Working from home isn't easy

5:42 PM

I've been working from the comfort of my home for close to 13 years now, and if there is one thing I learned from doing so, is that self discipline matters....A LOT

People often get this  idea that you get more time for yourself, that working from home is easy, that you will be more available for other things, that you can take it easy...And if you mention you are an entrepreneur or freelancer, suddenly people will think that you are living THE life and your life is all about sitting on the sofa and watch Netflix the whole day long.

Wouldn't it be perfect? I mean seriously getting paid to sit around the whole day long doing nothing. Well, I hate to break it to you, I don't know a single person freelancer or salaried who gets to do just that at home. So if your only motivation to quit your job, or negotiate with your boss to let you work from home is just so you get more time to do what you love, you might want to re-think that plan right away.

I'm writing this blog post because I spent the last 1.5 months not working the same hours and out of my home office (on the sofa in the living room) because my mom was visiting.
While I knew how much time and effort and sweat I put in my business and career, I frankly only realised during this past month that it amounted to more than I thought even though it never felt like work.
And while we are on the topic, as much as I loved having my mom around and enjoyed spending time with her and welcomed the change of routine, I am also VERY glad to have my home office back and being able to focus on bigger projects to come.

Self discipline is paramount people

When I started working from home, I was a freelance translator, and was kept quite busy with a big assignment that spanned several years on an off with a client. The only way to pull it off, was to dedicate a minimum of 4 hours a day. Because translation can be quite redundant and well, boring, I used to break those hours all through the day. What I realised early on, is that the hardest part was to get people around me to get on board with that. 
Hubby was going to office full time, so that wasn't too hard, but when my in-laws came to visit for over a month after we got married it was hard for them to wrap their head around the fact I wasn't going to be cooking 3 square meals a day, and serve them tea and snacks in between. 
When I went to Switzerland for 2 months in 2008, I took my work with me, and it was difficult for my own family to understand that I wasn't exactly on a long holiday, I still had deadlines to meet and work hours to pull. 
When my daughter was born, I had to quit freelancing simply because being sleep deprived, taking care of a newborn and spending whatever was left of my day translating French into English  became impossible. 

Then I got more serious with my blog, and I know many thought it was just a hobby, a way to kill time while "off duty" as a wife and mom. While I wasn't getting paid my dues at first, I treated it like work from the get go. Why? Because that's who I am : perfectionist, dedicated to whatever project I embark on and intent to treat everything I do seriously. 
Turns out I was right, what was just a fun hobby, turned into me making a name for myself and starting getting related or less related projects on the side which progressively lead to where I stand today as an artist

If you don't put in the time, you aren't doing it right

So, you want to make it being your own boss and working from home? Be prepared to work hard and long. 
When I blogging was my sole gig, I used to put about 4-5 hours a day either writing, or planning a blog project or being involved in promoting my work. That came on top of actually pulling a DIY project, on busy days, I could easily be absorbed by blog related things for 8 or 9 hours. 

With my artwork and designing gig, I still blog a couple of times a month, and spend 5-6 hours at my desk either painting, editing, publishing or promoting my work around. When I am not doing that, I am watching videos by other artists and teachers to perfect myself and learn new skills. 
Speaking of classes, I teach kids art classes and conduct workshops that take me a couple of hours a week. When I go on a walk to stay fit (and keep diabetes at bay) I usually either listen to a podcast, or perky music that engage my thought and usually triggers new ideas I can use in my work. 
Last but not least, I try to spend a few evenings a week reading about business, marketing or ways to perfect myself through self-help book.
Still not impressed? I doodle for fun frequently to get those artsy crafty muscles from going weak. 

All in all, I spend about 8-9 or more hours of my day being engaged into something related to my work. It doesn't leave much time to sit on the sofa to watch Netflix huh? 

You need to do what you love to pull it through

Unless you are a salaried person with a boss keeping you on a tight leash, the only way to make it working from home is to make sure your work is something you LOVE doing. 
That way it won't look like you are working hard and you'll keep yourself motivated. If you love blogging, drawing, shooting videos, painting, or whatever it is you plan to make it a career from the comfort of your home, it has to make you feel happy, happier than the urge to sit in front of your computer playing video games or binge watching your favourite series on Netflix. 
If you find yourself constantly grabbing the TV remote, it means that whatever you planned to make your career isn't strong enough.

Dedicate a space in your home

It goes with self-discipline really, but if you have a corner of your home you can dedicate to work, you'll be far more likely to pull the hours. I wrote a whole blog post on that topic a few months ago. 
And while I was relegated to my sofa this past month, I still went through a ritual of setting up my space before working. It involved opening my laptop, keeping my journal, notebooks and pencils nearby, and make sure my tea mug and water glass were on the coffee table within reach. Everything non work related like the TV remotes went off the coffee table and I even told my mom to let me work. She forgot a few times and tried to get me to chit chat, only for me to remind her I was working on something. 

You need your family and friends on board

I said it before, the biggest obstacle is when it comes to family and friends to understand that just because you don't commute to an office daily, it doesn't mean you aren't working. 
I still face that challenge every school holidays, though thankfully, as Ishita grows older, she is more independent and it leaves me with more time to focus on work all through the day.
When family comes visiting, I treat it as a leave, and usually take a few days off, or in the case of an extended visit like I just got to deal with, re-work my hours and priorities. With my mom it was one day of work, and one day nearly off as we got busy outside the home with other things. I established a routine of really working full time every other days, and making sure that on those days I was actually not available for anything else. 

You and your work are your priority

It's easy to fall into the trap of seeing working from home as a way to "have it all" or at the least have more time for others. 
Do this, and you'll be heading to Burnoutville very quickly. So make yourself your priority, it means that work is going to take 8-9 hours of your day, and you need to schedule in some "Me time" before you squeeze in all the other household and family stuff. 
As you all know, I manage my household without hiring a maid in India, but that doesn't mean I do everything myself. My husband and daughter do their bit, I have a cook to take care of hubby's tiffin lunch, bought a dishwasher to do the dishes and my mom gifted me this awesome cleaning robot

It's still doable

Alright! I might have killed a few myth and broken a few idillic visions of what working from home is like, but don't let that discourage you. If you really want to make it on your own, just put in the hours, dedication and passion necessary to pull it through. The only thing you really shouldn't loose sight of, is that work is work, no matter where you do it. The pitfalls of working from a corporate office is the whole commuting gig, having chatty colleagues and a boss to breathe down your neck if you don't meet deadlines. The pitfalls of working from home is to not get distracted by your TV, Phone, or raid your fridge too many times a day and stick to a schedule that nobody but yourself can make your follow. 
With a little willpower and a well drafted plan you can totally do it, and if you are dealing with family members that don't get it, just get a lock on your home office space and drown their screams by putting music on. 

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