As a freelance writer, I get asked this question a lot. I never know quite what to say, and it’s not that the question is hard, it’s just that my general thought is, “Well, not really, and this is awkward because I don’t really want to talk about it”, and that never lets the conversation continue.
In truth, I’ve struggled with it a lot post grad school because I often feel guilty when my husband leaves for work and I’m still in my sweats. Am I working? Yes. Do I have work to show for myself when he gets home? Yes, although he doesn’t keep tabs on me. (I get pretty self deprecating if I haven’t completed anything for the day, and he can usually tell right away.)
Working from home has been a more difficult adjustment than I imagined, and it’s not for the reasons one might think. I don’t have a problem staying “on track”. I don’t often find myself distracted by the t.v. or the internet, but I would always feel as though I needed to be chained to my work all day, and under no circumstances was it acceptable for me to take a break to cook lunch or take the dog for a walk.
This line of thinking usually resulted in me feeling completely burned out by early afternoon, but I had to constantly be working for it to be acceptable that I stay and work on my career from home. I don’t know if other people (regardless of profession) have come across similar feelings when it comes to working from home.
It certainly wasn’t making me happy, even though I was doing what I’d always wanted. I should have been happy, but being constantly stressed over the fact that I got up to take a break and eat a snack wasn’t doing me, or my work, any favors. I thought that was how it worked.
Upon finding this out, my husband promptly told me I was crazy for not taking breaks during the day. His average day is twelve hours long, and he told me that even when he’s super busy he tries to take a break ever couple hours. He does something completely non-work related so that he can recharge for the rest of the day. He plays a game on his phone, he gets something to eat, or he talks with his friends. Now, with him being gone so long, and us only able to have one car, I spend most of my weekdays without leaving the apartment very often. The animals and I have developed a highly intricate secret language.
Even writing this, it makes stupidly clear to me that I need to take breaks. I can’t physically separate work and home because they are in the same place. I don’t really have the ability to leave work at the office because my office is my dining room table.
Even in the past two weeks I’ve tried to be more lenient with myself when I take breaks. I try not to feel bad about it, I make myself take time for lunch, and I always take our dog on a walk after my work day is done.
I thought working from home would be easy because I can be very dedicated in my work, but it ended up being more difficult in ways I had not even imagined. Are my days more broken up, and have I let loose the mentality that I must be shackled to my desk all day every day? Yes, but I am writing this post as I’m eating lunch.
Baby steps, people, baby steps.