Working From Home: Update

Here’s the deal. I hate working from home. I hate it. It makes me feel lonely and nothing I do feels like work, and not in the good way. In the, “what the fuck am I doing?” way.

Everything was great before the wedding. I had a routine, I was on it. I spent the majority of my time not at home. I was running about, doing things for the wedding, but a lot of things not for the wedding. And then the wedding happened and the honeymoon and when I got back I was sick. Really sick. For weeks. And I never left the house because I just couldn’t. And somewhere along those lines I lost my routine, I lost the feeling that I was being productive, because I wasn’t really being productive at all. I kept thinking (and Kamel kept saying) that once I got better I would be back on track! Feeling great! Super woman with a laptop!

But now, several weeks from my first day of feeling better, I’m still unhappy. And it’s not because I’m not being productive, because I am. I’m busy, I’m getting things done, I’m meeting deadlines. But if I’m being completely honest, I’m not meeting enough deadlines to be satisfied, I’m not generating enough out-put for my own comfort level. And it’s because I have too much time. I realize that sounds indulgent. Wow, Lauren, you have too much time? Why don’t you whine about it then? But, it’s really about being honest about my own weaknesses. And one of them is procrastination. I don’t know any writer who doesn’t procrastinate. And I hear that normal people do too. If I have all the time in the world to spend, I’ll spend all the time in the world. If I only have 3 hours to get what I need to get done, I’m a dynamo.

The biggest reason I wanted to start working from home was a lifestyle change. I was working close to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week and working a handful of hours both Saturday and Sunday. And I had been doing this for nearly a year and it was killing me. But to go from that, to this feels extreme. I have my weekends and evenings back, but even though I do work a solid work day, I don’t feel busy enough for my own sanity.

So, things will be changing around here. But I’m not 100% sure how they will change yet. I need a balance. I need to be busy and have co-workers and an office, and a reason to put clothes on and leave the house. But I also need time. I need to be able to write and get that handled, because if I don’t then we have a whole other problem. I’m working on it, it’s a process but I think I’m moving in the right direction.

24 thoughts on “Working From Home: Update”

  1. I don’t know how much the wedding affected this, but I think a lot of people feel like this after their weddings. So much less to do, and there isn’t that buzz of goings-on. I think with your wedding being over and a lifestyle change was like a double whammy. I know that feeling of too much time, and it can be debilitating. I hope you find a system/lifestyle that works for you! Power to lauren!

  2. I’ve been working from home too, post-wedding, and I feel sooo much less productive than I ever did at an office (even though I was planning my wedding, often while at the office). Part of it is because I’m not full-time anymore, but another part is that I’m just not a work-alone type of person. I like to have co-workers drop by my office to visit, and places to go, and having those minor distractions helped me better manage my day. Now, it’s just way too easy to stay in the house alone all day and not do much, and that’s frustrating.

  3. THIS. So hard. And I’m feeling this way with no wedding. (Though maybe traveling could be my “wedding”?)

    I’ve been back “home” for a week now, and while I’ve done work I needed to get done and even taken a few photos for fun, I’m not working as hard as I thought I would. Or when I thought I would. I wanted to work 10-4 or so every day, but instead I’m doing a few hours at a time, in random spurts. I’m still writing at night, even though I’m “supposed” to do that during the day. I’m trying to tell myself it doesn’t matter WHEN I do things, as long as I do them, but I’m not buying it. I need to feel productive in daylight hours in order to feel like I’m really “working” from home.

    1. Yes. Yes. Yes. This is exactly what’s happening with me. Yes. Part of it is that we need to acknowledge that fitting into a 9-5 space might not be where the writing happens, but that THAT shouldn’t devalue the work.

      Unfortunately I’m not there yet. ha.

      1. Can you change up your to-do lists, if you’re the type to use them? Like, instead of making a list of “work” things to be accomplished from 9-5, make a list of “today” things that include both work and life stuff. If it all (or most of it) gets crossed off by the time you go to bed, you win! even if the “work” stuff was done at 9pm instead of 4pm. Or a to-do list for the whole week, not just a day… it might help combat the “working at irregular hours and feeling like you’re not accomplishing anything because it’s not in a normal structure” issue?

  4. ALSO. Sorry for my scatter-brained need for two comments. But have you thought of volunteer work? It’s something you could list on your resume that will help later if you get back into the workforce, but most places are very flexible with hours. I thought of volunteering at local libraries so I would have “co-workers,” a place to go, and it would get my mind churning to help my writing later.

    1. Right now we have no wiggle room financially. I’m actually pretty impressed that we’ve been managing to eat on 40 dollars a week! We are all about the budgets. So that’s just not in the cards for right now.

      1. Hurray for you guys for budgeting to stay within your means. Funny how you realize what you actually need…we used to have to be a lot more careful and sometimes actually forget that we can “splurge” and go out to eat (complete with wine) now and then. Makes me pretty happy actually. šŸ™‚

  5. I couldn’t work from home either, I find it way too isolating. In New York they have these communal office-spaces and writer’s offices that are really great for feeling like you are going to work without being tied into a 9-5. They must have some in SF, right?

  6. Umm, I can relate. I think you should find a working place and fix some schedules and deadlines for you. Why don’t you find a nice library, where you can go, and maybe have lunch at a fixed time ?
    We all work under pressure. I remember at university, every new semester I swore I was gonna be up to date and study every day, then I was busy at the hospital, at the lab, writing assignments that there was no time to study. And then the exam period came and we were all on dynamo mode.
    But don’t be too hard on you, as long as you are doing stuff and meeting your deadlines you will be fine. Not sure it this is helpful. And I don’t think it really has to do with the wedding planning (though yeah you had something that kept your mind busy and involved “tasks” ) but really with working SO Many hours, and commuting, and not having 1 free second, as opposed to your situation now.

  7. This is totally my issue as a grad student, Lauren. Totally. (Case in point, today I was supposed to be out the door by 9 to go read in a cafe. It’s 10am and I’m still in my PJs, reading blogs…)

    Wanna have work-dates sometimes? I tend to have at least one day each week when I don’t have to be on campus and could trek into the city to meet you at a cafe or something.

    1. Ohh thats a GREAT idea! Work dates with other work-from-homers! Lauren, you should check out Meetup.com and see if there are any work from home meet up groups in your area. Im sure there are, it would be a great resource to get some tips and support and work dates and fun stuff šŸ™‚

  8. is it totally crazy to suggest you maybe get a part-time job, in addition to the freelance work you’re doing? that way, you have a schedule and structure, but it would only be part of the time, and that might help you better budget the rest of your time.

    (but I’m totally not suggesting you work at McDonalds or something – it’s only a good suggestion if you can think of something you’d like to do. this might be a terrible example, but I work in IT now, full time, and I totally miss the atmosphere (AND TIPS) when I used to make lattes)

  9. I hear you on this… to be honest, I think a lot of people struggle with the whole ‘working from home’ thing. I find that I get a LOT more done when I go someplace, generally the library because I also couldn’t afford a shared office space. Having a writing buddy/group probably helps too, and any other externally-imposed deadlines (I totally see through any deadlines I’m supposed to keep to myself!). Cafes are okay but I’m a little easily distracted and end up feeling like I have to move on too frequently. all that being said I’m in the library right now reading blogs!

  10. I feel like I would have the same experience if I tried a career where I had to work at home. i freaking hate my commute, but I think I need to be able to get out of the apartment and Go somewhere to be really productive, at least for more than 1 day a week (I work from home once a week and I do ok, but I know full-time would kill me). I’m a little terrified of this when I go back for grad school (whenever that might be).. hope you get it worked out soon! I know you will.

  11. dude, can i say: working from home is a bitch and a half. i never feel productive when i work from home for myself. if i work work from home, i feel ultra productive without distractions and get 10,000x more work done and yay! but the second i start working on personal projects, i get distracted by checking my reader, writing a paragraph of a completely unrelated story, starting a new business (because, that’s the ticket!), catching up with a friend, getting new projects and suddenly…all of my projects are due at the same time. WTF. i’m with you is all.

  12. Oh L! I worry about this too!! I also worry about continuing to work non stop because I no longer have the pressure to hurry up and do something because I only have a few hours to do it. Instead I fear I’ll take all day to do something because I have ALL day to do it. Which will result is no real lifestyle change for me once I go full time in a few weeks. And I NEED a lifestyle change! Hoping I can manage it without the pressure/time constraints and go-go-go I have now!

  13. I work in a super corporate job but where because we have laptops it can be really easy to work from home. And I never do because I hate it. I never get as much done and don’t like not having people to talk to during the day. Other than things mentioned above I don’t really have a solution, just that I totally hear you and I can imagine if I were only accountable mostly to myself it would be a disaster. I need the fear of disappointing people to motivate me!

  14. I can’t work from home. I mean, I can, if I need to, and I do from time to time, but I’m a million times more productive at work. Too many distractions. Plus, if I’m home all day too many days in a row, I start getting lonely and feeling useless. Not productive.

  15. Work at the Summit Cafe in the Mission. Everyone there is starting their own start up so the atmosphere is really conducive to working. Just get there early or you’ll get stuck at a bad table.

    Also, get someone to save your space and get a sandwich at Bi-rite for lunch instead of eating the overpriced food.

    Seriously though, sometimes you need an atmosphere of people tapping away at their keyboards to get into work mode. Sometimes I like to work at a laid back cafe and then I go elsewhere, but when I want to get prodded to GET ‘ER DONE, Summit is where it’s at.

  16. Oh…I have been trying to figure this out too. I guess I need a certain amount of structure to work from home productively, but I have not found the right solution for me. I recently started two part time jobs though, and I am hoping the time out of the house and the less-time-overall factor will create that sense of urgency that I must need to focus for long periods of time. Sigh.

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