You know how it goes, you introduce yourself to someone new and of course the conversation always moves to what you do for a living. Replying with “I’m a commercial Photographer” always brings with it a list of questions as most people outside of the field have no idea what this means. So, the talk moves to me explaining this in a little more detail along with the part where I mention that I am self-employed, freelance, work from home, no I do not have a studio and weddings are not a specialty of mine. Now, the photographer part does seem to catch peoples’ attention but what keeps them even more interested is the part about working from home. Do I love it? Yes. Is it easy? Nope.
Of course, there are the obvious perks. I have the shortest commute ever, the fridge is just a few steps away, there is no uptight dress-code and I am my own boss. The flexibility and convenience are a definite perk. But trust me, although it may seem ideal, think twice before you decide to splurge on the sleazy internet ads claiming you can make big bucks by stuffing envelopes from home.
So, in honor of all of those who curse the traffic of Chicago on a daily basis on their way to and from work, participate in the anticipation and ultimate hopelessness of getting a seat on public transportation, experience a fashion crisis nearly every morning just as they need to head out the door, and find lunch to be one of the more exciting aspects of the day, let’s break it down.
1. The Commute
My morning commute is about 30 feet and this includes a walk past my office to the coffee pot and back to my office. Kind of awesome, isn’t it? That’s the upside and I’m not gonna lie….it’s way up there.
But even as a glass half-full kinda gal, I have to say that not having a place to be beyond shuffling my feet down the hallway, makes it really difficult to create a routine. It can be super easy to lounge in my sweats, poke around on the inter web and convince myself I am “working” simply because I am in my office.
Though I am proud to say I can tell you everything you need to know about Chris Christie and his “bridge-gate scandal”, why Cate Blanchett is the classiest actress ever and what is meant by “twerking,” this useless information has yet to help me pay any of my bills.
2. Oh Look a Squirrel!
I was under the impression that my dog Charlie had the shortest attention span ever but I confess that I am currently in the running. Have you ever been to Target on a Tuesday? It is surreal. Parking is a no-brainer. The lines? What lines? And having the intention of sticking to my shopping list certainly does not mean that I can’t waste another 10 minutes searching for the most perfectly scented candle.
And speaking of Charlie, the little man needs his play-time, his walks, his cuddles and I do envy his naps which thankfully are not contagious.
3. Clocking Out
I am a stickler for timeliness. This applies to getting started in the morning, arriving to assignments at least 15 minutes early and setting 3 alarms during the work week to make sure I stay on schedule. I run my morning like the military. But…..
I am not sure if this is the result of working for myself or working from home but it seems the work day never ends. There really is no clocking out. The sense of urgency I have in regards to all things work-related rarely gives me a breather and finding the balance is an every-day challenge.
4. I Heart Temple Grandin
Did you see that movie with Claire Danes? Phenomenal. If you haven’t seen it, here is the skinny. Temple Grandin was diagnosed as autistic before autistic was in our every-day vocabulary and was almost institutionalized save for her mom’s efforts. Despite this she managed to become a bestselling author, an advocate and is currently at Professor of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University. But she had a hell of a time getting there.
Socially awkward, she found it nearly impossible to identify with others. To curb her anxiety, she would spend time in her hug machine, a miniaturized version of a device that would hold down cattle as they were being vaccinated. Apparently, it calmed her down.
Well, being alone all day with a few conversations and deferring to talking to my dog whose feedback is rather limited, can make for an isolating experience day in and day out. Sure, once I am on a roll, it is fantastic not to have to deal with the distractions of other people but one can get a little rusty with their social skills. Being quiet can become easy, not talking even easier. And so sometimes, I have to prep myself and do my metaphorical hug machine to come back to the reality of the rest of the world that is called “socializing.”
So, before you hand-in your walking papers in an attempt to make a fortune selling on eBay what you have found by sifting through someone else’s trash (i.e. garage sale) or decide that telecommuting is the way to go….consider all of the factors and know that maybe the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Freelancing and working from home in particular has its’ trade-offs though I admit, I sure don’t miss writing my name on my lunch.
But if you’re still convinced that a home office is a little piece of heaven, hang in there, in my next post I’ll share a few tips on how to deal with the downside.