A Work-at-Home Trendsetter
In early 1983, I set up shop in our small spare bedroom with a postage-stamp-sized desk, a portable typewriter, and no financial reserves or line of credit. Back then, I had no idea I was a trendsetter in the work-at-home environment.
Indeed, halfway through that first year when income was so sparse some kind church members delivered two bags of groceries to our home, it was a tad difficult to be grateful.
I remember wiling away the hours staring at the wall, trying to figure out how to get some more business.
I found myself daydreaming a lot and taking regular breaks for a cup of coffee or a snack. Maybe if some time passed the lack would be less painful.
More than one day I would glance at the clock as the little hand neared “5” and think, “Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.”
As business slowly increased and we chased the wolves away from the front door, self-discipline came more easily.
After all, when you have work to be done and clients waiting for it, you have all the accountability you need. That and a monthly mortgage payment and other bills.
Still, there has to be a modicum of determination and drive to keep one moving ahead when the natural inclination is to search for the easy chair (or the remote).
Fast forward 37 years and I think millions have discovered that lesson during the pandemic, which has uprooted our lives and ruined many of our plans.
It also persuaded numerous companies to decide their quarantined staffs can continue working remotely long after the Coronavirus has a vaccine.
When I heard that Twitter had delivered this message to its employees, soon followed by many others, I just chuckled.
For 37 years I have primarily worked at home. My only venture into a paid office space ended 10 months after it started, thanks to a stock market dive that wrecked most of my business in a few months.
When I turned in my key to the manager, I was three months behind on the rent—and, determined to never take on additional overhead other than what I paid in housing costs.
Watching the Time
It may be a bit easier if one is working for an employer who makes an automated deposit into your bank account, but there is still the challenge of self-discipline when it comes to working at home.
Talking recently with a friend who is working remotely for a federal agency, he admitted that he while he logs onto the office network to signal that he’s available, he then takes a shower.
He enjoys his new routine so much, he told me, “In the past, I resisted the idea. Now I’m ready to do it for the rest of my career.”
I can relate. While I may not be getting rich as a freelance writer and book editor, one of the benefits that can’t be underestimated is the flexibility.
If I have a doctor’s appointment or a haircut, want to go to the YMCA, or decide to take a three-day weekend, I don’t have to ask permission.
That’s something I appreciate every time I have lunch with a friend and he keeps a wary eye on his cell phone to make sure he’s back to the office by the time his hour is up.
That kind of overbearing treatment of adults as if they are children is something I don’t miss. I suspect many others have made the same discovery in 2020.