During her first few weeks of self-employment, "Nadia," a publicist who didn't want her real name used, admitted to letting her hunger for new business compromise her personal time.
"I took calls while I was in the bathroom or getting right out of the shower," Nadia said. "I couldn't afford to let any potential client calls go to voicemail. I was desperate for new business. My most shameful secret is taking a call in the middle of having sex. I was that determined. My husband and I still laugh about it today."
Naps, Daytime TV and Bikini Breaks Happen
When done responsibly (that is, without disregard for one's professional commitments), I see nothing wrong with breaking up the workday with a snooze, soap opera or sunbath. Others apparently feel the same way.
"I take occasional power naps to recharge my batteries after lunch," said Dave Manzer, an Austin communications professional. "I think it makes me work better in the afternoon."
"Cheryl," a marketing professional who didn't want her real name used, likes to have lunch with Erica Kane.
"My dirty little secret, and I am obviously now heartbroken, is watching 'All My Children' from 1 to 2 p.m.," Cheryl said. "I don't answer the phone for friends or clients. If questioned, I say I was in a meeting."
As far as I'm concerned, Karen Hoxmeier, founder of the bargain shopping websiteMyBargainBuddy.com, is a role model for solo workers everywhere, especially those who can't remember the last time they went outside.
"During the summer, I grab my laptop, a pitcher of lemonade and a pair of sunglasses and work poolside for most of the day," Hoxmeier said. "Not many people can say they work in a bikini."
The Dinner Table Doubles as a Workspace
When you work from home, it's inevitable that some of your personal life will seep into your office. Either your cat's on the keyboard or your child's crying in the doorway or your significant other is trying to coax you off the phone because dinner's getting cold.
But sometimes it's the other way around, such as during tax season, when every available surface of your living room is covered with IRS forms, expense receipts and file folders. Such is the case in Angela Newnam's household. Only instead of the usual stack of papers crowding the communal living area, it's women's underwear.
"My kids roll their eyes when they have to set up dinner, pushing panties, bikinis and thongs off the table," said Newnam, founder and CEO of specialty underwear maker Knock out! Panties. "If I worked in a corporate office, I'd never hear, 'Mom, please put your panties away.'"
Oh, the Places We'll Go (While on a Conference Call)!
When it comes to home-based workers and conference calls, the general consensus is that anything goes -- as long as you're not distracted from the conversation at hand, and especially if there's a mute button available. "My favorite part of the day is client conference calls," said "Deanna," a communications consultant who requested anonymity. "I multitask during them -- doing everything from mopping my floor to tweezing my eyebrows to folding my laundry."
When her children were infants, Angela Nielsen, a mother of four, found another reason to relish conference calls. "I used to breastfeed my children while on the phone with clients," said Nielsen, president and creative director of the web design firm One Lily Inc. "Nobody ever really knew, except when it was time to burp the baby."