The Biggest Lie About Working From Home

Everyone from Internet marketing gurus to career advisors sell the idea of working from home as being the perfect way to achieve work/life balance.

Unfortunately, 99% of them are full of shit.

In fact, they’re flat out lying to you.

Because anyone who works full-time at home knows it’s far from the fairytale some people make it out to be.

And that can be working for yourself, or an at-home job for a corporate.

It comes with its own set of challenges, problems and headaches – none of which any amount of positive thinking can prepare you for.

I’ve seen everyone from successful authors and entrepreneurs bail out of the “working from home” experience to go back to day jobs.

That’s because they fell for the same lie I did.

Allow me to explain.

My story

During the financial crisis of 2010 I had to swallow my pride and take a day job, leaving my work-from-home routine behind.

It was do that or lose my home.

But I had no idea how socially isolated I’d become until I sat down to lunch with my co-workers during my first week back in the 9-to-5.

I’d actually forgotten how to interact with relative strangers.

I kept tripping over my words, rushing to try to string a thought together.

That’s when it hit me – I hadn’t actually spoken face-to-face with another human for at least 2 months at that stage.

Sure, I chatted with the people at the grocery store or coffee shops, but I hadn’t had a full-on conversation with anyone in several weeks.

Somewhere along my journey to be free of an office cubicle, I completely lost myself.

It took weeks to adjust to simply being around people again.

That feeling still lingers with me today, years later sitting here in my home office.

It taught me some very valuable lessons that have served me well during the current pandemic.

The lie

For me, the biggest lie about working from home is that it’s inherently better than working in an office.

That you’ll somehow be happier, healthier and better adjusted than you were in your day job.

You can take it from me, that’s absolute bullshit.

Yet that’s exactly how people will pitch remote or home work to you.

That it magically solve all your problems, and you’ll earn more because you’re happier, etc.

If anything, working out of your home is way more difficult – especially if you have even the tiniest existing mental health problem.

Plus you now have to face all the additional distractions that come with being at home all the time, from your partner to your pet to noisy neighbors.

Hours can bleed into days and days then bleed into weeks.

Or they will if you fall for the total mistruth that working from home makes everything in your life instantly better.

So…it’s all terrible then?

God, no.

I love working from home.

Even with all the complications that come with it, I trade those off against my very deep need to decide how I spend my day.

I’ve given employers more than enough of my finite time on this Earth.

But it’s my constant awareness of the “lie” that keeps me sane.

I don’t fall for it anymore, and that also means being able to forgive myself when I fall off the wagon, and think about getting a day job again.

So my advice is this – enter the world of working from home with both eyes wide open.

And don’t fall for any of the utopia bullshit peddled by others.

Working From Home During A Pandemic: A Beginners Guide

Well, this is a blog post I never thought I’d have to write.

Every morning I wake up to the same realization – we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

How surreal is it to say that out loud?

We’re living through a major historical event as it unfolds.

But this virus is scary shit – there’s no two ways about it.

So scary that many businesses have encouraged employees to work from home.

Working from home every Friday or Monday is a treat most of you enjoyed because it made the working week feel shorter.

There’s nothing better than getting up, commuting from the bedroom to the kitchen table “office” and logging in over VPN.

Then maybe login to Netflix to catch up on binges while checking your email.

Relax – we’ve all done that.

Every boss knows it happens…because your boss did it too.

But for many of you, this is your first time having to lock yourself inside your home while simultaneously trying to turn it into an actual office.

This makes the “treat” of working remotely a complete fucking chore.

So, I thought it might be helpful to put together a quick guide for anyone who is struggling to get this whole “Work from home” thing working for them.

Use a dedicated space

As tempting as it might be to balance your laptop on your knees while sitting on your favorite chair, I’d advise against it.

It’s a nice idea but really, really impractical.

You need to carve out a tiny corner of your house or apartment as a dedicated “office space”.

That might seem like me trying to take the joy out of working from wherever you feel like, but you’ll feel more centered if you can simply walk up to your desk, sit down and get to work.

Otherwise you’re going to spend the first 30 minutes of each day dithering about where to set up, and then God help you if your partner/housemate chooses the same location.

Create a routine

Your first few days of working remotely will probably be a little bit free-form, especially if your employer offers flexible hours.

But do yourself a massive favour by creating a routine/schedule for your day.

Your routine should focus on how you carve up your day for work, but more importantly, creating time where you’re not stuck at home.

Now, I know that certain countries are fully locked down, so opportunities to leave your home are limited to shopping and medical needs.

But in as much as you can find a way to get out of the house either right before you start or right after you finish work for the day.

Ideally both.

The reason for doing this is that it allows you to build a mental barrier between work and home i.e. you “arrive in work” at the start of the day and then “leave work” at the end of it.

Just do your very best to even just walk around the block at the start of end of each day.

It does help.

Take breaks

It’s all too easy to lose track of an entire day when you’re busily working away at home.

That’s because you won’t have anyone emailing you to sneak out to an early lunch, or reminding you that you forgot your coffee break.

So take regular breaks during your day, and spend them away from your computer.

Sit in your back yard or on your balcony, but don’t eat where you work, especially in your own home.

You’ll grow to resent everything about working remotely very quickly if you do.

Limit distractions

Everyone has the same basic plan when they’re told they’ll be working at home – catch up on their favorite movies or TV shows.

Two seasons behind on The Walking Dead?

Cool, you can catch up now, right?

Wrong.

It doesn’t work (plus that show is now f’ing awful).

You’ll be so distracted by the movie that you can’t focus on work, or so distracted by work that you can’t focus on the movie.

Hint: I’ve already put together a pretty exhaustive blog post on how to cut down on distractions in a home office environment.

Set a “closing time”

In a regular office environment you will receive a number of visual or audio cues that the working day is done i.e. all your colleagues heading home for the day.

You don’t have that when working in your PJ’s and that favourite tattered t-shirt of yours, and that leaves you open to experiencing Parkinson’s Law.

This law basically states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Translated into layman’s English that simply means if you say you’ll work 12 hours (but really only need 8) then you’ll find a way to fill up all twelve of those hours with “work”.

And you’ll find yourself capable of doing that every day.

Suddenly, you’re still staring at your laptop at 9pm when you should have finished your day at 6pm…but you’re not sure how you got to that point.

That’s why you need to pick a “closing time” for your office and stick to it like glue.

Chin up

We have a lot of difficult days ahead of us thanks to this virus, but to those of you working remotely, cut yourself some slack too.

Nobody could have foreseen or planned for something on this scale happening so quickly.

So if you find yourself struggling to get into a routine, or get your work completed as normal, that’s fine too.

You do what you can, but if you need time to grab a coffee and just stare the sunrise or sunset, then that’s valuable too.

Hopefully some of what I shared above helps you.

If so, let me know with a comment – I do actually read them!