guest post! | elisheva on “the trials, tribulations and joys of working from home”

My friend Elisheva has been a long-time guest blogger on my blog(s), because she is awesome. After I announced my new employers (disclosure update, yo), she offered to provide some tips on working from home (which she has much experience in, although has gone back to the office-outside-her-home world [and even got to go on a work field trip the other day]).  Thanks, Elisheva!! (And thanks for the excitement!)

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Congratulations to my buddy Kerri on not one, but TWO new jobs!  Yay yay yay!  Hurray!  This is exciting cuz, (a) money, and (b) connections and resume building and (c) getting paid to do things you are passionate about!  (I’m only a little bit jealous…)

 
And now to get on with what this post is actually supposed to be about.
 
I’d welcome you to the world of working from home… but I’m not there anymore.  I do have a bunch of experience in that though.  Unlike me, you will not be your own boss (freelancing sucks!), but many aspects will be the same.  Meaning the not going to the office every day part.  The working from home part.  Yeah, that.
 
One of the biggies when working from home is finding balance.  There are awesome things and there are sucky things.  Sometimes things can be awesome and sucky at the same time.  Observe.
 
1) You can work in your PJs or even naked if you want to. (Woohoo!)  But you can also go for days at a time without ever getting dressed or leaving your house.  (Boo.)
 
2) You have flexible hours and can schedule meetings/appointments/hangouts during the day. (Nice!)  But you can also find yourself working your tushy off evenings and nights to meet deadlines when you’d rather be doing other things. (Damn.)
 
3) You can burp and fart and pick your nose and never brush your hair and no one will know or care.  (Whoa, really?)  But you might lose some or all of your social skills by the time you leave your cave and interact with humanity again. (Bummer.)  Back in my translating days, I sometimes went to translator meetings and was shocked to see how socially awkward some of the long-time translators were.
 
4) You don’t have your boss watching you and breathing down your neck all day. (Freedom!!)  But that means that you are responsible for budgeting your time and making sure things get done. (Uhhh… kay…)
 
5) If you have a pet or a child or a never-ending pile of laundry that needs your attention throughout the day, you can be there. (Convenient 🙂 )  But those things can actually distract you and keep you from getting your work done. (I knew there was a catch.)
 
The following things are also added to the list for freelancers:
 
6) You are your own boss and call all the shots. (Power!) But you also have to take care of all of the bureocracy, taxes, advertising, billing and contact with clients by yourself.  You are the company.  (Sucks.)
 
7) You will have months where you have lots of work and make a lot of money. (Score!)  But you will also have months where you are almost desperate for work. (Ugh.)
 
So basically, if you’re still reading, you should have gathered that depending on how you swing it, working from home could either rock or stink, depending on how you swing it.  You’ll likely experience both.
 
And now, finally, here are some tried and true tips from your buddy Elishevathe Former Translator.  These might not work for everyone, but they worked for me.
 
1) Structure is important.  Even though I could have easily slept in, I woke up at 7 every day and started working by 8.  I tried my best to work standard work hours so that I would be busy at the same time as normal people and free at the same time as normal people.
 
2) Give yourself work space.  Get out of your bedroom if you can.  Working in your room will make you sleepy during the day since you associate it with sleeping and you might have a hard time sleeping at night because you associate it with work.  I worked best while sitting on a chair at the table in the living room.  It kept me from getting distracted or drifting off and it made me feel more professional.  Even better is finding a workspace outside of your home like a library, cafe, or workhub.  Getting dressed and leaving the house will also help you feel more professional.
 
3) Give yourself reasons to be social. Going to work provides people with face-to-face social interaction.  When working from home, it’s important to find reasons to get dressed and leave your house.  Go out with friends, go to cultural events, join a class and/or volunteer for a cause you believe in.  It’s important to keep those social skills in good working order, both for your mental health and in preparation for the day when you no longer work from home.
 
4) Learn about your legal rights.  Just because you work from home and the people you work with never see you doesn’t mean that they can take advantage of you.  Make sure you are getting paid on time and that you are getting treated fairly.  You also are working for one organization in another province and one organization in the US.  I have no idea what the legal or tax ramifications of this would be.  It would be wise to find this out.
 
5) Stand up for yourself at home.  Because I worked for myself and made my own schedule, people in my life tended to occasionally forget that I actually had a full time job and would ask me for favors such as babysitting or picking up things for them in the middle of the day.  Sometimes I would oblige if I could swing it, and sometimes I had to remind them that I actually did have a job and while I could work any time, I really prefered to work normal people hours.  So while they worked at an office and I worked at home, I was working just like they were and deserved not to be bothered.
 
Anyway, that’s all I can think of for now.  Looking forward to hearing great things about these new opportunities, Kerri!  All the best and good luck 🙂

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