Thanks to the advances in technology, there are many people who now are able to work from home. More and more people are discovering the benefits and realizing the drawbacks of making your basement, spare bedroom or unused space at home an office. It is knowledge that writers have had for a long time. After all, rare is the occasion when someone pays one to sit in an office in a high-rise building and pen a novel.
To the commuting, office-dwelling, 9-5 worker bees the pj wearing, sitting at the counter turned desk worker bees don't seem like they're working. We're seen as the ones who gamed the system so that we could enjoy some warped form of early retirement or extended vacation.
But, after more than a decade of being one of the "retirees" or "vacationers," I am here to provide a list of both pros and cons (yes, there are cons) to working from home. More importantly, I am going to provide you with some tips on how to make working from home actually work.
Keep in mind; this is by no means an exhaustive list!
-You can work in your pjs or any other comfortable, food-stained attire that would otherwise be inappropriate or offensive if worn outside the confines of one's home.
-You don't have to work set hours.
-You create your own schedule, which is flexible.
-You can go to the doctor, dentist, or hair salon at times other than 8PM on Thursday of the next blue moon.
-You are your own boss.
-No co-worker gossip or other antics that lead to distraction.
-You can be with your children and/or pet.
-You can do some household chores.
CONS: Now, take every point on the Pro list and place it to the con list.
-Yes, you can work in your pjs but consequently you have a wardrobe not unlike that of a long-term hospital patient.
-No set hours doesn't mean you don't work; it means you never stop working. Because there is no clocking out, there is never an end to checking emails, writing, editing.
-A flexible schedule is helpful but it also means that others think that you can be there for their furniture deliveries, picking their child up from the bus stop or having coffee during your "work" time.
-Making appointments at more convenient times of the day, which can seem like a timesaver, often ends up consuming even more work time.
-Being your own boss can be wonderful unless you are not good at managing your time, committing to tasks, and/or keeping deadlines.
-Office gossip can be distracting but so can YouTube. And at least with co-workers you receive some interpersonal interaction, which is good for social skills and the sometimes mind numbing isolation of working alone.
-It is wonderful to be with your children and pet but they are also a powerful disruption and a job unto themselves. I have taken many professional calls with the yipping of my dog in the background. I have also had to wipe a nose, feed a baby and write one sad paragraph before cleaning an eruption of vomit.
-It's great to be able to throw in a load of laundry, wipe a counter or make a bed while working but the trouble is that those "few" tasks can eat time and productivity very quickly.
Tips to Prevent Pros from turning into Cons:
-Occasionally dress up or at least wear an outfit free of wrinkles and dried food. It helps set a professional tone, which can improve your productivity.
- Set your schedule. It doesn't matter the time of day just make sure that you have a block of time every day dedicated to work and only work. And to mitigate midday coffee invites or runs to the bus stop, insist that others respect these work hours.
-Keep the hair appointments on weekdays, after all who wants to fight the Saturday crowds but make the time useful--answer emails or brainstorm ideas.
-Create your own deadlines and recruit others (family members, friends, online community members) to help you keep them. The reward system also works well. For example, three chapters written in a week wins you thirty minutes of guilt-free online shopping.
-Distractions can be good if you choose ones that are constructive. Working from home can be lonely so online communities, such as writers' groups are great for personal interaction and a place to exchange ideas, seek opinions and gather helpful hints.
-Set boundaries. You love and value the time you spend with your children and/or pet but remember that there is a time for everything and everyone. You need your time to work and you must find a way to do that with minimal distractions. Of course, I am writing this as I finish feeding my baby.
-Prioritize. Only you can decide what is important as well as when and where each component of your life fits. Make a list, give everything and everyone a place and time and don't forget you.
The last but most important tip that I can give to you is to value your work and the time you commit to it and soon others will as well, enabling you to make working from home finally work!
Causes Sherry Parnell Supports
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International