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Posted on Aug 17, 2013 in Dear Diary | 15 comments

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

So, as you guys know, my new job has altered my life quite a bit. Not in any kind of bad way, kind of the opposite — for once in my life, I absolutely LOVE my job! (Though I don’t scream it from the rooftop toooooo much, since I don’t want a mob of angry government contractors chasing after me with pitchforks for being immodest, haha.)

But even though I seriously love it, it has come with a LOT of changes to my lifestyle. For one thing, I’m busier now than I have EVER been. Which means, as you already know, blogging has had to take a backseat, and progress on my sequel to Terra has been much, much slower than I anticipated. Probably the biggest way that things have changed, however, is that I’m now working from home, which is simultaneously the best and worst thing to have happened.

I’m sure that those of you who have never worked from home probably think I’m crazy for even thinking the word “worst” right now, but just hear me out. There are a lot of pros to not having to go into an office every day, absolutely. But there are quite a few cons as well. Let me ‘splain:

Pro: No alarm clock.

Well, no alarm clock other than the fluffy white schnauzer who wakes me up around 9:30 every morning, that is. But still, it is REALLY nice not having to schedule my morning around how long it’s going to take me to battle DC traffic into the city.

Con: No bedtime.

Of course, the other side of this is that I also don’t have any reason to force myself into bed at night. Which means oftentimes, I’m working late and staying up even later. A 2 AM or later bedtime is not uncommon ’round these parts nowadays.

Pro: I set my own schedule.

Need to go the grocery store? Have a doctor’s appointment? Want to go meet some friends for happy hour? Want to take the schnauzies to the dog park? I can do ALL of that! Which is honestly probably the best part of this whole kit ‘n’ caboodle. I don’t have to schedule PTO if I need to run an errand or take care of something, I can just go do it. I set my own schedule, and as long as I’m getting crap done on a weekly basis, it’s all good in the hood. Now, if only I could actually force myself to make working out part of this schedule o’ mine. I really have NO excuse anymore, other than that this new job hasn’t made me magically hate exercising any less, hahahaha. But hey, at least I’m walking the dogs a lot more!

Con: I am working pretty much non-stop.

So here’s the thing: When I’m not running errands or going to get my car’s safety inspection done or taking the dogs for a walk, I am probably working. I still have NOT figured out a way to shut my brain off from working, even when I really should be “done” for the day. I see a work email notification ping up on my iPhone and I simply MUST CHECK IT.

Nights? Weekends? Fageddaboutit. I have constant, unfettered access to my work email at all times, and I have events and festivals to either attend or work most a lot of the time. Ergo, it really does seem like I am ALWAYS working. It is not uncommon for me to pull my laptop onto my lap first thing in the morning, while still in bed, and not really close it until late at night. I check my phone to make sure there aren’t any new emails right before I go to bed a lot of the time. And it’s not that I do these things because I have to, I know logically that the email will still be there in the morning, that people will be okay if I don’t take care of something OMGRIGHTNOW. But I just can’t help it. It’s a bit of a sickness, really.

One of the tips I got when I was in San Francisco last week for training is to initiate a “laptops down” rule, which I think I definitely need to do. I know this is something I actively need to work on, especially since there are other things happening in my life that I want — and NEED — to devote time to… sigh.

Pro: No more dress code!

Okay, let’s end this on a high note, since I really don’t want anyone to think that this isn’t an awesome situation for me. As mentioned, I sincerely love this job, it’s perfect for me, and I am also still new to working from home, so I’m sure that I’ll get a better handle on things the longer I do it. Plus, there’s still at least one more pretty awesome pro left for me to discuss!

While this is also sort of a con, since my dress code is now pretty much just “pajamas,” I won’t lie, I really, really like not having to think about what I’m going to wear from a business or business casual perspective. Plus, I can do stuff like this now:

And really, having purple and pink hair is a pro that kinda outweighs everything else. ;)

Do you work from home? What are your tips/tricks for establishing a regular schedule and not working ALL THE TIME?

15 Comments

  1. Granted my work right now is on a “freelance” basis and I’m putting “freelance” in quotes because it actually means “starting a freelance career is hard,” my favorite thing about “working” from home is honestly that I can cook. Before, with my city job and commute, my meals were basically planned around what I had time to make and eat between getting home from the gym and falling asleep on my couch two hours later. Now I can meal plan. I can spend two hours baking a fancy potato if I want to. I can make cookies at 2:00pm because I’ve been trying to unsuccessfully fix a comma splice for an hour and it’s not going well.

    (On a side note, if it ever actually does take me an hour to fix a comma splice, I should probably stop trying to be an editor. Or stop having bloody marys for lunch. Working from home is great.)

    Next step: purple hair. Gretchen said I could.

  2. Hi. I’ve been working exclusively from home for better part of the last 5 years and off and on before then. I also live in the DC areas and my set up keeps me out of that beltway traffic which is valuable financially and mentally.

    Luckily I have my treadmill right next to my desk so if I have a 30 minute break through out the day, I’ll hop on and get it done…. Of course I’m saddled with my IPhone checking and responding to email while I walk.

    I agree that people don’t really realize how one can easily become a workaholic when working from home. I think we tend to always want to be available is that we to prove to others that we are actually being productive. That can backfire. When you let others call you at ungodly hours ( I recall the 3 am call I received from a team member from India while on vacation) then you open up yourself to having your boundaries violated.

    I now turn off my cell phone at 9 and leave it downstairs with the laptop. That allows me to disconnect. I’m not perfect and some of my friends have expressed their displeasure with me for checking in with work during a “Girls’ Weekend”, but I try to be considerate. It is hard.

    Best of luck and congratulations on your new job!

  3. I totally hear you about not knowing when to “turn off” work. One thing I’ve found to help is to not send emails on the weekend. I might write an email, but then I keep it as a draft or use Boomerang for Gmail and don’t send it until Monday morning. That way, I’m not setting the precedence that I always work on the weekends or that clients can expect responses on the weekend!

  4. I just started my own work from home job and I’m still struggling to adapt. I feel very disorganized right now and I’m trying to figure out how to organize and better manage my time. The only thing I can tell you right now is that it helps me to try and make daily lists of things to do for the week. It helps me stay on task-otherwise I just jump all over the place!

  5. While I don’t work from home most of the time, I do have work email on my phone. I actually read a book written by an writer that works from home and writes about time management. You might check her stuff out. She writes a lot about managing the schedule well and separating work and personal in the same space.

    http://lauravanderkam.com/

    And I totally dig your hair. :)

  6. Great list… I get the opportunity to work from home on occasion and those occasions usually find me skipping my breaks and lunches just to show I’m not lollygagging. Of course, those are also the days I get my laundry done and cook a good meal for dinner. I adore your hair…. squee!

  7. I agree with all your points about pros and cons of working from home- overall it just takes a lot of DISCIPLINE. you have to set your boundaries- I found having a home office helped a lot. I only did work there, not on the couch in front of the tv, not in the kitchen, not in bed… it helped separate “home” and “work”. Also I definitely recommend scheduling in working out- NO EXCUSES now :)

  8. My last job allowed me to work from home and I would do so for three weeks at a time then swing by the office. Making myself a schedule was key. I was working with some folks in India so I chose to log on at 5AM and work from 5AM – 1PM / 2PM. Then the computer would go off. I also frequently turned off email on my iPhone when I wasn’t working. My typical day would be get up, do emails, some work, eat when it was a more normal hour – 7AM / 8AM. Work work work work, 11:30AM / 12PM work out then half lunch, work work work, shower, and leave the house to see friends, do errands / whatever! My motto (maybe not the best) is that I am paid to work 40 hours a week, so that’s all you are getting.

  9. The biggest thing for me was turning off the auto check in my iPhone’s email. It’s wayyyy too easy to see the notification pop up on your screen and get sucked in.

    By having to open the Mail app and actually hitting refresh to get to the emails, I’m at least checking on my schedule.

  10. I think I work really well from home. When I’m in the office I feel my presence is enough. At home I feel like I have to prove I was working hard and not just watching TV all day.

    Also, you’re hair is AMAZING. I want to copy it exactly. Is it highlights? What’s going on there?

  11. I have to say, I absolutely despised working from home. Maybe it was the fact that I also hated the high-stress job I had at the time. I had daily anxiety attacks and felt so disconnected. My life completely fell apart. My husband would come home from work and find the door to our second bedroom (my office) closed and would ask why. I would tell him I was just trying to keep the stress in there. My home became a place of stress. I think it comes down to your personal enjoyment of the job: I hated my job, and when I worked it at an office, I was surrounded by nice colleagues who made it a little more bearable. Then I transitioned to working from home and couldn’t hide behind the nice colleagues.

  12. Oooh I love this and SO relate. My job is about 50% at home, 50% on the road. I LOVE being able to make my own schedule but yes- it means you’re working all the time. I’ve made a rule to just step away from my phone and email more (which is not easy) and try to schedule specific blocks of time each day for certain tasks.
    I live in yoga capris and tank tops. God forbid if I ever have to wear pants with a zipper.
    I’ve also found the losing weight was a lot easier when I was a teacher. Even though I’m busy here, I still have a full kitchen full of yummy food to pick at!

  13. Oh hey. I meant to comment on this post forever ago. Better late than never, right?

    I have a no-work rule for days when Craig has off (which is usually two days a week). We might spend 12 hours out in the garden, but I don’t write posts/do designs/etc. And I don’t really check email either.

    It also REALLY helped me to create a separate office in the house. When I first started working from home, curling up on my couch with my laptop seemed like a dream, but I quickly realized that I craved the physical ability to go to “work” and leave “work”. So now we have an office, with a desk and a monitor. I plug my laptop in and work at the desk when I’m working, and then if I’m just using my computer for leisure stuff, I try to do it out of the office. THAT’S when I curl up on the couch with my laptop. It’s helped SO much.

    And, your hair is amazing. I just booked an appointment to get my colors put back in, so we’re going to be the colorful hair room at HLS. And will you please, please, please make my hair look that pretty and curly for the cocktail party? Please? I’m so worthless with a curling iron. Or really, any styling tools.

    • I just realized that HLS is basically going to be like one big sleepover for us, and audibly squee’d. I AM SO EXCITED.

  14. I also work from home and a big pro for me is always being able to fix myself a healthy meal. My weight loss process has been much easier since i started to work from home.

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