Written By: Andy Ogg – Editor for Travel Professional NEWS
“You’re so lucky to not have to drive to work!”
“I’d LOVE to work from home, I’d stay in my PJ’s all day!”
“Do you even have to get ready in the morning?”
“Do you ever take naps?”
“How many hours a day do you really even work?”
Any of the above questions sound familiar to you? I’m sure if you work from home, you’ve heard a few of them before, just as I have. Maybe you share the response that I often share when I hear anything close to the above “It has it’s benefits but it’s definitely not all positives.”
I have been working from home for 5+ years now and after that time, I wouldn’t change a thing. Working from home allows me to spend more time (sort of) with my family and my beautiful 3 1/2 year old daughter. It allows me to be involved with her activities and also advocates a somewhat “free” schedule. However, it isn’t always easy and somedays, it’s downright hard.
Working from their home isn’t for everyone and i’m going to share 6 truths about working from home that have been some of the most challenging in my career as a work from home person.
1. All the Time in the World… sort of
Not having to commute to an office everyday is amazing. It saves you money, time and stress by not having to battle the hoards of people trying to do the same things in a different place. As a result, logic would dictate that working from home would advocate more time in your day. However, that time is quickly absorbed by just about everything.
Truth: In a recent study, most people who work from their home don’t adhere to a typical 8 AM – 5 PM schedule, however, they typically work 46 hours a week, resulting in more productivity, but less personal time. Speaking for myself, I typically log about 50 hours of work per week, giving myself “breaks” through the week to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Whether it’s an early afternoon at the beach or going to my daughters swim class, the small things make working from home a great fit for me as a Father of a young and very active girl.
One of the hardest battles I face in my career of working from home is time management. Making time for personal activities, chores around the home and of course, quality time with my family. The days fly by and the weeks seem to somehow blend together, managing my time has been one of my greatest challenges and continues to be. One of the tools that I recently started using was day scheduling. I’ve started assigning two hours to one project, four to another and even have begun scheduling “play time” in the early afternoon, just to make sure our daughter knows where she stands in importance.
2. Separation of Lives (AKA My Home, The Prison)
With no commute and an everlasting flow of work to be done, do you ever feel that your home could and may be a prison? I know I do! Just a few weeks ago, I went 5 days without leaving my house. I didn’t even realize it had happened but when I did, I was beyond excited to go on a family outing to the home supply store, just to leave our home.
Truth: Just as important as it is to set yourself hours to work and hours to enjoy, it’s equally important to get OUT of your house. Whether it’s working at a local coffee house, or even taking your note pad out on a walk, leaving your work bubble is essential to remaining productive and of course keeping your sanity.
I’ve spoken previously of the importance of separating your home office from the rest of your home and the truth stands strong. If you are cooking your dinner, answering emails or completing a booking, how do you ever stop working?
3. What’s this “day off” people speak of?
Before entering this topic, I must disclose that I am absolutely terrible at taking a day off. The highest success I have seen is my weekends and only visiting my office once over the course of two days. That was rare and although it was great, doesn’t happen as much as it should. As crucial as separation of your “work” life and your “home” life is giving yourself a break, whether you think you need it or not.
Truth: Taking a day off is hard, taking a vacation is seemingly impossible for me, at this current time. One of the things that I have found most helpful is taking a “half day” to enjoy the outdoors or just to get some chores done without running to your desk every 10 minutes. My “half days” have become increasingly important and every couple of weeks, I try to set one in stone. Whether it’s an afternoon at the beach or an early morning surf session, getting away from the desk, email and home can be a HUGE recharge for your passion, productivity and success.
4. Becoming a Hermit
Remember when you used to chat with co-workers around the coffee or during lunch? Better yet, remember when you would grab a beer or two with your fellow workers after work? I remember them but sure don’t do them anymore. Working from home can cause levels of reclusive type of behavior to increase and although, it’s 100% manageable, it’s important to know that it’s there. If your home isn’t a frequent “hot spot” for friends, family and activities, getting out of the house and interacting with people is very important.
Truth: It’s lonely. There are days that I would love to sit and talk ideas with some co-workers, however, working from home allow my only visits to come from my 3 1/2 old and beautiful wife, the lack of business and professional interaction can sometimes feel overwhelming. I have found that setting time aside each week to speak with friends, colleagues and even communities like www.TravelProfessionalCommunity.com can be an easy fix for this issue. Just because you have 118 cats, newspapers from 1934 and a collection of moth balls, doesn’t mean you are out of touch with society, right?
5. How Long Should a Chair Last?
As a result from the long hours, lack of distractions and increased productivity, getting out of your chair sometimes doesn’t happen for hours, or days depending on your home office. About 2 years ago, I was getting very intense back and shoulder pains, after a visit to the Doctor, I was told that I “needed to move more.” No joke.
Truth: After the very “serious” diagnosis, I began a regiment of standing up and stretching every 2 hours. What a world of difference! Who knew that we were actually supposed to move around instead of sitting and typing all day!? All pun aside, moving your body through the day is one of the most important things you can do for your functionality. Sitting for too long can cause all sorts of issues with your entire body so make sure to set a timer or find excuses to get up, stand up and walk around. Even if it’s to talk to the wall, walk to a different wall and share your day with that one, just to move around a bit more.
6. Information Overload
At night, after Peyton is fast asleep, my wife, Angela, and I get to talk and actually communicate without toddler distractions. For me, this may be the first time in my day where I have actually spoken to an adult in great detail so the information is built up like a bull staring at a red flag. Overloading her with information in just minutes, her look of information overloads happen and I have to step back and realize what just occured. She just heard about all 139 emails I sent that day, I told her about how things are going with a potential client, also shared the news I read about something unimportant that changed my day and also managed to tell her about my adventures walking to the mailbox. I’m overloaded just realizing that I do this to her.
Truth: When you are mentally creating, your brain functions differently compared to when you are socially interacting. Without social interaction, i’m a firm believer that your brain just goes into hibernation and catalogs all of the facts you need to share with another human. Lucky for Angela, she’s my human.
In all honesty, it’s been challenging at times to control the information overload that I tend to build up through my day. One of the things that we have found helpful is to text a few times through the day, that way it’s not building up and about to explode at the end of the day. Maybe i’m the only one who does this, none the less, it’s a real side effect of working from home in my books.
Working from home isn’t easy and while we all have different struggles in our home based career, we all have the positive side that makes it all worth it. Maybe it’s enabling you to travel more, maybe it’s that you like to be alone but for me, it’s my family. The absolute best thing about working from home is being able to be around my daughter, Peyton. Hearing her play throughout our home is by far my favorite and as she gets older, the benefits of working from home have only gotten better. She pays me little visits through the day, usually accompanied with a toy to keep me company and by all means, I am the luckiest Dad in the world to be here every day and to be a part of her life as she grows up.
If you have some “Truths” about being a home based worker, i’d love to hear them! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org￼. Until next time, stay sane, work hard and enjoy the fruits of your labor as much as you can!