"I wish I could be a housewife," one of my best friends said when I told her about my new journey as a full-time freelance writer.
I had to check her in the nicest way possible and let her know working from home is not as convenient or as glamorous as it looks. Sometimes it's actually more difficult than getting up and going to a job. While working from home has this appeal that automatically brings a level of envy from most people working a traditional 9-5, there are certainly good, bad, and ugly factors about the reality of it. The work-from-home concept is becoming more common and as someone who is fresh to the game, I feel like I have a responsibility to share my experience so far.
Let Freedom & Flexibility Ring
One of the most obvious benefits of working from home is the flexibility and freedom to set the tone for your day. Being able to set your own hours is nothing short of a win, whether you're working in freelance or full-time for a major company. I will say, sleeping in from time to time, eating lunch when I get good and ready, and even watching TV or a movie while I work (most of the time in my pajamas) is certainly one of the more positive sides of working from home, and probably what makes it appear to be super easy all the time. After all, it's one of the main reasons people like to go this route to begin with.
Without Discipline, You're Screwed
Even though the flexibility of working from home is nothing short of amazing, without discipline, it really doesn't matter, and you're much less likely to actually fulfill your maximum work potential and level of productivity. I would recommend setting a schedule and sticking to it. It's kind of a catch-22 because having the coveted flexibility can be a blessing and a curse when you're doing your own thing. As a freelance writer, I've found what works best for me is getting up as if I'm going to a job outside of my home. I might not always get dressed but it definitely makes a difference when I set my alarm and set hours that I want to write, when I want to take a break, and when I'll wrap up for the day.
It Could Throw Off With Your Work-Life Balance
Working from home also has the potential to interfere with your work-life balance. It's not as easy to clock out at 5:00, or whenever your goal time is, because you're already at home. It's not like you have to try and beat traffic to make it home by a certain time. This is true even more so when you're doing what you love. It's so easy for the day to fly by before you realize the sun has set and you're still working. This is another reason why making a schedule should be a priority as you take part in the work-from-home lifestyle.
It's A Money-Saver
Saving money on standard life expenses like gas, grabbing coffee, or going out to lunch daily is a major plus of being a part of the work-from-home community. Depending on the city you live in, if you work at home, you might not even need a car if the public transportation system is legit. This could save you hundreds of dollars a month alone. There's also no lunch meetings with co-workers, meaning you can load up on groceries and make a lunch instead of feeling obligated to go out to eat consistently.
Sidebar: While there are a number of tax breaks for those who work from home, if you're freelancing and your taxes aren't being taken out of your check, you definitely want to make sure you're setting money aside so you're not shocked when you file your taxes. I would recommend calling the IRS or speaking with a tax expert to determine how much you should save.
It Gets Redundant
Just like working in an office, working from home in the same environment every day can get super boring; especially if you're confined to a small space like a bedroom or separate room designated for work. Thankfully, this is a problem with an easy solution, considering all you have to do is switch up your environment to get a change of pace. Before recent events, I would have dubbed Starbucks as the go-to but there's also Panera Bread or a local library. A new scenery could also spark creativity and get you inspired and motivated.
It Can't Just Be You, Yourself… And You
Aside from working in the same room constantly, you have the potential of literally making yourself go crazy if you're at home alone all day; especially if you're an extrovert who thrives off of the energy of others. Yes, you can probably call a friend every once in a while, without worrying about coworkers who are side eyeing you for making private calls. But that can only do so much. I would suggest taking things a step further and going to lunch with a friend frequently or finding a group of people who also work from home that you can work with regularly. You can get together at a local coffee shop or make a rotation of whose house you'll work at one day a week. Either way, you have to have consistent face-to-face contact with peers so you don't go insane.
Your Fitness Is At A Minimum
Working from home doesn't require you to take nearly as many steps as working in an outside office. After all, your biggest commute is probably from the bed to the home office to the kitchen and back again. And in between there, you're most likely sitting pretty and stagnant, and doing what you love to do. Still, while the fitness is at a minimum from working from home, it can also be a positive too. A good idea is to schedule time to take a walk or do a quick workout video to make sure you keep moving.
You'll Be More Productive And Happier
Research shows those who work from home are not only more productive but also happier. Studies also revealed that working from home helps with efficiency and lowers stress. The freedom of working at your own pace combined with the satisfaction of being making minor and major moves as you check items off your daily to-do list brings a level of gratification and pleasure that will have you wanting to pat yourself on the back.
If you're thinking about taking that leap and working from home, it could definitely be a good move for you. Just keep in mind the realities of all that comes with it.