This is Part 3 of the Working Alone series. You can read parts one and two below.
As mentioned earlier, I have had experience working alone from home over the last couple of years.
In line with my earlier posts, I wanted to continue asking questions that you need to think about before leaving your corporate job and working alone.
What environment do you work best in?
My role as a personal assistant in a busy sales office meant working in a fast paced, dynamic and often noisy environment. Having worked there for 7 years I then moved to a property banking division of another large company. The main difference with the new office – you could hear a pin drop.
For weeks I struggled with how quiet the office was, wondering if I had made a mistake moving. Eventually I got used to a quieter working environment.
The noise wasn’t the only thing I struggled with. The most stressful part of the sales environment was month end cut off. The place was a madhouse at cut off, with end of year and mid year being the most chaotic. Cut off meant many late nights making sure orders were processed into the system correctly. The chaos involved a lot of stressed out salespeople (and sometimes a stressed out PA) and yet when I left the company I started missing the thrill of cut off.
Now as a blogger/writer I need silence to work effectively. To be at my best creatively, I need silence so I can think and come up with ideas.
Can you take working alone for a test drive?
To be able to take six months leave without pay, I had to save money to support myself. This meant staying at home – a lot. Many weekends I spent without leaving the house. A few I even spent without talking to another person (other than the odd phone call). Before you peg me as a total recluse (I’m not) a lot of that time I was concentrating on my fiction writing, which kept me busy and made the time alone easier.
Consequently when I started working from home, I didn’t find it a struggle because I was already used to it.
If you are wondering how you will cope working alone, try it for the weekend.
Treat those two days like they were actual work days. Stick to work hours (whatever they may be for you) and see how you go. Do this over several weekends. Give yourself a feel for working alone before you take the plunge.
Can you resist temptation?
Ok, this one is a bit different but you might be surprised how it could affect your waistline.
When I first started working from home it was during summer. My upstairs office is the one room in my townhouse without air-conditioning and it feels like a sauna in the heat of summer. Not a pleasant working environment, so I decided to work from my kitchen table in the comfort of the downstairs air-conditioning. Unfortunately the kitchen table happens to be in close proximity to the fridge and pantry.
Consequently when I went out to meet a friend one evening, I went through 4 changes of clothes before I could find anything that fit. After only 5 weeks of working from home, I had put on weight. Even the cat was looking rounder because he was chasing food every time I was in the kitchen (which was often).
While I had good intentions of going for a long healthy walk every day, once I was working from home those good intentions never materialised.
Be particularly careful when taking breaks (which you need for your neck and back health if you are spending long periods of time at a computer). Breaks can lead to snacking. Snacking can lead to excessive cups of tea and chocolate coated goodies. Choose snacks wisely.
Working alone can be an amazing experience, particularly if you are a creative, introverted person like myself. Just make sure you ask yourself the tough questions before you leave your corporate environment.
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