Many of us dream of working from home, but the truth is, it isn’t for everyone. Here’s a checklist to help you determine whether it’s a solid option for you.

Almost everyone dreams of working from home: sitting at your computer in your PJs, listening to music and grabbing a break whenever you want to without worrying about what the boss might think. Yet whether you want to telecommute for your current employer or start your own business, there’s something you should know: not everyone is cut out for working from home.

I’m a freelance writer and have worked from home for nearly six years. I’m able to motivate myself to get the work done and can block out distractions (mainly, the kids). I embrace the freedom it allows and know that if I step away from my desk for a long time during the day to help out at school, I have the internal motivation to work after supper or on the weekends.

But on a recent snow day, my husband was stuck at home and brought out his computer to get his work done. I won’t sugarcoat it—it was a disaster. He was completely out of his comfort zone and couldn’t get a thing done. He was distracted by the kids and the lure of the TV. He couldn’t harness any internal motivation to get his work done.

He proved my point: you need to have the right personal qualities to work from home. With more people doing it now than ever, are you wondering if you can cut it?

Here’s how to figure it out. Are you…


Are you able to get your work done without being watched? If someone says she needs something by Friday, can you get it done without anyone checking up to see how it’s going? Can you work even though the people around you (your family) may be there and doing something fun?


Can you keep track of several different projects at the same time? Can you easily keep the files and papers from your business life separate from your personal files? This includes both digital and paper files.

Okay with being alone?

Let’s face it, when you work from home, you’re alone. There are no coworkers to chat with about what you saw on TV last night or the latest celebrity gossip. Yes, there’s social media so you can communicate instantly with other people, but there isn’t that personal touch. You can schedule lunches and coffees, but it’s not something that will happen every day. Several times a week, I may not talk to anyone for six hours or more.

Good with time management?

Even when you work in the office, there are times—maybe even days—when you don’t get a lot done. You may be distracted by something going on in your personal life, or you just feel like crap. When you work at home, it can be harder to get back on track since there isn’t that external pressure (a.k.a. the boss).

There are also other distractions you face when you work from home that you won’t find in the office, such as the laundry and dishes, and you need to be able to say no. I won’t lie and say that I never do laundry during the day while working, but it’s a balancing act.


Can you work without getting constant feedback from someone, whether it’s a coworker or a boss? If you have questions, can you find the answers on your own? Can you just take a project and run with it? If you said yes to the above questions, then you might have what it takes to work from home on a regular basis.

Many of us—whether it’s due to a sick kid or a snow day—sometimes have the opportunity to work from home, but the key to long-term success is being able to get your work done day after day, no matter what life throws at you.

Do you work from home? Have any tips to share on how you do it successfully?

MaryBeth Matzek is a freelance writer and editor based in Appleton, Wisconsin. Follow her on Twitter at @1bizzywriter or check out her blog at


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  2. Gina Sanders Larsen

    The best part about writing from home for the past 12 years has been the flexibility when I come up against a crisis of motivation. Walk the dog, take a shower, talk to my elderly neighbor, do power squats in my living room, brew a shot of espresso, or even take a 15-minute nap. I feel extra fortunate to be in a situation to make things work in ways that wouldn’t be possible in an office setting. All the choices I mentioned above are not distractions for me. They are tools for good writing. Then I get back at it.

  3. Ron Bohning

    I like working from home too and find it much easier living in a very rural area. I work as a health insurance agent, SEO accounts manager and affiliate marketer. It has all been very rewarding and I find it unfortunate that Yahoo’s CEO thinks everyone needs to be at the office. Mashable has a few interesting articles to go along with your nicely written article here.

  4. junger

    I’ve been working from a home office for over 5 years now, and it definitely takes some getting used to.

    You have to be prepared to have a life outside of work and outside of your house (to not go crazy) and have to be organized enough to do a punchlist everyday with the things you need to get done.

    Some people would go crazy doing it … I enjoy not having the commute 🙂

  5. DorothyDavis

    I’ve been studying and attending school from home for more than seven years. By now its no wonder that my family accuses me of having selective hearing and vision. I don’t find it hard to block out conversations that don’t promote what I’m currently working on. I find it easy to motivate myself by throwing myself into my projects and taking pride in a finished product. On many occasions I prefer working from home than work the office because my phone rarely ever rings and my door never gets a knock due to my nearly non-existent social life at home. Having said that I can get twice the amount of desk work done at home than I can the office. This is mostly because my family has grown accustomed to granting me the seclusion I need to meet my goals; academic or professional.

  6. Quincy

    For a list of 30 REAL Work from Home JOBS (with address, phone, website, pay) that have been personally researched and vetted by me, check out my website at

  7. Katie Malone

    I found a great company that focuses on green living and being able earn an income staying home with your kids. Take a look at

  8. Sebastian Daniels

    I think the most important one is being able to work alone for long hours. If you are the type of person to get lonely very easily then fuhgeddaboutit! I am a writer and know what it is like to close yourself off for hours on end. IT takes a special time of personality to do it. It is hard on me because I do thrive on interacting with others, but is manageable. The other ones aren’t an issue.

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