I both needed and wanted the job, but I hated the thought of going to an unfamiliar big city. Due to the very small staff and virtual nature of the work, I was able to take the job and work virtually, which allowed me to save money while starting a new career. I was also excited about the opportunity to create and control my work environment.
How hard could working from home be? I wouldn’t have anyone to bother me, and I could choose how I wanted to work and from where.
Within the first week, I realized how hard it was. Staying focused and engaged in my work was difficult without other employees around or daily social interactions. Unproductive minutes gave me a sick feeling that I was taking advantage of my situation, so I put in extra time. I would let the stress get to me so much that I would get extremely tired and take naps during the day and spend nights making up for the hours I had lost, and then some. I quickly turned into a stressed out workaholic.
What happened to the ideal situation I thought I was walking into?
The thought of working from home being awesome and easy isn’t an uncommon thought, but it’s far from the truth. Don't get me wrong -- I would take the roughest days of working remotely over the best days in a cubicle, but if not handled properly, it can prove to be more difficult and stressful than a structured, yet mundane workplace controlled by your employer.
After trying hundreds of tips and tools to help with scheduling, stress and my daily work routine, I was able to implement some basic standards into my work day and discover what works for me and what doesn't. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m at a very comfortable place with working out of my home.
I recently transitioned from the nonprofit position I held for four years to strategic consultancy Pursuit. While still a virtual work environment, just like each physical workplace -- there are significant differences that I'm encountering for the better.
Using all of my experiences as a remote employee and freelancer, here are my top 8 ways to survive working from home.
- Get Out of the House
- Experiment with Your Environment
- Schedule Like Crazy
Tip: Make sure to schedule breaks to stretch, grab a cup of coffee, or take your dog for a short walk during the day.
- Eliminate Excuses and Distractions
- Be Eventful
- Stimulating, But Not Distracting Entertainment
Tip: Try listening to classical music or the instrumental versions of the type of music you enjoy.
- Don’t Eat In The Office
- To-Do Lists
Working from home might not be right for everyone, but by focusing on what works for you and eliminating distractions, anyone has the capability to work effectively outside of a standard workplace environment. Even for a significant pay raise, I wouldn’t trade my home office and coffee shop visits for a traditional office. If you are transitioning into an at-home work environment, just remember to give yourself time to adjust, and experiment to find what works for you instead of trying to squeeze your work style into a mold that won’t fit.