I’ve been working from home since June 2011 = 5.5 years. Before that, I only worked in real offices for 3 years. So I’ve been working remotely longer than I ever worked in a workplace. Wow. We live in the future!
Now, I don’t work for myself (I’m not freelance), I work for a company. I’m just a remote employee, away from an office full of people up at headquarters 1,200 miles away.
Working from home is, on the whole, amazing and awesome. If you asked me how I like working from home, I’d say, without pause, “I love it.” But everything good is balanced with bad. Here’s what I think:
It’s quiet at home. I like quiet. I can sit and really think through things without having to drown out voices with noise cancelling headphones. I’m a quiet introvert by nature; quiet is my jam.
SUCKS: no co-workers
Yes, I have co-workers, but we obviously don’t work together in the same space. This makes casual brainstorming and impromptu chats about ideas super rare occurences. That melding of minds, that social interaction – I know they’re powerful, but it’s harder to do online. Also, communicating with people via email and the internet is so much slower. Meaning, intent, body language, and subtle messages get lost in translation.
AWESOME: no commute
I kind of hate driving. When I worked in an office and had to drive to work in snowy Minnesota weather, I would take the long way because it was more winding-back-roads/less go-fast-on-crowded-highway and it felt safer. Driving is stressful shit and I feel sad for anyone who has to commute to work everyday. I’m so incredibly thankful I don’t have to. Having to drive to work again would be a dealbreaker for me.
SUCKS: never leave the house
When you work, eat, chill, and sleep - all in the same space - you never have to leave the house! Working from home has definitely turned me into more of a homebody. Mayyyybe a little bit of a hermit. It’s just so EASY to stay home and fill my day with work and projects; sometimes I have to force myself to get the hell out of here for a change. Can’t say I’m proud of keeping myself cooped up all the time, but when my only reason to leave is to go buy an overpriced latte? I usually talk myself out of it.
AWESOME: flexible time
Because I don’t have to answer to a boss who sits down the hall, I have more flexiblity with my time and with how I choose to structure my day. It’s nice to feel like I have a safe space for drawing all day long and not being required to talk to anyone.
SUCKS: feeling like a slacker
There’s a stigma about working from home: that if you work at home you’re not really working, you’re just watching TV and sleeping. It’s an old-fashioned perspective, I think. Old skool managers think you’re trying to get out of work by “working” from home so you can just sit around all day and goof off. Anyone who works remotely will tell you this isn’t the case. In fact, I often feel like I need to prove that I’m a hard worker, by replying to emails right away, and always answering the phone, and working late if I didn’t “show” enough work for the day. Whatever that means. It’s all made-up in my mind. I never want to look like a slacker, so I try extra hard to not be.
Does anyone out there NOT like working from home? What are the biggest things you miss by being away from the action? Advice on keeping things balanced?
Every year I make resolutions but they suck. And I usually try to make too many changes at once, in every single area of my life at the same time. Same old story.
I’m over resolutions.
That said, I still like the idea of New Years and starting fresh. “Resolutions” but in a different way… I like the One Little Word concept, or the idea of coming up with a “theme” for the year rather than specific goals. Or creating a moodboard of how you want to feel this year.
Maybe I’ll do some of those, too. I always like a good moodboard.
A big part of the changes I want to cultivate in this new year have to do with my art practice and creativity. I
want need to make it better. And I foresee more art equalling more happiness for me. At least right now in this season of my life.
So in 2017, I think I can do these:
Embrace my weird
Embracing everything that I inherently love, even if it’s embarrassing or cliche. Drawing from my love of 90s movies, incorporating whatever esoteric kick I’m on right now, art journaling weirdo imaginary characters…
Feed the beast
Throw a glance to my artistic diet. Not a complete overhaul, just thinking more about what I’m putting into my inspiration. What am I consuming that can feed my art practice? Should my inputs be more varied? What sources of inspiration am I binging on that aren’t serving me?
Make a damn mess
Explore mixed media. I’ve got the supplies and I know I enjoy creating with all those tools. Plus it’s different than my typical (9-to-5) work projects.
Change my mind
Whatever the hell I feel like drawing, do it. If I feel like abandoning my art journal or starting a new drawing challenge, whatevs. I always place too many restrictions on my art and end up hating the process. I’m gonna try to go with the flow of whatever exciting new thing is capturing my interest right now. Life’s too damn short.
I have this romanticized vision of working secretly in my cave, all alone, til I’ve created this amazing collection of work. Then I unleash it upon the world and everyone is dazzled. I’ve even heard the blogging advice of “don’t start a blog until you have a dozen [insert number here] posts already written and ready to publish”. But it doesn’t work like that for me. I get bored and I can’t stick with it. However regrettably, I thrive on finishing something and putting it out there. Maybe because I’m a Leo and they say Leos always want to be the center of attention. I guess I kinda do it for the Likes, and the recognition. (Admitting this makes me cringe.) But whatever. If that little hit of dopamine keeps me making art, I’ll take it. Publish.
Simplify life shit
So that I can clear more space in my head and my environment to fill with art. Quit saying yes to other projects and ideas. Purge physical clutter and things that are no longer serving me. Buy less. Try to keep my apartment clean. Clear out my desk drawer often so I don’t have to live with old, useless shit. Embrace my core self and quit feeling bad about eating supper in front of the tv, or wanting to sleep in, skipping a workout, or being a hermit. It’s all good.
Don’t take art so seriously. Play. Draw like a child (forever). Make ugly stuff and share it (yes, share the ugly!), do whatever, and worry less about how I’m “supposed” to draw, or how I “should” make art.
Whaddya think, friends? Does your art practice need a hit of freshness? What’s your biggest annoyance in your (daily/weekly/rare) creative life?
For Christmas this year, I made two holiday moodboards:
Scandinavian Christmas was inspired by the red and white Scandinavian decorations and motifs I originally saw at IKEA a couple months ago. I’ve been really drawn to the all-white minimal snowy landscapes, the pops of red, and the hygge-inspiring indoor cabin scenes. Lots of raw wood and natural elements, decorative icing on cookies, traditional folk art, and cozy, intricate knit.
Christmas in the City was inspired by our recent Christmases living in Washington, DC. This city life during the holidays is almost the exact opposite of what I grew up with. But I still find the charm in it. This vibe reminds me of classic Christmas movies like Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Miracle on 34th Street, and Jingle All the Way. It’s the Rockefeller Center ice rink in New York City, the twinkling lights strung across city streets mixed with red and green traffic lights and car tail lights, the snow-lined sidewalks, the ducking out of the cold in to a cozy coffee shop… window shopping at department stores, and stolen quiet moments downtown when the snow is falling hard and most everyone else has stayed home.
Like I shared in my first moodboard post, I like to make seasonal screensavers for myself. I collect images on pinterest and from the web into a folder on my computer, which I then use as source for a slideshow screensaver. They shuffle like an ever-changing moodboard on my computer. It helps put me in the holiday spirit!