People tell me daily “You are so lucky that you get to work from home! I wish I had that luxury!” I agree, it has its perks, but it also has its downfalls and after seven years working from home, I have learned a few lessons that I want to share with you!
Save money. I estimated that between gas and parking downtown, I saved about $400 every month-WHOA, that's a lot! Not only that, but I found myself eating out less, and my insurance went down because I wasn’t parking my car downtown every day!
Save time on commuting. Depending on your commute this could be anywhere between 30 minutes-2+ hours daily (bless your heart if your commute is over 2 hours.) When I worked downtown, my commute was about an hour each way. When you think about it, you can get A LOT done in 2 hours a day… that adds up to 40 hours a month…. an entire work-week EVERY month just spent driving! That’s a lot of time that could be spent with your family, at the gym, cleaning, working… I can think of about a zillion ways to spend that time saved!
Distractions. You think there will be fewer distractions. There aren’t; they are just different. Instead of coworkers coming over to chit-chat, your mom will call you midday to talk to you for 30 minutes about the raccoon in her yard that keeps eating the cat food. Instead of getting distracted at the water-cooler, you will get up for a drink of water–then decide to swap out the laundry, and then when you go to put your glass in the dishwasher, you realize it's clean, so you empty the dishwasher and reload it and before you know it, its 3 hours later and you still haven’t sat back down at your desk.
It’s Lonely! I am a bit of an introvert, an only child, and until this past year, I have always lived alone with my son. I enjoy alone time, and I’m used to it. So the loneliness was not something that I expected, but man-oh-man, when you realize that the only human contact you have had for days is the sporadic email and you go to the grocery store just to have a conversation with the checker, you know that something has got to change!
Some days I don’t shower. There. I said it, and I’m not proud of it! One of my goals this year is to shower before noon each day. I know that sounds weird, but its so easy when you know that nobody is going to see you to throw your hair in a top-knot and wear your boyfriends oversized sweatshirt all day, which doesn’t sound so bad until you realize that you smell so terrible that the dog won’t even stay in the office with you.
HERE ARE MY TOP 5 TIPS FOR MAKING IT WORK-WORKING FROM HOME.
The most significant game changer for me was setting “work hours.” I used to go meet friends for lunch, go grocery shopping mid-day, etc., but I found that when I got back, I had a hard time getting back into “work mode.” My team is on Eastern Standard Time, and I live in Portland, so my work day is usually from 5am-2 or 3 pm. It is unusual for me to schedule anything personal during these hours. With the exception of getting up to make lunch or take my dog, Phoebe, outside. It is rare that I get up from my computer during those hours.
Set a schedule to get out of the house!
This goes hand in hand with making a schedule for working, but I find when I have social events to look forward to, it makes a world of difference in my mood. I have a standing Wednesday afternoon coffee date with a good friend (she also happens to be my “get healthy” accountability partner this year). I go out to dinner about twice a week - Usually once during the week and once on the weekends. We try to plan these so that we are going out for enjoyment, not convenience, but its fun to find new places and I love the anticipation of date-night. I go to the gym. Yes, I could work out at home, but I look forward to the change of scenery and being around other people who are motivated and working on their goals. The point is find a few things that you can do to get yourself out of the house or you WILL go stir-crazy!
Find an accountability partner.
I cannot stress enough how important this is! SOME of us are self-starters… some are not, I personally fall somewhere in the middle. Some days I feel motivated to take on the world, other days I want to binge-watch “Friends” all day long. Having that person that you talk to regularly about progress, status, projects, etc. helps keep the motivation up. Kristy is that person for me.
Set clear boundaries.
My family knows that I am working when I am in my office. They will come in and say goodbye to me when they leave for work and school, but they aren’t coming in bothering me asking whats for dinner, where their grey sweater is at, asking for me to cook breakfast, etc. They respect my work hours, and in return, I make a considerable effort not to be distracted by emails, texts, Facebook, etc. in the evening when we have family time. My mom and friends also understand that during those hours, I am not free to talk on the phone or meet up for lunch (most of the time). I work hard when I work, and I give myself permission to check out from work and be present for my friends and family when I am done working for the day. Some days I like to wrap up a few things later in the evening after we have had our family time and while Patrick watches his shows, but I try to be very cognizant about not letting work take over all of our personal time. It is easy to do when you are a business owner and working from home. Sometimes it seems like I will never catch up on work, but I have learned to be okay with coming to a good stopping point and prioritizing my relationships too!
Don’t forget to shower! (and other self care!)
Seriously, Don’t be me. You will feel better and function better if you get up, take a shower and get dressed in clean clothes. I promise. I feel like a different person when I do. I don’t know what it is, I think its a combination of the hot water waking you up, feeling refreshed for a new day and something psychological about feeling pulled together instead of looking a hot mess. Plus, I found that when I don’t bother to do my makeup and hair, I am less likely to leave the house and be social, which just sends me into a crabby mood and it's a vicious circle.
Good luck working from home and drop in the comments if you have additional tips to add!