For the first 17 years of my career I got up at 4:30 went to the gym and then headed off to work. I had to be at the office by 6:30 to be prepared to get my workers out the door with their daily jobs. I was working in the landscape industry so it was early to be early rise in those days. The time we had to work was from sun up to sun down and it started all over the next day. As you can imagine that was a long 17 years and I was pretty exhausted by then. So, when my Husband Quentin and I decided to pick up everything and move across the country to Michigan, I naturally thought it was a great time to do a major career move! I know right, let’s move to a state where we know no one and start a completely new career with a company based out of the Kansas City area. Well, as Elenore Roosevelt famously said “Do something that scares you every day”! I took this quote to heart and started in on a journey that would change my life forever.
With this new career came a new freedom of working for myself! No one to answer to in the morning if I didn’t want to get out of bed and nowhere I had to be just yet. For the first two weeks, I got up and made Quentin breakfast and packed his lunch. I had dinner waiting on the table when he got home, I was the ultimate 1960’s housewife. At least I looked that way on the outside. Inside I was dying to figure out how working at home fit into my new life. It took me a couple of months to get it all figured out. Along the way I picked up some helpful tips for myself and I want to share them with you!
- Make your home office an office:
This was the first thing I learned in my new work environment. You need to have a place where work is work and doesn’t mingle with home. I tried for the first few weeks to work at my kitchen table. There were constant distractions. Oh, hey the dishwasher just went off let’s get those dishes put away now and save time to work later. Then they laundry would be next let’s just throw a load in and work while it is going. Yep it took me exactly a week before I realized my house was spotless but my business was suffering. So, I did what every apartment dweller does and went to IKEA grabbed some office desk units and set up our spare room as an office. The only other items in that room besides my office essentials was Quentin’s computer desk for when he worked remote. This was perfect I was set, right?
- Dress for the job you want:
So, this one took a while to learn…. The best thing about working for yourself in a home office is you don’t have to get dressed for the office days. Yes, I did spend the first few months in sweats and a comfy sweatshirt. It was winter in Michigan and hibernation mode had hit. I found myself coming out of my office for some more tea and plopping down on the couch and grabbing the remote. What is a few minutes of tv going to hurt? Two, The Price is Right’s later I had not done anything for my business. Time to get disciplined. I started getting up doing my morning routine and getting dressed for work even if I didn’t have any networking or client meetings. This made all the difference in the world, I felt better as I worked and was more confidant in my emails and phone calls. It really did make a difference, I even started eating lunch at my desk to get more accomplished in my day.
- Make appointments to network and meet people:
One of the first things I noticed about working at home is it was lonely. There was no one to have office water cooler chats with about last night’s Game of Thrones episode or who had gotten come to work late looking shabby today. Moving up to Michigan and knowing no one while starting a business had made this a bit easier for me. I had to get out and meet people. I set a goal for myself the second week I was in town to meet 20 new people a week. I kept that up over the first year and the weeks I didn’t make my goal I made up for the next week and met more people. Honestly, it really made my move here a lot easier with getting to know so many great people. I also found that I wanted to be involved in the community to not only meet people for my business network but help in my local community as a volunteer. This was something I never really had time for in my prior career.
- Don’t sit all day:
I gained 20 lbs in the first three months after the move. I realize some of that was stress eating through the move but most was just the lack of daily movement. You don’t realize that walking around on landscape jobsites will actually help those extra calories melt away. I became all too aware of the lack of movement in my day when I had sat at my desk and worked on learning the new industry I was in for over 4 hours straight one day only to get up and have some lunch and go back to work at my desk. I needed some planned exercise. I started setting an alarm to go off every two hours. I would get up and walk through the neighborhood for 20-30 mins. This made a huge difference in both my mental faculties as well as my physical wellbeing.
- Enjoy the freedom:
There is a freedom that comes both with working for yourself and working at a home office. If you need to take some time to do a personal errand or just need some time to yourself that is an option. Enjoy that freedom but don’t take advantage of it. Being disciplined to work at home is a must if you want to continue your work at home lifestyle! I find myself working at night or on the weekends if I need to. On the other side of the coin, I have been known to take a few afternoon hours on a Friday to go out to the park or botanical gardens. It puts my head in the right spot and I often find I can problem solve as I walk. If you are like me in that way always take a notebook with you! Most of the ideas for this blog popped out last week on a walk at the local orchard!
Working from home can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Just take the time to figure out what works for you. You may even try out a local co-working spot they are popping up all over the place. Most of all enjoy the journey and learn from yourself along the way. I learned a lot those first few months and I am still daily figuring out what works for me. Try everything once, who knows what will come of a good old-fashioned try! — Rachel