Why the Freelance Dream of Working in P.J.s is Total B.S.

Freelance writer working on computer in bedDid you get into freelance writing for the freedom?

The freelance lifestyle sounds great — keeping your own hours, doing as you please.

I hear this from a lot of would-be freelancers:

“I got laid off, so I’m going to try living the dream, working in my pajamas!”

I worry when I hear that.

Because here’s the thing: I don’t know any successful freelance writers who lie around in their P.J.s.

Why P.J.s don’t work

When you work in an office, you get up, get dressed, and leave the house. As you drive away or ride that bus, you create a transition from your home life into your work life.

Arriving at your office signals, ‘Time to work.’

When you work from home, you need to create a similar transition. Except you have nowhere to go.

Staying in bed and not getting dressed = no transition.

Lots of hanging out on Facebook often follows.

I know writers who, a year or two after quitting to freelance, are still asking me for tips on how they can finally manage to get focused and start really doing this freelance writing thing, already!

Tip: Begin by getting dressed for work.

Flipping on the computer when you’re still in the comfy, teddy-bear-print P.J.s visually signals your body that this is part of your leisure time. You’re still half-asleep.

You might even consider going back to sleep, if you’ve had a bad night! After all, you’re dressed for it.

You might also pad around the house washing dishes or starting laundry. After all, you’re not in ‘work’ mode — c’mon. You’re in your pajamas!

How to switch to serious freelance mode

Successful freelancing requires the opposite of pajama mode.

You have to be highly alert, thinking, creating, marketing, networking. Ready for anything.

And you might think working from home means nobody will see you, but that’s increasingly not true.

At a moment’s notice, you could find yourself hopping on a Skype call or Google+ Hangout with collaborators or a new prospect. Want to have to pass on that opportunity, or have them see you haven’t bothered to get dressed or brush your hair? Not good.

Do you feel comfortable interviewing the CEO of a major corporation over the phone while you’re in P.J.s? I don’t.

If you’re having trouble taking your freelance dreams seriously (or maybe your friends or spouse is), begin by taking a professional attitude toward how you work.

Every work day, I get out of my pajamas and get dressed. I eat, hopefully get in a walk. I try to do a little inspirational reading. I’m creating a transition into my work day.

My clothes may be fairly casual, but they aren’t sloppy, mismatched, or stained, and they are definitely not pajamas.

Because I know business is war. It’s tough. Competitive.

It requires showing up. And being available, at least some of the time, when editors and other businesspeople are working — during regular business hours.

When 9 am rolls round, it’s time to shut off the snooze button and get to work.

Choosing your battle wardrobe

Even if I’m not going to see anyone else all day, I get dressed for work.

Because freelancing is hard. It’s serious. It’s running a BUSINESS.

And if you’re not on your toes, that business will fail.

When I first started freelancing, I knew I wouldn’t want to wear my old reporter suit-and-jacket outfits. A little formal for around the house!

I was happy to skip the dry-cleaning bills. But I still needed some attire that said, “it’s work time.”

At first, I bought several well-made, casual-Friday knitwear pants-and-jacket outfits in my favorite colors. They were super-comfortable, but made me feel happy — and dressed for work.

These days, this time of year mostly finds me in a long-sleeved, stretch-cotton shirt, chinos, and a nice sweater.

My goal is to be dressed so that I’d feel comfortable jumping in the car for a last-minute meeting, or chatting on Skype. In fact, when I go to a co-working place, I’m wearing the exact same clothes I wear to work at home.

It’s a big mental shift, from thinking “I’m a writer” to “I’m in business.” That’s a shift I recommend you make ASAP.

My attitude is, I’m in business. I’m serious about it. So I’m dressed and ready.

What do you wear to work as a freelancer? Tell us how you get in work mode in the comments.

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90 comments on “Why the Freelance Dream of Working in P.J.s is Total B.S.
  1. Z says:

    Oh My God! Who has time to get dressed?!

  2. I never work in pajamas, even when I’m at home. I usually wear nice jeans and a nice top. For me, though, getting dressed is my first creative act of the day. I’ve always been expressive with my clothing, and that carries over into the rest of my work day (at least until I hit my afternoon wall). It is a psychological thing that helps me transition and “wake up” and be ready for work.
    Sarah L. Webb recently posted…Colorism in the Media: Lupita Nyong’o on the Power of ImagesMy Profile

  3. Call it a little neurotic, but I tend to dress in “theme” clothes. On Mondays and Thursdays I write for an ecommerce company and wear trendy colorful fair. The other days of the week, when I’m working on freelance stuff or my own books I tend to be a fan of dresses and heals. It amuses my sweetheart to no end. He still can’t figure out why I get dressed up to work at home every day, but it works for my mental state.
    Renia Carsillo recently posted…Serious Soups: Quick Lunch Soup RecipesMy Profile

  4. Bonita says:

    I totally agree that getting dressed and setting regular work hours are big keys to productivity. Most days I work in casual comfortable clothes like jeans, or sweats if I’m going to exercise a lot that day. When I go out I dress up a little bit. But on the days when I really need to concentrate and work on a big project I wear scrubs. I worked for years as a nurse so scrubs signify “work” in my brain, but they are also really comfy. And if I want to go to the library or coffee shop, I can still wear them and everyone just assumes I just got off work and haven’t had time to change.
    Bonita recently posted…Welcome to My New Home!My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Ha! I love that.

      You know, when I was on drill team in high school, our uniform had all these parts. Undergarment, fringed uniform, matching socks, shoes, headband, gloves…and then the laces had these jingle-bells on them. When I got those on and started to hear myself go “Jing! Jing!” every time my right foot hit the floor…I was ready to perform.

      We all need these rituals to put us in the right place to get to work. I do have a set of scrubs…maybe I’ll use this angle sometime. Only problem is I sometimes use them as…pajamas. So might not work for me!

  5. Steve Roy says:

    Hi Carol,
    I am brand new to the freelancing world and I already can see the benefit of getting changed and “ready” for work.
    I also find it motivating to leave the house and go somewhere public. I’m less likely to slack off and watch YouTube videos all day…
    Steve Roy recently posted…Becoming A Change Agent One Grinder At A TimeMy Profile

  6. Lem says:

    When I was still freelancing full time, I often get up early and take a bath. It puts me in the mood to get working. 🙂
    Lem recently posted…Best Sites to Download Anime MP3s for FreeMy Profile

  7. Tom Crawford says:

    As well as dressing the part, it’s important to also have a designated location to work from. I often like to leave home, and work from a library or other quiet location. Simply removing all chance of distraction is a great way to focus the mind on one thing – writing.
    Tom Crawford recently posted…50 Ways To Build Your Freelance Blogging BusinessMy Profile

  8. Kay says:

    Besides showering and getting dressed in something other than gym clothes, I make my bed! It’s a very simple ritual that says “I’m up, and ready to get on with my day.”

  9. Matt Schmidt says:

    I have been reading the Freelancer s Survival Guide. It really brings down to earth doing a freelancing business. Structure is definitely needed to be successful.
    Matt Schmidt recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

  10. Holly Bowne says:

    Even if I have nowhere to go on a particular day, I still get dressed, do my hair and makeup, the works! The other thing I recently discovered was hurting me, was not treating my work start time as do-or-die. If I got caught up reading an interesting news article, or making home-management phone calls, or whatever, I used to think “Ah, no biggie.”

    Well, I’ve since discovered that it IS a biggie. Since I’ve started treating my work hours as REAL work hours (I’ve even made myself eat my breakfast at the computer if I dilly-dallied too long) it’s made a huge difference in my productivity. Great post as always, Carol!
    Holly Bowne recently posted…Quote of the MonthMy Profile

  11. Ruth says:

    I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to what I call “business loungewear” — clothes that don’t feel stupid to wear around the house, but aren’t embarrassing when you run into a client during a mid-day grocery store run. http://www.pinterest.com/ruthpins/business-loungewear-clothes-for-lady-freelancers/

  12. I had a friend who, when he worked from home, would get dressed in the morning, get in his car, drive around the block and ‘go to work’. He needed that routine to separate him from his homelife and to signal to his mind that he was at work.

    For me, it doesn’t matter so much what I’m wearing at work. The hardest challenge is convincing my family (particularly my Mother-in-Law who lives with us) that working from home is important. In her mind, she thinks I’m just playing on my computer, and that I should still manage to get all the housework done while trying to earn a living.
    Rebecca Byfield recently posted…A Midnight Dip… Clothing OptionalMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Ha! Love that. Whatever it takes to get in the ‘zone.’ 😉

      On the MIL…set phasers to ‘ignore.’ It’s a generational thing — our parents can’t understand that what we do is even work, or that freelancing is more secure now than a job. Everything has flipped.

      And I know my kids just view any sight of me on the computer as an opportunity to extort a coloring page printout.

  13. Ashley N. says:

    I needed this today. It’s the last step I need to take – it’s so simple, yet so powerful!

    And I’ve even had the experience of having to change so I could take a call – not a winning strategy.

    Another thing I would add is that you need to get the supplies/training/whatever you need to begin, rather than singing the “I can’t afford anything yet” song. For example, my power cords for my digital camera and tablet got lost in the move so they’re both dead – not acceptable. Need to get that done today! 🙂

    • Carol Tice says:

      I wish more writers would think in terms of investing in their business. Have a decent outfit to wear, take that class you know would help. It really pays off!

  14. Great post Carol. While I don’t agree that you have to dress business casual, I do think transition is the key factor here. Every morning I go down and make coffee and breakfast, then tell my husband (who also works from home) to have a nice day and I go upstairs to my office. At the end of the day (when it’s also important to transition), I tidy my desk, shut my computer, turn off the light and go downstairs for the evening’s activities. Having a solid start and stop time and routines to signify them tells the brain what’s going on (just like journaling or no screen time at night tells the brain it’s calm-down time).

    In terms of what to wear, I think comfort and appropriateness is key. I live in a small mountain town known for hippies and dread-locks. Civilization is 30 minutes down a mountain. If I wear dress clothes, I stand out. For local meetings, jeans and a flannel shirt (lumberjack chic) with hiking boots is more than appropriate. If I have a meeting “down below,” I have enough advanced warning to dress a little nicer that day.

    Thank you for the post – it propelled me to take some time to think about this.
    Amber Erickson Gabbey recently posted…Calculating BMI: And Why BMI Doesn’t MatterMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hey — if flannel shirt is your signature, then people get to know that on Skype, too. Can be something memorable — oh yeah, she lives out in the woods. Just think it needs to not be PJs!

      Ironically, today I am actually in ratty old sweatpants — because our heater seems to be broken!

  15. Elke Feuer says:

    Great article! I’m still working full-time, but on the days I’m off and writing, I treat the day like I’m going to work. If not, I don’t get nearly as much done. If I’m struggling, I jump in my car and head down to the coffee shop.
    Elke Feuer recently posted…Self Publishing — EditingMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Right on — I’m a big fan of going to the co-working place. Nice professional-feeling environment and makes you think about maybe putting on a little jewelry and makeup and treating like you would if you worked in an office…in terms of attitude.

  16. Mysia Haight says:

    This post really hit home! Looking pulled together make me feel productive. I have an “office casual” wardrobe of colored jeans and slacks, with coordinating sweater sets. On Fridays, I sometimes work in yoga pants or a sweatsuit–as a treat. Thank you, Carol, for validating what I’ve been trying to tell my husband and friends for years: how I look when I work from home really does matter!

  17. Willi Morris says:

    For me, I don’t feel like myself until I’ve had a shower, brushed my teeth, washed my face and eaten. Even if I end up putting a clean set of pajamas or lounging clothes on, the act of getting up and getting prepped as though you are leaving the house makes a world of difference.
    Willi Morris recently posted…2 Ways Breakups Can Rock Your Business (For Good!)My Profile

  18. Karen says:

    Yoga pants or something similar. I have some big health & well-being goals for 2014 and they involve regular 5 minute yoga breaks throughout my working day 🙂 Must admit I love the rare opportunities I get to wear work clothes now (a conference/client meeting/work event) just because they’re so rare. Used to hate ‘work’ clothes when I had to wear them every day.
    Karen recently posted…20 (More) Quick Social Media TipsMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m loving all the people who’re taking exercise breaks throughout the day. I aspire to join you. 😉 Usually it’s 1 morning or afternoon workout for me, but after a recent spa trip I’m a convert to doing 2 workouts a day. I should stop and stretch more, though.

  19. Sandra says:

    I have to admit I do a big chunk of my work in my pj’s in bed. Here’s a typical day for me:
    – Up every morning (but still in bed) at 4am sharp and drink either coffee or tea
    – Spend 1/2 hour reading news, looking at weather, etc.
    – Force myself to start working on paid writing tasks by 4:30 sharp till 6:30am
    – Out of bed, showered and dressed by 7am – ready to face the world and sitting at my actual desk to work the rest of the day
    – Take a break around 1 or 2 and go to local marina to walk, meditate, and just enjoy being outside (cell phone off!)
    – Depending what’s on my plate for the day, may work a few more hours
    – Eat whenever I’m hungry and in between tasks I jump on my air climber and go like crazy for 5 or 6 minutes to “recharge” my brain and body (very important)
    – Evening is for family and friends – go to bed around 10pm…

    This weird schedule works for me! Before freelancing, I worked at a job for 25+ years from 4am – 3:30pm everyday, so I’m just a natural early riser! Even as a child I was up every morning at 5 🙂

  20. Misti W. says:

    I’ve noticed I tend to get more done on days when I’m wearing a dress or skirt. Possibly due to a health issue I was having for a while that made tight waistbands physically uncomfortable, but there still seems to be a correlation.

    • Carol Tice says:

      You know what? I’m a hair claustrophobic, which is why jeans aren’t my standard dress…too confining. Anything with a set waistband can freak me out. Fortunately, these days there is a lot of professional wear with those hidden elastic waistbands. 😉

      At one point I owned a fabulous turquoise silk suit jacket with matching elastic pants that I wore to work trade shows. Got a million compliments on it, and nobody knew I was super-comfy. That’s pretty much the sweet spot for professional wear for me. I also recently bought my son, who has a lot of tactile issues, Betabrands’ dress pant sweatpants for synagogue wear – they’re fabulous! http://www.betabrand.com/collections/west-coast-workwear/gray-dress-pant-sweatpants.html

      I did recently buy a couple of casual sweatshirt-type dresses to wear with leggings — another comfy yet “I’m dressed” vibe for working at home!

  21. Raspal Seni says:

    Flipping on the computer when you’re
    still in the comfy, teddy-bear-print P.J.s
    visually signals your body that this is part
    of your leisure time. You’re still half-
    asleep.

    I totally agree with you, Carol! I have to use the computer in my bed at times due to health reasons, but what you said above is very correct – I wish to have the office atmosphere, so I can work more productively. I don’t start working without bathing or brushing and flushing, though! 🙂 Thank God, I’m not addicted to social networking apps yet!

    I think dressing properly also builds the confidence needed for starting to work. Like you said – when interviewing a CEO.

    While it’s not always possible for me, I love to start working in the early mornings. Have better concentration at that time to write.

    Usually, I wear a Tee and my usual pants. Sometimes shirts, which I’d wear in an office.

    Thanks for this article and for reminding about not to freelance in P.Js. I’ll give more attention to this, now on.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Some days, I’ve gotten such a crap night’s sleep or am just so emotionally wiped that I do work in bed in PJs…which is why I know that’s not the most productive way to go. 😉 But it’s better than nothing.

  22. One half of my work requires me to be out in the field, getting dirty and lifting heavy things, so when I’m working from home, I’m in a dress, or at the very least, a casual top and a skirt.

  23. I completely agree with this but I also think it’s not just the attire that can make the difference in getting work done – it’s also the location.

    Freelancers or really anyone who runs a “stay at home business” should definitely have a designated office (if their arrangements allow) or to have a station set up that when your butt is in that chair – it’s go time, alternatively just sitting at the kitchen table.

    It always FEELS like a good idea to sit on the couch and just start typing away but someway, somehow Facebook and Twitter manage to find their way into the open tab and ruin that flow!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Not for me, actually — since getting my laptop, I do sit on the couch, or a different spot each day — I find the variety helps keep me fresh. And does not inspire timewasting on social media.

      So interesting to see the different ways everyone gets their game face on to do their freelancing!

  24. Holly says:

    I’ve never had a desire to wear my PJs during the day… even on weekends.

    I do change clothes but stay casual unless I have a scheduled client meeting, luncheon, etc. For me this was part of why I took on this career – comfort and not having to put makeup on every day!
    Holly recently posted…How to Make Homemade Mineral Veil Face PowderMy Profile

  25. Susie Klein says:

    I agree Carol! The mind needs to make the switch from leisure to work mode…
    Susie Klein recently posted…Sure, I’ll Do Writing Research in HawaiiMy Profile

  26. In addition to freelance writing, I also consult as a professional organizer and find that for the majority of people I work with, getting dressed — to the shoes — is critical to getting motivated.

    For myself, I have a couple Dockers-type pants that I wear because they are just a notch above jeans, but not too dressy for helping clean out closets. Typically, I wear turtlenecks and some kind of nice looking overshirt (the exception being this week on vacation in SoCal where it’s been in the 80’s every day!! Sorry, Carol, had to rub it in, but we are coming back to the PNW Tuesday, so back to “normal). I also make sure to put shoes on. I have a great pair of “Klogs” that are incredibly comfortable or I wear a pair of black lace-ups that are a tad dressier that tennies. Shoes make a big difference for me.

    If I wake up at 4:00 a.m. and go to the computer, the PJs stay, otherwise, I get dressed for WORK.
    Brenda Spandrio recently posted…A real-life organizing lesson by email with The Declutter LadyMy Profile

  27. Great post, and very interesting comments.

    Based on the other comments, it appears that my routine is atypical. I’ve experimented with many different routines and schedules, and the schedule I’m getting ready to describe works best for me.

    I’ve been working at home for two years and four months. I get dressed every day but Saturday (Saturday is my all-day PJs day and has been for many, many years).

    Monday-Friday I get up between 9:00 and 10:00 and make coffee (in my PJs). I play Words With Friends while I down my first cup of coffee, and then I move on to social media, email, and work stuff, all the while still drinking coffee and waking up slowly. Sometime between 11:30 and 1:00, I get in the shower. Then I get dressed (business casual), eat lunch, and usually between 2:00 and 4:00 head out into the world (to do errands or shopping or whatever) until around 5:00. Between 5:00 and 8:00, there is more email and work stuff, TV news, more eating, and working out a plan with John for the rest of the night. Sometimes the plan will be that I’ll be working all night, sometimes an hour or so, and sometimes not at all.

    I think it’s important to note here that email – a HUGE part of my freelance business at this point – is a constant all day (and often at night) Monday-Friday, regardless of what else I’m doing at the time (eating, dressing, running errands, etc.). So once I have that first cup of coffee in the morning and open my email, I’m pretty much “on the clock” until I go to bed.

    As for phone/Skype meetings with clients, I DO like to be dressed if I have a meeting with a client – even if it’s just over the phone. I always try to schedule things during my “dressed” hours, but if I can’t, I’ll adjust on my end and get dressed early.

    I spent 14 years in an office job working straight business hours, so there’s a part of me that always feels guilty about the way I live now. However, now that I’m at home, I have to work around my partner and some serious workspace limitations, and this schedule works the best. Overall, I’m just thankful that I do have the freedom to pick the schedule that works best for me.

    Sometimes I worry how I’ll handle it if I ever have to go back to an outside job with “real” business hours. It would be a challenge, for sure, but I think that as long as I’m getting dressed every day and taking Monday-Friday seriously as “business days,” I’ll be fine. I adjusted after many years of college and grad school, and I’m sure I can adjust again if I have to.

  28. Dawn Witzke says:

    I think you have to wear whatever works for you. There are days when I get more done in pjs than I do in my dressy business clothes. Other days, not so much. I do keep one killer outfit around for a good mental boost when I need to get out and talk to people. (It’s red. You can’t be shy in red.)

    I think you’re spot on about the link between not getting anywhere in writing and not getting dressed. It is so easy to procrastinate when your day just all blends together.

    (This post was written in my pjs. 😉 )

  29. Nell says:

    Ohmygawd, I was just having this conversation with my boyfriend yesterday. I said, I need to figure out what my writing wardrobe is going to be once I go full time freelance. He looked at me weird (probably thought I was just trying to make up an excuse to go shopping). But this just confirmed to me that having a ‘work wardrobe’ is just as important working from home as working in an office.

    And now I can email him this post to prove my point 🙂
    Nell recently posted…Stand by Your Man (But Don’t Depend on Him) + Weekend Roundup + Link LoveMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Glad I could help!

      You know, I kept my old professional wardrobe for years and years. But whenever I had to go to a client meeting I found myself wearing sweater sets with nice slacks or something…I couldn’t bring myself to put on suit pants again or a jacket. I finally realized my clothes say, “I don’t have to wear a suit…I’m a freelancer.” And that it totally works for me.

      What I wear looks sort of casual Friday…and I don’t think freelancers should have to dress up more than that! But we definitely need to get dressed. 😉

  30. I wear comfortable clothes, although not as casual as pajamas. In the summer, figure shorts, a t-shirt and no shoes. In the winter, loose comfortable pants and a sweatshirt. Maybe shoes. If I’m going to meet someone, I usually wear a long bohemian-type skirt and a shirt.
    Kelly Boyer Sagert recently posted…Happy 6th Birthday, Stormy Molina!My Profile

  31. Lew says:

    Carol I just found your site though a recommendation from another writer, so I’m playing catchup. Honestly I can’t write the first thing in the morning. I need like tow cups of coffee and some kind of breakfast before I even look at my keyboard. usually by then I’m semi-dressed but usually I’m not fully clothed (jeans and a shirt) until later in the afternoon.

  32. Linda says:

    Well, I have to say that I did interview a CEO by phone while in my P.J.s and it worked into one of my biggest clients. And I’ve often worked the first few hours of my business in P.J.s, but I totally get the concept and made some changes.

    I do agree, though, that it’s important to dress for success, establish work hours, and create habits to transition for home to work. Amazing how it’s all a psychological twist to your surroundings, and it creates the image of success and work over home and leisure.

    While I used to work in jeans, I’ve switched to wearing Khaki slacks and a polo shirt. I’m comfortable, ready to hit one-on-one interviews, and business casual. I also wear this to my networking meetings, where I’m now president and meet a lot of other business owners/professionals. When it’s colder, I wear slacks and either a long-sleeved semi-sweater, or a dark colored, long-sleeved lab coat over a nice collared shirt. I have my pockets, look business casual and comfortable. It’s worked well.

    Business hours fluctuate because I work with a lot of global clients. So I might work late to accommodate a client in the Middle East or Africa, or get up super early to meet their schedules. But most importantly is I schedule time off from work during certain days. Prevents burn-out, allows the brain to unwind, and actually increases productivity.

    Great post with all kinds of ideas and helps. You’re spot-on for ll the right reasons, Carol. Thanks for sharing.
    Linda recently posted…What Do You Say When an Interviewer Asks — Why Should I Hire You?My Profile

  33. Laura Davis says:

    I agree completely that getting dressed is an important psychological factor, but ALSO, if a client asks to Skype and you’re sitting there with your hair in a ratty bun and flannel jammies on, it’s pretty stressful. Oh, yes, I know this first-hand.

    Now, I will say, I more often dress in exercise clothes than business attire, because part of my routine is taking exercise breaks in between writing sessions, but I’ve learned to keep a decent looking top near my desk, just in case of sudden Skype requests!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Definitely — you can always slant your computer so the top half is all they see. 😉

      I find the rise of Skype also helps keep me motivated to keep the house decluttered…don’t want people looking at piles of junk!

      • Laura Davis says:

        Ha! Yeah, the space behind my desk is always quite tidy for that reason, but on one of my first Skype calls (thank GOD I was doing a test run with a friend, and not talking to a client!), I discovered that the basket on a shelf behind my desk appeared to be sitting on my head!

        • Carol Tice says:

          I hear ya…I’ve discovered I look totally creepy sitting in my normal spot with a window wall behind me, which makes me backlit! And that if my hair’s in a ponytail I look like some sort of balding weirdo.

          I’m jealous of the cool guys like Pat Flynn who’ve set up a ‘studio’ corner or room where they’ve got a banner with their branding, their house clutter is all hidden, and the lighting’s awesome.

  34. Angie says:

    Those of us who suffer from depression (and I know there are a lot of writers out there who do) should take particular notice of this advice. Depression can sap your energy and make you tempted to stay in PJs all day (because then you’ve got an excuse to lay in bed all day). Getting up and doing a morning get-ready-for-work routine makes you feel like you’ve already accomplished *something* for the day, small as that something is. I’ve found that it helps you gain momentum so you can keep getting things done — and not feel like your bed’s calling you all day long.
    Angie recently posted…Is Your Low Self-Esteem Setting You Up for Stress-Related Illness?My Profile

    • And staying in the house all day, every day is REALLY bad for depression, too. That’s why I try to make myself go out into the world – even if it’s just for an hour – every day Mon-Fri.

  35. Diane says:

    Thank you for posting this piece. I couldn’t agree more. On a side note: It irritates me when people assume I hang out in my pj’s. It feels demeaning, like they don’t take my work seriously. The comments are usually from parents I meet who do the, “Oh you write. Must be nice to hang out in your pj’s.” And that’s where I reply, “Nope, too busy for pjs.” And, to myself I have to repeat ‘smile, walk away, don’t engage this conversation anymore.’

    I write because I love writing. I love my writing enough to take it seriously.

  36. Julia Rymut says:

    Hey Carol,

    I TOTALLY agree with you–especially when people are starting off. Before I had enough work to fill my day, I used to actually put on make-up. I had to focus and feel like I was going to work and make-up was huge signal that my work day was different than the rest of my life. Now I’m busy enough (and I’ve been doing this long enough) that I automatically get into the work mind-set, even without make-up. But it used to be that nice clothes and make-up were part of jump-starting my workday.

    I think one of the other challenges that people face with the “work at home” dream is understanding that they have to have work hours. When I started working at home, I thought that flexibility was a work-at-home perk. I’d go out for coffee and social dates in the middle of the day (with friends who weren’t working). But, of course, that meant I had to stay up late to get caught up with my work when I got home. I ended up feeling like I was working all day, every day.

    Now I give myself work hours. This seems counter-intuitive but it was the only way I could get any time off. Sometimes friends think I should be available for a yoga class in the middle of the day but I stress that I have to be at work like any other worker.

    The thing about working from home (from a clothes standpoint or from an hours standpoint) is that you have to *work.* In fact, it often requires more discipline than someone who heads into the office every day.

    Wearing nice work clothes is great way to signal that this is the time I spend for earning a living.

    Thank you for blowing up the PJ myth!!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Julia —

      Yeah, I learned pretty quick that blowing a big hole in the middle of the day to go out was NOT going to work! Now, I try to take 8:30 am meetings, or 4 pm. Can’t kill the middle.

    • Karen J says:

      Yes, Julia ~ “work hours” and “work attire” are both important. One of the big joys of freelancing (or working for yourself, whatever you do), is that you get to choose your own hours, to fit in with whatever else is going on in your life and however your body and brain work with the sun!
      Karen J recently posted…First Impressions? Yeah, Whose, Exactly…My Profile

  37. Sherry Jones says:

    I do interview CEOs in my PJs! I work hard and successfully, and often don’t get dressed until 3 or 4 p.m. I like to start writing as soon as I get up.

    • Carol Tice says:

      If you can pull that off, my hat’s off to you. It would just make me feel weird…like I’m not ready to talk to them. Maybe all my years as a staff writer showing up in a suit jacket.

  38. Cara says:

    I have to disagree on this one. I read a lot of advice like this when I was starting out, and I got all worried about it because the people giving the advice were “experts” and I was just starting out. But you know what? One of my absolute favorite things about working for myself is not having to wear pants. I actually think we writer/artist types have a special exemption from having to dress like regular people, so if anything, I think requiring myself to look presentable would make it harder for me to get into work mode.

    What do I do if someone wants me to jump on a quick call right now and I look a fright? Same thing I do any other time: I point them to my ScheduleOnce and let them set up an appointment, because I’m working. The flow state wins out over both pants and impulsive calls, as far as I’m concerned.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Fascinating. Hey, if it works for you, go with it!

      I increasingly find myself making connections with people via Skype and being asked to do Google Hangout interviews or panels, and I’d like to not look like any more of a sad, disheveled old bag than necessary. 😉

      • Cara says:

        It’s awesome that you can do that and still be productive! It seems like I need to feel like I’m safe in a cave where nobody can get me before I can really settle in to work. I hate it when people want to talk real-time–one little call can cost me hours of good work time. But all that networking and exposure must be fantastic for growing your business–how great for you!

        • Carol Tice says:

          Well, if I’m presenting or talking on Skype or something, I do want to be somewhere with a door that shuts. But otherwise, I’m cool in my living room. We have this window wall that looks out into our backyard forest stand, and it’s really relaxing and beautiful, so I’d rather look at that than hide in a back bedroom.

          I can’t recommend highly enough finding someone to do a weekly Skype call with. It will grow your business in ways you can’t imagine.

        • I’m glad to hear that’s not just me. The days and weeks that I have lots of calls and appointments scheduled, I have a much harder time getting the same amount of work done. Something about it just saps my energy.

          I’ve pretty much stopped taking impromptu calls that come in, that’s a whole other level of distracting. In my ideal world, all communication would happen by email so it would always be easy to slot it into my day’s to do list where it properly fits.
          Kristen Hicks recently posted…The Benefits of Content MarketingMy Profile

  39. Fly Girl says:

    Wow.Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been a freelance writer for 15 years and usually change into presentable clothes before I start work. But lately, after I finished writing a book that required me to write from the time I woke up until the wee hours of the morning to meet my publisher’s deadline, I slid into the bad habit of working in my PJs. I’m in my PJs now but I am headed to my closet to change. Here I was, trying to figure out how to earn more money this year and I’m blocking it with PJs! Well, this year will definitely be different and more prosperous with consistent work attire!
    Fly Girl recently posted…Jamaican Bobsled TimeMy Profile

  40. Tom Bentley says:

    Carol, I always start out the day in a tuxedo, though as the day wears on, I relax in classic evening wear. Well, not really. But even though I’m a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, I definitely doff the pajamas quickly after getting up and get into office mode. I agree completely that it’s part of the working mindset to make that shift.

    And I work the main part of the day in an office in my old Airstream trailer, out of my house, so that again says “it’s work time.” Thanks for the post.
    Tom Bentley recently posted…Buzz, Bing, Beep! How to Turn Off Writing DistractionsMy Profile

  41. Bex says:

    The only reason I get dressed before I start working is because yoga and meditation come before work, always. I don’t think my roommates would appreciate me doing yoga on the patio naked. If I could work and exercise and cook in the same state I sleep without disturbing anyone, I definitely would….
    Bex recently posted…The Absolute Man and Woman: sexual shame and passive desireMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, given your blog theme, maybe that WOULD work for you! Maybe it’s the business-beat I usually occupy that makes me feel so inappropriate without something decent on.

  42. Heather says:

    I’ve read conflicting things on this, and I haven’t decided what works best for me. Like Carol, I usually dress in something presentable but comfortable. The only problem? I tend to be tempted to run errands during my peak morning hours if I’m presentable. I’m thinking perhaps a better solution would either be to go to the library and write, or wear something at home that I wouldn’t be caught in anywhere, including the grocery store!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Interesting…I have zero temptation to run errands during work hours! They’re too precious to me…I know I can’t possibly waste a minute of them on non-work activities. Besides, the grocery store is such a faster shop at 9 pm 😉

      • Carol and Heather

        My partner forever asks me to run errands and do favours during the day ‘because I work from home’.

        And it often ends up in rows.

        I wouldn’t remotely contemplate asking her to do favours for me while she’s at work. So why should it be any different with me – I’m still at work!

        But in fairness, she’s not the only one. I still occasionally get friends and relatives phoning up during the day ‘for a chat’ (because I’m at home) – although most of these have now at least got the message.

        And, as for those who haven’t, I’ve largely fallen out with them completely.
        Kevin Carlton recently posted…3 dangerously destructive writing habits every copywriter should avoidMy Profile

        • Carol Tice says:

          Yeah, that’s what that caller ID button is for. Set phasers to ‘ignore’ if it’s not a work-related call. Call them back after 5 pm…they’ll get the picture eventually. 😉

  43. Micki says:

    What do I wear? Either jeans or yoga pants, and a decent tshirt or comfortable shirt. I have never worn PJ’s or fuzzy slippers down to my office in over 10 years of working in my home office. I agree with the post. You need to have that transition from home duties to work duties, and I have found a shower and changing into comfortable and not ratty clothes provides such a transition.
    Micki recently posted…The Olympians’ Secret That Will Keep Good Employees From Walking Out The DoorMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Right on, Micki. I do think going to that work ‘spot’ as well. In the War Of Art, Pressfield talks about all the totemic items he has in his workspace that get him in the groove, too…made me think I need more of those as well.

  44. Ilka says:

    Great post Carol! Totally agree!

    The idea of interviewing a CEO while still in PJ’s gave me good laugh! Thanks for that. And it is really interesting how we can actually influence our brain. There is so much more into it than pure will power. Fantastic!

    Great tips – as always, Ilka
    Ilka recently posted…There is only one thing…My Profile

  45. This makes perfect sense and has opened my eyes. Time to get out of my sweats and t-shirt and be on the ready. Thanx, Carol!
    Shauna L Bowling recently posted…Global Warming: Are We Doomed?My Profile

  46. Couldn’t agree more Carol

    I’d also say that hanging around in your pyjamas once you’ve got up is bad for you full stop.

    For some reason, being in your pyjamas in the morning saps away your energy. And I think psychologists even recommend you avoid it.

    The quicker you get out those PJs, the quicker you’ll get to that desk and buckle down to some serious work.
    Kevin Carlton recently posted…3 dangerously destructive writing habits every copywriter should avoidMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah, agreed. Or maybe it’s just me…I need to get OUT of sleep mode! Can’t wait to read through these comments and see what everyone else feels about it.

    • Even before I was writing, when I was a 100% SAHM, staying in PJs “sap[pped] away [my] energy.” I would lounge about because I needed rest, but I found myself blue instead. I can’t imagine trying to write while still in PJs (well, unless I have one of those random wake-up-at-2-am-with-big-idea moments).

      Nowadays, I’m already out and about before I sit down to write (multiple carpool runs will do that to you), so I just dress in my normal skirt (usually denim or courduroy) and a shirt. I try not to be sloppy.

      Occasionally, I do have to meet clients. Then I dress artsy/business.

      But I do tend to kick my shoes off when I’m home!
      Rebecca Klempner recently posted…Most writers procrastinate. But why?My Profile

  47. “What do you wear to work as a freelancer?”

    I wear my gym clothes when I am working at my home office.

    Its less for business and more so that I don’t have an excuse not to go and work out.

    The constant reminder of squeaky Lycra is enough to get me off the computer.
    Katherine James recently posted…7 Travel Magazines That Want To Publish Your ArticlesMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      I hear ya…I have these one great pair of pants that look like dress pants, but they’re really more like sweatpants, so I can hop up and do a half-hour or yoga or dash out for a quick walk if I get the chance. 😉

5 Pings/Trackbacks for "Why the Freelance Dream of Working in P.J.s is Total B.S."
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  3. […] about the pajamas thing, working in the same clothes you sleep in is highly unproductive. It’s true that one of the perks of freelancing is saving money on office clothes, but it’s […]

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