5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Working from Home
It's not just sleeping in and coffee shops.
When I first quit my job to pursue writing I had a particular fantasy that would play in my head. I would be sitting at a local coffee shop typing away while becoming the next J.K. Rowling. In my head, I thought I would only have to work a few hours a day and get to spend more time with family. It seemed like an absolute dream come true. While working from home does have amazing rewards, it definitely was nothing like what I imagined.
It took me a while to form a routine that fit best for me and my situation. Thinking back I know it would have been nice to have someone tell me a few things before I had started this journey. At the end of the day, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do what I love. If you are just starting out or have thoughts of quitting your 9-5 for a profession from home, I would highly suggest reading this before jumping in. Keep in mind, if you want to follow your dream than I encourage you to do so! There is no such thing as a risk-free dream.
Your hours are going to double.
I was always under the impression that working from home meant I would get whatever day I wanted off and vacations happened whenever I wanted. Not only is this completely false, but you are probably going to be working more than you had before. At first, I was putting in so many hours that I never really had a day off. Now I have scheduled my days properly, so I still get weekends off, but I put 11-12 hours of work in each day.
No matter what profession you are going for, it is harder going at it alone. You are the creator, marketer, adviser, and finance guru all in one. The great thing about this is that you get to make every decision along the way. I love being my own boss, but I would be lying if I said it was easy. I cannot stress enough to anyone working for themselves that you must schedule your day as detailed as possible.
Each Sunday I have a generic outline of what each day will look like, so I have a game plan. Once the day actually comes, I will make a detailed schedule for each hour so that I stay on track throughout the day. This will be your best friend when you first start off. Too many people give up quickly because they overwork themselves. Force yourself to get everything you need to be done within 4-5 days so that you can take a weekend off like you would a regular job. Trust me, your sanity will thank you.
Your passion is a small percentage.
I chose writing as a career. It has been a dream of mine since I was eight years old to be a writer. While I love doing this, it usually takes up a mere 10 percent of my entire week. Most of my time goes to promoting my work, reaching out to companies and brands for projects, and keeping content moving consistently through all my social networks. Knowing this when I first started would have saved me a lot of heartaches. In the beginning, I would write an article and post it to Facebook with no results.
Whatever career you choose, be aware that you are wearing multiple hats as well as creator. Nowadays you can't just create a piece and expect people to flock to you. For every one article I create, I usually have 10 other things I have to do. Make sure to keep this in mind when you are scheduling out your week. Remember, consistency is critical. If you are using social media to promote you have to be continuously engaged to maintain followers.
If you don't socialize, you'll lose it.
For me, working at home seemed like a smooth transition. I was already a homebody and didn't like to go out much. While I do enjoy socializing, I enjoy my bed more. After days and weeks of staying at home, I started feeling depressed and anxious constantly. What was happening to me? Cabin fever is a real thing, and it can be detrimental to stay-at-home workers. For every hour you work you should be getting up and moving. This could mean walking around your house or going to get a coffee. Trust me when I say, your sanity is a lot more fragile than you realize.
One main thing I noticed after days of only talking to myself was that I wasn't interacting like I usually did. The first time I went to get a coffee, the barista sparked up a conversation. I awkwardly shuffled through it, and I could tell the barista felt weird by the end of the talk. Your social skills are like a muscle; if you stop using them, they become weak. Being a server for several years helped me build my skills, but only one week by myself ruined everything I knew.
My suggestion is to talk to someone at least once a day. You could ask your friend for lunch, spark up a conversation with a cashier, or call your mom for a chat. I even have a small job I work a few hours each week to keep me around people. Staring silently at a computer screen for hours can do weird things to our minds. If you don't balance it out, you will find yourself talking with a barista like you had never seen a human in your entire life.
Separate your home from your job.
I used to write all of my articles on my bed (and I still do this occasionally). When I went to bed, I found myself having a struggle turning work off. I also found it extremely difficult to focus while sitting in my bedroom with the TV slowly going off in the background. Did I do that load of laundry? Do dishes need to be done? When you work from home, it can be hard to separate your profession from your personal life.
If you follow any tip, it should be this. Create a space that is for work and only that. When you go into this space, you are officially in your work hours. Once you leave, you have left work for the day. Sitting on your bed with pajamas is a fun fantasy, but it will turn ugly pretty quick. Just like an office job, you don't want to take work 'home' with you. Having this divider makes it easier to enjoy your time with family while helping you focus when you need to. Your dishes can wait till after work.
With this, I would also suggest dressing for your job. Changing out of pajamas helps our minds wake up and realize it is time to be productive. This doesn't mean you have to wear formal business attire, but you should change out of what you sleep in. To be honest, my work attire usually consists of yoga pants and a sweater. It still feels different for me because I did take the time to get ready for the day ahead.
Give your eyes and mind a break.
You have to take five minutes for yourself before you explode. Occasionally I will become so focused on a project that I don't turn my head away from the computer screen for hours at a time. This is not healthy for your eyes or your mind. Most of us who work from home end up staring at a computer most of the day. If this is you, keep the 20 to 5 rule at all times. This means, for every 20 minutes of staring at a screen you take a five minute break. This gives your eyes a rest from the artificial lights and boosts brain power.
I have noticed that working from home was making me extremely fatigued. It took me a while to realize it was because of all the effort I was putting into my work. Without that little five minute break, I was slowly wearing down my eyesight. This causes strain that leads to headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and possibly depression. You have to make sure you are putting yourself first when it comes to health. This might prolong your day, but it will be worth it (promise).
All of this should not be scaring you away. It might seem complicated and impossible to do, but it is so incredibly worth it. I can say without a doubt that I am happier now than I have ever been. It is a fantastic feeling to wake up each day and conquer your dreams. If you are thinking of taking the plunge, I would recommend doing so. I don't know anyone who has ever regretted following their passion. If you did find this article useful or enjoy my work your tips are always appreciated. You are the main reason I am able to do what I love, and I am so grateful every day for this support.