The decision to work at home is never an easy one. There is a certain amount of security associated with working in an office. You report to a supervisor who provides you with tasks to complete and a schedule to follow, co-workers offer you a support network (both personally and professionally), and you can leave your job behind each day when you go home to your family. And while working from home offers you unparalleled flexibility to work around the schedule of your family and take time off when you need to, it can still be a little scary to become solely responsible for drumming up the business that will pay your bills and managing splitting family and work time without blurring the lines to the point that you feel like you’re always on the clock. However, there are an absolute plethora of online resources for women such as you that will shoulder some of your burden and help to make your life more manageable.

1. Freelance work sites. If you offer web-based services like writing, graphic design, marketing, data entry, or other, you may be interested to know that there are more professional (and reliable) ways to secure work than by scouring Craig’s List. Websites like Elance and ODesk allow you to create a profile and get to work by applying for corporate postings. Of course, once you get a few kudos under your belt, they will start soliciting you.

2. To-do list managers. If you just can’t seem to get on top of your to-do list (or lists), consider downloading one of the many free management programs that will allow you to add, edit, and check off entries (as well as charting your progress) from your home computer or cell phone. Remember the Milk (RTM) is one for your desktop that not only gets you organized, but allows you to interact with other apps like your calendar, email, and even Twitter. And for your iPhone (practically a business necessity), Dobot offers simple, user-friendly functionality for free, while Todo is like having a day-planner (that links to some desktop programs) in the palm of your hand (for a modest $9.99). See iTunes to download.

3. Workflow managers. Although to-do list managers are a great resource for simple listing activities, you may require something a little more robust for your business (for example, a program that clients or sub-contractors can visit to check up on milestones of get assignments). To that end, you can look into programs like Basecamp, which offers a free trial and pay-as-you-go services, and Sugar CRM, which is slightly more expensive, but delivers a much broader array of complex management and tracking tools.

4. Online shopping. We currently enjoy a culture of online buying that allows you to get everything you need delivered directly to your doorstep, from house-wares to clothing items to prescription medication. And the best one yet is online grocery-buying (which is now available at many chains). Safeway, Vons, Ralph’s, and many others will allow you to order your weekly wares through their web portal and pay by credit. Then you can either schedule a pick-up at your convenience or have your groceries delivered (for a fee). Simply go to the Safeway website, sign up for service, and start shopping!

5. Forums. Every work-at-home-mom is going to need help at some point, whether that means having a sounding board, seeking information, or getting advice (for matters both personal and business-related). Forums can be an excellent online resource to connect with peer groups in the arenas of motherhood, business, time-management, or any number of side interests (gardening, cooking, budgeting, etc.). You can sure try to do it all on your own, but having a sympathetic ear or an outside opinion can mean the difference between pulling your hair out in frustration or saving time and finding the help you need.

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