It has been one single year since I left my job of 5 years to strike out on my own. Working from home has been my part time gig this whole time and it's been a real effin journey. I've been learning the ups and downs of working from home (because it's really not all a total dream). The following are 5 things I didn't know before I entered the "work from home" world. Disclaimer: I am by no means doing any or all of these perfectly, in fact they're more of reflections for a desperate need of change in my own process.
1. You need an official working space
Currently I'm sitting at a tiny desk in an uncomfortable chair that faces a wall in my room. To the left is my bed (so cozy) and to my right is a snoozing fluff ball. This is not the ideal set up. Psychologically speaking, you should never work where you sleep. The association it creates is stressful. I find at night I can never stop thinking about work if it's stressing me out. My room is no longer a space for relaxed recovery. Instead, there should be a designated work area in my apartment that is nowhere near my room. That way, that space has a mental association with work alone and my little brain won't get confused and merge my whole life into a frustrating melting pot. Also, I need a new desk and chair. I'm sitting here for 7 hours a day. It needs to feel better for my boney butt.
2. A flexible schedule doesn't mean you're always available
I had met one on one with students for coffee as part of my job for 5 years. It was really hard to break that habit once my schedule was so flexible. I would meet with one or two people a day and then find I had limited time to start/finish working. (DUH). I also found that people were frustrated when I told them I had to work. When you create your own schedule you have to stick to it as if you were punching the actual clock. No one would beg you to have coffee in the middle of your shift at the mall right? Same applies here. When you respect the time you set aside for work, people will slowly start to respect it as well.
3. You need to take care of your mental well-being.
Being alone seemed like a welcome change after years of "people work". Turns out, I surprisingly love people and not being with them all day makes me depressed and anxious. Who knew?! It was wild how fast I became self-centered and genuinely anxious/sad when my schedule changed. I realized I really needed to bring some of the outside world in to my work as much as was possible. That means meaningful podcasts, lunch hour with a buddy or an occasional phone call to my mom when things are getting a little rough. So know yourself well. If you need people, integrate them a little during the day. If you don't, probably force yourself to reach out or you may burrow yourself away in your new found hermitage.
4. Discipline and goal-setting are a must. (I don't like this one obvs.).
By far the saddest thing I've learned about myself in this environment is that I'm not a self-starter. I need to physically write out daily goals with attached time stamps so I don't stray and take forever making breakfast or hitting the snooze button. Writing out goals allows me to see what needs to be done in a given month which allows me to plan my weeks and days. Giving each goal a time frame in a given day forces me to be disciplined. Especially if my task for the day is difficult, I will do anything to avoid it. #procrastinationkween
5. Just because you can doesn't mean you should wear pjs.
Everyone tells you how glamorous your life must be since you can wear sweats all day, never do your hair, and have no boss to answer to. First of all, I do have a boss and thankfully he's super chill and encouraging. Secondly, wearing sweats all day is not an option for me. I find the moment I decide to not dress like it's a work day, my actions follow. Instead, getting dressed, doing my hair and and slipping on some shoes makes my brain understand that it's time to crush some goals. I will crush nothing in pjs. Except a nap.