Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Making Work at Home Work

So y'all have heard me talk about MOPS before. It's a great group for moms of preschoolers. We started a local chapter at my church in January of '08 and have been enjoying it ever since. Well, a few months back I took a survey for something or other for MOPS and at the end it asked if I had a blog and, if so, would I be interested in reviewing books for them on it. Let's see...asking Leia if she wants free books? Hrm...what will she say? Um...."Heck, yeah!"

So fast forward a few months, and I get an email asking me if I'm interested in reviewing a book called "Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof" by Mary M. Byers. Let's see book...about working from home...being offered to Leia about the time that she's seriously considering starting her own engineering firm (from home) in order to actually get paid for something? Again, "heck, yeah!"

So fast forward again a few weeks and I get a book in the mail which I think I started reading that night. It's broken down into two sections: "Saving Your Sanity" and "Preserving Your Profit." In the first section she gives practical tips on keeping the balance between work and home. She even includes some recipes for quick and easy (but relatively healthy) dinners! In the second section, she focuses more on the business aspect, dealing with taxes, investing in your business, retirement advice, and things of a similar nature. Each chapter is pretty short (nice for a mom with littles who don't appreciate long afternoons of reading) and she punctuates them with interviews of real (and successful) work-at-home moms.

I really liked how practical this book was (both sections of it). In the sanity section, she helps step you through all of the common headaches of working at home - guilt, working more than is necessary, dealing with clients, figuring out (or remembering) your motivation, and how to deal with child care (among others). One of my most favorite aspects of this book is that she doesn't tell you (like so many do) that you have to wear something other than PJs in order to work. I don't know why that's such a sticking point with people, but I've heard over and over from work-at-home people about how people always assume that they work in their PJs, but the reality of it was that they got dressed and "went to work" like everyone else - their office was just closer. Well, I'm going to confess to you that I work from home and I do it in my PJs whenever possible. That's partly from a pragmatic standpoint though - the fewer clothes I wear, the fewer clothes I have to wash, the less laundry I have to do.'s really my great efficiency that causes me to laze about in my jammies all day.

I also liked that she didn't tell me (like so many do) how I _have_ to have childcare during my work times if I'm going to get any real work accomplished. I'm sure that there are people who can't produce quality work when their kids are around (and I'm sure that it depends greatly on the type of work you do). I know that I have my days of that myself...but if I'm going to send my kids to day care so that I can work from home, to me, I'm defeating the purpose of me being home in the first place. And our place is so small that even if I hired someone to watch them while I worked, we'd all be in the same room, so I'd have all of the same distractions anyway.

This book gave a great balance of practical tips alongside a healthy dose of "do what works for you, just make sure that it's actually _working_."

The second section was great for someone like me who just doesn't have much of a "business" mind. I can do what I do very well...but ask me to sell you something and you might as well be asking me to stop by Mars on my way home from the grocery store today. Or ask me to sit down and figure out the specifics of a budget and most of the time I'd pretty much rather poke my eyes out with something dull. I may still do it anyway, but that's how I feel about it. The "Protecting your Profit" section kept the information at just the right level for someone like me. It was clear, without the details that make me want to poke myself with something hot, but with enough information that it will actually be useful, should I ever decide to start that engineering firm.

Ever since I read it, I've been trying to think of something that I could say that I _didn't_ like about it. All I can think of is a story she tells at the beginning. The details aren't important so much as the fact that I think she was being too hard on herself. But really, that's it. I can't think of anything else I would have put in or anything I'd have taken out. It was short and to the point - both excellent things when you're dealing with little ones running around. It was informative without getting too detailed. It was practical without ordering people to do things in one specific way.

So anyway, "Making Work at Home Work" by Mary M. Byers. Apparently it'll be available June 9th (or so). I would assume that Amazon will have it, but I know that does. They're even selling it for less than the cover price. And if you use this link, I think MOPS gets some of the money.

Next up for MOPS book reviews: the 2009-2010 MOPS theme book!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review! I love your sense of humor. :o)

Judy M.