After ten years of working in a busy office, I am now working from home as a freelance writer. I loved office life. I liked the random visits with co-workers who wandered by my desk and stayed to chat for a while. I enjoyed crossing paths with good friends in the hallways and the constant interaction with people that was an important part of my job. I remember watching the resident handy-man install windows in all of the office doors for safety and protection issues. I also recall the same man creating small window coverings for each of us so that we could have the privacy to get some work done!
The switch from working “out there” to working at home has been an interesting journey for me and for so many others who are now following this trend. It is a cultural adjustment in many ways.
- You are free to dress comfortably.
- Snacks are available and you do not need to insert money in a vending machine for them.
- You can set your own schedule.
- Your dog can snuggle next to you while you work.
- You are your boss. Sort of.
- Sweat pants as a daily uniform can become depressing.
- Snacking can be distracting and mess up your computer keys.
- If you do not set a schedule you will find yourself circling the house with a lost look on your face and mumbling to yourself.
- The dog wants to go out and then back and then out again.
- Your boss might be more like Michael Scott from “The Office” than you ever realized.
Working at home is hard. It is much more difficult than I had imagined it would be. I miss people. I want to walk down the hall to another office and consult a co-worker with my questions and talk about my struggles to do a certain project. I even miss office meetings! My self-discipline to stay on-task has been a disappointment. I have wasted more days and weeks than I care to admit.
I have been working exclusively from my home for two years and some important lessons and tips have been learned. Some were picked up the hard way, through failed experiments, and other lessons were obvious and easy to insert into my daily life. Our mindset must be altered as we approach each day. We need to “trick” ourselves into seeing our stay-at-home job as a real job. It is not a hobby, it is a job that hopefully is or will become a paying source of income for you.
- Set up a clear work schedule. Choose a start time and a stop time and stick to it. This is huge! It will make all the difference in the world to your day and ability to concentrate when you need to focus.
- Get dressed! Do not stay in pajamas just because you can. How you feel about yourself will affect how you work. Pajamas lead to comfy thoughts and snuggles with the dog, not work.
- If you work on a computer, be sure to get up and out often. I drink lots of water while I am writing because it forces me to up get often for the bathroom and to stretch.
- Connect online with others in your same type of work. This is so valuable! You will find friends online that will help keep you accountable and will cheer you on when needed.
- Take a day or two off every week. People who work at home tend to be working all the time because there is no way to “leave your work at the office.” This leads to burnout. The only way to truly relax is if you set aside a designated time of permission to do so.
Working from home is a wonderful way to make a living or to just supplement your household income. I am happy to be a freelance writer working from home. But I am constantly re-learning these lessons and reminding myself how important they are. Please feel free to add any lessons you have learned in the comments below. Thanks! Susie
Photo: Susie Klein