Okay. So here we are. Working from home.
And you, being the smart cookie that you are, have already done your darnedest to either comply with–or refute the necessity of–my “Top 5 physical requirements for working from home.”
So, physically, you’re good.
But what about mentally?
Shifting from the cubicle farm–or even the small office setting–to all by your lonesome can be a disconcerting move.
On one hand, you’re intoxicated by your newfound freedom. On the other, you’re intoxicated by your newfound freedom.
So, I thought I would give you a few mental crutches that, like the physical requirements, will help you stay happy and healthy while working from home. Apparently, they’ll also keep you more busy, because I appear to be incredibly verbose about them.
Bear in mind, this tends to be jaundiced toward the folks who are now out on their own, versus those who still work for someone else, but from home.
In any case, here’s what you need…
- A paycheck.
Sure, sure. You’re a regular Donald Trump with your big fat business account. And you can make a withdrawal any time you feel like it. You’re the CEO, after all. You make the call. And, I know, I spout off all the of time about how work should be about more than a paycheck. But in order for it to be about more than that, it has to be about at least that. And, lest we forget, we (in the United States, at least) have been conditioned from a very early age with a consistent response-and-reward mentality. Be good, get gifts. Go to school, get grades. Go to work, get paid. Setting and sticking to a specific pay period will help you better manage your finances, your cash flow, and your hang-ups about the value of your work. You’re working a job. Pay yourself regularly.
- Work hours.
Again, you’re free as a bird. Now you can come and go as you please. You can work from a park bench with your shiny new laptop. You can get out of bed as late as you want and no one will be asking you where you’ve been. Congratulations! You’ve got enough rope to hang yourself. Set regular work hours and stick to them. This has two distinct benefits, a) If there are other people in your life, they will know when you are working and when you are not, and b) You can’t work all the time. It ain’t healthy. (What’s that? Who told you that? Oh. Well, then do as I say, not as I do.) And discussing work hours, of course, brings us to discussing non-work hours, like…
You can’t work all of the time. Oh wait. I said that already. But it bears repeating. You may spring out of bed every morning, beaming with pride at your new gig. If you don’t take a vacation from time to time, that won’t last. Trust me. Some people call me a workaholic. I think I’m more addicted to burnout, than work. So this time, I force myself to take time off. To get away. To refresh. I suggest you do the same. No, I meant on your own. You can’t come with me.
Aside from the nourishment that lunch provides, it also provides an excuse to see other people. Voila! You’re multitasking. In your new role, you’ve likely just removed yourself from physical contact with everyone but your closest friends. If you want to stay in that role and you want those people to remain your friends, it’s best not to be clinging to them for dear life. Get out. Network. See some people who are business acquaintances. Just go eat by yourself and see who you see. Taking a lunch is a good signal that you’re establishing work hours, and you’re willing to give yourself a break. It’s also a good signal that you’re hungry. So go eat. Go out. I mean, weren’t you just the one bragging about your big fat business account? Take a client out. Go.
- Educational opportunities.
You’ll notice that most of these metaphysical requirements are time-management related. Educational opportunities are no different. When you were working for someone else, maybe you had the opportunity to take classes, or go to conferences, or attend local events, or buy books, or whatever. You know why that other person was willing to pay for those? Because they make you a better person. They make you more valuable. If you got up from your desk, right now, and went to a seminar on an interesting topic, you would be more valuable when you came back to finish reading this. I would say you’re more valuable. And, I’d say that even though you rudely left in mid-sentence and came back with a snooty I-know-more-than-you attitude. You know what? You do know more. But only if you take the opportunity to learn. So do it.
Those are my top five. They’re mental and emotional issues on which I’m focusing. And I have a feeling they’re going to help you, too. Did I miss something critical? Do you think I’m getting too touchy feely? I’d love to hear about it.
Hmm. I feel a bit shunted. I would have figured that “co-conspirator” or “sounding board” would have made the top 5.
At least for me, going indy has been made much smoother by having a confidante that knows how manic this can make you. Wacky hours. Failed (or too successfully embraced) proposals. Project management fiascos.
That said, I wouldn’t necessarily bump other items. Maybe it simply should have been a Top 6..?
There, there. Wipe away that tear.
“Mentor” or “sounding board” could easily fit into both the “lunch” and “educational opportunities” areas.
But that’s a dodge, I’ll admit. I just don’t like seeing you so sad.
I’d add “courage.” When the paycheck goes down, the vacation is lost due to looking for more work, and the hours are long, it requires courage to continue on. This, whether brand new on your own or ten years later.
Good article — thanks.
You had the courage to make the original jump. You need even more courage to continue the good fight.
Sometimes you don’t have a choice but the working at home thing can be a real leap. Very nicely done.