I recently saw a post from @thefoodmedic touching on the stigma surrounding flexible working and part time working. She quoted @mother_pukka: ‘part-time doesn’t mean part-talented, part-ambitious, part-driven, part-arsed’. And from now on this is the mantra that will get me through my totally unroutined, all the over place life of studying and trying to create the career I want
Since deciding to go back to studying it’s been tough to brush off the comments and views from others (non work from home-rs). Firstly, we know that we’re lucky we are able to create our own daily routine, work from a comfortable safe space and maintain a healthy work-life balance. But comments like ‘you don’t even have a job do you‘ or ‘well you can get to *insert event* whenever you want‘ or ‘your job’s a joke‘ are hardly uplifting, inspirational cheerleading style comments are they? Secondly, do you have any idea how hard it is to have to make and stick to your own routine every day? For your alarm to go off and not snooze it a million times? It’s like a procrastinators dream! It takes some serious willpower at the beginning to get your body and mind used to it.
Nevertheless, the thing I find the most difficult is the ability to brush off my own internal feelings of anxiety, unsuccessfulness and self-doubt.
Working from home and beginning the journey to working for yourself without the routine of a ‘normal’ job can actually be quite lonely. You don’t have the support network of the office and you generally don’t have anyone around you until your partner or flat mate saves the day in the evening. It can be pretty difficult to motivate yourself and when you get stuck in a rut it’s hard to communicate what’s going on in your head as even you don’t know what the next step is. If you’re having an off day, feeling anxious or down it’s pretty difficult to snap yourself out it. Because you and your devil on your shoulder are the only ones present. You have no idea whether going solo is going to be the best or the worst decision you’ve ever made but you’re working at it and so you made the biggest step.
I wrote a post on my instagram about this and it really got me thinking about the best and the worst things about working from home, studying or working for yourself (I’m pretty much tying all of these things together for the benefit of this post). Ultimately, I decided that working from home is brilliant, it works for me and I’m so glad that I am able to do it. However, what’s good? And what’s bad?
- Total control over your schedule – when you wake up, when you eat, when you go to the gym. Work better in the morning or the evening? Take your kids to nursery or school?
- Work life balance – you’re in charge of your day, you know how much you need to do and you can ensure your schedule enables you to make your friends birthday or the local pub quiz. This all contributes towards a good general mental health.
- Food! – you can eat what you want when you want. When I started to work from home my eating habits dramatically improved. I can eat a good breakfast at a time that suits me, I can make a good lunch that’s healthy and filling, I don’t spend £8 in Pret everyday, I can snack on healthy things or treats if I fancy them. But mostly I’m ‘home’ in time to cook a good dinner!
- No commutes – my stress levels used to be at boiling point when I had to get on the tube every morning and evening at rush hour. I still find the mob mentality of rush hour tube go-ers mind blowing. Oh and travel is cheaper in off peak times #justsayin
- Environmental sustainability – Carbon Trust claims that working from home can save 3 million tonnes of carbon each year. Crazy!
- Control over your own future – if you work for yourself you’re your own boss. No micromanaging, feeling stuck in a job and generally if you’re working for yourself then it’s something you’re passionate about. This one goes in both the good and the bad column though to be honest… depends what side of the bed you wake up on!
- Suits vs slippers! – this needs no explanation, you’ll just find me here in my trackies and slippers
- You work in your living space – ever get bored of your own house? I most certainly do. The more you’re in it the more you notice the things you don’t like, or where most of the dust settles, or that the books on the book shelf aren’t stacked properly. Ever said to your partner when he/she walks in ‘how well aligned are those books, I did them today?’ .. no, me neither…
- Procrastination – inside devil: ‘why on earth would you go into the study and work when you could binge watch Grey’s Anatomy in the lounge’ or ‘there’s so much washing that needs doing’ or ‘for god’s sake the dishwasher is full again’ or ‘oh my goddddd my dog is so cute do you wanna play with your ball?!’
- Loneliness – this is the absolute WORST one. I never thought I’d feel lonely at 26 but I have had countless phone calls crying to my mum that I’ve been by myself all day and now I’m by myself all night too. It’s a strange one this because it almost makes you internally anti social but also craving the need to see other people but THEN when you get to your friends it takes you a good 15 minutes to become your normal self again. It’s like you forget how to human, its weird. You sometimes LIVE for your evening plans, like the world is literally ending if your friend is 20 minutes late or your partner ends up working late.
- Anxiety – Forbes recently stated that remote workers experience a much higher level of anxiety and depression than traditional office spaces. Remote workers reported lots of benefits and upsides of working from home but the main downside was wellness related. With work from homer’s reporting feeling irritable, isolated and disconnected leading to a loss of self-worth.
- Control over your own future – even just writing that fills me with anxiety and dread! You’re constantly in the driving seat.
I think it’s important to understand that by working from your home study or your living room (with it costing £17,371 m2 in London not everyone has the pleasure of a study) you are still working. You are not just slacking it just doesn’t go from changing career to instant success overnight. There’s also no shame in not knowing what the future holds, working part time, studying, or pursuing other projects that aren’t following the ‘traditional’ trajectory
TIPS FOR FELLOW FLEXI PEOPLE:
- Don’t always work in your living space – find a part of the house that you can make into a study space. I originally only had my living room to work from and I found that my motivation dwindled hugely. I also found that I couldn’t relax properly when it came to the evening, I couldn’t just lie on the sofa and chill out, I was bored of the room and the house in general.
- Head out to local coffee shops/cafes – this relates to the above point but it also gives you some more contact with the outside world and fellow humans.
- Exercise – this helps me so much. Helps me clear my head and I genuinely feel I work better after a workout. It also helps with mental health. So try to get out, even if its on your lunch. I like going to fitness classes and sometimes I’ll take my laptop with me and work from a coffee shop nearby the gym so I’m exploring a different area
- Go for a walk – get some fresh air! Basically the same explanation as above
- Do a big shop – this is such a northern quote, but do a big food shop at the start of the week so you have lots of good food in so you don’t end up spending a small fortune on poached eggs and avo at the coffee shop. Plus eating good foods is good for the ol mental health
- Plan – I’ve always been terrible at planning. Still am and always will be – unless it’s a night out or hen do I can’t plan for sh*t. But it really helps having an idea of what you want to achieve the next day, when you’ll do it, when you’ll exercise, and when you’ll see your friends.
- Work with others – where applicable obviously! Recently, a friend of mine has started working from home every now and again and it’s great to work together. We’re productive together but keep each others moods up. Plus any excuse to hang out with the besties right?!
- GET A DOG – I’m joking. But Winston really does count as a substitute for a human in my day time conversations