After almost 9 months of chugging away as a freelance writer, editor, and English tutor, I feel that it’s time to share my perspective on working from a home/office…er, home office. It’s often glorified as the ultimate work situation, but it’s certainly not free from challenges.
After college, I moved back into the room of my childhood. The challenge was converting it into an office as well. Organizing the same amount of space to serve two purposes was a challenge. At first I just kind of put my work in a blender and watched it explode all over the floor.
I eventually got a bit more organized, at least space-wise. But organizing time can be harder. I am my own boss, which leaves me accountable only to myself for time management. Sometimes I’m distractable and not productive enough. More often, though, I’m doing five things so efficiently that I multitask myself clean out of productivity. Trying to do too many things can actually keep my thinking so shallow that I’m not productive at anything, especially writing.
Working from home can be hard to explain to others. Sometimes people think that because I stay at home, I don’t actually work. I promise–I do. But getting respect for that isn’t always easy. It can also be tough to guard my work time. Because I’m within earshot of the phone, the dishwasher, the oven timer, the front door, it’s the easiest thing in the world to get interrupted and distracted. Or to use home chores as procrastination stations.
My job can be lonely. Sometimes I get to the end of the day overflowing with words because I simply haven’t opened my mouth to talk to a human being all day. My brain gets tired from juggling e-mails, flashback scenes, and semicolon placement, but there are no co-workers to socialize with around the water cooler. I’m learning I have to be proactive and intentional about spending time with people.
But there are also some undeniable perks to the job. I love that my mornings aren’t dictated by a rush to beat traffic or catch a train. I really enjoy the quiet and calm of my own home atmosphere. It’s pretty nice to be able to grade papers while watching blue jays perch in the backyard birches or redline a manuscript while wearing my fuzzy slippers. And it’s been a special blessing to be available to help care for my grandma these past five months.
A few days ago I wrote an e-mail to a friend who asked me what it was like to be a freelancer. My response was long. It’s a lot of work, and trust is a constant challenge as I have to keep surrendering my question-mark future into God’s hands. But I also realized that I love my work. I sure don’t feel like that every single morning. But overall, I’m so grateful to have this chance to pursue my God-given passions from a base of nurture and support. I look back over the last nine months and realize that this time has not been wasted. In spite of the logistical snags, the isolation, the multitasking, the procrastination–I’m moving in the direction of what I was made to do. And that is a great feeling.
One of my goals this summer is getting my children’s novel ready to start the publication process! In the interest of productivity on that, I’m going to be cutting back to blogging once a week for the summer. Don’t let me slack off! The race is on!
8 thoughts on “Confessions from a Home Office”
Did Caitlin ever mention the condition of my home office while she was growing up???? Eeek! I now have a designated room with, oh frabulous joy – a door that closes!! I can relate to so much of what you have said here. Discerning the difference between a distraction caused by my lack of self-discipline and a God-appointed re-direction continues to be a struggle. I will be reminded to pray for you as I open the door to my office at home…
Lovely to have you stop by! Caitlin did not detail the condition of your early home office, although I know firsthand the loveliness of your library 🙂 What you said is absolutely true: it requires a lot of discernment to distinguish between distractions and divine appointments. No two days are ever alike 🙂
Lately I’ve been making small changes to my “home office”: getting an ergonomic chair, building a platform to raise my laptop to level with my eyes (with space underneath for papers), getting a laptop cooling unit so my computer doesn’t die on me in the middle of a scene.Yet, even being at the computer offers its own distracts. If I can’t work up the energy to write, I currently get side tracked to playing rummy cube, lol.
Truth! The internet is at once the most useful and the most devilishly distracting contraption ever built. Even keeping a blog can be distraction from writing a book 🙂 I’m glad you’re updating the physical components of your office, though! Important to take care of your back, eyes, etc.
I took a sabbatical from working for most of last year, with the intention of writing and reassessing my career options. I can relate to all the perks of ‘working from home’ you’ve mentioned, but I did struggle with discipline — perhaps partly because I kept telling myself I was also on holiday! Spending hours online reading blogs was the worst of the time sucks!
I hear you, Ellen! Being your own disciplinarian is serious hard work! And my friends’ great blogs don’t make it any easier 🙂
You are brave to post photos of your home office. No way I can do that! My husband and I actually share one big room as our office, and neither one of us is a neat-freak. Just the opposite, I’m sorry to say. Maybe a new goal is in order for me. (Get more organized!)
Wow, sharing an office! That sounds like twice the explosiveness. I get a kick out of watching my space evolve (hopefully to an ever-more-functional level and not the other direction)…