I Do

I Work From Home. It’s Not That Weird.

I work from home.

The assumptions and connotations associated with that are countless. To set the record straight, here’s what it doesn’t mean: that I’m lazy, antisocial, unqualified, a lady of leisure or a daytime TV watcher.

Working from home wasn’t a distinct choice I made but simply a matter of circumstance –  I was a freelance writer who got a job as an Editor of a magazine based in Sydney  – one that required me to stay in Melbourne to attend events, meetings etc. This happened at the same time the online media and digital world started to boom, and working from home made perfect sense.

I often get asked if I get lonely, bored or unmotivated.

No, no and no.

I’ve never had a problem with motivation or discipline (of which you need both to work from home). And if you love what you do, then doing it shouldn’t be a problem. If anything, the one thing I have struggled with is switching off. Learning when to put an end to the working day. Not being tempted to answer that late email.

I do not get lonely or stir-crazy – social media, the telephone and Skype all mean I have constant contact with colleagues. In fact, I’m convinced I communicate more effectively, openly and frequently with colleagues that what would occur if I was in an office with them. I know many people that don’t communicate with colleagues two cubicles away and employees that only speak to their boss once every third day. I know exactly where my colleagues are and what they are working on in different states across Australia. I think it’s the distance that results in putting extra effort into communicating.

I’ve been working from home for a few years now, and it has only been in the last year that I’ve developed a strong routine that works for me.

I usually wake somewhere between 6am and 7am. Then, it’s a cup of tea, quick check on Twitter and Facebook, catch up on the morning news, walk the dog, have breakfast, a coffee, a shower and do any housework, washing etc. that needs to be done. My cut off for all of the above is 9am. It doesn’t matter if I’m halfway through something else, or haven’t got around to doing everything I wanted to, when 9am comes I switch off from ‘being home mode’, and enter ‘work mode’. I jump in front of the computer and work, work, work.

Somewhere between 12pm and 1pm, I stop. Have lunch. Maybe go to the post office, if required. Maybe hit the supermarket. Maybe go for a run. Take the dog for another walk. Chat to some friends. Read a magazine, or continue with a book. I never take more than an hour for ‘lunch’ – and it doesn’t matter what I do in that time, all that matters is that it’s not work.

After ‘lunch’, it’s back into the work – whatever that may be and whatever that requires (no two days are the same). I try to knock off from work somewhere between 5pm and 6pm.

I find that, when I am working, it’s without distractions and I get so much done.

Of course, there are variations on the above. If I have meetings, then I work around those. If I have an event on in the CBD, then I may finish up for the day at 4pm.

What I am thankful for when it comes to working from home is the flexibility – as long as I get my work done, it doesn’t really matter what timeframe that’s in or what I’m wearing behind my desk.

What I have learnt, however, is that a routine, much like one I’d have if I physically went into an office building each day, is the most effective way for me to work.

The routine above is a far cry from what I used to do – roll straight out of bed, jump in front of the computer and start work. Then look up and realise hours had passed and I was still in my onesie.

I stick to the routine above because it works for me. I need to set timeframes. I need to get dressed properly. I need my desk and home office to feel like one. I need that distinction between work and home.

Sure, it is a luxury not having to battle with a daily commute or share coffee mugs with co-workers, but it’s also taken me – and those around me – a while to figure out how to best make working from home work for me.

Some friends used to think I could dash off for a long lunch or half a day of shopping because I was home – something I was guilty of doing in the past. But I can’t afford – not with my workload – to be losing precious working hours on a weekday shopping or lunching.

Some friends still don’t get it. Often their idea of what I do is so far removed to what I actually do it’s hilarious.

The reality is, I get my job done.

Do you work from home? What’s your routine like? Do you work outside of 9am – 5pm hours? What’s the funniest assumption someone has made about your ‘not-the-norm’ working life? 

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17 thoughts on “I Work From Home. It’s Not That Weird.

  1. Angela says:

    Hi Sandi, great post! Ever since I left my “real” job to freelance, I’ve noticed a lot of judgement by people who work their 9-5 in an office and may not respect what I do. I constantly get asked if I caught The Circle, get asked to catch up during the day as it must be easy for me to do that, along with the general comments of, “you have the best hours in the world,” or “you are so lucky to stay home.” I do work at least 40 hours a week, sometimes more and that doesn’t include the admin side of things. I definitely have the flexibility if I want it but I choose to be productive to grow a successful business. I just feel people think I have all the time in the world as I don’t commute to an office everyday. Like you, it’s taken me a while to find a balance and I’m still guilty of weekend and late night logins but am working on it. An hour a day outside is my rule and I try to do my household chores and shopping weeknights and the weekend like most of us. It takes a certain person to work from home also, motivation, dedication and passion are what keeps the ball rolling for me.

    • I hear you Angela, I hear you.

      The assumptions are so misguided from people. I don’t have time to watch TV!

      And I agree with you on the hours – I believe I work HARDER and LONGER than many in office environments.

      Keep it up! x

      • Angela says:

        Thanks Sandi. Agreed, TV is now a luxury activity, if and when I have the time!

        When you work for someone else, doing the minimum is easier as that is what you get paid to do but working for yourself takes so much more investment.

        Again, a great post, it’s a really relevant topic.

        Thank you x

  2. Working from home is something I have yet to master. I will be doing a bit of it but find it hard to concentrate. Even worse for work is having an awesome partner that you’d prefer to spend time with.

    Maybe I should just stick with an office.

    Would love to know how you overcame those initial hurdles.

    • It really was just about being disciplined, finding a routine that worked for me, and sticking to it. It did, mind you, take a good couple of years to find a solid routine that worked. And I think because I’ve never really worked in an office environment for a substantial period of time, I’m not used to the feelings and habits that you develop there. Most of my career has involved working from home, so I developed those skills early.

      The key for me is; having a set time structure for the day and having a workspace. You cannot work effectively from home from your bed, couch, floor etc. I never have the TV on, and I limit distractions as best I can.

      I treat sitting down at my desk the same as walking in an office to work. My brain just switches onto it.

  3. Hey sandi..
    i love your post very much. This is true that people made assumption without knowing the reality. It may be true to get lazy, caught in bad habit if you don’t have a passion about your work. But if you love your work than it does not matter from where you do your work, you get disciplined automatically and adopt a routine with a little effort. You only need to consider some points to avoid adopting bad habits.

  4. Great article – people often think I “do nothing” also because I can work from anywhere. I like to vary where I work at times and sometimes enjoy taking the MacBook down to a cafe to finish a task with a coffee in hand.

  5. Oh lord. This makes me feel awful, as I can relate to your earlier self. I wake up, turn my laptop on and ‘work’ until hours go past and I realise that i’ve hardly gotten anything done.
    Another reason why I have so many all-nighters (like dirty ‘ol uni days), and end up working till 2-3 a.m., sometimes.
    My problem, however, is a little different. Well, i say that’s my problem anyway. I don’t have a table/chair. No desk = no feeling of a physical office. I alternate between my bed, lounge chair, carpet and bar stools. The comfort of the familiar surroundings don’t work in my favour. Often, i lie down on the carpet and doze off to sleep. It’s the worst.
    Anyway, point is – I love what I do. LOVE. But there are things that are making me not love it to its fullest potential.
    My goal for Jan 1, 2012 – buy a desk/organise a creative space for myself. I’ll start with that and everything else will follow. I know it will.

    • Shitika, it absolutely will. The best thing I ever did was set myself up with a proper work space. It makes all the difference.

      I love what I do – always have – but being able to do it with the correct resources makes life so much easier.

      Good luck! x

  6. hey sandi ..thanks for posting this. To work from home is a very nice career option. Yah i agree that some obstacles comes in way, but this is not a big deal and one who have dedication towards their work can remove these obstacles in a very easy way. Anyways if still people found some problem in their job should read your article, this will help them to motivate.

  7. Hey sandi.. I feel good when i read you article. I like your time schedule, you manage your work without getting bore and also you have a time for your entertainment, extra work like going to post office etc. You have a time for work as you are working in office virtually and still take a benefit of doing work from home by spending time on extra curricular activities. I must learn time management from you.

  8. Hey sandi..thanks for sharing your experience. Its very challenging and difficult task to stay at home and then do work. You need a lot of concentration, focus, flexibility and most important passion about your work because in home there is a lot of things and problems that can distract you from your work. Work from home is not a simple task and it require more hard work and patience then 9-5 job.

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