Work from Home Myths & Tips: What I’ve Learned After 10 Years

I’ve worked from home for over a decade.

Sometimes, it’s great. Other days, you’d kill for a water cooler conversation with a coworker.

Everyone is working from home these days with the COVID-19 coronavirus. I’m surprised how many people don’t like it.

I love working from home. However, it’s far from perfect. For some people, it just doesn’t work.  

Today, I’m busting myths and providing tips on working from home.

Top 5 Myths of Working from Home

Myth #1: Dress Up for Work Every Day

This tip might work for some people, but it doesn’t work from me. Seriously, you’re going to work from home and still wear a suit and tie every day? Fuck that. Why would you do that to yourself?!

I’ve tried dressing up at home a couple times. I end up feeling stupid. I wear sweat pants or pajama pants all day. Sometimes I wear no pants all day. Who cares?

My productivity doesn’t change based on what I wear. If it does for you – then hey, fair enough. But as far as I’m concerned, the whole “dress up while working from home” thing is a myth.

Myth #2: You Shouldn’t Drink & Work

What’s the point of working from home if you can’t have a drink and work? Drinking and getting paid for it is one of the best feelings in the world.

Work day at one of many fine breweries in Napa, California

I never work drunk. However, I have certain tasks that are easier than others. Sometimes at 3pm on a Friday, I don’t mind having a beer or two while finishing up my easiest work of the week.

Alcohol spurs creativity. Sometimes I get writer’s block. Or maybe my writing starts to sound too clinical and boring. Have a beer. Loosen up.

Oh, and be careful drinking during the day when working from home. It’s a slippery slope. If you’re going to drink and work, keep it in the evening (okay, or late afternoon).

Or, do what I do: find a local brewery with Wi-Fi. Day drinking at a brewery on a weekday is way more acceptable than drinking alone at home.

Myth #3: You Need a Standing Desk

Standing desks and walking desks are trendy. Some people swear by them. Personally, I don’t use them.

I’ve used standing desks before. I can never seem to get it right. Sometimes, the position of the keyboard feels just right. In other cases, it feels like my whole body is out of whack. My wrists hurt when I type. My eyes strain to see the monitor. It just doesn’t feel right.

I have amazing posture when I sit on my computer. I also get out for a walk or run every day. Together, these two things seem to keep me running okay.

Personally, standing desks don’t work well for me – but you may be different.

Myth #4: Working from Home is Perfect

Working from home can be amazing – but there are certainly some tough days. I’ve spent entire weeks without talking to another human being. It’s easy to become reclusive.

It’s also easy to become socially anxious. Suddenly, leaving the house for groceries feels like a big adventure. Walking to a coffee shop gets nerve-wracking.

You forget how to interact with human beings. Do I nod at that person I just walked by on the street? Should I smile? Oh god did that woman think I was hitting on her when I just awkwardly grimaced and nodded at her?

Generally, I like working from home. However, there are pros and cons.

Top 5 Tips for Working from Home

Tip #1: Set an Alarm and Wake Up Early

Getting a good night’s sleep is healthy for you. You don’t have a commute, so why not sleep in 15 extra minutes?

There’s nothing wrong with sleeping in a little bit ­– but be careful. It’s easy to get caught in a pattern of:

  • Sleeping in late
  • Being tired and unproductive during the day because you slept too long
  • Staying up late being unproductive because it’s nighttime and nobody else is working
  • Falling asleep late because you’re not tired yet
  • Repeat

Set an alarm. Wake up as early as you possibly can. Sometimes, I get more work done between 5am and 9am than I do from 10am to 10pm.  

Tip #2: Turn Your Phone on Airplane Mode

It’s no secret that phones kill productivity. Fuck, there’s a lot of interesting stuff on a phone.

Other people recommend leaving your phone in another room while you’re trying to work. That works okay from me – but I still find myself getting up to check it every 15 minutes anyway. Before I know it, I’ve spent 20 minutes on Instagram.

Here’s my work from home pro tip: turn your phone on airplane mode. Don’t turn it off. Don’t turn it on “do not disturb mode”. Don’t leave it in another room.

The only thing I can do with my phone on airplane mode is read and look at social media feeds that haven’t been refreshed. It’s like taking the thrill out of the drug: your phone becomes boring, and you start getting back to work. Seriously. Try it.

Tip #3: Install Website Blocking Software

Personally, I block sites like Twitter and Facebook on my work computer. I still check both sites 100 times a day – but I do it on my phone when I’m out of my desk chair.

It’s so easy to check a website and get distracted. You think you have good self control – but until you work from home, you don’t.

I’ve spent hours going down YouTube rabbit holes when I should be working. I’ve got lost in Wikipedia searches, Reddit threads, Netflix, and Podcasts.

Unless you have the self control of a monk, just take my advice: install website blocking software today. I use a free Chrome Extension called StayFocusd.

Tip #4: Go to a Coffee Shop or Brewery Once a Week

In myth #4, I talked about how working from home can turn you into a social recluse. It’s true. It’s easy to become trapped in your bubble. By Friday, you realize you haven’t spoken to another human being face-to-face all week.

Working in the morning at Lucky Llama Coffee in Carpinteria, California

Do what I do. Pick a day or two of the week. Go to a coffee shop or a library. Spend the afternoon working from a brewery. Get out in public.

This helps me in three ways:

  • It reminds me there are a lot of hard working people out there and that I’m very lucky to have the job I have
  • It forces me to interact with other people
  • It gets me out of the house into a different setting, which can make me more productive or creative
Working in the afternoon from the Santa Barbara Public Market (with a pint of Pliny the Elder, no less!).

Tip #5 Buy a Really Good Computer

For most work from home people, your computer is your lifeline. Your computer is your job. It’s your connection to the outside world.

For me, especially when I’m traveling, my computer is everything: it’s my entertainment, my travel booking system, my connection to friends and family, and my profession.

Anyways, this isn’t revolutionary advice: buy a good computer and you’ll be more productive.

I Love Working from Home

Working from home has been amazing to me, but I feel I’ve missed out on certain aspects of life. My last two jobs were at a liquor store and a construction site. I’ve never talked about hockey around the water cooler or even been to an office party.

Working from a hostel in Rouen, France

But on the other hand, I get to work from home in my sweat pants, avoid traffic, and do errands during off-hours – and all of that makes it worth it.

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