A few days ago I read this post over at Writing Roads, which suggests that you should “dress” for work even if you work from home.  Just because you can be in your pajamas all day doesn’t mean you should.  Why?  Among other reasons, the article asserts that you can’t really take your work (including writing) seriously if you come to it looking, and probably smelling, like a homeless person.

I thought about that post for a long time because I am guilty as charged.  There are days when I find myself showering at 5:00 only to put on another pair of pajamas afterward.  Clean ones at least!  I realize this may not be sending the universe the correct message about how serious I am about this writing business.  But I must say I love being comfy.  What are the benefits of working from home if not to wear pants with an elastic waistband?  Likewise, I’m not entirely convinced that strapping ‘the girls’ into a push-up bra just to be home alone all day is going to dramatically increase my chances of success with my writing.  And yet…

I may not be ready to do away with the slouchy clothes, but I did tackle a similar problem – my workspace.  Or lack thereof.  I have a perfectly serviceable desk in the family room, but it was so cluttered, inside and out and even on the floor, that until recently I spent most of my writing time on the sofa in the living room with my feet propped up on an ottoman.  Probably more conducive to napping than writing.  So in the spirit of that article, I set about clearing the desk and creating a, dare I say, ‘sacred’ space for writing (pic below).  I must admit I feel way more official now.  I have a nice view out the window.  I have all of my favorite books on writing in front of me for inspiration.  I  have my tools of the trade – dictionary, thesaurus, style guides, etc. – at my fingertips at all times.  Most importantly, I have created a way to separate myself from ‘the house’ at large.  Having a dedicated (and pleasant) work space really does help with productivity.

In fact, I’m so impressed by how much of a difference my desk makes that I am contemplating a compromise on the wardrobe front.  I think leggings and shirts with built-in shelf bras might be a happy medium…

For my fellow work-at-homers, what’s your take on being ‘dressed’ and in a dedicated space for work?  For selfish reasons, I’d love to hear success stories from people who are religious about working in their pajamas! 🙂

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  1. I’d so work in pajamas if I could, but my eldest started school in Feb which requires I get dressed and look presentable to go do the drop off at 8.30! This is much earlier than I used to get organized… but I think I *might* be just a little more productive, the house is certainly tidier.

    I write primarily at my desk in the corner of our office. Hubby has his own space for his computer and this way it means I’m not too distracted by his gaming. I need this space of my own, though I often end up sharing it with a cat on the window sill and a baby on my lap, it’s still where I go to write.

    Yours is a lot tidier than mine however! You have inspired me to do a little cleaning/organizing of my space 🙂

  2. I have to wear shoes! And since my feet have to be dressed, I dress everything else, too. The only exception has been some of the time I spent doing NaNoWriMo; for that, I lock myself in the reading room, on a chair w/ ottoman; to keep the ottoman clean, the shoes come off.

    Along the same lines, I have to brush my teeth. I don’t know why.

    As far as a dedicated space, I have one — half the guest bedroom. It’s perfect — isolating, tidy, etc — but sometimes I leave it in favor of the dining room, where I can get late-day sunlight. I haven’t had much luck writing outdoors — too many distractions.

  3. I start getting testy if I’m still in my pajamas by noon, unless I’m pregnant, in which case all bets are off (noon preschool pick-up in pajamas? you bet!)

    But if I don’t put on a real bra and kind of spruce a little bit, I start getting cranky for some reason. And I also noticed that my family is nicer to me when I wear eyeliner. No, really. So whatever is behind that phenomenon…

    And I also wear socks to bed that can convert to socks-for-going-out, because you just don’t know when the opportunity might present itself to go outside somewhere, and you don’t want your socks to stop you.

  4. Cassie – my space will be much more cluttered in another week. That’s why I took the picture now – lol.

    Shannon – yes, I think it’s a good idea go ahead and wear clothes if you’re going to have shoes on. 😉 I can’t write outside either, but I wish I could.

    Erica – I totally do the sock thing too! Weird…

  5. I think everyone’s process is different, sometimes comfort creates creativity. Sometimes (depending on who you are) you need to get dressed to work. But I don’t think one article writer’s opinion can dictate how serious one can or cannot be while in their pajamas. That’s entirely an ego thing, and a mental trick (in my opinion).

  6. i am horrible about this

    but love the go blue laptop! 🙂

  7. Hi Julie! Great article. I’m guilty of letting clutter junk up my workspace, too. You’ve inspired me to clean up my desk today and change the way I approach my work. 🙂 Thank you!

  8. Hi Julie,

    I found your blog through Debbie Maxwell Allen’s–your photo of your desktop made me feel relaxed just looking at it! One of the many reasons why I can’t wait to finish my novel revisions is so I can do a deep cleaning of my office.

    This cracked me up: “What are the benefits of working from home if not to wear pants with an elastic waistband?” So true! I’ve worked from home as an editor/writer for the past 6 years and have heard this advice about dressing up for work too. I definitely find I’m more productive in a day (and feel better about myself) if I get ready early on, but I still dress pretty casually. Partly for comfort but also practicalness. Outside of sitting at a computer, my day-to-day activities include things like house chores, walking our dog, cleaning up pet puke, and in my few attempts to “dress up” while at home, I’ve ruined too many of my nicer clothes with a splash of bleach or a snag or tear. Almost all of my day-to-day shirts have tiny little holes around the belly button from my cat’s hind claws when she jumps out of my arms. So the trade off of feeling more professional versus not ruining all of my more decent clothes isn’t worth it to me!

    Love your blog! I’ll definitely be checking back in. (And we’re almost neighbors too, btw–I’m in Erie.)

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