The Things Nobody Tells You About Working From Home

Until very recently, ‘working from home’ was not a central fixture in my vernacular. I have schlepped my backside into an office in some location or another for the last 27 years. That’s 7,039 weekdays, which constitutes a MASSIVE 14,000-odd hours of commuting at conservative calculations – most of it done before the advent of nifty little hand-held devices to keep you entertained on the bus and (sort of) distracted from the body odour of the person who is sitting next to you.

Now I’m not whining about this, mind you. No-one was holding a gun to my head. I was (for the most part) a willing volunteer. I guess it’s called having a career.

What's it really like to #WorkFromHome? Here's the truth. #careertips Click To Tweet

Hello from the other side

What Nobody Tells You About Working From HomeAbout two months ago, my family and I did something which pretty much everyone I know thinks was a little bizarre (not to mention irrational). We moved to a tiny island, accessible only by boat. No – I’m not talking about Tasmania – I’m talking about something even smaller and weirder. This decision shall be forever known by me as the ‘Escape to the Island’, and a chance to live a life less ordinary.

As whacky as all that sounds, I haven’t yet become a Powerball Millionaire, so the necessity of earning a living is (tediously) still a part of my life. Luckily, I am somewhat able to string a sentence together and I have a few clues about some aspects of marketing, so I am able to freelance, and base myself from home to do so.

Also lucky is the fact that our tiny island does have the Internet. And electricity. Although we’re still working on running water.

Anyway, all that aside, my life has been transformed. I am my own boss, sitting at a desk that’s roughly eight metres from my bed and about ten metres from the television. Theoretically, I’ve got it made (apart from the Powerball thing, of course).

Here comes the BUT

Well actually, there is no ‘but’. Not really. However (a far better word than ‘BUT’, which can be misinterpreted) there are quite a few challenges that can crop up.

For instance, the other day, I had to look at my phone to work out what day it was. It was MONDAY.

This little disconnect made me start to wonder what was happening to my brain. And it got me to thinking: This working from home business is probably somewhat more fraught with danger than anyone realises.

So, in the interests of public health and the sanity of telecommuters everywhere, I decided to put together this brief list of precautions for anyone who needs to leper crawl out of bed and into some semblance of upright productivity on a daily basis.

The truth about working from home

Ergonomics are your friend

Oddly enough, it’s possible to put your back out working from the lounge eight hours a day. Splash out on a proper desk and chair now, or spend the money later on sending your physiotherapist’s children to private schools. If you need a little help (and who doesn’t?), we dedicated a whole post to setting up the ultimate home office.

Beware the fridge

What Nobody Tells You About Working From HomeA little known fact is that fridges are shape-shifters. Soon after the advent of your working from home adventure, your fridge will start to take on the form of a very attractive human. You will think about it constantly. Before you know it, you’re sidling up to it at roughly ten-minute intervals to try and strike up a conversation. The not-so-sexy part is gaining ten kilos as a result.

Your only hope here is to lock it down early. Import a new fridge from the UAE (where fridge locks are a standard feature, believe it or not), or go straight to lockthefridge.com.

Yes – that really is a thing.

Get your partner or housemate to hide the key/code in a new place each day. This strategy has the added benefit of keeping your mind sharp – it’s a little bit like those dog toys people hide food in.

Your fridge may gain some sex appeal when you #WorkFromHome. Click To Tweet
Make appointments (even if they’re with yourself)

Early on in the week, you really do need to make yourself a schedule of things that you need to get done. Put them into a list and allocate blocks of time to them, then check them off as you go. To feel the frisson of excitement and immense satisfaction of checking things off, make the first item on your list ‘Writing a To-Do List’ and then check it off immediately.

Reward yourself with one round of searching the house for the key to the fridge.

You may not think this is important since you’re home unsupervised, foot loose and fancy free, but the truth is that time gets a little bit elastic when you don’t have a reference point. It feels a little bit like this:

What Nobody Tells You About Working From Home

Did I mention we also wrote a blog post about establishing a daily routine when working from home? Because we did.

Cut out the social media, YouTube videos and Stan

I don’t need to talk to you about this. You know why.

Giving into #Twitter is naughty when you #WorkFromHome. #meta Click To Tweet
Get dressed to go outdoors

It’s surprisingly difficult to be a go getter when you’re wearing your pyjamas. Even when they have lightning bolts running down the legs.

You don’t have to get all weird about it and wear a shirt and tie (or its female equivalent) while working from home – all I’m saying here is that pants aren’t an optional clothing item, even if you are only staggering out to the post box that day. Wearing something that you’re ok to be seen by your boss in is a good yardstick.

Then actually go outdoors sometimes

What Nobody Tells You About Working From HomeFailing to do so runs the risk of rapid-onset Agoraphobia. You need to do it regularly or you will start to take on hermit-like tendencies such as irrational attachment to inanimate objects and the sprouting of inappropriately long hair in equally inappropriate places.

Brave the sunlight and walk to the corner shop to buy that newspaper, or row there, if you happen to live on an island within rowing distance.

While you’re outdoors, talk to real people

Why? Because after long periods of mostly conversing with inanimate objects (such as the fridge), you start to forget sentence structure and the dictionary meaning of words.

An example of this was just the other day when I couldn’t for the life of me remember the word ‘umbrella’ and I had to tell my daughter not to forget to take her ‘mushroom thingy’ to school. Unfortunately that is not just me trying to be amusing, it is actually true.

Go work somewhere else occasionally

I recommend doing this at least once per week, just to maintain your ‘by the water cooler’ patter.

Shared working spaces are great for this, and they also help you forge new connections with people who have some insight into why your hair often looks like it hasn’t seen a brush for days on end. These environments can also be a source of new ideas, and new projects to become involved in.

Dig up your personal bucket list

What Nobody Tells You About Working From HomeRemember all those things you promised yourself you’d do one day if you didn’t have to go to work? Get out there and do them.

I am currently taking a weekly yoga class, I’m learning to row in a straight line (a mandatory life skill when you live on an island) and I read stories and paint with my son’s kindergarten group. I also do grown-up things like meeting with financial advisors to ask them if they are lying to my face about my superannuation fund’s performance.

They’re only small things, but working from home has revived the things that the nine to whatever grind had effectively killed off.

To wrap this tale up…

Change is challenging, no matter what you’re changing. But if you land yourself in my working from home situation, remember that no matter how mad you feel you’re going sometimes, you’re now living a life that other people aspire to.

The key to being a self-motivator and getting stuff done is simply solving one problem at a time, roughly in the order of their potential to explode if unattended to. Learning to do so successfully simply requires making an internal study of what gets you up and at ‘em. Once you’ve done so, the couch (and indeed the world) is your oyster.

Oh, and stay in touch!

Apart from the scenarios listed above, communicating with others when you’re collaborating on projects is another of the challenges of working from home. Blrt helps you get your point across quickly by allowing you to talk, point and draw over images, documents and websites. The resulting video-like recording is called a Blrt.

Try making one today:

About Blrt

Your Blrts require much less bandwidth than video and can be shared with anyone on mobile or desktop. This makes Blrt ideal for both collaboration and the creation and sharing of dynamic content, as public Blrts can be embedded into any webpage.

Once recorded, Blrts are stored in the cloud and are exchanged with others in a conversation-like fashion. A record is kept of the exchange, and new parties and media can be added at any time.

Blrt shifts time and place, allowing users in a conversation to participate in their own time. In an era where activity-based working and distributed teams are commonplace, Blrt is revolutionising the way people interact to get things done.

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