Now that I am back on my freelance grind, I can’t help but muse at the great and not so great aspects of working from home. . So in keeping with wanting my fellow freelancers and consultants to prosper I decided to share, here we go…
Food is never far away
I once interviewed an animator who loved to work from home. His main reason being that he liked being near his kitchen. The truth is working from home is great — that lag in energy because lunch is too far away is non-existant. You can munch on chocolate, apples and tea without anyone rudely commenting on your perceived lunjeness. You can decide what to eat for lunch and what time you would like to do it. Food is your friend when working from home and there is nobody to judge you on your proclivities…which may or may not include licking peanut butter off a butter knife as you type.
Silence is golden
You know that hum of a busy office? The one that signals productivity and makes bosses happy. It has always been a source of stress for me mainly because I worked in a newsroom where the hum would often crescendo into a deafening roar.
I like my inner space when writing so while working in an office I learned to invest in earphones to shut out the noise. If it gets to quiet for your liking at home you can play your tunes in the background without any raised eyebrows from irritable coworkers. I also recommend Noisli, which is a site that delivers natural sounds to make you more productive. It has proved indispensable when I am working toward school deadlines.
Goodbye to annoying workmates
Every morning, one of my workmates would insist on having have his breakfast of boiled egg and kachumbari at work. Before doing this he would let the egg and kachumbari sit there for what seemed like aeons before tucking in. Meanwhile, the smell would slowly enfold itself around the newsroom and stick it’s fingers up everyone’s nostrils, it was torture. Then there was the workmate who always dipped her uninvited and unwashed fingers into my food without asking and the loudmouth who wanted everyone to know who was boss…sigh. Working from home affords you the luxury of your own company. You can dress how you want, choose where to sit, even if it’s upright in bed and generally not care about who is watching you or feel obliged to make small talk.
Set your own schedule
Now, I am not a morning person of which I am glad. This does not mean that I can’t get up early rather that if I do I tend to dawdle and ponder life, write in my morning pages and so on. My productivity usually starts checking in at 10am..faces a slight dip at noon and picks up again as the day wears on. I have found myself feeling highly productive late at night and if you are working from home this can be a bonus because you can decide to work late into the night and set the clock for a late morning alarm. Nobody would judge you okay maybe a few family members will but it is not the same as having your boss give you the ‘tardy again’ once over when you bound into work five minutes late
Food is maybe erm…to available
Remember the animator I mentioned who liked to work from home? Well, he has since developed a pronounced stomach pouch. The thing with working from home is… you may never stop snacking. You may even find that food has become your creative crutch and working must always be accompanied by munching. You may seek to reward yourself after every deadline beaten with a tub of ice cream… lets just say the effects can be disastrous to your waistline.
Procrastination is the thief of time
Have I dusted under that lampshade? Let me wash this teacup… how about just catch up on this last episode of Insecure again..why did he have to do Issa like that… and the list is endless. Then the phone rings you are a little too happy to pick rather than start on your project because hey, it could be an emergency…sigh.
If you have toddlers working from home is far from easy. We all recall the British dad whose children hilariously interrupted his BBC interview and gained instant internet stardom? Working from home with children requires infinite amounts of discipline and patience and of course the awareness that anything can happen during Skype interviews.
Keeping a ‘normal’ schedule
You may find that you are most productive very early in the morning, after which you may take a power nap and push on till late evening. You may also find yourself waking up late at night to finish something because, inspiration. This means your schedule becomes the new normal for you but is definitely not normal for the outside world, people will still expect you to show up at meetings set for 8am even if you worked till 4am.
Tips on survival
- If working from home gets too much, change the scenery, go to a local cafe or join an open working space office ( though these cost money).
- Create a schedule and stick to it, pay attention to when you are most alert and productive and learn to schedule the hardest tasks during these hours.
- Make some healthy snacks to get you through a project instead of reaching for a bag of crisps or packet of biscuits.
Wishing all my freelance and work from home people a great day..or late night in case you are reading this instead of working.