11 Things Nobody Told Me About Working From Home

When I started working from home, I thought I was living the life. I mean, what could be better than making money from your

Photo Courtesy of Mary B. Thorman

domicile? It seemed like an even sweeter deal when the gas prices started going up faster than I could blink. From the outside, it sounds like the perfect job opportunity and working environment. You save on gas, have easy access to the kitchen and there’s no boss looking over your shoulder. But there’s another side. A darker side that no body tells you about. They certainly never warned me about it. Had I known, I may have put a little more time and effort into making the decision to ditch the cubicle. Here’s 11 things no body warned me about working from home. Consider yourself forewarned…

1. You may lose your sanity.

If you thought it couldn’t get any worse than having your boss and co-workers driving you crazy everyday, think again. It’s even worse knowing that you are the cause of your own loss of sanity. And that’s exactly what happens when you work from home. Why? Because while everyone else is outside having a life, you are stuck sitting in front of your computer all damn day with no human interaction. Sure you’ve got phone and internet, but you can only stare at your bedroom door for so long. Soon enough you’ll get so lonely you’ll start talking to yourself.  It’s enough to drive anyone insane.

2. Vacations and sick days are hard to come by.

If you thought taking sick days were hard when you were going out to the office, you’d be surprised how difficult it is to take them when you don’t have to leave the house. You need to have a pretty good reason and have a very very high fever to not be able to get out the bed and walk down the hall to work. Before,  it was acceptable to take the day off for a cold when you drove into the office.  But when you work from home that’s just not good enough. You’ll get blank stares if you tell someone you took the day off because you have a headache or got a cold.

3. Weight gain is highly likely.

Remember up post I mentioned that easy access to the kitchen a benefit of working from home? Well it’s also one of this unfavorable things no body warned me about. Easy access to the kitchen means time for morning snacks, mid-morning snacks, lunch, “I have writer’s block” snacks, “My computer is acting slow” snacks, “I just don’t feel like working” snacks,”My favorite TV show is on” snacks and dinner. I’m sure you can come up with many more snacks, but you get the picture.

Than there’s the fact concerning your lack of movement and physical activity all day. When you worked outside the home, you had to at least walk from the last parking spot in the lot to the front door. Now the further you have to travel is across the hall. The increased access to the refrigerator coupled with limited mobility can’t possibly mean anything good for your waistline. Unfortunately, no body told me that part…

4. Social skills may be lost.

When your kitchen table becomes your “office”, email may be your only chance to be “social” Consider yourself lucky if you get to make phone calls. After conducting so much business by staring at the computer all day, you’ll suddenly find yourself frazzled and nervous when the time comes for you to actually conduct business face- t0 -face. (And no, I don’t mean via Skype sessions.) Simple things such as when to shake hands and passing along your business card may suddenly seem foreign to you. You just might need to brush up your social skills a bit by reading up on it or practicing with friends.

5. You may never look good again.

Hate to break it to you, but that new spring wardrobe you purchased just might be the biggest waste of money ever. Turns out when you work from home, you never leave the house so you don’t have to look good for anybody. Gone are the days when you spent hours applying the perfect makeup or fixing that shape up before that big meeting. Now it’s putting on your best pair of sweatpants IF you bother to get dressed at all. Word of advice: Either cut your clothes shopping budget in half or be prepared with tags to sell when you don’t use. If you don’t, you’ll be wondering what you were thinking investing in clothes you may only wear once.  Which leads me to my next point…

6. Investing in a good set of pajamas is smart.

Chances are you’ll loose all motivation to get dressed in the morning and just want to stay in your pajamas all day. So now might be a good time to get those silk pajamas you’ve been eyeing (or maybe even Pajama Jeans). Just promise me you’ll still find time to get dressed at least every once in a while. There’s something to be said about dressing the part. After all, you are still at work. Besides, I never seem to be as productive when I’m stuck in pajamas all day.

7. Beds have never seemed more comfortable.

Remember those days when you just wanted to recuperate in bed  for a little bit but you could never fall asleep? Don’t count on that ever happening again. Those days will now only be a distant memory. Once you start working from home, you’ll develop a magnetic attraction to your bed that you just can’t resist. Suddenly your pillow will be fluffier and your mattress will be much more comfortable and inviting than usual. When you are covered with your sheets, you’ll instantly feel like you are enveloped in love. Once it’s time to  get out of bed and head to your work area of choice, those plush sheets and pillow will be beckoning you to come back.

I know it’s hard to resist, but you just have to learn to say no. You’ll never get as much work done when you work from the comfort of your bed. In fact, it took everything in me to get out of bed this morning and write this blog post at a table.

8. Homesick doesn’t mean what you think it does.

When you were a little kid being sent off to summer camp for the first time you knew home sick to mean not being able to have fun because you missed your home and family too much. Apparently, that was a lie. The real definition of home sick is as follows:

Homesick (adj.) – That nauseating and frustrating feeling you get when you realize you have to be at your home for another day.  Symptoms are involuntary twitching, muscle spasms, mood swings, potty mouth, irritability, restlessness and lack of motivation

9. You have no reason to watch the morning news.

I don’t know about you, but when I actually left the house to work the only reason why I watched the news in the morning was to find out about traffic reports and the weather. Now that I have no traffic to avoid or weather to accordingly for, the news never gets turned on in the morning. On the off days that I do need to know the weather, I know turn to my trusty widgets provided by Verizon Fios.

10. Daytime television has drastically improved. 

The time when you couldn’t find something to watch on those days off from work will never happen again. You’ll soon find there have been major improvements to daytime television when you work from home and you’ll never want to work again. You’ll discover yourself keeping the TV on while you work or trying to schedule your work day around you favorite TV shows. In most cases it doesn’t really work well in your favor. Who knew soap operas, talk shows, old sitcoms and documentaries about Whitney Houston could be so interesting? Luckily, God invented DVR, rewind buttons, and instantly replay. I suggest you learn how to use them.

11. Friends won’t take you seriously.

From the outside looking in, it seems as though people who work from home are living the life. They can take breaks whenever they want to. Go on vacation on a whim and don’t even have to worry about daycare for the children – which may be true for some work from home people. But friends fail to realize that we can’t just drop things on a minutes notices and sometimes making deadlines means working around the clock. Basically, they don’t always think of what you do at home as work. My suggestion is to find some other friends  in addition to the ones you have who also work from home. Those friends won’t be too upset when you have to cancel a dinner date last minute to complete a client’s project.

Did I miss something? What do you wish you had known before making the decision to work from home?

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6 Comments to “11 Things Nobody Told Me About Working From Home”

  1. All true…but not all *have* to be true! I’ve been working alone at home, also as a writer, since 2006 so know well all these issues. I NEVER watch daytime television. Never. Ever. You simply cannot afford to waste that sort of time.

    I also now sked in pool aerobics, jazz dance and lunch with a friend at least 2-3 times a week to get me out of the house to be somewhere people are expecting me to arrive on time. I used to be lazier about not getting out, but it’s really bad for your mental and physical health, as you see.

    • I agree. They don’t all HAVE to be true. I never really had a problem with watching daytime television. However, my main problem was always convincing myself to leave the house. I was either too lazy about it or convinced myself I didn’t need to go anywhere in order to save on gas. But as you mentioned, the mental and physical consequences are evident. I learned the hard way the importance of leaving the house every once in a while. Now, I make sure I leave the house at least twice every week. It’s definitely good for the mind and body.

  2. The last few months I did a little work from home, nothing big at all. I can agree with the points you made, and I am guilty of finding my love of daytime TV again. My husband would ask me what did I do today and it was basically a repeat of the day before for weeks. So I did have to get out of the rut and change things up a bit. I think interaction with other people is important too, that is what I found myself missing at times. I also make time for exercise, which helped me energize and not be a total couch potato. 😉

    • Finding time for exercise is crucial. I really found that working from home can actually turn into a very unhealthy lifestyle. I try to find time to be physical by enrolling in dance classes in zumba. In the event, I can’t make it to class I either walk outside or simply run up and down the stairs lots of times. 🙂

  3. Great post and I agree, these all CAN (and most likely WILL) happen if you let them. But you should definitely do what you can to avoid them!!! I wrote a similar post a few weeks back actually and the biggest points for me are: 1) Talk to people (online, on the phone, etc.) or you will lose your sanity and 2) No matter what, GET DRESSED in the morning. Even if you never leave your house. It’ll just completely change your mindset for a day of work.

    • Glad you can relate. And yes, I am definite much more productive when I act like I’m going to the office and actually get dressed. It’s amazing what taking a shower and putting on some business casual clothes can do for your work.

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