This is a video from a Udemy course I created a few years ago to help people maximize their efficiency while working from remotely or from home. Instead of selling it as a paid course, I’m sharing the content here, for free. I hope you find it helpful. -Ron Stauffer
Be aware that summer vacation can be a serious productivity killer!
One of the unique challenges of working from home is the fact that you might have to spend a lot of money to equip yourself. Unless you have an employer that gives you a budget to buy things like a printer, a scanner, a desk, you know, office supplies like paper and things like that, you might have to pay for all of that yourself.
Be aware of that, budget for it, and if you possibly can (if you have an employer), ask them if they can help you pay for it. They might not offer it, but they might agree if you ask them. If you’re self-employed, though, like me, you just got to get over it: we have to create our own offices, and we have to pay all the money in order to make that happen.
Another challenge that you might experience is that if your technology isn’t working the right way, you can’t just call tech support. There’s probably no help desk that can just immediately help you as though you were at an office. So you might be on your own when it comes to setting up your wireless router, setting up your printer, and figuring out what kind of network card you need and a wireless modem.
So there will be some upfront work of discovering Cat 6 cables, ethernet, wireless repeater stations, and things like that that you might not have known about in the very beginning when you first went down this path of, “Okay, I’m going to be working from home. What does that mean?” You might also have to deal with things like your internet’s getting slow because your kids are streaming movies. You might have to create separate wireless networks, one for you and one for the kids. There are just some challenges that come with the territory.
One thing that I noticed that was really funny when it first happened but has happened to me a couple of times since is: if you get into the mode of working from home, every day for, let’s say, 10 or 12 days in a row. And then all of a sudden you have to go somewhere in the car: you might forget that it snowed last night and that the car has a foot of snow on it. So you wake up with what you think is a reasonable amount of time, and then you open the front door, and you realize, “Oh my goodness: I have to spend 45 minutes deicing my car!”
So you kind of learn some little tricks, such as, even though I don’t have to go out at all on a particular day before I go to bed, I am going to check out the front window and see if it’s snowing. And when you wake up, the first thing you do is, “Okay, how is the weather?” That’s a unique challenge that I wasn’t expecting when I first started working from home.
One unique challenge for people with kids is summer vacation. If you work from home, you might have a really great system that works just fine during the school year. But now, all of a sudden, during summer vacation, you’ve got three months of crazy loud chaos in your house. I’m not exactly sure what the solution for that is. But it is something to be aware of, and for people who’ve never worked from home before who start doing so, this is something that frequently takes them by surprise. They completely forget that “Oh, that’s right! The kids don’t go to school for three months out of the year. What am I going to do? I can’t work from home because they’re laughing and giggling and jumping on the trampoline, and they’ve invited their friends over, and there are birthday parties.”
Currently, as I’m filming this right now, there’s a Coronavirus pandemic going on. And so there are restrictions on where you can and can’t go, so that might not exactly apply as I’m filming this. But I’m sure in the future; we’ll find some solutions for this. Be aware that summer vacation can be a serious productivity killer.
One strange part of working from home that surprised me and I didn’t even know about was that my wife told me that “There are two Rons.” Like a Jekyll and Hyde sort of scenario, there’s “Work Ron” and “Home Ron.” And the problem is, when I’m working from home, I have this mindset where I think, “I gotta be efficient, I gotta be productive, I gotta pay attention, I gotta be focused on business.” And if I get a phone call from my wife, for example, in the middle of the workday—let’s say she’s out shopping or something—I have a tendency to be somewhat rude to her where I speak in clipped sentences. And I wonder, like, “How can I help you?” But I’m really concerned about getting back to the work I have at hand. That’s something that snuck up on me, and it might sneak up on you too.
Just because you’re in your work mindset doesn’t mean that you can be all business all the time. You have to have some opportunity for emergencies or for your kids. If they skin their knee and they come into your office, and they need your help, you’ve gotta be willing to put business down for a couple minutes and comfort them, give them a Band-Aid or whatever, and not be irritated that they’re impinging on your workflow.
Yes, we should create boundaries, but those boundaries are not made of stone. They are a little bit flexible. So be aware of that accidental dichotomy, where you can be a little bit two-faced like Jekyll and Hyde, where you speak to your family members like a colleague. And because of that, it feels… because you’re trying to be professional, and you’re trying to focus on being the best employee or the best worker you can, it can come across as unloving to your family. That was a blind spot for me. And that’s something that I still have to work on every day. But now that I’m aware of it, I can take steps to be careful. So when I see that my wife is calling me, even if I’m on a business phone call, if I have the opportunity to take her call, I try to remind myself, “Okay, I’m going to kind of clock out of work, and I’m going to be a husband and a father right now.”
And I’m going to talk about whatever needs to be talked about. And then, when we’re done, I can get back to my business conversation. So be aware of that.
Ron Stauffer is a solopreneur and freelancer with over 14 years of experience running a small company. He’s extremely familiar with the loneliness, frustration, and challenges unique to freelance work and running a business of one. He started Free Soloing to help other people just like him.