Tips for an Advanced Lifestyle; or, Coping with Working from Home

  • Wake up you sleepyhead
  • Put on some clothes
  • Shake up your bed
  • Oh, you pretty things, brush your teeth
  • Bathe
  • Make, eat, and clean up from breakfast
  • Lift weights
  • Go for a walk
  • Do some work
  • No! Don’t check e-mail yet! That’s almost as bad as reading the Internet. Wait until you get something done first.
  • Eat lunch
  • Post a picture on Sad Desk Lunch
  • Do more work
  • Turn off the computer at the end of the day

The author has been working from home since 2600 baud modems were a thing, but officially only since 2006. The biggest handicap is lack of routine. The second is lack of people. The greatest benefit is flexibility. The greatest hazard is also flexibility. Establish boundaries for yourself and keep them.

Yes, that means a schedule. And pants.

Working from home, often with indefinite externally-imposed demands, will reveal weaknesses in your time management skills. Until the option presents itself, we are not aware of how much someone else’s clock shapes our day. Consider the difference between children during the school year and vacation. Similarly, athletes, musicians, and others may be accustomed to working with a very limited time budget, but what happens when the infinity of 24 hours presents itself? Initially one may have grand plans for the hour(s) of reclaimed time, but those disappear in a haze. Find tricks to divide personal time from that devoted to your work, and work time from that devoted to care for everything else. Some people use pants, others a change of space, and still others a bell.

It will impose, forcefully, on time you once thought was yours: lunch. Meetings will be scheduled to interrupt breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Set limits early. If you are planning to eat with your family, do so. If you formerly took breaks to chat over coffee, continue. Get away from the desk.

It will remove any exercise you may have been getting during your commute. In my case before I began working from home my commute had changed from walking a mile to the train plus several miles to and from the office each day, to a few feet of walking to my car then to my desk. After I began working from home even that little bit of exercise was reduced to the distance from my bed to my couch. Get up and move.

It will beg you to keep going. Don’t.

Stop. Tomorrow is another day.


Update: Consider this a reminder that working away from the home is an invention of the modern, industrial era. Society changes over time.

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