The other day, a friend’s girlfriend asked me what I did for a living and when I told her, she said:
“That sounds great. It must be so much easier working from home.”
And that set off a carefully measured response—one of those almost political diatribes about how it was great to be your own boss, but at the same time how there were a whole new set of parameters that you couldn’t see coming unless you’ve worked in cyberspace for any length of time. I’m sure I wound up babbling and looking like some kind of geeky whiner, so it’s better if I write it all down and tell her to read this column.
Scheduling is the first one that might get overlooked when someone is looking from the outside in at working on the Internet, and there’s a whole new level you need to juggle. I’ve got a BlackBerry with a great calendar, three different sized dry erase boards with six different colors of suitable markers and, just because I get nostalgic for paper and pens every once in awhile, a Day Planner. All because I’m afraid I’ll miss something and (more to the point) because I will if I don’t write it down in at least three places.
It would have been hard to explain to my friend’s better half that I filter all my working days through that little black box called a laptop and I’m quite often dealing with requests—and yes even demands—from far reaching parts of the globe. It’s all sort of like trying to strain lake water through a garden hose some days and equally hard to explain.
Motivation needs to be realigned too. Used to be I needed to allot my time for getting ready for work, getting to work and then working until the corresponding breaks and lunches rolled around. Weekends, of course, were the end goal. With my online business, I think about what I need to do twenty-four seven and have worked every day for the last five years. At first, those hours were to get the business up and running, but now they’re needed to keep the wheels spinning.
To answer that well meaning girl’s question, it is easier to work from home in some ways and much more demanding in others. There’s no cutting corners when you start your own business just because the orders and clients are coming from inside that little black box on your desk in your home office, but there’s no other feeling like being your own boss either.