Getting Past the Pajama Mentality

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2009/11/getting-past-the-pajama-mentality/

bunny slippers

Freelancers are subject to many stereotypes. For example, most non-freelancing people feel that we have all the time in the world or that we spend a lot of time at Starbucks.

Ok, well, maybe that second one is true.

My favorite stereotype is the one about pajamas. I’m sure you see it all the time too. Ads that are focused towards folks who work at home inevitably mention jammies.  Our friends and neighbors direct envy in our direction because they think we don’t have to get out of our plaid flannels every day. I don’t know how this slovenly image of unshowered, be-jammied writers got started, but I absolutely don’t work in my pajamas each day.

I get that this whole “work in your pajamas” thing is supposed to portray some comfortable lifestyle, but to me it conveys unwashed and lazy. I mean, if you saw one of your neighbors in her pajamas day in and day out, you wouldn’t think “brilliant writer,” you’d be calling out “take a bath, lazybones” from across the fence.

Being in my pajamas is very comfortable but I don’t want to be that comfortable when I’m workng. For me to get in the proper frame of mind I have to be cleaned, clothed and ready to face the day. Pajamas = lounging in front of the TV while brushing the chip crumbs from your chest. Dressed = right frame of mind for work.

All joking aside, working at home does allow us a certain amount of comfort. For example, we can work in sweats or jeans rather than the requisite business casual. I like to separate work from relaxation, though. When you’re home all day, it can be difficult to get into that business frame of mind. It’s not easy for that to happen if I’m wearing a Snuggy and fuzzy bunny slippers.

I want to be taken seriously as a writer and blogger. That’s not going to happen if I don’t take my own business seriously. Getting changed everyday makes me feel like a professional, and that’s half the battle.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make a Starbucks run.

Comments

  1. It isn’t fair to classify those who work at home as those who work in their “jammies.” After all, a lot of self-employed people work in sweats, too.

  2. Thanks for writing this! Yes, I will admit that sometimes the shower comes AFTER the exercise and breakfast, but it IS included in the day. If I stayed in my jammies I would go right from bed to computer and that would make for a very unhappy writer.

    I think a large portion of those corporate people don’t give us enough credit for keeping ourselves motivated and inspired to stay productive all day. (I used to be one and thought the same way.) Not everyone can handle this lifestyle, just ask those who tele-commute one day a week. I guarantee they are up on the latest Oprah or SportsCenter highlights. Thanks for sticking up for us.

    Christine

  3. When we wrote Undress For Success–The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home, we specifically asked the publisher (Wiley) to not use the bunny slipper image on the cover. They did, but I have to say, I now have a love-hate relationship with their decision. On one hand, I think it’s great that telecommuters and freelancers who work from home can wear whatever they want to work. If bunny slippers are the icon for that, so be it. On the other hand, I realize that home-based work has suffered a bad rap because of the follow-on image that those pajama-clad workers are really at home watching TV and eating bon-bons.

    I’ve always felt that our culture’s emphasis on how you look and how you sound is incredibly prejudicial. I think a home based workforce is the great equalizer. No longer is it the loudest talker, or the tallest presence, or most put-together people that dominate the thought pool.

    Why don’t we forget about how people are dressed (or if they are) and focus on what they can do?

  4. I am one of those people who often work in what most would consider pajamas, but I do always shower before starting to work! I just find that sitting at a desk in jeans all day is extremely uncomfortable for me. I wear things that are more comfortable than that because if I am not worried about what I am wearing or how uncomfortable I am then I get so much more done in the day! I think that this is purely a personal preference, and I have things that I wear when working and then the lazy day lounge around the house PJ’s. I just can’t do the jeans and office chair all day every day thing. :)

  5. If you think work-at-home freelancers have an image problem in some sections, then consider being a home-based tech worker co-op member…

    How do you deal with this? Have you found a better approach than the ol’ “don’t ask, don’t tell” one?

  6. I LOVE Kate’s book– and not just because I’m in it :)

    My opinion on the pj/bunny slippers is that my clients just don’t care. I work for one publisher that has their freelance “pack” down to an absolute science. They handle freelance work SO WELL (heck, they even send my invoice TO ME to sign and send back!) that I discern that they have been doing this for so many years that they are sooo completely accustomed to working with freelancers that nothing phases them.

  7. Kori Ellis says:

    This is always a funny topic to me. I rarely “get dressed” to work. It doesn’t make me take my writing anymore serious or get me in any different frame of mind when I put on different clothes. So, I work in my pajamas/robe almost every single day. Sure, I take a shower and blowdry my hair… sometimes, I even put on lipstick and eyeliner for fun. However, I rarely put on “real clothes” unless I’m leaving the house or someone is coming over.

    If putting on clothes helps a writer be more structured and disciplined, then I’m all for it. However, clothes just don’t do it for me.. I have spreadsheets for that :)

    -Kori

  8. Yeah. And some of us work naked too. There was actually a study on the topic. Something like 30% of men say they work naked. I assume they were working from home. Sometimes the only reason I put pants on is so I’m not impaled by the cat’s nails.

    But seriously folks, what is the hang-up with what we wear while we work. I can practically feel my IQ go down when I pull a pair of pantyhose on. And what’s with neckties? Who decided a tourniquet around an executive’s brain-stem was a good idea? Okay, I get that working naked in public has it’s limitations, but why not make casual Friday last all week?

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