Working from Home: the Whole Truth

December 30, 2014

Before I started working from home, I felt like it was my goal. The best thing that could ever happen to someone like me, theultimate freedom. This was before I actually started working from home and changed my mind about the matter entirely.
Working from home is not rainbows all the time: it requires a lot more self-discipline than what you were used to working in an office.
Working from home often means working for yourself, as a solo entrepreneur. If that’s the case, you need my working from home tips more than anyone else.

Working from home tips

My Life Before I Started Working from Home

I have always had a very “active” job. I have never worked at a desk, I’ve never had a temporary office job or a secretary job, even when I was younger. I have always preferred jobs that involved walking, talking, interacting with people. I have worked as a waitress, a barmaid, a shop assistant, a warehouse worker, a wardrobe assistant, a wardrobe buyer, a costume designer, a costume designer assistant.
As you can see, all these jobs have a recurring scheme: you’re not allowed to sit down not even for a minute. All these jobs made me run for 4, 6, 8 or even 12 hours a day, having a break just for a quick bite.
I could never browse Facebook while working or getting distracted not even for a second. All my jobs required a high level of attention.
Can you guess what happened when I landed my first work from home job? 

I thought it was amazing – “Wow I’m getting paid to sit in my pajama with a cat purring on my lap!” or “I can work whenever I want, wherever I want, even from my bed at 9 PM!” or again “I can spend the weekend over at my boyfriend’s, it’s ok I can finish work on Saturday morning and then get the rest of the weekend for us”.

“Set defined time for everything. Don’t fall into the “I can work whenever I want” trap because it will easily turn into “work at every damn hour”. “

Expectations VS Reality

As you can easily guess, things didn’t go as I expected. I worked in my pajama with a cat sound asleep on my lap indeed. I worked at my boyfriend’s place but not just on Saturday mornings. It was more like hours scattered all over the weekend. I worked whenever, wherever, even from my bed at 9 PM. Just not when I wanted. Because working 24 hours a day wasn’t what I wanted for sure.

What was happening? Why wasn’t working from home that idyllic scenario I had pictured in my mind?

Well, I wasn’t working for myself to begin with. I was working for a company as a copywriter and I had to churn out at least 3 content posts a day. For a short period of time, I also had to manage a couple of social medias (I eventually gave this one up pretty soon because I had too much stuff on my hands).
I was working with an American company, so I also had the time zones against me. Their work day started at my 3PM and ended at my 11PM. That means that when I was almost done with my work day, there was still a 6 hours frame where I could be contacted. So in my mind I was never really off-duty.

“Do something, anything, as long as it’s out of the house.”

So yes, I was working from home. Yes, it was a freelance gig I got through my very own blog. But in reality, it was a full-time job. And it felt like a cage.
I have left the job after 8 months; I’m happily committed to my own blog full-time now, and I’m setting up my own business. Of course, I don’t have deadlines if not the ones that I set for myself. But remember, with more power come more responsibilities. So read on for some working from home tips (trust me, I know very well what this is all about!)

Working from home tips

 

Pros and Cons of Working From home

Pros:

  • I work in my pajama more often than I am comfortable to admit.
  • I can wake up at 11 AM and work at night if I want to.
  • I don’t care if it’s Tuesday and I want to spend a day at the beach. I’ll go, and eventually catch up on the weekend.
  • I don’t have to spend money on my commute.
  • I don’t have to spend precious time on my commute.
  • I can go to my yoga lessons in the morning if I want to. In fact, I haven’t missed one since I’ve started working from home.

Cons:

  • I feel lousy most of my week, as I rarely come out of my pajama.
  • I have to set my “dead time” myself. I can’t listen to audiobooks, read, play while on the bus. I don’t catch busses.
  • I had to buy an iMac because my sweet 13″ Macbook was making me blind.
  • I work in my bedroom at the moment and it’s not good for your mindset.
  • It’s hard to set an “off time”. When you decide when you work, you can get overwhelmed very easily (burn out, hu-ho!)
  • I am a Gemini and I suffer from not having people around sometimes.

Tips&Tricks for Working from Home

So, how to make the best out of your day? How to work from home while keeping your sanity? Easy, you must follow some rules. I’m sorry if your dream of working from home was like mine, but you actually need rules.

  • Discipline. You need a strong discipline as there will be no one imposing rules on you. You need to both set and respect the rules. Do you think this is easy? It’s not!
  • Set defined time period for everything. Don’t fall into the “I can work whenever I want” trap because it will easily turn into “work at every damn hour”. Trust me on this one. Keep a work schedule and stick to it. Work from 9AM to 1PM, and then from 3PM to 5PM or 6PM (Yes, I’m a fan of a short work day, and long lunch break ;D)
    It’s important to set some time aside for rest, especially on holiday season. Have you really had Christmas holidays? Would you want to spend next year’s holidays like this year?
  • Get yourself a timer app. This will help you managing your time for real. This method is inspired to the Pomodoro technique, that states you have to get a set amount of time to rest after a period of work.
    You need to try what timing works best for you. For me, it was 45 minutes work, 15 minutes rest. Just type “pomodoro” or “focus time” in your Itunes store or Playstore and you’ll find a dozen apps you can use.
    Why does this work? In those 45 minutes you are super focused because you know you’ll soon have your 15 minutes to rest. No need to dilly dally around while you’re working. You have your 15 minutes to be lazy.

Working from home tips

  • Put some clothes on. No, really. Put on some proper clothes. First thing first, if the mail carrier rings the bell with your Amazon shopping you won’t look like you just rolled out of bed.
    Second, you’ll feel like a human being. Which is a matter of no small consideration.
  • Be clear with housemates. Whether you live with your parents, roommates or husband, you need to be clear with them. You are working, it’s not ok for them to hang around and ask you to help them with the laundry, or to talk loudly on the phone in your room (or just outside your door after you told them nicely to get out of the room. Yes, this happened to me. As if a thin wooden layer would be enough to stop me from hearing you and getting distracted!)
  • Get a proper working station if you can. If you have a spare room, use it as your office. Try not to work in your bedroom because it will make it difficult to tell working time from off time. It’s all about mindset: you’ll be more focused and you will get more done in less time if you are in a “office environment”.
    Also, get a comfortable chair, desk and computer. Don’t make my mistake: I have worked 8 hours a day for 8 months on a 13″ Macbook. Things were slightly better when I got a Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad, but it was still too small. In the end, I got myself a 21″ iMac. Waaaay better.
  • Get out of the house. Seriously sister, get out of that hole. Get some sun on your skin, take a walk, go buy some fresh fruit. Have a coffee with a friend, check out new books at your local bookshop.
    Do something, anything, as long as it’s out of the house. (I’m still refining this one as I happen to enjoy solitude in my spare time. I also love spending a lot of my free time meditating, and my sofa is the best place to do that for me so far. But hell, I’ll get out of this house more often in 2015, I swear!)

Do you work from home? How do you manage your work hours? Tell us if you like our suggestions and if you relate to our working-from-home issues! Leave a comment below and join the conversation.


 

It’s a pinnable:

Working from home tips and tricks

Elisa

About the Author

Elisa

Hi, it's Elisa! I'm founder&blogger here on styleBizarre.com, online wizard and costume designer in the "real life". I'm a modern conscious 28 years old wanderer, freedom lifestyle advocate and spiritual enthusiast. Oh, and I'm a total cat lady.

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roxannedsouza

Wow it’s like I needed to read this post. I sit in my pajama’s with my purring cat too while working in my room, every single day! I think the breaks are really necessary and I do need a lot of discipline, because there’s no higher authority to supervise me! And the internet is a place where you can get lost easily.
But in the midst of pinning pins on Pinterest, I always find the time to “play dress up” and experiment for my next outfit post and I even walk around in heels.
I’m going to try the timer now 🙂

xox
head2heels.co

Elisa

Ha Roxanne! If you’re a outfit post kind of blogger then you’re lucky! You can have fun and look good during your working hours 😀
I’d never go a work day without a purring cat. Never ever again. :3 (they should allow employees to bring cats at the office!)

The Dame Intl

Oh my gosh I totally relate to this post! I am actually lying down in bed typing this in a really weird position haha! I’m catching up on the day’s reading and I def. need to set working hours and actually get dressed, the problem is, the only comfy clothes I have are my pj’s haha! I have gotten good at getting out of the house now that I like a 7min walk from town and I have a desk downstairs but I get cold so I end up going back to bed to work where it’s warm and comfortable. Setting working hours is difficult for me as inspiration comes to me at all hours! Some days I cant face work, other days I work 10+ hours straight, one of the reasons I work for myself, because I need that flexibility in time. I set working hours with my clients so that they dont bug me at odd hours, but I might work on their stuff at 2am haha

    Elisa

    Lisa I agree with you, inspiration can come at all hours! More often than not, it comes when I’m not working. 😛 But I found that having a time where I just sit and do the work helps with the burnout. You know better than me that you can feel easily overwhelmed when you are working for yourself and from home. There’s just no separation between your working time/spaces and your free time moments/spaces. Be careful working from bed because it can be negative for your posture, back and neck! I always sit in weird positions, I always have. I ended up with a herniated disc in my neck, just from a wrong posture!
    Also, sitting at a desk makes you feel like a pro, doesn’t it? 😛

The Dame Intl

ps: cats in the office FTW 😀

sarywalrus

This is so interesting! I’ve only been at this for a couple weeks now but I feel I’m pretty good with working at home. Since I have really bad anxiety I already organise my life into routines and timezones in order to make it through the day, so setting strict rules was no problem.

My tips are: set specific times for working – mine are from nine thirty to around four thirty Monday to Friday, get dressed even if you’re not leaving the house and do not work on the weekend – I need time to reset, otherwise I won’t be able to focus. Oh, and never wake up and get straight to work!

    Elisa

    Ha the last one is a great tip! I always used to do this, how wrong I was! you know what you think, “I’ll stay in bed since I don’t even have to get dressed” and then you don’t even have time to eat your breakfast, you eat it in front of the computer! >< Great tips darling! You definitely sound like you have *your shit together* hahah kudos to you!

Delilah

Great post and since I have working from home for the last 14 years I can totally identify with just about every point. Working from home has been great, the flexibility you have is just awesome but on the flip side, in the last 14 years I really do miss…drumroll….people. I have kind of turned into a hermit of sorts but its a new year! 🙂

    Elisa

    Hi Delilah, thank you for your comment! Wow, 14 years is a lot of time! I already missed people after less than a year haha oh well. I hope you found a way to get out of the house often tho. If not, try to do it with the New Year! 2015 will be a year of great shifts 😀 Good luck :*

Jack

I love this post! It’s so nice to hear an honest opinion of working from home and not some glamorised (/glamourized – whichever you use) viewpoint. Thanks for the tips! I’ll keep them in mind! ;D

    Elisa

    Hahahhaha Jack, I don’t mince my words. Just try to have a shower every other day and working from home can do wonder for you! ;D

Batty

This is great advice for me since I am looking to freelance as a second job. I just wish I knew where to start applying for jobs. Also for the record I love this site I hadn’t seen it till now!

    Elisa

    Hi Batty! If you’re looking for some freelance work you could try listing your services on Fiverr (as a start, to spread the word about you) or on odesk.com. I also highly suggest you join some Facebook groups that are related to your niche. There are a lot of people looking for services on Fb groups! And once one person is happy with your work, s/he will keep suggesting you to whoever asks for your kind of service on fb groups! It’s an investment 😉

Jicsi

Such good points! I was talking to a friend not long ago about how cool it is that I get to work in my pjs all day but to be honest I always feel so much better if I actually get showered and dressed in the mornings! It prepares you for the day!!

I’m still struggling with the on time off time thing because I make jewellery which is what I used to do in my off time so the lines are kind of blurred now, I’ll figure it out though haha

    Elisa

    I know, right? I don’t put makeup on to sit in front of my computer, but I do my bed, get dressed and brush my hair every day 😛 There’s no way I’ll sit in my pj all day. It would definitely put me in the wrong mood, and my doorbell is constantly ringing, wether it’s the postman or my cousin who’s just dropping by to say hi, I live in a very central and trafficked area so I prefer getting ready every morning, just in case. And I always have perfect nail polish on cause I look at my hands every second (typing on your computer does that lol) so I would feel so cheap having chipped nail polish XD Thanks for your comment Jicsi <3

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