I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of entrepreneurs: Those who shouldn’t work from home … and those who shouldn’t work from home.
This epiphany has only dawned on me recently — after seven years of working from my home office and working with business partners and colleagues who do the same.
I’ve known people who simply couldn’t concentrate or focus or discipline themselves to do the work when they were at their house. And, until recently, I thought those were the only types of people who shouldn’t work from home.
So why the change of heart?
For the past seven years, I’ve had a sweet home office set up: An office on it’s own floor with its own bathroom, a couch and doors that close me off from the screaming kids temptations of goofing-off on the first floor.
Now, however, we are in the process of moving to Charleston, SC, where I have separate office space about 25 minutes from our home. I thought it would be a culture shock to have to drive to an actual office each day — but the truth is that I absolutely love it.
Why? Simple: I’ve come to the realization that I’m the type of person who has trouble “turning off the work” when my office and home-life are so closely mixed.
Even though I’ve thought, for all these years, that my office was separate enough from the living space of our home — the truth is that my mind conditioned me to feel like I was waking up in my office, eating dinner at the office, and sleeping at my office.
Over the past year, I’ve developed a productivity schedule in which I don’t check email until 10 am., and hammer our 2-3 priority to-dos between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. — but I would still feel enormously anxious that I wasn’t checking my email or writing memos when I woke up at 7 a.m.
However, when we’re in Charleston, I wake up with no temptation to check my email. I focus on my family, eating breakfast with them and engaging in my morning ritual of working out on the beach.
My mind is conditioned that work starts when I arrive at my office at 9 a.m., and so it takes away the anxiety that comes from rolling out of bed into my workplace. Rather than try to get ahead of work in the morning, I schedule my work for when I”m physically in my office.
This also helps me to “turn off the switch” when I come home from the office.
I’ve found out that I’m not alone. Since I’ve had this epiphany, I’ve spoken with several other colleagues who feel exactly the same way. They find it hard to turn it “on and off” when working from home; too easy to give into the temptation of running up to the office to check a few emails after dinner; drinking their morning coffee at their desk while they plow through emails.
Hence, my new belief that people either shouldn’t work from home because they can’t focus and get work done — and those who shouldn’t work from home because they try to get too much work done.
I’m sure there are probably some folks out there who are able to find that middle ground and make it work (or at least they think they’re making it work).
I thought I was one of those people. But seeing the how the other half lives has made me realize that working from home seems great, but it’s actually more stressful than having a separate office.