In my last article, I put some of the most prevalent freelancing myths under the microscope, so to speak. But, I deliberately left out one of the biggest.
What is this massive myth that deserves an entire article to itself?
The widely held belief that working from home is simply amazing, paradisiacal and blissful.
Let me set the scene.
You wake up gently at whatever time you want. Late night? Treat yourself to another hour or two. You then roll out of bed, prepare a strong caffeine blast just how you like it and switch on your PC. You are ready for work.
As you munch your breakfast, you check your email, Facebook etc. and set down to the first task on your list. Feeling restless? Pop out for a stroll or head to the shops to grab a few things for lunch. Met that all-important deadline? An episode of your fav series wouldn’t do any harm…
I think you get the picture.
But, is the situation really so idyllic? Does the ideal live up to the day-to-day reality?
Time is money
First things first, the less efficient you are, the less you will earn. It’s simple. Clients pay for results, not the time you spend obtaining them. Procrastinating means working late into the night and at weekends to get the job done – incidentally, this is also when your office-bound friends and family are footloose and fancy-free.
Suddenly all those distractions don’t seem quite so appealing. The lie-ins and TV watching actually make you inefficient and anti-social with an overwhelming feeling of being overworked.
Yes, it is great to adapt your day to fit your priorities, needs and desires. I go running at lunchtime, listen to TED talks on a quiet day and fix doctor’s appointments in the middle of the afternoon. But, to do this, I make sure I’m as efficient as possible to free up my time without compromising on the quality and quantity of my work.
A lonely business
Secondly, spending all day at home can be a lonely business. Although your colleagues may not be your best friends, they still provide banter, interaction and coffee-break companions. I looked at the idea of freelancing solitude in more detail a couple of months ago and my opinion remains unchanged. It is important to leave the confines of your living room, meet other freelancers and network actively. Otherwise, at best you’ll feel a little lonely, at worse you could start to lose a marble or two!
A creative dead end?
Finally, your home isn’t necessarily the most creative environment. I’m lucky enough to be able to concentrate pretty much anywhere (especially when I have deadlines looming). However, the lack of contact with others limits brainstorming possibilities – you just don’t know if that great idea is really all that great after all. Not only will you physically go round and round in circles in your living room, but also intellectually. With no one to bounce ideas off, it can be hard to get the distance you need from your work to be truly critical. Obviously, the internet, phone calls and skype make it easier to connect, but it’s not quite the same and requires a more concerted effort
Bliss rating: 6/10 (with strong 8/10 potential under the right circumstances)
If I had to summarise the whole working-from-home paradox, I’d say that it is an amazing opportunity if used wisely. If you manage your time and limit your distractions, you can have flexible working hours, earn good money and enjoy the comfort of your own home with no lengthy commute and the cheaper option of eating in.
For me, the ideal approach also involves going to co-working spaces, meeting other freelancers to work at the library or in café and offering to work at your client’s offices, with a few lunches with friends thrown in for good measure!