Things I’ve Learned (So Far) from Working at Home

Cats are just as annoying (if not more so) as human coworkers.

There’s still drama, but instead of finding out that so and so slept with so and so from accounting, there’s cleaning up the hairballs, keeping them from tearing down the blinds and constantly breaking up cat fights. Also, your coworkers in an office (usually? hopefully?) don’t like to lay across your desk or laptop whenever you’re trying to get work done, and when you ignore them, they don’t knock everything off your desk one by one because they’re pissed they aren’t the center of your universe at that particular moment.

You literally forget to shower.

I’m not ashamed to admit it. If I get on a writing kick or I’m on deadline, it’s perfectly acceptable to roll out of bed, come sit at my desk and knock things out. Time slips away and you realize it’s 4 p.m. and you haven’t showered. But you tell yourself it’s okay, because who’s going to see you today anyway? The cats don’t care. You’ll just take one in the morning. And then the cycle continues until you can’t stand it anymore and have to make it a priority and write it down in your planner to shower. This could just be me, though.

Leggings are indeed pants (in the privacy of your own home).

Sure, you may not want to go get the mail or bring the garbage cans to the curb on legging days, but leggings are a beautiful thing and totally beat out tights, pencil skirts and dress pants any day. Also, you learn they are still one step up from your pajama bottoms—sort of. You feel accomplished slipping into those after you (remember to) shower instead of putting on more pajama pants. You’re not quite ready for actual pants yet. That comes when you have to actually leave the house.

You forget how to interact with human beings.

After being holed up in your home for days at a time, it feels weird and somewhat scary to step into the sunlight, get into your car, and come in contact with other human beings. Your demeanor ranges from manic niceness and politeness (because you’re actually face-to-face with another human being!) to complete awkwardness because you forget what common small talk and human interaction entails. Going to the grocery store becomes a terrifying feat and you just can’t believe how crowded it is on a Tuesday afternoon! There’s like, ten people in here! Additionally, the phone call and voice-on-voice contact is even more terrifying than it was before. Email and text messages only, please.

You save a lot of money on gas.

Because of your new fear of human interaction, you don’t really get to drive your car very much and you only have to fill up once or twice a month. The good news, you’re saving money (especially because we all know that most freelancers aren’t rolling in dough). The bad news, you kinda forget how to actually drive your car and even the smallest amount of traffic can cause a minor panic attack. However, a simple trip to the grocery store now becomes an adventure…as sad as that may be.

You slowly become Martha Stewart—and sort of like it.

Thankfully, you now have time to cook healthy meals at home (especially since you can’t afford to go out to eat anymore anyway).  Who knew the endless meal possibilities you would have when you’re actually at home and have some time to prep and plan meals! You revel in looking for new recipes on Pinterest and you may or may not have asked for (and received) cookbooks for Christmas. Homemade pizza crust and pizza? No problem! Baking cookies for the hell of it? Yes, please! Homemade pulled barbecue pork? Easy! You have become a master of your Crockpot and you’re not ashamed. Okay, only a little bit ashamed when you’re full-time office job friends come over on the weekends and they see your kitchen mixer and cookies on the counter top and you have a pretty clean kitchen if you do say so yourself.

Taxes are scarier now than ever before.

When you’re self employed, there’s a little tax you have to pay called “Self Employment Tax,” in addition to the other normal taxes you pay when you’re employed by an employer. But the fun doesn’t come only once a year. Now you have to pay them quarterly in a large sum up front because clients don’t tax you from the beginning! So now, every time you charge a client for your services, you’re torn between not wanting to get paid too much so you don’t have to pay Uncle Sam so much money every quarter, and having to charge an expensive hourly rate (since literally half of it is going to the government anyway and you need to still pay your bills). People also don’t understand that the hourly rate is high because clients aren’t paying for your benefits (you are!), this is your livelihood, and half of that is going to Uncle Sam anyway.

Daytime TV is sad.

First, you realize you made an awful career move when you see that two women talking about nothing (obnoxiously) and drinking wine at 9:00 a.m. every morning can become famous and rich. Then there’s all the infomercials about geriatric products, medicines that you need to take because you’re now convinced you have fibromyalgia or possibly an overactive bladder, and quick weight loss programs because you’re now a fat-ass since you’re sitting on the couch eating while you work instead of taking thousands of coffee breaks just to get out of your cubicle like you did before.

But sometimes you turn on the TV just to have some sort of human interaction.

HGTV and Kitchen Nightmares are evil temptresses and are the ultimate time suck when you need to be productive (or maybe that’s just me). However, hearing Gordon Ramsay scream at people and call them “filthy pigs” and listening to the Property Brothers talk about fixer-uppers, budgets and timelines gives you comfort because you haven’t quite forgotten what a human voice sounds like.

Having a slow workday (or week) is a scary proposition, unlike before when you welcomed the lull in workload and you could screw around on Facebook. Free time is now a dirty phrase. 

Time is now money for sure, and you no longer get paid just for showing up at the office. If you’re not cranking out material or networking to get more clients, there is zero income. You no longer enjoy free time. Free time is scary and stressful and you lose track of the days and you no longer look forward to the weekends because they’re just another day of the week when you could be making money.

You bounce back from illness faster and you don’t get sick as often.

Since you’re not taking public transportation or being shoved in a building with thousands of your germiest and closest friends, there is obviously less contact with other people’s germs. However, on the plus side, if you do get sick, it’s now easier to work since you can work from your bed if you want to. Because of this, recovery time is faster and you won’t spread the illness back and forth with other people. This is good, since you don’t get paid sick days anyway.

Sitting in rush hour traffic is a (horrible) thing of the past.

You begin planning all of your outings around when you think other people will be going to and from work. You don’t leave the house between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (here in Atlanta, anyway). The first few weeks of your self employment involved spending your mornings watching the traffic alerts on the local news station while you sat comfortably on your couch with your coffee in hand (okay, I still do that some mornings). You feel sorry for those who have to go out and drive in that mess, and are thankful it no longer takes you an hour and 15 minutes to go five miles to work. You simply walk from the bedroom to your home office. That’s a beautiful thing.

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