When I decided to begin freelancing full-time earlier this year, I thought it’d be much like being in an office environment without having to drive anywhere. Now that I’m six months in, I’m beginning to see that I failed to consider several factors. Not that these will deter me from working from home, or having a home-based business, but I thought I’d take a minute to share these observations with you.
1) Toilet Paper:
It used to take us weeks, if not months, to go through a 4-pack of recycled toilet paper. Now I feel like we need a new 4-pack every other week. When you go to an office, you spend much of the day there and use their restrooms more than the ones at home, especially if you work long days. Now that I use my own restroom and toilet paper, it’s flying off of the roll. Next year I may have to budget toilet paper as a business expense!
There is nothing better than being able to prepare fresh meals for lunch or being able to decide what I’m hungry for at that time rather than in the morning. When I worked in an office, nearly every day I grimaced and wasn’t interested in the lunch I had. Now I can cook something, or eat leftovers, or have a hodge-podge lunch – I get to decide what I’m hungry for and that has also helped me snack less. I often get up and go to the fridge but end up empty-handed. I eat less now, even though I’m at home with food at my disposal. I also have less mid-afternoon candy machine opportunities. My snack options are what we have – which helps me not buy snacks, because I know I will eat it all.
3) House Errands:
I don’t like to clean, so don’t really do it much, but other errands get done so much easier now. Laundry, for example, is done routinely on Thursdays. I don’t have to fight people for the machines, no one is around to take my stuff out prematurely and I don’t have to waste an evening at home doing it. Laundry went from being a chore to being just a part of the day (and it provides built-in breaks for me to get away from the computer for a bit.
4) Miscellaneous Errands:
I remember the days of running out over lunch to get as much little stuff done as possible, or having to do it on the weekends when stores were packed. Getting to places like the bank, post office and grocery store is so much easier when you can get up and go at any time of the day. I have no one to check in with, or report to, or ask if I can leave early. The freedom is well worth it, but that leads to point #5.
Working from home is not for everyone. That was clear very early on. I have a dedicated office, a workspace and it was carefully designed to be comfortable and include all the things I would need to do my work. It’s much like a cubicle where I get up to get water, go to the bathroom, fix lunch, run an errand, etc., but otherwise I’m on my stability ball with music playing through my Iphone, incense and candles burning in the corner, photos on my desk, a window to glance out of when I have writer’s block and my yoga supplies when I need an impromptu restorative pose to revitalize myself. The problem, however, lies in staying focused. There is no one keeping tabs on my progress, no one giving me deadlines for the stuff I don’t want to do (I have plenty of editor deadlines, but that’s different) and no one to know if I decide to take a nap in the middle of the day. The best thing about working at home is also the most challenging. It’s all on me. My success is on me and my failures are a direct result of me. Some people can do it, some can’t – I really struggled at first, but I had to figure out what works for me, how to organize my time and how to stay productive. Some days are great, others not so great.
So what’s the point? On a small scale, some of you may relate to working from home, or having these challenges. On a larger scale, this applies to all parts of life. We think we know what we’re getting ourselves into, we might weigh all the pros and cons and consider every angle, but once a decision is made and we move forward, we realize we didn’t take into account the extra toilet paper.
What have you not considered today or recently?