Working from Home: The Good, The Bad, & My Hatred for Sitting
Since doing a 180 with my career, I’m frequently asked what it’s like to work from home and what I do all day. I totally get it. When I had an office job, the idea of working from home seemed like a magical fairyland. I imagined waking up and sitting with a cup of tea while reading through the day’s headlines and then diving into work, maybe taking an afternoon manicure or movie break, all while wearing sweatpants. Newsflash: Working from home is NOTHING like that, at least not for me. I’m going to write the rest of this Q & A style, using the questions I get most often. Enjoy!
What is a typical day for you?
LOL. There really is no typical day. This has been the hardest thing for me to get used to. Each day includes some/all of the following: tackling my inbox (actually multiple inboxes); reviewing where various projects are in their timelines and doing whatever corresponding work needs to be done to move them along; calls and/or meetings with companies a client is working with/in discussions with, potential clients, my business partner, people in my network; looking for new partnership opportunities for clients; writing copy for clients; composing any editorial pieces needed for What I’m Holding; applying to influencer campaigns for What I’m Holding; and various other projects that arise. It’s always an adventure and meetings and calls are often scheduled day of or at short notice. In general, it’s exhilarating and I love what I do, but there are definitely days when I just want to wake up knowing when and where I will have to be until I go to bed that night.
Do you get lonely?
Rarely. This might be hard to believe but it almost never crosses my mind that I’m sitting by myself. I am in constant contact with others, via phone, email, text, internal company messaging systems, or in person at meetings, not to mention that I have plenty of work to do. I think the fact that I begin each day with an exercise class also helps. At the studio, I see and interact with lots of people, many of whom are friends, so no matter what I’ve always had a social element to my day.
What do you miss about working in an office?
My standing desk, hands down. I’m actually in the process of redoing my desk/work area. With the amount of time I now spend at my desk, there are things about it/the general area that are irritating and, aside from my vision board which hangs on the wall above my desk, the space is completely uninspiring. The inability to stand though is really killing me. I never would have thought that would be the case but, turns out requesting one at work was a great decision, props to you Leah of the past. I’ve just ordered a StandStand and have high hopes; it’s basically a wooden, folding stand that converts any desk or table into a standing workspace. Fingers crossed! Also having an IT department J
Tips for working at home?
1. Get dressed in real clothes every day. I did this from the start and I think it is really important. You’re still at work, look like it. Obviously I’m not putting on formal attire or even business casual most days but you will not find me working in sweats, unless I’m also sick (or it’s the weekend/after 9pm).
2. Make sure you go outside every day. I’ve always needed daylight and fresh air on my face. Whether that came in the form of my commute, a quick walk around the block at lunch, or getting out of the subway a stop or two early. Being at home, most of these opportunities to be outside are eliminated so I make it a point to always get out. I usually do this at the end of the day, which I find helps me transition from work mode to home mode.
3. Set limits. This one is tough. When you’re home, it’s easy to keep going until all hours and view the weekend as just plain old days of the week. The work is physically there, all your files, all your notes; whatever equipment/tech you use is there; and it’s simple to take a little break for dinner and then hop right back to it only to catch yourself getting sleepy at your desk at 11pm. Right now I’m trying hard to keep weekends work-free. If something urgent arises, of course I’m on it; I also do look at any emails/other communication that comes in and respond as appropriate. The work/life integration is never easy no matter who you are and where you work.
What would you say to others contemplating working from home?
Before you take the leap (though with certain jobs like mine, it’s somewhat unavoidable), think about what it is you need to do for work each day and your work style. Be honest about distractions, temptations, tools, software, meeting spaces, etc. If you think you can do it, and want to, give it a try. Maybe you can ease into it, taking a day or two at home and the rest of the week in your office. Ultimately, it depends on you and the work you do. So long as you’re able to be productive and get your work done, it doesn’t matter where you are, at least in my opinion.
Do you like it?
Do you work from home? What’s the one thing on your desk that you can’t live without (laptop, phone, and chargers don’t count)?