Working from home. It was a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I would daydream about it while stuck in traffic for an hour and 15 minutes on the way to work and also on the hour and a half ride home. In my mind, I knew it would be much more glamorous than the rat race I was currently in. In many ways it is, but there were some things I didn’t count on. Today I am going to share with you the 7 truths about being your own boss and working from home that no one ever tells you about. Hopefully knowing these truths will help you acclimate and adjust when you decide to make the shift to working from your home.
Let’s Dive In!
Truth #1: Working From Home Can Be Isolating
This is one truth I wasn’t counting on. Coming from a busy, bustling corporate office to a quiet household takes some getting used to. It can feel really lonely and if you have introvert tendencies, it amplifies them! There are blocks of hours at a time that I never talk to anyone…except my dogs. Where before, I would have the interaction of people walking by my office who would stop in for a quick chat, or I would bump into a friend at the water cooler, or maybe at 3 pm, we would celebrate someone’s birthday in the break room. Those types of interactions don’t happen at home.
Truth #2: What Free Time?
So many times people believe they are going to have a ton of free time on their hands by working from home. Honestly, I believe this is the opposite. When working from home, you do experience an increase in productivity due to a tremendous decrease in office interruptions. Additionally, when you are working for yourself and you have “extra” time or “found” time due to an uptick in productivity, it just tends to make more room for new projects. In my opinion, there is less free time because when you work for yourself, you tend to be always focused on moving the needle forward.
Truth #3: Boundaries
When you come home to work for yourself, you may need to work on setting boundaries for you and your family. Since you are “always” home, it might seem easy for your family to ask you for favors, run an errand, etc. This can be super frustrating when you have deadlines and working on a project.
Here are some ways to set up boundaries in your household:
- Verbal cues: Have a family meeting and explain your work schedule and why it is important they respect your working hours. A friendly conversation explaining your situation can do wonders!
- Visual cues: Utilize simple visual cues to show and remind your household you are working and are not to be disturbed unless there is an emergency. Consider closing an office door, lighting a candle – when the candle is on, work is being done, office hours sign on the door of your home office, etc.
- Phone cues: consider working in blocks of time and during those times your phone is set to airplane mode or do not disturb. Calls go to voicemail, consider an outgoing message that outlines when a caller can expect to get their call returned.
Once you have boundaries in place, they will help send the message to those around you that just because you work from doesn’t mean you are chilling on the couch and participating in a Netflix binge.
Truth #4: Distractions
They are EVERYWHERE. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, dogs, cats, home maintenance projects, you name it, they are all calling for your attention when you work from home. The easiest way for me to tame the calls of your home is to schedule those tasks into your day or week and stick to the schedule.
Truth #5: Availability – Clients and Customers Need Boundaries Too!
There is something magical that happens when you announce that you work for yourself – people tend to think you are available to them at all hours. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean customers and clients can have 24-hour access to you. Frankly, that’s the fastest way for you to get burned out! Here are some tips to help you put boundaries in place with your clients and customers:
- Post your office schedule in your email signature, voicemail greeting, and on your website.
- Respond to text, email, and voicemail only during your designated working hours. Once you respond outside of those hours you send a message that it is ok for clients and customers to contact you any time they want, and expect to get an answer from you.
- Set up a communication plan and expectations before you start working with the client.
Truth #6: Living The Laptop Lifestyle
When you work for yourself and from home, you truly can live the laptop lifestyle and work whenever you want from wherever you are. While this is true, there are some things I’ve learned the hard way:
- Not all wifi is created equal – you can waste a lot of time working at coffee shops, restaurants, etc. because of slow internet speeds or unstable connections. Invest in a secure personal hotspot.
- Secure internet connections are life! Literally. Using open wifi is an invitation for your devices to be hacked.
- Don’t underestimate the power of chargers and power packs. There is nothing more frustrating than getting into a workflow and then being forced to leave because you don’t have enough battery power.
Truth #7: You Need A Meeting Space and a P.O Box
Protect your privacy. When I was first starting out, I used to have client meetings at my house until I had clients show up unannounced, whenever they wanted with their latest emergency. Even if you never meet clients at home, your mailing address should not be on any of your printed materials including invoices. It’s amazing how resourceful people can be when they want to find you.
Now I only meet clients at their office, a local coffee shop, a restaurant, or a meeting center. All of my printed materials that need an address utilize a P.O. box or a UPS Store mailbox for a mailing address.
Overall, working from home is pretty amazing. I LOVE my 30 step commute to my office (yes, I’ve counted) and the only traffic jams I encounter are four-legged ones that need a scratch behind the ear. If you are considering working from home, what are your biggest questions or concerns? I’d like to help you if I can!