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This book is about the American Dream, and more. It is about the dream that you have secretly held onto, waiting for the right opportunity. It is about making the decision to go down the other path—the one that is yours alone. It is about taking stock of all your education, training and experience and realizing that it's time to live your life—your way and on your terms.

In our professional careers, both of the authors of this book have been commuters on trains, subways, highways, and airplanes. We know about standing on train platforms in sub-zero temperatures, and wondering how a minute could take so unbelievably long. We have fought our way on to overcrowded subway cars in sweltering heat and felt way too close to the person next to us. We've sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic with the gas gauge near empty and with no way to call in late for work.

What makes us so special? Nothing at all. We work, run a household, and raise kids just like everybody else. There is one exception—we do it all from home. We're living our lives—on site. Gone are the crazy commute and long hours away from our loved ones, pets, and home. These days our commute takes all of 60 seconds, the time it takes to walk from one room into another. Do we still work hard? Sometimes it feels as if we've never worked harder. Would we trade it all in and head back into the office? No chance.

Change can be unnerving. Change means traveling down an unchartered course, destination unknown. Remaining where you are and doing what you have always done means that at least you know where you are and what you can expect—more of the same. But if you're holding this book in your hands, you are thinking about change. You're thinking about expanding your life out to all its proportions and exciting possibilities.

Here are the authors' two stories of giving up the rat race for a commute from bedroom to desk—in about 60 seconds flat.

About Erica

No one told me that if I became a writer and book editor that one day it would be a lucrative way to make money working from home. In fact, though it would take a team of wild horses to get me to reveal my age (and I'd lie anyway), back when I graduated from college, no one worked from home. You just never heard about it. There was no e-mail. Faxes were a modern new invention, but other than freelance artists or the struggling novelist, no one had a home office. We all accepted that the daily grind was part of work. The idea that someone could wake up, put on a pot of coffee in his or her apartment or house, and walk in a bathrobe over to a desk with all the latest technology, and actually earn a living at it, was crazy. Unheard of.

I took a job in the publishing world and worked in an office, under ugly lights, overheated in winter in New York, and under-air-conditioned in summer swelter. By the time I had my first child, an opportunity came along for me to write articles for a newspaper freelance—from home. Technology had changed. Get paid to write from home, now we were talking. This was something I could really get used to. I don't think I've ever looked back.

For me, it was always about my kids. I didn't need a corner office and a plaque on my door to tell me who I was. My family will tell you I was weird (I prefer eccentric) all along—even as a kid. Maybe it was only natural that once I figured out that a 60-second commute was a possibility, I jumped at the chance. I never could make it to the office at nine o'clock anyway. I was always the woman putting on her pantyhose in her car on the freeway, stuck in traffic. The one putting her mascara on using the rearview mirror. Yeah, that was me.

By my second child, I had a modest business going editing books and making about $50,000 a year. Not bad, considering I didn't have to wear pantyhose, and I also never had to miss a first step of my son or a school play of my daughter. As much as I was enjoying being home with my kids full-time, another thought crossed my mind: Even if I didn't have kids, if they magically were 18 tomorrow and flew the coop, I would never, ever, ever want to work in an office again. My freedom was too important to me.

By my third child, my modest business had tripled. Not only was I commuting in my jeans and a T-shirt, I was making more money than many of the people taking the train to work, rising at dawn just to make it to their desks at nine o'clock. And wherever I went—cocktail parties, doctors' offices, the park—if people asked what I did, and I said I was a writer and editor and worked from home, men and women alike would become fascinated. This 60-second commute, as scary, exhilarating, and chaotic as it might be at times, was something many people apparently wanted to do. They asked questions. A lot of questions. So many questions that I realized I would need a book to explain it all. How to do it, well and happily, how to juggle, how to deal with taxes and lawyers, and incoming calls when the dog is barking and you can't concentrate. All the nitty-gritty about working from home. Including getting to your desk in 60 seconds—on a slow day.

About Kathy

I went to school for a long time and accumulated quite a few degrees. After years of clinical work as a school psychologist, family therapist, and clinical supervisor, I opened my own practice. It was my life's dream—or so I thought. I found a charming office and threw a grand-opening party. But in spite of the beautiful and cozy office with piped-in music and my own coffee pot, I was isolated and bored. At the end of the day I felt drained and empty. I kept hearing singer Peggy Lee in my head, “Is that all there is?”

I always imagined that later in my career I would work from home and write. I had this idea that working from home was for those who were winding down from a stellar career, certainly not starting one. That point of view was flipped on its head with one single phone call. In just seven days, my husband and I would become the parents of a six-month-old boy from Vietnam. There wasn't even a diaper no less a crib in our home. The arrival of my son was a defining moment in my life. I knew at that moment exactly what I wanted. I wanted to work from home and raise my son.

I left private practice and opened a small publishing company from my house. A lot of people shook their heads and thought I was nuts. They believed I was tossing all those clinical years out the window. That's not how I saw it. I saw it as a fantastic opportunity to take my training and experience and turn it into something that was tailor-made to suit my life. I was still a psychologist—that hadn't changed. I was dying in that private practice, but now I felt liberated.

The road into publishing was filled with wild highs and nail-biting lows. One of the first books I published was my own, First Aid for Tantrums. When the media noticed the book, the phone started ringing. I was flown to New York to appear on Good Morning America and MSNBC. I went nose-to-nose with the feisty Bill O'Reilly who admitted on television that he drove all those nuns crazy back in parochial school. I survived Sally Jesse Raphael's raucous audience and was invited back two more times. I crossed the country doing a weeklong national book tour, being escorted from television studio to radio station to newspaper reporter. It was a thrill to meet new people in all these cities.

The work was hard and the deadlines were stressful but I loved publishing from a home office. There are moments I will never forget—like the time my son danced naked on the front lawn while I was doing a live radio interview or the day when I first saw my book printed in another language.

As high as I soared as an author, I struggled as a publisher. My small publishing company just couldn't compete against the giants. The failure nearly shattered my confidence to say nothing of the gaping whole it put in my family's bank account. It was not an easy time.

Everybody loves 20/20 hindsight. When I look back, I can see where the mistakes were made. Some were caused by a national distributor whose business ethics were less than honorable. My accountant and lawyer urged me to pursue legal avenues, but the till was empty. The other mistakes were mine. I entered publishing with little experience and without a business plan. I thought I was bright enough to figure it all out. These are classic mistakes for anyone starting a new business.

Bruised and beaten—you bet. Then why didn't I tattoo a big “L” on my head for loser? The way I see it in life there are choices to make: You can either move forward when you stumble or hide under the bed. I made a decision to be a small publisher and it didn't work out. People fail every day. I made the decision to move on.

How did I succeed if I failed? I succeeded because during my years as a small publisher, I learned every aspect of the business from developmental editing to designing book covers. Sure, I learned the hard way, but I did learn. I found out that there were aspects of publishing that I was pretty good at, such as writing and appearing on television. I took those skills and freelanced myself out to other publishers—all from my home office. The best part is that I haven't missed a minute with my children, and I am writing my own books again.

Today, I am not only a psychologist but also an author and a public speaker. My home office gives me the freedom to raise my children, run my household, care for my mom who now lives with us, and boost my family's income. I like how that success feels to me.

About the 60-Second Commute

The 60-Second Commute is your guide to setting up and beginning your home office. It is designed to provide ideas, answer questions, and offer guidance and information every step of the way. Whether you are a telecommuter, moonlighter, consultant, or business owner, there is something in this book for you. The book is based on the combined twenty-two years of experience from authors Erica Orloff and Kathy Levinson, Ph.D.

How This Book is Laid Out

The 60-Second Commute consists of 15 chapters, 4 appendices, and a glossary. Each chapter is filled with practical and useful information that will show you how to get started in a home office. From setting up your home office to finding childcare and filing your taxes, you'll find that this book has left no stone unturned.

  • Chapter 1: Next Stop—Home

    Did you know that nearly 60 million people work from a home office at least one day a week? There's a buzz out there, and it's making its way across the country—work from home, pursue your passion, and take hold of your life. Find out who started at their kitchen table and are enjoying amazing success today. Take our quiz and learn if working from home is for you. Discover why those who work from a home office have no plans to commute ever again.

  • Chapter 2: Creating Space for Your 60-Second Commute

    Creating space for your home office is an essential first step. Whether your home is a cottage, apartment, boat, or a house, you will need to create a space to work. In this chapter, we discuss how to set up your work space in a way that works best for you.

  • Chapter 3: Technology: 60-Second Commute Essentials

    All home office professionals need equipment. This chapter covers it all, from computers to fax machines, and provides reader-friendly descriptions of such topics as DSL lines, cable modems, and ISDN. If you're not sure what you need in your home office or how to set it all up, this chapter will answer your questions.

  • Chapter 4: The 24/7 Lifestyle: Time Management in the Home Office

    Time, the one thing we all seem to need more of but aren't sure how to get it. This chapter describes how to maximize your time, avoid interruptions, and improve your overall productivity.

  • Chapter 5: Organization: How to Get Your Act Together

    Nothing can foul up a dream faster than disorganization. The chapter starts off with confessions of two disorganized women and describes some of the pitiful mistakes Erica and Kathy have made along the way. It's followed by a quiz to see how organized you really are. Next you'll find a step-by-step guide for getting organized, as well as tips for managing the invasions of those little people in your home.

  • Chapter 6: Professionalism in the Home Office

    This chapter will help you to put your best professional face on while working from a home office. Whether you are telecommuter or a small business owner, you don't want to lose credibility by appearing less than professional. This chapter covers stationary and business cards, brochures, telephone systems, and constructing eye-catching websites.

  • Chapter 7: Get the Ball Rolling: Business & Budget Plans

    Once you make the decision to start a home business, it is time to roll up your sleeves and tend to the business of planning and becoming legitimate. This chapter provides a detailed description of legal structures and business plans. We will discuss how to name and register your business name, incorporate your business, register a website, and determine your start-up costs. There is a detailed checklist and worksheet designed to get you on your way to success.

  • Chapter 8: Taxes: Don't Get Caught Asleep at the Wheel

    We take the fear out of taxes by providing a step-by-step guide of what you need to know about taxes, from how to pick your accountant to the latest in software programs. This chapter covers accounting methods, home office deductions, quarterly taxes, and how you can fly below the IRS's radar and stay clear of trouble.

  • Chapter 9: Legal Eagles: Understanding Your Business and the Law

    Beginning a business from home is exciting and for many, a life long dream. Learn how to establish your business correctly from the start so that you can reap the rewards later on. This chapter covers how to hire a lawyer, apply for licenses and permits, apply for patents and copyrights, and protect your trade secrets.

  • Chapter 10: Insurance in the Home Office

    If you are starting your own business, you may want health insurance and life insurance. This chapter describes your health insurance options, COBRA, as well as other insurance options. Learn how to make wise insurance decisions and where to go for more information.

  • Chapter 11: Pink Slip Blues

    You had a hunch that it could happen to you—and then it did. Being handed your pink slip and losing your job can be a frightening and unsettling experience. Learn what steps to take before you lose your job and what to do if you are laid off. Find out how to start over, avoid scams, and pursue what you really want to do.

  • Chapter 12: Child Care: Life on the High Wire

    Child care is an essential part of the home office pie. In this chapter, we discuss the many choices available, from babysitters to au pairs, and how to pick the right person to look after your children.

  • Chapter 13: Strategies for Hanging in When the Going Gets Tough

    Business, as in life, has its highs and lows. There are days, even months, when nothing seems to be going well. In this chapter, we discuss how to recharge your batteries when you're feeling rundown and beat those occasional feelings of isolation. Find out about the top-ten things you can do when your business is in danger of failing and how you can turn it around.

  • Chapter 14: Telecommuting Proposals: Getting into the Home Office

    More and more companies are offering telecommuting programs to their employees. Often the decision of who gets to work from home is left up to managers. If you would like your boss to give you a 60-second commute, turn to this chapter to find out how to write a telecommuter proposal.

  • Chapter 15: Marketing Yourself and Your Small Business

    Whether you are a telecommuter who needs to network your contacts or a business owner who needs to get off the ground, you'll need to market yourself. This chapter is full of networking and marketing ideas that teach you how to seize opportunities, think outside the box, and go outside your comfort zone.


At the back of The 60-Second Commute, we include four appendices filled with contact and website information for government resources, organizations, associations, start-up assistance, and best websites.

  • Appendix A—Government Resources: In this appendix, you will find contact information for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Copyright Office, and more.

  • Appendix B—Organizations and Associations: In this appendix, you will find contact information for many of the useful organizations and associations that provide helpful information, newsletters, online resources, expert guidance, products and services.

  • Appendix C—Start-up Assistance: There are many resources available to help you on your way to successfully running a home office. This appendix will provide you with contact and website information regarding office supplies, sample business plans and forms, and more.

  • Appendix D—Web Hot Spots: This appendix lists some of the valuable websites we have discovered while doing research for The 60-Second Commute.

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