If you can do your work remotely but you have a family, odds are that “work from anywhere” is not possible. That’s my current situation, but it doesn’t mean i’m jailed at home.
First, let me summarize: I work at home, in front of my awesome 27 inches screen on my awesome desk, sitting on my awesome, very expensive office chair, listening to the awesome music I want, every work day of the week while Gollum watches my work.
Every day of the week, minus one.
Some time ago I established a new policy: I’d work outside home one day a week. I would find a few good places outside home where I feel comfortable, and I’d go there for work. After a few weeks, these are the benefits so far:
1 – Errands take much less time now.
I like to work early and be able to spend my evening with other subjects, so bureaucratic stuff is double the usual pain for me, as I have to do them during office time and catch up during night.
A way to reduce this pain happened to be removing the commute back home. I now allocate all my errands on the “work outside” day, so instead of doing some horrible paperwork and then rush home, I do the same horrible paperwork, and then I go to some nice place and order a good coffee, an orange juice and a bun. This last detail is important because…
2 – I make myself a little present each day
I’m a strict follower of Special Agent Cooper’s doctrine on this subject:
“Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee.”
This is serious shit. It really works. This simple rule makes you treat yourself like a human being and not like a working machine, and this matters because you should be working for a living, not the other way around.
So, only after work has been completed, I go home, with no rush, and two good feelings: first, I managed to get the most of my morning. And second, I did something nice that breaks my usual daily routine. And this is important for me because…
4 – Life only exists out of the loop
You know the feeling. You are working on the same place for the same time under the same conditions over and over WAIT where did my week go?
Remember this: you only live out of the loop. I know you have to work, but make every day a replica of the day before and the day before that, and you’ll reach your next birthday wondering why the year went by so fast. If you let this happen again and again you’ll notice your world starts to change for the worse, because…
5 – Your world is always expanding or shrinking.
I was used to working at home before making money from it. When I was writing my dissertation for my PhD I spent most of my time at the faculty, collecting data, or at home, writing. Things went bananas two months before deadline. My “more-than-friend/less-than-girlfriend” broke up with me, so my life became the dissertation, plus the supermarket below my flat for supplies. You could have removed the rest of the city and as long as you kept the supermarket open, I wouldn’t have noticed.
By keeping myself in this situation I reached a point where I could summarize my life in one phrase, and my reply to “what have you been doing” was among the ten most boring responses of history. My world was a bit smaller every day, and the worst thing is that I was OK with that. I was wrong, because…
6 – Social life is a skill
Speaking of my PhD! Oh, that time of extreme focus! Oh, the damage to my emotional health! The bottom line is that most of my life was reduced to waking up, computer, eating something, computer, going to bed at random time, repeat. I hung out with friends from time to time, and I was going to play beach volley as usual, but being completely alone in front of my computer was eating up most of my time.
This even had an effect on my ability to have a normal conversation, too, because I was completely unable to disconnect. Even when I was not working on my dissertation, I was working on my dissertation. I was in a loop.
Now I have a child, a wife and a real life after work, so why should I care? I care because I learned the lesson from my PhD, and I’m not letting this “gloomy myself” go live again. I spend much more time on outdoor activities now during the weekend and when my wife says “you need a break”, I listen to her.
Because being a good worker also means knowing when to take some rest.
And you need rest, but not this kind of rest. Sometimes, sleeping is not what you need. What you need is a change.
7 – Routine drains energy
Please raise a hand if this sounds familiar to you: you work at your place, you work at your place, you work at your place, you get fed up, you get fed up, you get fed up, you go on holidays, you release all the pressure in one burst, repeat.
Now try this: you work at your place, you work at your place, you work at a nice place outside for a change…
…you order yourself a coffee, you get the job done as usual, repeat. How does it sound?
I know how it sounds: been there, done that.
Now, what are you going to do?
Bonus track: The Oatmeal summarizes the opposite situation perfectly.