Working from Home: the Whole Truth
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.
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!)
Pros and Cons of Working From home
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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About the Author
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.