+44 7879 440170 helen@unlikelygenius.com

Earlier in my #write52 journey, I wrote about working for myself whilst I was celebrating one year in self-employment. It has worked wonders for me, I am much happier and feeling myself.

A big part of this has also been being able to work from home for the last five months. This is not something that I ever thought would be a good idea for me — being ridiculously restless and easily climbing the walls with cabin fever.

On telling my chap of this intended change of path, he was dreading coming home to find me a gibbering wreck, rocking in the corner within a week. And whilst I did get a brief moment of cabin fever about three weeks in, it soon passed and I have been thriving since.

“Oooh, what’s that like?”

I often get questioned by friends and customers as to how I find both WFH and for myself as there are many myths and presumptions about life as a contractor and working from home.

​So myth buster is back, to dispel the myths, or at least give my perspective on them.

#1 You get to work all day in your PJs…

I am sure some people do, but I just couldn’t do this.

I have to get up, showered and dressed to function and get my head in the right space. Whilst I rarely dry my hair, wear makeup, or wear my nice clothes — choosing to live in comfy jeans and t-shirts — there is a certain level of getting ready that I do feel is necessary before my working day begins. Regardless of my desk being about 6 metres from my bed.

I actually wear my PJs less now than I used to, normally diving into them as soon as I get home. Now its 8 pm at the earliest! Sheesh.

#2 …or in the garden

Though I have managed to do this a couple of times, in reality, most days I am working from two laptops and an additional monitor, so relocating my NASA control centre (as the OH calls it) is not possible. Plus my laptop gets too warm in the sun and my WiFi struggles to reach that far. All I manage to do away from the office is blog posts.

To get out of the house a bit more I do intend to go and work in a cafe or shared working space at some point, but I have not felt the need yet.

#3 You have loads of time to do the housework

My chaps favourite presumption, and so wrong. In fact, I am probably working more hours now than ever. As when I am not ‘working working’ (paid projects for customers) I am still ‘working’, i.e. doing numerous other tasks (blogging, reading work-related info, doing courses, creating promotions, amending my website, managing the business accounts, and more).

I find it hard to switch off as it is, but now my work is at home, it is even harder. There is always that one more task to do or email to respond to. It takes real discipline, time management, and juggling.

#4 You get to choose what to work on and can turn down the stuff you don’t like

I have been really lucky so far in that I am so busy I am indeed turning down work and have a lot of choice in what I do. I am working on two main projects which I am enjoying and the people are fabulous. However, there are times that I will accept work that is not necessarily the most interesting or challenging if I have the space to do so.

At the end of the day, you have to keep the money coming in and at times that will mean taking what you can or doing a job for someone that can lead to more (potentially more exciting) projects for the client in the future.

#5 It’s really risky

Sure there is a risk that you may end up with no work some weeks/months, but in the current climate, with redundancies and companies going into administration, in reality, is it any more risky than working for someone else? For me, the risk is worth it as it is balanced out with being happier in my work and myself.

As for other risks — there is professional indemnity insurance for that.

#6 You get bored and lonely

​Nope. Not so far. I have so much to do I don’t have time to get bored, and I am enjoying learning more skills. I also have lots of hobbies so they keep me engaged and my mind ticking over. The only boring things are dealing with tax, VAT and such. But my involvement in that is thankfully minimal (see #7).

As for loneliness, I did think I would feel this way but I have stumbled into some great online communities who are there for a reality/sanity check when you need it. And with regular check-ins with colleagues on multiple projects, you do have human contact weekly.

#7 It’s so complicated, I couldn’t do it all myself

Again, there are people out there for this. If I had to do it all myself I would certainly end up in trouble with the taxman. I have an accountant and a financial advisor to sort a lot out for me and tell me what I need to do.

Additionally, if you need a designer, social media manager or anyone else, there are so many people out there willing to help and give advice, you do not have to take it all on yourself.

#8 You can take as many holidays as you want, whenever you want

Even if you could, you would end up making no money. 

In reality, some contracts will allow you to take time off, for others they may stipulate you can’t or you may be limited to what you can take. If you are contracted into a role, particularly a short term one, it is because they need someone at that specific time to get a job done, so they don’t want you flitting off for two weeks of sun. 

As part of contracting you are accepting that you need to work around the project and fit into what is best for your customers. Often you need to take holidays between contracts or at least give significant notice of an intended break, or advise before you start the project. 

#9 You get to work the hours you want.

Yes, to an extent. But in reality, this fluctuates wildly. Sometimes, mostly when I have had to work on-site, my hours have been quite structured and once I have left the office work is done. However, since working from home and on multiple projects I am working more hours than ever and there is little structure to it. Some days I will work 12+ hours, others it may be an hour.

Everything has slotted together quite well so far for me, and the timescales have combined to mean that downtime in one project is when another kicks in, but there can be days where inevitable delays means that everything comes in at once.

#10 Finding work is really hard

This is one that I was certainly worried about before I became self-employed.

However, I have been really lucky and found that my random mixture of skills has meant that I have been quite sought after. Plus I get a lot of repeat business, have benefitted from word of mouth/personal recommendations, and have built up a lot of contacts over my years in permanent employment and working freelance as a sole trader, so I have had people seek me out to work for them. In addition to having some great recruitment companies sourcing work for me, it has certainly been a steady stream (or flash flood) of work.

In short, working for yourself, or from home, is not for everyone and every experience is different, but I highly recommend it.
If you are considering working for yourself and would like to chat more about it or ask any questions feel free to get in touch.

 


 

Write 52: Week 15
​Theme: A few of my favourite thing