5 Things You Should Know Before Working from Home

I’ve been working from home for almost ten years now. It’s hard to believe. It seems like just yesterday I was receiving hugs from second graders and longing for a view of the outdoors from my windowless classroom. I miss the students, but not for one second do I miss the job. I know that the exodus of teachers continues, so I thought it was time I revisit a topic I’ve written about several times before. That is, five things you should know before working from home.

As with any subjective topic like this, not all my advice will apply to you. But if it does, I hope it will better prepare you for the culture shock of working from home.

Just like with teaching, some people won’t understand or respect your career

People fear what they don’t know. It’s an ignorant and sometimes malicious fact that shows up repeatedly throughout history. And for a lot of people, the concept of working from home is an unknown. It’s not like a public workplace where you get the chance to prove your worth over time. Nobody gets to witness what you do on a daily basis when you’re working from home. Instead, you may be met with confusion, offensive assumptions, and just the usual annoyance that comes from the mouths of jealous or misinformed humans.

Surround yourself with friends and family who “get it” and people who applaud your unique talents and worth. People who denigrate what you do are unlikely to change without great personal effort, and it’s not your responsibility to help them do that.

One of my Dr. Who-themed home office decorations

Adjust your mindset for your happiest and most sustainable WFH environment

My husband used to quip that my boss (me) is way too strict. And he was right. It wasn’t that I was particularly ambitious. I’d been molded by hustle culture and a history of trauma that said I was worthless if I wasn’t “productive”. Teaching only reinforced this dangerous mindset.

I’ve had to unlearn a lot since working from home. Nowadays I’m more flexible with my time. I focus more on completing projects than completing a set number of hours. Most importantly, I’ve learned that being productive doesn’t always mean working for money. I can be productive by watching TV to rest my mind, practicing a hobby I enjoy to relax, or taking a walk outside for some fresh air and sun. These activities are productive because they honor my humanity, not because they help me be a better worker.

I don’t want my career to define me. I want my future retirement to be filled with the same fun hobbies and people that I enjoyed when I was still working for money.

My husband (Brandon) and I at an event to see George Takei speak

Let social media work for you, not against you

We all know how easy it is to get sucked into a social media space-time vortex. I’m still learning how to avoid being sucked into fan theories about future Star Trek spin-offs or the best place to find a decent-looking Mandalorian helmet. It’s a daily battle. However, one thing that has helped me most, is adjusting my notifications. I no longer get push notifications (those little numbers indicating you have an unread message) on most of my social media apps. That way, I’m oblivious to all of it until I purposefully sit down and open the app.

Now, I mostly use social media during work hours to improve my business. Usually that means scheduling new content, posting research articles, and chatting with colleagues about a new tech tool. Of course, how I use social media outside of work hours is a whole different story…

Check your ergonomics often

Just last month I learned that all those tiny adjustments I was making to my desk and chair were getting ready to cause me a great pain…in the elbow. In the past, I could rest my arm for a bit and get back to it. That didn’t happen this time. I double-checked my ergonomics after several days of pain, and I was shocked. My desk height and monitor levels were off by several inches. I also discovered that they now have handy little websites for just this purpose. You can enter your specific measurements and it will tell you exactly where to have your desk, chair, and monitors. Genius!

If you haven’t checked your ergonomics lately, enter your measurements into this website. Your muscles and tendons will thank me.

You’ll love working from home

I used to hesitate to tell anyone how much I loved working from home for two reasons. One, I was worried it would come off as bragging (a serious social faux pas where I grew up). Two, I thought that my job would only be taken seriously by other people if I highlighted the negative aspects of it; one of them being that people didn’t take my job seriously. Wild…I know.

I may have been good at teaching, but it wasn’t good for me. It makes perfect sense that I love my current job. I’m an introverted and highly sensitive person, and that often went against the requirements of my teaching job. I was surrounded by people all day. I had to socialize and entertain for hours on end, and I was bombarded by noise constantly. Many of my colleagues wanted to spend time with their teacher friends right after school. I preferred to sit in a quiet room and just…zone out.

Working from home gives me the quiet, peaceful atmosphere that my innate personality craves. This is how I work best; with my creative juices flowing and the solitude to turn my thoughts and ideas into blog posts, resources, T-shirts, and whatever else my little heart desires.

So, if you end up loving working from home, bask in that feeling. Don’t let any guilt, shame, or jealous humans rob you of that joy.