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Day 262: The Work from Home Life

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brooke bloggingEvery day of my life is like a dream where I lounge on the swinging chair in the backyard sunshine sipping iced tea and napping whenever I feel the urge. It’s pure bliss.

Or not quite.

The reality of the work from home life (of a freelancer/blogger) is more like you work your bum off or you don’t make any money. I probably work twice as much in my self-employed life than I ever did in a real job, and there have been many challenges to overcome in order to make it a viable income source. Of course, my situation here in Australia, the one where I’m waiting for my partner visa to be approved (11 months and counting!), has been a true driving force in the whole endeavor because… well… I simply can’t stop in the middle of it all and take up a normal job.

The work from home life is one I both cherish and despise – more the former in that statement, so I thought I’d share both sides with people reading who might be trying to do the same.

The Good: I get to set my own working hours!

The Bad: I find that I sometimes work from the moment I roll out of bed to the time I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. There are random spurts of weekend work, work in the car, work on the train or whenever else I can be with laptop in hand.

The Good: I can work from anywhere!

The Bad: Work is often not better from “anywhere”. That “anywhere” needs to have a decent Internet connection (good luck in Australia), probably a bit of peace and quiet, and let’s not forget a comfortable work zone – I do better when I can be plugged in, sitting upright and with a mouse in hand. The library is often overrun with school kids taking up the good desks or talking loudly, and cafes will end up robbing you blind if you stay put all day.

The Good: I can travel whenever I want because my work schedule is so flexible!

The Bad: There’s a big misconception I have that I will get a good amount of work done while traveling. WRONG. On all trips, even when I was sure I’d have plenty of time to work, I got done maybe 30% of what I was expecting. Working and traveling is the hardest part of it all. If I want to be sure to be productive while traveling, I have to simply get work done in advance – stress much?

The Good: I am responsible for the money I make!

The Bad: Any periods of down-time, slacking off and being sick means less income. It’s very easy to get behind.

The Good: I get to work on my own personal computer that I feel comfortable with and has all of my files.

The Bad: Overhead… I’m responsible for that. Remember that time my laptop’s power cable took a dump and the replacement cable I ordered in Australia never showed up? And then did you know that I bought a $50 netbook charger that supposedly worked with my netbook but really didn’t? I ended up commandeering my boyfriend’s laptop for a couple of months (during my travels to Malaysia and the USA) until I got a replacement cable in the States that worked properly. Saying that period was challenging is a bit of an understatement.

The most annoying part of that incident was losing access to the articles I was already working on – something I am avoiding now with Google Docs. Not having my own backup computer until the other issue was resolved was another problem – perhaps something that could be avoided in the future if I choose to rent a PC from equipment rental companies. Setups such as RentSmart offer data back up and data transfer services for free. And, they always have security (through loaners if in need of repair) and the ability to upgrade to the latest and greatest (it makes a good impression). Something to consider.

The Good: I have no boss or superior looming over my shoulder!

The Bad: I have to be my own cheerleader every day. I may report to people at the end of the week, but getting there can include a lot of mental challenges. Sometimes just staying away from the bed for an afternoon nap is a struggle.

The Good: I’m free to pick and choose and come and go as I please!

The Bad: Benefits? Security?

The work from home life is definitely not for everyone. There are days when I may not get out of my pajamas until the afternoon, and days where I may not get out of the house at all. Still, I know that the work from home life is the better life for me, especially when I see Pat leaving the house in the morning in a suit and I can’t help but cringe. Go me!

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to sign up for my RSS feed so you can get a free copy of the thrifty travel ebook!

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14 Responses to Day 262: The Work from Home Life

  1. Deidre September 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    I’ve often thought about this – and I often wonder how people get started as a freelancer. You’ve made quite the career for yourself and it took a lot of guts and you’re very brave.

  2. Pete September 20, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    I’ve worked from home for the last few years and it’s definitely a tough gig. At a normal job, your work is generally done when you leave the office. But if your home is the office, it’s hard to escape. I regularly find myself glued to my laptop late at night trying to catch up after I’ve been working all day. It’s important to try and find a good work/play balance otherwise you’ll burn out pretty quickly.

    • Brooke September 20, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

      I can relate to this comment completely!

  3. jonathanwthomas September 21, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    I agree with your sentiments. I’ve been living off my blogs full time since March when I was let go from my job. Working from home is pretty much the greatest thing ever – been able to experience every moment of my newborn son’s development. If I’d still been working – I’d have missed it all. I get to work in my comfy office in front of my nice computer. The corollary to that is well, it’s very hard to pull away from the wife and kid and focus on work and very difficult for the wife to just leave me alone to work. I find I’m working even harder working for myself as I’d like to keep doing it so I’m pretty much always working, even on the couch when we’re watching TV or on vacation. I can’t imagine working a day job again and will do everything I can to avoid it.

  4. Rebecca September 21, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    I am having flashbacks when reading this post of when I was applying for jobs, because looking for work can be a full time job, especially back in 2009!

    I set my alarm for 9am, 7 days a week just so I wouldn’t sleep away the days (started with 8am, but found myself oversleeping and not getting up until 10a!) and put aside a few hours at certain times of the day to scroll through websites and send out resumes.

    I got good at “working from home” but I could never do it forever. I like having a place to go, to be in work mode. And then coming home and blocking it all out. It’s hard!!

  5. Heather September 21, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Love the post, Brooke. I’m hoping to eventually make a shift to 100% remote work and I’m already getting a sense of everything you said above. It drives me bananas when most people think I’m just on permanent vacation or say how lucky I am — sure, I AM fortunate to be moving in this direction, but it’s because of an effort I’ve been making and ideas I have for the future. I know you work crazy hard and hope the visa comes through SOON.

  6. Gerard - GQ trippin September 22, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Great post that takes a behind the scenes look at what it takes to not only be a travel blogger full time but also as someone who runs their own business.

    I would also recommend Dropbox as another solution to sync your docs & files to the cloud.

  7. Vira September 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    I’ve worked at home the last 2 years and there have been ups & downs. Now I’m back in the office life, Mon-Fri. The upside of the office life, for me, is that I have people around me, unlike when working at home with nobody around which would make me bored at times. And of course, the benefits. As for security, well, nobody can guarantee how well your boss or company will like you, there’s always the possibility of getting fired (even when you’re working as best as you can). I’m back in office only for 2 weeks and I miss the flexible time for traveling already. But, as I said, there are ups & downs. Plus & minus everything. And surely I plan to make the best of what I have now, and end up back in the independent working again in a few years. *Crossing my fingers* 😀

  8. sharon March 1, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    I realize I’m late to the party, but this sentence really resonated with me:

    “The reality of the work from home life (of a freelancer/blogger) is more like you work your bum off or you don’t make any money.”

    I’m a freelance writer/social media specialist, and there has been no truer statement ever uttered about self employment that this.

  9. Laura May 1, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    I hear you! My schedule is now two weeks (freelance editing) in the office, two weeks at home (writing), which helps a lot for financial security and overall variety. One tip: Always make sure you leave the house, even if it’s for a walk around the block at 6pm! It’s easy to forget there’s an outside world sometimes… 😉 Good luck!

  10. Andrea May 2, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    I’m totally with you. Working for yourself takes dedication, hard work and long, long hours. I wouldn’t trade it for the world though. 😉

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