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Dealing with the Unexpected when Working From Home

Planning for the unexpected may seem futile, but if you establish a solid reputation with your employer or clients, you will be able to deal with whatever emergencies come your way.

When life hands you lemons you…? Depending on the kind of day you've had, your answer may be "grab some tequila and have a party" or "find someone with a paper cut." For a mom who works at home, the unexpected can throw everything out of balance and, at best ruin your day, or at worst, ruin your career. Knowing how to handle life's ups and downs without losing your cool (or your job) is key.

From sudden illness (your own or someone else's) or a flooded basement to a fender bender, the unexpected will arise, usually during work hours and, unless you've just won the lottery, work must continue.

Maintain Accountability

There is a lot of trust involved when you work at home. Whether you have a boss or manager overseeing you remotely or you are responsible for yourself, work has to be done. Projects need to be turned in. Calls need to be made. Articles need to be written and life goes on.

If you work for an employer, you are expected to be accountable for your time. If you work for yourself, you are still accountable to someone – yourself, your family and your clientele. When the unexpected arises, as Murphy's Law points out, your accountability shouldn't waver. Call your boss and explain the situation. Engage employers in finding solutions by asking them to help you figure out ways to complete necessary projects under deadline while managing life with the unexpected.

The Big Unexpected vs. The Little Unexpected

If the unexpected arises and you can determine the amount of time it will take to deal with the problem will be brief, you may not need to say anything at all. Instead, juggle your schedule and make up missing work on the weekend or evenings. However, if something catastrophic arises and you or someone you love lands in the hospital, for example, be realistic about how long you can be away before returning to your work.

Most employers and clients will understand when you explain about a dire family situation. However, eventually work must continue and if you aren't the one to continue the work, make that clear as early on as possible. Your honesty will be appreciated and respected, even if you ultimately lose the work.

Building Your Track Record

Your track record as a worker will come into play during those times when the unexpected arises. Working from home makes your personal and professional reputation more important than ever, so always work on building a reputation you can call into play when life throws you a curve ball.

If you are known as a steady, reliable worker who would never otherwise abuse your work-at-home status, you can lean on that when the time comes to talk to clients and employers about how you can reasonably handle the unexpected, when you expect to have it all wrapped up and how the work will be affected.

As a work at home mom, your natural inclination may be to drop everything and deal with emergencies, but don't forget that if you've build a solid reputation for yourself, your work doesn't necessarily have to suffer, even if you do have to put it on hold.

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