With the year coming to a close I thought I’d put a little post together for those thinking about taking the leap to try to cut out a side hustle for themselves in the near future. If you’re going all in and thinking about starting a blog here are my insights on what working from home is really like.
I’m going to start with some of the negatives that perhaps you haven’t considered before. At the end I’ll move onto the benefits of working from home for me. Some of these you’ll likely know about, whereas others might make you raise an eyebrow!
This is going to be a “warts and all” account based on my experience and giving you my honest view. It’s not intended to discourage you but instead provide a dose of reality. When we’re full of optimism it can be difficult to see the possible negatives of doing so. My hope then is to temper your enthusiasm with some things you might not have considered.
Working from Home Can Be VERY Lonely
I’ll start with an obvious one. When you work from home you are often alone. This can be a difficult place sometimes as most of the time it’s just you, your hustle and your thoughts. Sometimes you’re thoughts are not your best friends, especially if things aren’t heading in the direction you want.
When you’re a home worker, you have to try to corral your feelings of loneliness in order to maintain your enthusiasm. This is no mean feat!
Social media can be a great way to share the burden of working alone. Although it’s not quite the same as sharing a room with other people, it helps.
I haven’t yet tried to work in a shared office hub as I’ve never felt so lonely that working from home has become too difficult. But it is something I’d consider for sure if it did.
Another thing I try to do is to speak to people by phone where it’s warranted. I have a few clients, so this means I have to talk with people fairly regularly, which helps to reduce the feelings of loneliness. However, I still spend most of my working days at home on my own.
It also helps to leave the home office at least once a day. I have a dog so always make sure I take her on a walk at lunchtimes, where I often meet other dog walkers who I end up having interactions with.
In my view it’s vital not to become completely isolated or feeling lonely can become completely counter-productive to what you’re trying to achieve.
How to Avoid Feeling Lonely Working from Home
- Reach out to people in social media and involve yourself in discussions.
- Schedule time out and get outside.
- Consider working from a shared office hub or cafe every once in a while.
- If you have to speak to people, try to do it by phone rather than email.
Small Worries Can Grow Exponentially
I touched upon this above. Since you’re often working alone your thoughts can become a problem if you dwell on things that worry you. Small niggles can become a big problem if you allow them to grow beyond what’s real.
I’ve found myself ruminating on some things that have seemed really concerning for days on end only to realize I’m obsessing about something that’s really not important in the grand scale of things.
How do I get through this? I create lists of my worries and then look at them to understand what I can do about them.
I find this a very effective way of putting my concerns into perspective and understanding how critical they really are. If I can do something about any of them, it’s useful to identify what they are because it gives me a sense that I have some way to influence resolving them.
How to Understand How Important Your Worries Are
- Make a list of all the things that worry you and identify if you can do something about each of them.
- If you can do something, make an action list of the steps you can take.
- If you can’t do something, then of course be aware of them but don’t let them use up your energy.
You Don’t Have Co-Workers
Working in a place with other people can be totally energizing. You bounce ideas off one another and help each other out by sharing your workloads. Additionally, you work together towards shared goals and achieving them as a team is very satisfying.
You don’t get this working from home as a team of one!
It can be very frustrating not being able to look over a desk and request feedback about your ideas, or ask someone to lend a hand. It’s also tough not to be able to offer the same help to a colleague who’s asking you for the same support.
This is something I took for granted when I worked in an office environment and so it took me by surprise somewhat when I suddenly had no access to it.
How to Get Feedback and Share Your Workload
- You don’t have to have coworkers to get feedback about what you’re doing. Join forums, Facebook Groups and subscribe to sites in your niche and ask for opinion there when you need it… but don’t just be a taker! Give feedback and offer help to others too.
- It can be very helpful to outsource things in which you are not an expert. Perhaps you know someone with whom you can exchange favors, or if you have funds perhaps try outsourcing at sites like Fiverr.
You Have to Be Super Disciplined
This is perhaps an obvious one but self-discipline is high on the list of priorities when you’re your own boss.
No-one is going to set your objectives for you, give you targets or projects in which you can be involved and you can’t have an appraisal with your boss to understand how well you’re meeting expectations.
You have to be your own boss!
Of course it’s great to have the flexibility to manage your day the way you want, but for some this can be a very slippery slope to achieving very little each day.
You have to set your own objectives and manage your own schedule to meet them. Without discipline, you’ll miss targets and find your productivity will diminish.
How to Maintain Your Discipline & Focus
- Identify your goals.
- Use tools to understand what you need to work on. You could use a simple calendar tool or something more sophisticated like Trello.
- Keep a paper-based daily to do list of things you need to work upon and strike each task off when it’s completed.
Working from Home Can Be Demotivating
Because you have to rely on yourself, the buck stops with you. If a hustle doesn’t work out or you don’t get that client you were expecting, it’s a bitter pill to swallow and your confidence can take a knock.
You’ve also got no-one around you helping to keep your spirits up in the same way you do when you have co-workers.
Due to all the points I’ve made above, it’s easy to become demotivated working for yourself from home. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of your objectives along with your efforts to meet them.
Goal setting is hugely important here… without specific goals you have nothing to work towards and this can lead you down a very demotivating path.
How to Keep Motivated
- Set objectives and reward yourself when you hit them.
- Try to remember that most successful people have experienced what you’re feeling when you take a blow that hits your confidence.
This article from Entrepreneur.com provides some help: 10 Tips to Help Entrepreneurs Get Motivated.
The Benefits of Working from Home
Okay… I could list a bunch of other negatives about what working from home is like, but many of them are a variation on the things I’ve already discussed.
Instead, I’ll turn my eye to the real benefits of working from home for me and why I continue fighting to remain doing what I do!
- You don’t have to put up with a bad boss!
- Setting objectives is personal to you.
- You can manage your day however you want and choose the hours that work best for you.
- You’re more available to your family.
- There’s no travel time to get to your office!
- You can work on your own dream instead of someone else’s.
- Your earnings potential is not capped by what a business is prepared to pay you.
- You can wear what you want!
- You’re working environment can be as peaceful or as noisy as you want it to be.
- You never have to pay for lunch.
- More independence.
- Zero office politics.
- You can give yourself a day off without asking anyone.
- Your work can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling.
I could go on and on because there are many other small benefits worth considering… but I think you can see I find it easier to list the positive reasons to work for yourself from home rather than the negatives!
One Final Note
I’m sorry to say but there are no guarantees that whatever you’re working on from home will convert into a success for you. However, in the same vein there’s no guarantee you’ll carve out a successful career as an employee.
We all have this sense that being employment is a safe bet, and for most of us this is true. However, in my experience employment today is no guarantee of employment tomorrow… employees can become unemployed overnight with zero warning.
There are lots of challenges to face working for yourself from home, and of course you might experience failure. But assuming you’ve planned properly, understand the possible pitfalls and have a safety net of savings behind you… if you never take the risk you’ll never know what working from home is really like and never reap the possible rewards.
That’s it for now.
Over to you! Let me know about what you have found working from home like or if you’re thinking of doing so this year. Drop me a comment below or ask me a question if you’d like to ask me anything about my experiences.