The Delicate Balance of Working from Home

I met up with an old high school friend the other day for a cup of coffee. In catching up, he asked me about how my freelance writing career was going and what it was like to do what I do. Then, he asked if I had a work schedule and, if so, what it was.

That opened up a giant can of worms and I thought the gist of the ensuing conversation was worth sharing with the Beyond the Rhetoric audience. As many of you may already recognize, working from home isn’t for everyone and one of the issues that may deter you from that kind of lifestyle is the work schedule. In essence, you’ll be faced with two conflicting motivations.

Because You Can Work, You Should Work

Even before I had the chance to respond, my friend said that I probably work seven days a week (at least in some capacity). For the most part, that is true. This might be due to my work ethic or sense of obligation, but this is a thought that enters my mind quite frequently: because I can be working at just about any hour of any day, I should be working at just about every hour of every day.

There’s something about that overriding guilt that you can feel if you’re near the home office with obvious items on your to-do list, but you’re choosing to engage in a different activity that is not work related. To be fair, this kind of thinking can easily lend itself to other psychological symptoms that aren’t exactly healthy either. On the bright side, you’ll probably get more done… right?

Because You Can Take a Break, You Will Take a Break

Working from home means that you are going to face your fair share of distractions. If you have other family members in the home, they may not give the “office door” the same kind of respect as they would if you were at a physical office outside of the home. They might wander into your home office and just start a random conversation.

But not just your family and roommates that could be getting in the way. More than anything else, it’s probably you. Without a boss or supervisor lurking over your shoulder, you can easily distract yourself with Facebook, online games, and other randomness. That can’t be good for your productivity; even if you’re sitting at your computer, your brain could be nowhere near the world of work.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

And that’s more or less where I find myself on a daily basis. On the one hand, I feel compelled to work and get the job done whenever I have the chance to get some work done. On the other hand, I’ve been known to spend a little too much time on the Xbox during my lunch break.

Somewhere between the two extremes lies a delicate balance. Look at the guy at the top of this post. He has his TV on in the background and he’s tweeting away on his phone… but his laptop isn’t even turned on. Achieving that balance is clearly easier said than done.