The Advantages and Challenges of working from home

I consider myself very fortunate that I have worked from home for almost 20 yrs. now, and I really doubt I would be able to go back to teaching in a public school or work for anyone else. But as in anything, although there are many advantages in working from home, there are also some challenges.

When I first began working from home, my most important reason was to be able to be home with my three children who were ages 5, 3 and newborn at the time. Once I started homeschooling, I became determined to be able to make it work so I could continue.

I love that my three children were able to learn at home and I was able to spend so much time with them while they were growing up. Life was an adventure, and very messy! Most mornings we devoted to reading and other school work, except we had lots of life-learning days when we went off on hikes with our homeschool group or other educational -learning and life adventures.

I would squeeze work into little blocks of time when they were playing, reading or engaged, but my main block of work time was from 8pm to midnight. The kids thought I never slept because I would be dressed in daytime clothes when the went to bed, and when they got up in the morning!

It was challenging to do everything, and I must say that the house did get messy at times, since I had to prioritize my time and focus on the most important things, but we have some great memories of fun and learning!

During those times, money was very tight as I struggled trying different ways to earn enough money from home, but when I ended up going through divorce and becoming a single mum six years after starting on this adventure, I was able to buy a house on my own and continue homeschooling them. Now that they are all grown up with the youngest in her last year of high school, there are new advantages and challenges.

One advantage in working from home is you can set your own hours, but that can also be a challenge, especially for an ADHD personality like me. You have to develop systems and schedules to keep yourself on track, and eliminate distractions. I set my start time and breaks for the day go to my studio so I don’t get distracted by things that need done around the house.

Setting goals and creating a schedule is vital. I use a bullet journal to track everything, and an online family calendar to put everyone’s events in. It is on my phone and my laptop, and emails me reminders. Also, I have a very poor sense of time, so I have alarms go off on my phone at different times during the day to help the day from “getting away from me”. I also have an alarm when I need to pick my daughter up from school, so I don’t accidentally leave here there!

But family and other people can unintentionally mess up your schedule or work time. They forget, or don’t realize, how important your schedule is and the fact you are working, even though you are home. Because you are at home, they will ask you to pick things up while you are out, or ask you to do things because you are “at home”. You may need to tell people that it is not okay to stop by to chat because you have work to do and let them know your schedule is jam packed!

I believe those who work at home successfully probably work more hours than most of those who work outside the home for someone else, especially in the beginning. Because of that, one of the things that is vitally important is to schedule family time and “down time”, so you don’t suffer from “burnout”. If you work a 9 to 5 job, when you are done working, you are done; but when you work at home, work is always there. So having a separate work space is not only important so you aren’t distracted from work by home life, but also so you can “shut the door” on work when it it family and “down” time.

The mobile phone and all the apps we now have is another double-edged sword. The advantage is that you can work on the go, but friends and family can distract you with texts, calls. Also, you need to learn to let things wait, that can wait until tomorrow, when you are in non-work time.

When you work at home you may not have the regular paycheck, health benefits, and “security” that those who work for someone else may appear to have, but if you are working in the right industry, put in the necessary time to build your business well, you can make far more per hour, and have more security, peace of mind and time freedom. For all the challenges I have had, I have no regrets because I learned so much and would never want to go back to working for someone else.

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