Updated: Dec 2, 2019
Transitioning from working in an office environment to working from home can be awesome, but it's also challenging in it's own unique ways. There are a lot of myths about working from home, and many people's first reaction when I tell them what I do is a variation of the following: "Oh, that must be so nice not to have to get up and go to work every day!"
The truth is, I do get up and go to work every day just like I did when I worked in an office. In fact, keeping this routine has been key for me to stay productive and efficient. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love working for myself, and I really feel this is what I was created to do. But I've also learned a lot about productivity and organization than I've ever had to before.
If you're wondering what exactly it's like to work from home, here are 8 things I've learned after my first year.
Photo by Jenna Kutcher, used with permission
1. Everything needs to be scheduled.
This has been crucial for me. When my dog became my only office-mate, I had no one to help me remember things like calls, meetings, and items on my to do list. I learned early on that rather than relying on my own (very bad) memory, I can utilize my planner to remember things for me. It has become the best tool I own, and I literally put my entire life into it. I start every morning planning my day with that little book, and it's always close at hand throughout the day (just like my coffee!).
2. Establishing a Routine is key.
I love keeping my days varied and fresh, but I need some overall structure in order to stay productive. I love getting up early (between 6am and 6:30am) each day, drinking coffee, planning out my to dos and checking my calendar, and then diving in. I try to eat lunch around the same time each day, and I quit around the same time each day as well. Not every day is going to look the same, and I wouldn't want it to. But having a general plan helps me get moving and motivates me throughout the day
3. Blinders are necessary.
The dishes, laundry, general tidying, and personal to do lists are never-ending. Who has enough time to get everything done each week? Definitely not me, I'll be the first to admit it.
The problem is that when I work from home, all those household chores are staring me in the face each day. I've had to learn the hard way to put mental blinders on while I'm working. It's way too easy to think, oh I'll just do those dishes quick before I get to work, and then suddenly a large portion of my day is gone because I got completely sidetracked. It's ok that things don't get done each day.
4. I will continue talking out loud, even when no one is around...
This is (hilariously) so, so accurate. Be it the coffee pot, my calligraphy ink, the dog, or myself, I am constantly chatting while I work. I can only imagine that I sound like a complete moron, but apparently it's how I need to work to get things done. At least there's no one around to judge.
5. Socializing has never been more important.
I love the solitude of working for myself. I'm very much an introvert; I am refreshed in my time alone. I thrive in a solitary environment. I joke with my husband all the time that I'd make a great hermit up on a mountain somewhere. But now that I have a LOT of time alone, I've learned that I need to be very intentional about socializing around work. I participate in networking groups, I plan lunch dates, I take a day each month to work from a coffee shop, and I make sure to hang out with friends at least twice a week.
It's a tempting trap to just hang out at home all the time and enjoy the solitude, but too much time spent alone and even I start to go a bit stir crazy. Friends are important for a healthy life, make no mistake about that.
6. I care less about what others think.
I don't mean this in a bad way. This was actually a good lesson for me to learn, and I'm still working on it. It's a fact that since I've begun working from home, I've become more comfortable with running errands in yoga pants and heading out the door without putting on makeup. If I want to dye hair a fun color, or get another tattoo? Awesome, let's do it! I've become much more comfortable in my own skin, and I've stopped trying to be who I think the world wants me to be. I'm fine with who I am, and guess what? The people I care about are fine with me being myself, too.
7. A healthy lifestyle doesn't get any easier with a flexible schedule.
Oh man, was this a hard lesson to learn! I've always used the excuse in the past that I'm too busy with working a 9-5 job AND starting my own business to worry about living healthy. I couldn't exercise as much as I'd like to because I'm just not motivated after a long day of work, and if I could only have a flexible schedule my healthy lifestyle goals would be so much easier to attain. Oh, how wrong I was. Guess what? When I work at home I'm like 5 feet from my fridge, which is a terrible thing. I can make (and drink) all the coffee I want, and I love what I do so much that I usually stay focused for hours without moving.
I've had to become very intentional about making time in my day to stay healthy. I set timers for an hour at a time to make sure I stand up and stretch, go get some water, or just take a lap around the apartment. I force myself to take regular "inspiration" walks, and schedule time at the gym. Office life can often be sedentary, and that tendency doesn't go away when you work from home.
8. It's ok to rest.
Friends, this has been the hardest, and most important lesson I've learned. I'm a hard worker. I want to put 150% into everything I do, not only because I want to succeed but because I love what I do so incredibly much. Over the past year, this has often meant lots of long days, and giant to-do lists. If I take a day off, or even an afternoon, I feel incredibly guilty. I could be doing more, I think.
But that's one gigantic lie. Hard work is great and there's nothing wrong with hustling to succeed, but rest is every bit as important to success as busy-ness. When I take time to rest (and I mean actually rest), I come back to work refreshed and full of new ideas. I serve my tribe much better when I'm coming from a place of rest and peace, instead of busy-ness and stress. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, I cannot stress enough how important it is to take time away to rest and recharge.
Whether you work at home, in an office, or elsewhere, I think many of these lessons can be applied to all of our working lives! What lessons have you learned from your time working? Share your wisdom below!