How To Love Your Life While Working From Home (Yep, it's possible.)
WOOHOO! You work from home! You're livin' the dream.
You don't have to dress up in dry-clean only nonsense from now on. You don't have to stress out listening to the world's most annoying DJ while stuck in traffic. And you don't have to pretend to be amused when coworkers pop into your cube to blather about their weekend at the lake.
Yes, this is a real win/win/win.
At first it seems great, anyway.
After a while, though...
You get kind of lonely.
You develop weird habits.
You find that the grasp you used to have on daily grooming becomes... tentative.
And that's when you decide working from home is not so great after all.
I should know - my last day at an "office job" was September 10, 2010. I've had seven years to fall in and out of love with working from home.
The "I Can Therefore I Must Wear Yoga Pants Daily" phase? Been there.
The "I Don't Want to Meet Anyone For Coffee Because I Forgot How To Talk To People" era? Yep, lived through that, too.
And, of course, the classic "I Can't Hang With Traffic Therefore I Won't Go Anywhere More Than Five Minutes Away" stage - that one still gets me, really.
BUT THAT'S TOTALLY OKAY.
Because after all of that lightly-frosted headgame horsepuckey, I've figured a few things out.
And I'm BACK IN LOVE WITH WORKING FROM HOME. Which is GREAT, because there's no way I'm dusting off my resume anytime soon.
I thought you might feel the same way, so here. I'm offering you some ideas that work for me - maybe they can help you fall back in love with working from home, too.
In no particular order...
Get a dog and treat it right.
One, they're cute and fluffy. Two, they'll remind you to do stuff like get up from your computer to take them out (or clean up their pee if you screw up), play with them, and - this is really quite important - take them for walks. If you're walking your dog three times a day, you get fresh air, you're 37% less likely to wind up with deskbutt, and your furry officemate enjoys it, too.
You have a dog but it's too crazy to have fun with? Hello, train the dog. You'll learn so much about how to deal with customers in the process.
You hate dogs? Well, then I'm not sure we can be friends. C'est la vie.
Price your products and services so you can live comfortably.
When I first started out, I was incredibly nervous about the whole pricing thing and tried to spend as little as possible so I could charge as little as possible so I wouldn't OFFEND people with my outrageous prices. In fact, one month I looked at my bank account and my big splurge was that I'd purchased a drink at Starbucks - ONE! Not even a Venti! - and I felt disappointed that I had acted so indulgently. Why did I do that when I could have had coffee at home? Or no coffee at all? K-cups ain't free, yo.
Ok, that was just dumb. I worked DARN HARD and made my clients happy that month, and I DESERVED that coffee. In fact, that small indulgence kept me from feeling resentful - because working just to sustain is not fun, is it? - and was therefore worth every penny.
Figure out how much you need to live COMFORTABLY (and duh, pay your taxes), and then go from there when you run your numbers. If you do the math from a place of sustenance-only, you'll find yourself shooting for sustenance-only, and that's no way to live.
Don't worry too much about that whole "laptop on the beach" thing.
I used to feel stressed out because, for me, the #laptoplifestyle was NOT spent sipping tropical drinks on patios while swarthy cabana boys fanned me and my pretty MacBook with banana fronds - it was more like sipping Diet Mountain Dew while my kids pelted me and my PC craptop* with spare Legos.
But you know what? I recognized what I was jealous of was their FREEDOM, not their location. In fact, I'm not totally crazy about working while traveling - the constant search for good WiFi gives me conniption fits. So, freedom? I've got that. Knocking sand out of my keyboard? Not my taste anyway.
Those traveling entrepreneurs have a DIFFERENT life than mine, and it's not necessarily better, just different. This is true for you, too. Your life is pretty sweet EVEN IF you're not in Bali right now. Own YOUR sweet life instead of lusting after someone else's.
*(I have since kicked the soda habit, sent the kids to school, and gotten the coveted MacBook. It's pretty sweet, but not so sweet that you should covet it. After all, I'm still waiting on the cabana boys.)
Refrain from overdosing on internet news.
It's easy to forget there are other perspectives in the world when you're fed a steady stream of articles tailored specifically to your viewpoint. It's even easier to read one after the other after the other when there's no boss peeking over your shoulder. News feels Important with a capital I, so reading articles feels like something you SHOULD be doing, but... after maybe two or three on a topic? You're just gorging and it's not useful.
Getting caught up in too much news is a slippery slope - one that's bad for your happiness AND for your business. If you must indulge, set a timer - you can read as much as you want for 15 minutes, then it's time to pull back out of the stream.
Get out of your head.
On that point, make sure you're spending time with people who work in the world beyond your front door. It's good to hear perspectives and stories from other peoples' day-to-day life because it helps you re-engage with the Society of Humans Who Are Not You. When you're on your own all the time, it's really easy to get bent out of shape about the non-substantive internet fight you had with that dumb Facebook group leader, or feel super sad because only 44 people liked your last photo on Instagram. That stuff turns out to be really dumb and insignificant when you hear about the day your friend who teaches Special Ed had, or the incident that happened to your sister during her late shift at the ER.
There IS a whole world out there, and guess what? A lot of your old friends live in it. Go see them from time to time. They'll help you keep the small stuff in context.
Get into your body.
As in go for a freaking walk in the woods WITHOUT your phone in your hand.
Go to the gym and lift heavy objects repeatedly.
Do some yoga without the TV on in the background.
Run on the beach and let the sea spray make you feel like a sea god, goddess, or genderless deity.
Kiss a bearded stranger until your toes tingle.
(All right, maybe ask permission before jumping into that last one.)
Just do SOMETHING. Pay attention to what it feels like to be alive again. I don't know about you, but I spend so much of my time writing, looking at files, editing videos and images, creating content, et cetera, that sometimes I just feel like a walking brain. One day science may get us to that point, but we're not there yet, so in the meantime, enjoy the physical sensations that come with being ALIVE. LIVE, PUSSYCAT, LIVE!
Don't treat your mouth like a dumpster.
On that note, you're not a garbage person, so don't just eat garbage - this goes double for the work from home parents who eat the scraps off their kids' plates. Sure, there are days when I forget to eat and wind up scarfing down three pumpkin Noosas in a row (the small ones - don't judge me), but most of the time, I make a plan to succeed.
When you go grocery shopping, think of that kind and lovely person who lives at your house. You know, the one who deserves a fresh meal - a better meal than a cold slice of last night's pizza and a half pack of Oreos? Hint hint, my little cherry blossom - it's YOU. What do you LIKE to eat for lunch? Buy that stuff - and then set an appointment on your calendar to cook and eat that stuff.
Oh, and BIG GOLD STARS if you sit down at a proper table to eat it. Got a looming deadline? OK, eat at your desk this one time, but all the other days, sit yo' butt DOWN at the dinner table. YOU DESERVE YOUR LUNCH BREAK. So take it and make a real thing of it.
Ditch the leggings and/or sweatpants.
Sorry, I know this one is going to be wicked unpopular, but I don't care. Sometimes the best part of the day is stripping off the shackles of gainful employment (a.k.a. pants with a zipper) and changing into your PJs. By wearing PJs all day, you're robbing yourself of that aaahhhhhhmazing sensation.
Also, you can't leave the house without running the risk of getting featured on People of Walmart, and when you look less legit, you act and feel less legit.
Get back in the habit of dressing for success BUT do it with a 2017 twist - be comfortable at the same time. Many pants and jeans have STRETCH in them nowadays, and even better? Betabrand makes something called yoga dress pants. They look like business but feel like a party. In your pants. That everyone wants to come to.
Anyway. Now that you've got pants on, you're ready for the last bit. Buckle up because this one is groundbreaking.
Put yourself out there. Again and again.
Want to know the great big secret of all of us who work in our secret lairs - I mean, home offices?
None of us are the cool kids. None of us.
We're all the misfits who don't WANNA do the normal thing, and you know what? That's GREAT.
If you're feeling lonely and want to talk to someone who gets it, or you suspect your dog is no longer listening to your great marketing ideas (DAMN IT, MR. SPARKLES - I told you to take notes!), or you just plain think it could help you grow your biz if you knew more people, then it's time to break out.
Meet people for coffee. Meet people for cocktails. Meet people for late-night bagels and mermaid churros and spaghetti sandwiches and porcelain teacups full of chocolate mousse - just find a cool spot, go ask some other weirdo who works from home, get together and chat WITHOUT pitching them your stuff.
NOTE - some people will say no. Don't let that break your heart - there are plenty of mermaid churros and plenty of people who will go with you to get mermaid churros. Just chalk it up to that's not the right person or the right time for them right now and move on to the next churro date.
This helps immensely.
You ready to try these steps? I think you are. I think you want to LOVE working from home, too.
Give 'em a whirl and let me know whatcha think. Or don't, and quit and go back to the salt mines. Your call. *wink*
Treat yourself to an Uncommonly Good Life and you will truly deep-down-to-your-toes be more prepared, refreshed, and effective in your Uncommonly Good Biz.
PS Know someone who's broken free from the cubicle life? Share this with them - BEFORE they get caught in the no-office-means-no-pants trap. They'll appreciate it and I will, too. xoxo! - M