Since moving to San Francisco a few months ago I’ve been working out of my house. It’s pretty awesome, I have done it once before for an extended period of time so I kind of know my way around the home office thing. You need to setup routines, get out occaisionally, and generally dedicate some time to stepping away from work to keep yourself sane. This time has been more difficult because it’s coincided with a cross-country move, which brought its own set of challenges. Now that the dust has settled and the boxes are unpacked I’ve fallen into a pretty good routine. Of course, extended periods of WFH time result in little joys and annoyances that may not surface when you spend a day a week in the home office. Here’s just a few of my favorites.
- You (completely) control your environment
This is one of the things I love most about working from home. You can throw that new LP you wanted to listen to (I’m a big fan of vinyl, which you can’t lug to an office). The temperature is too cold? Turn up the heat a little. You don’t like the shirt you’re wearing today? Go change. Of course, this also means that you can easily end up being drawn into one after another thing to get yourself settled. I can easily spend an hour making coffee, taking a shower, shaving, getting dressed and milling around the house before I actually sit down and start working. So you have to learn to block out the home distractions same as the office distractions.
- No one bothers you
There’s probably not as many people in your house as a typical office during the daytime. This lack of people results in the surprisingly easy ability to work, uninterrupted, for hours at a time. No one bugs you to go get coffee, or to tell you about their new kitten, or how adorable their kid was last night in the school play. These distractions are there in the workplace, all the time, and you can’t avoid them entirely unless you’re physically absent. Once you go a few weeks without this forced interaction you’ll be so psyched at your productivity increase, but you may find yourself somewhat unable to cope with these basic distractions when you do go into an office or other busy environment. Force yourself to get out and go to a coffee shop or coworking space to get that base level of social interaction that we all require to function like human beings!
- Insane productivity
Getting into the The Zone is difficult in an office, but at home it can be really easy. You’re comfortable, you know your surroundings well, and you can concentrate and really focus like nowhere else. Then all of a sudden you’re done. Not done in the way you are at the end of the day at work. You’re really done, you’ve burned through two or three days worth of work in an hour and a half. Now you need to get the next thing done. Sure there’s always more work, but I always find myself uninspired to move on to the next thing when my brain is still so fully focused on the last thing.
- You chose what you pay attention
Procrastination really is lurking around every corner at your house. Instead of getting to those emails, why not play with the cat for a while? Maybe make an epic sandwich for an early lunch? How about watching that TV show you recorded last week? It’s all waiting for you the moment you stop trying to get work done. Your awesome productivity can nicely offset this danger, but it sucks when you realize you wasted half your day waiting to get started because you just didn’t feel like really paying attention to anything work-related.
In general, I feel like it’s an uphill battle and you have to really pay attention to what you’re doing and how on or off task you are. It doesn’t mean you have to be working every moment of the day. The productivity boost means you can actually relax and take a nap, or actually watch that TV show you recorded last week. But if you aren’t aware of what you’re doing, you’ll quickly see your time slip away and you’ll have just spent the day in your pajamas watching all the episodes of BBC’s The Prisoner back-to-back…not that there’s anything wrong with that.