Post Written by Guest Blogger Sharon Gourlay
Working from home was a dream of mine for a long time. From when I was travelling to when I had children and didn’t want to leave them for ten hours a day, I dreamed away. I didn’t really think it was possible to start working from home.
I wanted the freedom and flexibility that working from home seemed to represent. I wanted to choose my work hours, so I could work while the kids were asleep or when my husband was home. I wanted to work fully online, so we could travel the world as I worked. I basically wanted to be in control of my own work/life balance. Then one day about a year ago, I woke up. I stopped dreaming and started taking action. I am so glad I did!
However, as much as I love the career direction I have taken, there are parts that are not so good. In my dreams, I didn’t picture the reality of being self-employed – the long hours, the moments of self-doubt and the sacrifices. Here is the good, the bad and the ugly of working from home, as I see it.
The good of working from home
There is plenty that is great about working from home. I can choose if and how much child care I use for my children. I can work the times of day that suit our family best. I can wear what I want to work.
Perhaps the biggest benefit is that I work online so I am not tied to a particular location. My family has actually just relocated to Malaysia thanks to this flexibility. This also means that I do not have to work as much as I do not need to earn a high Australian level income to live a good life.
This freedom and flexibility comes at a price, namely that I am self-employed. This means that I don’t have a steady income. I am taking a long-term approach to how I build up my business. I often worry that projects that I spend many hours working on will go nowhere. In bad moments, it can feel like my self-doubts about my business are swallowing me up and I wish I had never taken this route at all.
The other aspect that I find difficult is other people’s opinions about what I do for a living. Many people do not see it as a real job and it can be frustrating some of the comments that I receive.
The worst part about making the transition to working from home for me was that my main motivation to start working from home – better work/life balance – was nowhere to be seen. I worked every moment I could. Evenings, weekends, weekdays. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I would often ignore the kids while I tapped away on my keyboard. I wanted business success and I wanted it now, and I forgot the reason why I made the change in the first place.
Tips for avoiding the bad and the ugly
Thankfully after a few months I realised what I was doing and made some changes. Today, I am enjoying the good aspects of working from home and doing a better job of cutting out the bad ones. Here are my tips for ensuring working from home is only a good experience:
- Do your best to ignore people in your life who do not understand that you work from home, and it is not just a hobby. Do not bother trying to convince people who do not really matter otherwise.
- Surround yourself with successful people in your field that you can relate to. I know that I find it very comforting to share in the successes of others who have been able to achieve what I am striving for. It shows me just how possible it is and takes away some of the moments of self-doubt. If you do not know anyone in real life that fits this category, find some people online. Even just reading the blog of someone who shares your goals and have made them a reality can be very helpful.
- Set work hours and keep to them. Do whatever you can to avoid work taking over your life. I try to be very strict with what hours I work now and only let legitimate emergencies invade my non-work time.
- Accept that you will never finish everything on your to do list. There are always going to be ways to improve. Prioritise well and just finish what you can. The list will still be there tomorrow.
- Take some time out for yourself. As a mum of little ones I find this one particular hard, but I do a far better job of everything in my life when I take some time out. I also find that when I do this, I do not have as many self-doubts.
- Keep re-evaluating your lifestyle goals as well as your work goals. If your motivation for working from home was better work/life balance like me, ensure that is what you are getting.
Working from home is not always fun, but the freedom and flexibility of being able to work from anywhere at the hours that suit me are still a dream-come-true – as long as I keep avoiding the bad and ugly parts!
Sharon Gourlay is an Australian blogger, website creator and mum of two preschoolers. In addition to inspiring other families to travel the world, Sharon is passionate about helping others earn money from home. Check out her website for great tips, advice and inspiration to get you started working from home now.