As I sit here typing my first post, reflecting on all the things no one told me about working from home, I gotta confess a couple things. First, I’m wearing the same thing right now that I wore to bed last night, I climbed right back into my pajamas after my shower. Second, I’m surrounded by unfinished projects so I’ll apologize in advance if this piece goes off the rails. Last, my coworker (aka: Allison Janney) is muted in the background so I can focus on writing for a few minutes.
I’ve been working from home for more than 10 years now, and whenever I tell people, they respond in one of two ways:
1) OMG that must be so amazing! 2) How on Earth do you do that?
Even though working from home is normal for me, it’s still challenging every day. There’s a lot I wish I FULLY grasped before accepting my first remote working gig. How many of these apply to your situation?
1. Routine ... There’s No Such Thing as Routine
Nearly every self-help piece out there will tell you that routine is the savior to getting organized and getting sh*t done. But, where’s the routine when you spend your entire week in the same space? When you sleep so close to where you work? And meetings must be done all over town in different coffee shops because meetings at home are unprofessional? Haha... there’s no routine.
2. Getting Ready for Work Doesn’t Always Happen
When my day consists of zero meetings outside of my home, you’ll most likely catch me “unready” for work. As in, I’ll most likely be wearing sweats or pajamas with my hair in a messy bun sans makeup. It isn’t worth the hassle, plus I can roll right out of bed and crack open my laptop in seconds. This is why my professional wardrobe from grad school hangs unworn in my closet and jeans are what I put on when I’m getting “dressed up”.
3. Household Chores are the Devil
When many of my friends who work traditional office jobs get the opportunity to work from home for a day, they often find themselves doing a lot of catching up on household chores. I’ve heard them explain with pride how much they were able to accomplish with that one extra day at home. But, when it’s your everyday office, those household chores are the devil that can keep you from being able to focus on the work that needs done. I hear the laundry (basket overflowing from the back room) shouting my name and the dishes (clean or dirty) begging for attention. There’s nowhere to escape their incessant calls. And as we talk about expanding our family of two, I have literally no idea how anyone can work from home with children. The interruptions, distractions and lack of privacy would crush my ability to work.
4. Coworkers Aren’t the Same (You Must Mean Chip & Jo Jo)
Silence is deafening and working from home is isolating. I miss the energy of traditional offices. So much activity and noise ... conversations happening all around. Some people turn on music. I like talking during my day, so I “binge watch” a lot of Netflix. It’s become my coworker. And, yes, I talk to the TV sometimes. It keeps me sane.
5. There’s No Support
Working remotely for a company, freelancing or any other work from home gigs has no support systems in place. It means I’m my own tech support, career advisor and admin. (I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time). It also means that there’s no one there to challenge me or bounce ideas off of. So, in some ways, I believe I’m behind some of my classmates that work elsewhere when it comes to professional growth, training and advancement.
6. Motivation is Hard to Come By
Some days I’m highly motivated and other days I’m not. When you work in an office, you at least have to get up, get ready and get there. It’s unlikely you could sit at your desk and do nothing all day. But, at home, unmotivated days are the hardest to get through. They’re the ones that distractions wreak havoc on. They’re the days when discipline is the only trick left in my bag.
7. No Work/Life Balance
My laptop and iPhone are attached to me. I can’t go anywhere without at least one of them. Nights, weekends, weekdays ... the lines are blurry, especially on nights when my husband comes home late and there’s no one to ask me to stop staring at the screen.
I’ve come to the realization that for me to regain balance, I need to leave home and be surrounded by people, leave my household chores at home, and have conversations with live human beings.
For all of the reasons I’ve just laid out, for all the reasons I’ve forgotten to mention, and for my peace of mind, I’ve been searching for a coworking community to join. A space where I can grow personally and professionally, make connections, get into a routine and focus so I can finally get sh*t done. Since I struggled to find a strong community, I joined forces with my best friend to create that space. Our own Haven.