I’ve waxed lyrical elsewhere on The Balance Hub about how much I love working from home.
As a family man with two young children I feel I am getting the best of all worlds with this lifestyle. I earn a good living working online and I am able to spend quality time with my family.
I really couldn’t ask for more than that.
However, taking a more reflective approach as to what it is like to work this way, I thought I would come up with 8 things I have learned about myself since taking the leap.
Maybe some of these will inspire you. Maybe even bore you, (I hope this doesn’t come across as too self absorbed); either way, this is what rings true to me…
1. I’m with the French, a 6-hour work day is enough
Working from home has made me realise that an 8hr work day, (and sometimes a lot more – I was a practicing lawyer so I know first hand), is just plain ridiculous.
I align exactly with the French when it comes to working hours. The average work day there is a much more palatable 6hrs. (The uber-relaxed Dutch clock in an average of 5 ½ hours a day – impressive).
And 6 hours makes perfect sense to me.
As I talk about here, I usually plonk my butt down for work around 9:00am. For the first 3 hours until lunch I am a productivity machine, (well sometimes).
If undisturbed by a screaming wife or child I can get a lot done in that time.
A pit stop for lunch, nothing too heavy or wine-fuelled (see below), add another 3 hours of work and I am finished.
It helps that my daughter arrives home from nursery at 4.pm, and that is great time for me to down tools.
If I try to work past 6 hours I just end up fiddling. I have reached my threshold.
Admittedly, if I worked for someone else or had clients I would be forced to find the motivation to push on through.
But then my balance would be out of whack. 6hrs is just fine thank you very much.
2. I think my family and friends see me as a slacker
Following on from the 6hrs thing.
Not only do my friends and family not really understand what I do, (‘so you just go to cafes with your laptop and pretend to work’), the fact that I am free most days from 4pm onwards doesn’t exactly enhance my reputation as a hard-working individual.
And then during family visits – I live and work in my wife’s home town in Croatia – I will often finish at lunch time and not even attempt to open the laptop afterwards.
This is mainly due to the copious amounts of home made wine that is served at any family get-together in this country.
Essentially, the freedom I have working from home allows me to indulge in such occasions. That’s great. I wouldn’t change it for anything; however it does give off a certain slacker-type vibe.
Basically, I can nearly always make myself available.
This is a situation I end up feeling guilty about. Which is terrible.
The expectation of the amount of hours I should ‘really’ be working, makes me feel slightly ashamed about having enough time in my life to actually slow down and enjoy it.
I need to remember the wise words of one of my favourite John Hughes characters:
3. I need a change of scenery to help keep the productive juices flowing
I mentioned above the misconception my friends have of my working lifestyle.
And while I do enjoy heading to the waterside cafés to work, (I don’t help my cause by posting the occasional image of me sipping coffee against a backdrop of a crystal calm Adriatic sea), it is more because the change of scenery does wonders for my productivity.
My favourite café has more shade than patrons. I am never disturbed and my pale English skin doesn’t take a beating, (it gets tremendously hot here).
They also play some excellent blues.
For me, the benefit of working from home all stems from the fact I have the freedom to work anywhere.
Leaving my home office to work elsewhere makes me happy and I am definitely more productive because of it.
4. Setting a morning to do list is essential
If I don’t create a to do list, the inherent freedom I have working from home gives me a ridiculous amount of opportunity to do anything else but work.
Each morning I have to give myself a a very clear set of instructions.
This is in the form of an ever changing word document that remains open throughout the day in the corner of my second work screen.
Without it, I forget what I am supposed to be doing and end up in an endless click-hole of visits to Gmail, (has anyone written to me?), Google Analytics (how are my stats?), Flippa.com (what new online businesses are for sale?) and the ultimate time vortex Reddit.
And that’s all while sat at my desk trying to look busy.
I maybe a weak man but that to-do list does the trick.
It’s my own personal version of the skulking superior passing the desk wondering when the report will be finished.
It’s the only way I can actually stay on track.
5. I can be productive while rocking a one year old on my lap to Baby TV
Now, only working from home could I have learned this about myself. I can actually multi-task.
There are days where I am home alone with the baby; I am busy and he refuses to nap.
In these situationas I have no choice but to start doing what I call; ‘one handed work’ (anything that can be done just by clicking the touchpad basically), while rocking my baby boy vigorously on one knee.
I’m lucky, he’s pretty content with this for up to 30 minutes at a time; as long as I provide a soundtrack medley of baby cartoons.
I have recently found one compromise however; my son absolutely loves the soft crooning of Dean Martin.
And that beats ‘Tiny Beats’ any day of the week.
6. I am always excited when my daughter comes home from nursery
I will never tire of the wonderful feeling of having my daughter run up and jump into my arms after she has returned home from nursery.
My job before I started my own home based business often saw me in the office until 7.30pm.
I wasn’t a father at the time but I was close enough to being one to really think about what that meant.
I would get home and my child would be asleep.
My only time seeing them awake would be the weekends.
It is one of the main reasons I quit it all.
Now, when I hear the door open and her voice shout up Daddy I have a massive grin on my face as I walk down the stairs to greet her.
It means everything to me.
7. I am more driven than ever to create successful businesses
One of these days I will write an in depth article on what it is I do for a living.
Until then, I will simply describe myself as a bit of a DelBoy of the internet.
For those unacquainted with the comedy character that is basically an institution where I come from, it means I am a wheeler-dealer, jack of all trades.
I buy and sell online businesses, as well as create and run my own web properties. This covers everything from blogs, to ecommerce stores, viral sites and affiliate marketing.
I love doing it, and working from home to do this full time has only fed my hunger to do more of it.
I wake up everyday keen to get cracking.
Last Sunday evening my family and I were over at friends and I was enjoying a beer on the terrace as the sun went down.
As I sat there, I thought about what work I wanted to complete in the week to come. I actually longed for Monday morning so I could get started.
To feel that excitement instead of dread, (which I remember all too well) is amazing to me.
I am fully committed to my enterprises, and so far so good with the way things of gone.
8. I could never, ever work for anyone else again
This one is all in the heading.
I just couldn’t ever do it again.
This is my life now.
And if everything fell apart tomorrow, I know I’d be able to hustle my way back online and earn enough money to support my family.
It’s a reassuring thing to understand about yourself, I can tell you that.