Working from home, self-discipline, and social independence

Home Office 011720113125Working from home isn’t for everyone; actually, if you ask Marissa Mayer or Jamie Dimon, working from home isn’t for ANYONE.  Despite their opinions on the subject, there are those of us who, whether freelancing for ourselves or telecommuting for someone else, can work from home and consistently outshine our office-dwelling counterparts.

What’s our secret?  I’ve identified two things about me that probably typify the successful telecommuter.

1. I’ve got self-discipline.  I can make myself do things I don’t necessarily want to, at times that I don’t necessarily want to do them, because I understand the recipe for doing so.  I know how to balance torture and reward, and how the right amount of procrastination will actually enable productivity.  You have to keep to a schedule and maintain rituals (keep normal hours and get dressed!), but be flexible enough to dispense with those and still get work done, when you have to or want to (go run on the beach!).

I’ve studied how and when to apply which technique.  You have to know yourself well, what motivates you, what’s going to make you miserable beyond usefulness, and what will make it all better when it’s over.  This is how you GSD without an external task master wielding a whip as you hunch over your desk.  In the cold.  With frozen fingers.  And one candle.  And your name is Bob Cratchit.   You apply management techniques to your own self.  If you cannot do this, then you are not a good candidate for freelancing, much less working from home.

Self-discipline cuts the other way, too.  You have to be disciplined enough to end your work day and literally walk away from it and “go home”.  This is harder to do in smaller living spaces, and very easy if you have a separate office in your home, with a door you can shut.  If you want to be a successful freelancer or telecommuter, then you MUST have a life and a space that is separate from work. It’s mandatory.

2. I’m socially independent.  A lot of people miss the social aspect of reporting to an office each day.  For me, it started on the commute. I traveled from Long Island to Wall Street via mass transit for about 15 years.  It took two hours each way, every day. You take the same train with the same people every morning and every evening, and you get to know them. They become your friends.  When you get to the office, there are the people in your immediate work group, and the wider group on your floor, with whom you share rest rooms, cigarette breaks, and lunches each day.

For those of us who are bona fide introverts, these are take-’em-or-leave-’em types of interactions.  As it turns out, I don’t need face-to-face contact each day.  I excelled for years communicating remotely via email, IM, and the telephone.  These are useful skills, now that I freelance from home, and they are well-developed due to the years that I employed them while serving in global positions.  Let’s face it – if you’re in the Northeastern USA, there is never a good time to talk to Hong Kong.  It’s never going to be a good time for both you and them at the same time.  Why not just do it from the sofa?

How, then, do I keep my people skills intact?  Business club meetings, social club involvement, and volunteering all play huge roles in helping to keep critical interactive skills sharp. The bonus is that I can look forward to the monthly meeting, to getting dressed up in business clothes and using actual mascara, without the act of full regalia becoming a bore, a drain or a burden. It’s the difference between in-person interaction as a “gotta” versus a “wanna”.

I’d rather have it on the “wanna” list.

Inspired by:  9 Things You Don’t Want to Admit You Miss About the Office | The Freelancer, by Contently.

One thought on “Working from home, self-discipline, and social independence”

  1. 🙂

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