have to go to the office at all.

  17. Tory wonders, “…Would I spend the morning watching ESPN, laying on the couch drinking coffee? ”

    I’ve found that when doing this, it’s a good idea to use a straw. The best kind is one of those bendable/flexible ones.

  18. I’ve always worked from home (in undies until the time UPS guy knocked). Husband also works from home. 6yo daughter is off for the summer and acting office manager.

    I am sleeping much less these days, because the only way to get anything done is when they are both asleep. I usually take calls/conferences out in my garden, as it’s the only place to get away to for a conversation. No one will come find me, the mosquitoes are too ferocious.

    Husband would be better if he stayed in his own office. Looking forward to back to school.

  19. Best Beloved and I both work from home, in a shared office. No underwearing going on; she’s a big believer in dressing like a professional before the 20-foot walk to the office, and since her 20-year-old daughter lives with us, I tend to dress differently outside the bedroom than in it. Since my ‘pajamas’ are identical to the clothing I wear in the shower, that’s not gonna happen.

    Which makes the Irish problem a non-problem for us (it was 112 in Sacramento a week ago, so I could stand an awful lot of cold, wet, and rainy.) Which, in part, contributes to our plan to move both our businesses to Co. Kerry in the next year or two. (Although the February we spent there was less cold, wet, and rainy than NorCal.)

    The comments about “would I actually work?” remind me how wonderful it is that I love what I do every day, as does Best Beloved. We actually schedule time away from home together just to be sure we have non-work time together, and with the kids.

  20. With increasing advertising dollars coming in from my web site I am in the position I have been trying to get into for about 10 years. As my business isn’t service or freelance or anything like that, I have minimal ‘work’ to do until I decide to build something new. Even then I’ll outsource it.

    The to-do list is an A4 sheet of paper folded 3 times. A sheet lasts me about three weeks, including such gems as “pick up lamb chops for dinner” and “pay speeding fine”. Plus there are a few books that have sat on the shelf since I bought them on Amazon that are finally getting read.

    My advice for working from home? Make sure you develop a passive or semi-passive income that means you have little actual work to do.

  21. I live in Florence, Italy, and I have been working at home for years. Then i started to work in a office as a web developer.
    I was comfortable in my house, my girlfriend worked until 6pm, no children yet, so the house was all for me.
    Anyway, I’m very happy to work with other people, now. The social part of life is important for me, people in my office are young and nice, some nerds, some girls, some trendy guys. I fell better when I eat and take coffee and can talk with someone else, usually about how idiot our boss is – what else?
    I was missing it in the years of work from home. I feel better now. I like also to drive and listen to radio in the morning. Maybe, in some years, or months, I will regret the times when i worked in underwear. But not now.

  22. I love your site. I found you because I was looking into self publishing and I found your article about self-publishing is the new blogging. It almost made me pee. Thanks.

  23. I occasionally work from home, especially on days that I can’t attend office. I, however, find it distracting working at home as there is no separate area for my PC. I also miss the banter and chit chat that is a welcome change amidst the workload.

  24. You can still have video conferences in your underwear. Just pick out a nice shirt and don’t get up to walk away for something… unless your looking for laughs.

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