The Ups and Downs of Working from Home

How to Work from Home and Be Happy Doing It

Working from home presents some unique challenges that a typical 9-5 day in an office or factory setting doesn’t. I’ve been working from home full time for almost two years now and find myself very grateful for some things and still struggling with others.

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Starting the Day with My Wife and Son

This is definitely the highlight of each and every day and one of the the main reasons I decided to take the leap and work from home. I was very lucky to be in a position to make this decision (although somewhat forced by circumstance at the time) one month before our son was born almost two years ago.

Previous to this, my normal day found me leaving the house for the office about 7:30am and not getting home until around 5:00pm.

I can’t imagine doing that now and missing out on the time I get to spend with my family in the mornings and throughout the day.

My typical morning now is to get up around 4:00am and work until I see and hear our son start stirring via the baby monitor. After he wakes up, it’s time to go sit in his room and “talk”. Did you sleep well? Did you have any dreams? Are you ready to get your diapy changed?

When he’s ready, he grabs his blanky and we all head to the living room to start doing what toddlers do…read books, play music on his keyboard, guzzle his morning juice, play with the iPad, and eventually have some breakfast.

Then I go back to work.

Finding 8 Hours

If you’re keeping track, I’ve worked 3 hours already and now it’s usually around 9am that I get back to the home office.

This is where things get a little dicey and where disciplined time management really needs to excel.

If you’re in immersed in the Internet business and marketing world as I am, and in a specific software community that has everything to do with blog publishing and web development, you can probably relate to what’s coming next…

Sifting through and prioritizing emails

A typical morning sees around 100 new emails in my inbox. These can range from notifications of product sales from Foo and my other products (my favorite ones to see), emails from potential business partners, advertisements, and notifications of new blog posts from many of the individuals and companies I follow in the WordPress and online business spaces.

After deleting the ones that don’t need followup and prioritizing the ones that require a response (later), it’s on to the next task.

Reading the latest news and updates in your niche

Now it’s time to see what’s happening in the WordPress and Internet business and marketing worlds. As I write this, I started wondering why I wouldn’t send my email responses above before reading “the news”.

Although sometimes the order of these two tasks is definitely interchangeable, I find that knowing what’s happening makes me feel like I have a better handle on what’s going on and in turn, that might be significant to how I craft my replies to any given email, especially if I’m working on a product idea or promotional deal.

Checking in with the teams

I have the luxury of working with some amazing people every day, but interacting with my virtual team members is not traditional.

When I say “checking in with the team”, what I really mean is that I log into Skype, HipChat, Facebook, and 3 separate Google accounts. Sometimes others depending on the day.

This gets me to around 10-11:00am and then it’s time to start producing content again. Until my virtual meetings start around 12:30pm anyway.

If you’re still keeping track, I’ve been up for 8 hours already.

A Flexible Schedule

This is a huge plus for the work from home lifestyle. I have the flexibility to run errands and get things done almost any time of day. Dr. appointments, grocery store runs for myself and family members, and even taking the dog for a walk (which I need to do more more regularly).

I compare being able to do this with working in the office and I really am grateful. If I needed to do anything in the past (like go to the DMV), I would have had to give prior notice and take personal or vacation time. What a pain that was.

Work Space and the Lack Thereof

We own a small home and I don’t have a dedicated extra room for an office. I have an office desk from Ikea. I love it, but the only place that makes sense for it’s placement is the garage. My garage office isn’t so bad, but there are a few things that really suck about it.

The garage is not part of our central heating and cooling system. I regulate the temperature with a small window air conditioner and a small space heater. It’s Florida. In the summer, it’s hot and in the winter it’s cold. This winter has been so up and down in temps that I find myself using both some days, along with socks on, socks off, fleece on, fleece off, pants on, pants…well, you know…another perk of working from home;)

Another issue, and one for a separate blog post…clutter. Oh man, don’t get me started on clutter, especially in the garage. If you’re a super organized person, I applaud you. I try, and sometimes I get there, but it’s a constant struggle.

Continuing my Work Day

After the meetings are done, it’s usually time to either pick up our son from Grandma’s house or to give my wife a break in the child care duties. Then it’s play time, learning time, dinner time for our son, some more play time, then eventually bed time for him.

This takes me to around 7:30pm. Time to start working again.

I go back in the office (or in the living room with the laptop) and continue working until around 10-11:00pm. At least that’s the goal to find my 8 hours. Sometimes it doesn’t work out like that.

I need to eat and sleep too.

What are your ups and downs if working from home? Let me know in the comments below.

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