5 Things not to do when you work from home

Smartphones and laptops make it easier than ever to work from home, just make sure you avoid these all too common mistakes.
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Plenty of women would like to work from home. Smartphones and laptops make it easier than ever. But if you score a telecommuting arrangement, remember, "It takes discipline," says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, [http://www.flexjobs.com/ ]a job service that helps professionals find flexible and often work-from-home gigs. "You have to take it very seriously."

Keep everyone on board by avoiding these big mistakes:

1. Being late or absent on calls. When an employer or client sees you in an office, there's, "a certain level of trust, whether it's earned or not," says Fell. If you're late to an in-office meeting, people assume you were finishing up an email — not that you were sleeping or watching TV. "You have to go into [working from home] thinking that the first time something goes wrong, in the employer's eyes it can be much more of a problem than if something goes wrong in the office." The lesson? Be prompt, focused, and prepared.

2. Skimping on childcare. While it seems wasteful to pay a sitter to cover naptime, all it takes for a boss or client to lose faith in you is one interrupting shriek from a toddler during a conference call. "It is your job, and you want to portray yourself at all times as professional," says Fell.

3. Procrastinating with housework. Yes, you can empty the dishwasher on your lunch break, or throw the laundry in the dryer between calls, but be careful not to let distractions creep into time you planned to work. Definitely don't let people hear the familiar sound of clattering dishes on a call — it's distracting and unprofessional.

4. Failing to set boundaries. Make sure friends, family, and neighbors know that just because you're at home doesn't mean you've got time on your hands. You can't wait for the cable guy for everyone in the neighborhood, and you can't be held responsible for all household maintenance just because you're in the house.

5. Working too much. On the flip side of all this, having a home office can make it hard to truly disconnect. If you're not careful, you can find yourself parked in the "office" most nights and weekends. "You can become your own worst enemy pretty easily," says Fell. If you wouldn't put up with a boss who ran a sweatshop, don't create your own.

Now that you know what not to do, read Tips for Staying Sane when Working from Home, to learn some things you can do to stay happy and productive.

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