If you had of asked me a few years ago what would have helped me regain the work life balance that I was so desperately struggling to achieve, I would have answered with absolute conviction – working from home!
Up until 2 years ago I worked in the corporate world. I had a job that I loved and colleagues that I genuinely enjoyed seeing every day. But the hour commute each way was an absolute bummer. Added to that, my partner and I were also running our property development business from home which I would work on of an evening and on weekends, and everything started to take a toll. I couldn’t be bothered cooking, felt too exhausted to exercise and my mum was doing our laundry for us. I was in a constant state of anxiety, worrying that I would drop the ball somewhere and let someone down.
So my partner and I, after lots of discussion decided that I would resign from my corporate job and come work with him (stay tuned for a separate blog post about that!) in our property development business.
Alright! This was it! So long daily commute! I was getting a new lease on life! I was going to cook every meal, become a gym junkie, reclaim the laundry from my mum and become a productivity machine!
Errrm….not quite. I had been so focussed on my new-found freedom that I was unprepared for the transition from the corporate 9am – 5pm routine to the working from home free-for-all. It became apparent quite quickly that I struggled without structure. Soon I was sleeping in instead of going to the gym, and doing the laundry became an excuse to leave my desk when I was bored or procrastinating. And somehow being at my desk became a chore, it was miserable.
Ok, it was time to get serious and figure out how to get back to being my productive happy self. It took several months, but here’s what I learned and implemented for myself to transition from the corporate world to working from home.
Overcoming ‘Corporate Guilt’
The first thing that I learned about myself, being the structured girl that I am, was that I was experiencing an unspoken obligation to literally be sitting at my desk from 9am – 5pm. I have affectionately labelled this ‘Corporate Guilt’. My job no longer required such regimented structure. In fact, it was impractical based on how our business runs, for me to sit there from 9am – 5pm. And yet, if it was 8:55am and I was still getting ready for the day I experienced the same anxiety I would feel if I was running late for my corporate job! The same would happen if I had to duck out to the shops or meet a girlfriend for lunch. Got to be back within the hour!
So it was a massive mind shift for me to realise I needed to operate much more fluidly than that. And also to cut myself some slack when it came to non-work related events during that 9am – 5pm window.
Make An Agreement with Yourself
Leading on from overcoming my ‘Corporate Guilt’, whilst I no longer needed to work 9am – 5pm I still ultimately work best with structure. So it was important that I created a new kind of structure. I’d liken it more to an agreement I made with myself that allows me to be productive at work but also gives me permission to live life!
This will be different for everyone depending on their business and routine. For me I started with some basics, like I still wanted was to be up and ready for the day by 9am. Anything urgent would get done immediately in the morning as this is when I have the most energy. I also wanted to make the most of family opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten in my corporate job, like attending my nephew’s weekly sports activities. Unless there’s something work related that it urgent, I go and watch his sport each week and don’t feel guilty! Essentially, I created a new kind of structure that works in with my life rather than revolving around set hours. Admittedly this has taken a very long time for me to get used to, but I can tell you that my days have such a sense of fulfilment now compared to before!
Mixing Up My Location
I resisted this for a while. Again, I’m a structure girl and like my environment to be familiar. However, I partly implemented this because it can be so isolating and lonely working from home. Coming from the corporate world I was used to the noise and chatter of an open plan office, and popping down to the local café where there’s hustle and bustle is definitely a great option for me.
But I mainly started changing up my location last year when I started Seriously Sorted, my Productivity Coaching business. There was content and material that I just couldn’t produce working in my home office or at a café, so I started looking at co-working spaces. I found one near my house and gave it a go. Wow! In my first visit, I produced some content in a couple of hours that would have taken me days if I was writing it from home. It was certainly an eye opener for me to realise that different environments drew out different energies and ideas. With regards to the co-working space, I don’t go there every day, probably a couple of days every few weeks when I know I need to really put my head down and produce some juicy content.
So, as you can probably see, working from home wasn’t the be all and end all that I thought it was going to be. And whilst I initially struggled with my transition out of the corporate world, I’ve certainly got no regrets now that I’ve worked through my initial challenges.
If you have left your corporate job to work from home or in your own business and have a story to share then please leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you!