I was scrolling through Facebook this morning, as I do most mornings. And afternoons. And evenings. And I noticed this article that someone had shared, and two of my friends (Jeryl and Shelley) had commented on, so I read it.
It’s a list of 12 things that they say only people who work from home will understand. And man, they really hit the nail on the head with a lot of them. But it occurred to me that just as all offices are not the same, all home offices are not the same either, so I wanted to adapt it and give you my version.
Yeah, I’ve been warned that working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and I’ve been told that you get really lonely, and that you need to make an effort to maintain a normal schedule, and regular contact with humans and sunlight, and on and on and on. I even read a handful of these articles with their own tips and suggestions. But still, I couldn’t have predicted some of this stuff.
So, here are 6 ways my life has changed since I started working from home (and I mean changed on a day-to-day basis, not on a higher philosophical level. Although, that’s happened too.):
Yes, I wake up later than I used to. For the past three years I was up between 6:30 and 7 am, and I was usually in the office by 7:30, or 8 am at the absolute latest. Now, I wake up between 8 and 8:30 and I’m in the office by 8:33 am. So, it’s really not too dramatically different. But it’s nice that I can manage my own schedule; although if I was keeping track of hours, I would wager that I’m averaging more hours per day of work now than I ever have before.
I never deal with traffic. Never, ever, ever. Because I work from home my commute is literally a walk from my bedroom to my office/kitchen. So as a result, the only times I drive are if I am taking Gatsby to the vet, or meeting someone for lunch, or running to the grocery store. And because I have this luxury, I am very strategic about driving at times when I know I won’t hit traffic. It’s nice. On the downside, sometimes I’ll go several days without moving my car and it’s really easy to forget where I parked. (In my neighborhood we don’t have dedicated parking, so it’s just on the street “somewhere”)
I’m acutely aware of the small things, like the mail man. Because Gatsby barks at him nearly every single day I always know when the mail has come. And it usually comes between 10 and 11 am. But sometimes it’s as late as 2 pm and I find myself thinking “Man, where is that guy…”. It’s not that I need my mail, I mean, who really gets mail anymore? It’s more just that I wonder what could have happened that his route is so far behind. Oh, and some days I’m convinced the mail man just skips us altogether. Jerk. When you’re gone all day and you get home your mail is usually there. End of story, but when you work from home it becomes a benchmark in your daily life.
I wear a tank top every single day. Or, a singlet as my Aussie friends might say. And it’s not because I’m some dirty bearded hippie. I get up, and I shower, and then I choose to put on a fresh clean tank top. I live in San Diego; and 99 times out of 100 a tank top is appropriate for the weather. Or for wherever I may be going that day (if I’m going anywhere). Now, if I’m filming a video that requires my face, or if I’m skyping with someone I haven’t met before I’ll put on something with sleeves (Sleeves are fancy, right?). I’m not a crazy person. But usually after that 30 minute call I’ll change back into something normal people wear on a jog.
I find myself talking to Gatsby more and more. It started with the usual stuff you say to your dog, you know, asking them if they want a treat. If they’re hungry. If they need to go out. If they want to take an extremely long walk to that one burrito shop with the best guacamole. That sort of thing. But now I find myself carrying on full conversations with him as I deliberate about the structure of one of my blog posts. Or consulting him for advice as I’m fervently trying to troubleshoot something technical that isn’t making sense. It’s really useful that he’s here because it makes me feel a lot less like an insane isolated hermit.
Social Media. I’ve always been a really active participant in the social media space. I love tweeting my random thoughts, and I love interacting socially on Facebook and LinkedIn. But now I spend more time on Facebook than ever, and it’s not just because I’m reading Buzzfeed articles that Jeryl shares (although I do that too). It’s because I am legitimately working. You see, part of how I keep my Infusionsoft knowledge sharp and polished is by trying to answer questions, and solve puzzles that pop-up in the various Facebook groups. In fact, a few months ago I started my own private group as part of my Monkeypod OG Membership. And I spend a lot of time curating resources and providing support for that group. So, Facebook is pretty much always open, but it’s not because I’m avoiding work, it’s because I can’t stop working.
I could go on and on, but I think that’s a pretty decent snapshot. All in all, working from home has been awesome.
Yes, you need to be disciplined about setting boundaries or you can accidentally work until 2 am. One of my biggest struggles has been that because I work from home, I literally could be working at any time. And so if I’m doing anything but working, I feel like I’m not being productive. It’s been about five months now and I’ve developed a little more of a rhythm and a structure now, so that happens a little less.
But as with anything, developing a system and structure is key. I miss interacting with real live people, but at the same time, no one is stopping by my desk to interrupt my when I have noise cancelling headphones on and am wearing a look that says “don’t bug me”. I think that is something to which we can all relate.
That’s it, there’s no deep and meaningful lessons to this post. I just wanted to share what my experience working from home has been like. I’d love to hear yours!