I knew it almost as soon as I woke up yesterday morning. I ran downstairs to let my dogs out, only to be met by a big ol’ pile of shit at the bottom of the stairs. Too late. The TurboShot machine was down at Dunkin’ (again) and my to-do list was nauseating. Lovely day at the office.
I secretly want to punch everyone in the throat who say “omg it must be SOOO hard working from home, I’d give anything to work at home.” I get it, I cringe at the thought of having to put real pants on daily. I get it. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows over here either.
I firmly believe that the key to successfully and efficiently working from home is to treat it like a real job. Every day is very much scheduled and methodical. The TV is not on at all during the day, I have a check list that I work from and I force myself to be at my desk by 9:30am every single morning. Look, it’s not a prison sentence, I would agree that I have more flexibility throughout my day. I can get up and take a break, run to the store, get my kid off the bus, all of that jazz. But the hardest days are the days like yesterday. The really bad ones.
To say I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, would be an understatement. I am shooting weddings almost every single weekend, I am preparing to teach my college classes in the fall and I’m working on my masters degree. All of those things require 110% of me and sometimes I don’t have 330% to give in one day. My to-do list/calendar is my bible, and I itch to cross things off of my list every day. It keeps me on track and holds me accountable. Unfortunately, on days like yesterday, that list was overwhelmingly exhausting. I started off on a couple things, kept getting sidetracked, then I’d panic because I wasn’t getting it done, then I’d get frustrated and it was one big shitshow. I was hardly getting anything done. The paper I was writing for class looked like an 8th grader wrote it, the caption I had scheduled for my Instagram post was cheesy as hell and my inbox was embarrassingly overflowing.
It was 11:30am and I was ready to hand in my resume to the nearest McDonalds. Shit. I was having a really bad day. I could see my defeated reflection in my computer screen as it went into sleep mode. One of the things I hate most is procrastinating work, and then that “Sunday-night dread” of all the shit you need to do the next day with no ambition to do it. There is a lot riding on my ability to push through each and every day. If I don’t continually show up and curate posts for social media, CFP quickly becomes an after-thought in the algorithm, so good luck finding me on Google. Continuing my education is vital in continuing my professional teaching career. To my disappointment, turns out those student loans aren’t going to pay themselves. When you work for yourself and work from home, there isn’t someone who can “cover your shift” or someone who can pick up the slack. It can be lonely and it can be draining.
So you know what I did? I turned my computer off.
I sat my ass on my couch and binge watched an Ancient Aliens marathon. I didn’t even look at my desk. I sat there almost all day. Loathing in my defeat, stuffing my face full of Cheetos and occasionally scrolling Instagram. These days are few and far between, but when the happen, they need to happen. I work every single day in some capacity. I am a person who likes to work and I feel good about myself when I am getting stuff done. I vowed to myself not work on Sundays, and that lasted for about three weeks. The summers are crazy. The weather is nice and CFP is in full swing. I’m blessed and more than thankful to be busy, but sometimes I forget how much of a toll it takes on me sometimes. During my self-loathing, alien binge-watching session I started to think about the last time I really took a day off. The last time there was a day that I didn’t sit at my desk or even a time when the TV was turned on before 5pm. Needless to say, it’s been a minute.
Had I forced myself to push through, I would have submitted a mediocre, C+ (at best) paper, published a purposeless, lackluster social media post, and sent half-assed, vague email responses. I know I can do better. But not that day.
But that’s okay. It’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to flip over the to-do list so you don’t have to look at all the things that aren’t crossed off. It’s okay to do nothing for a little while. It’s okay to watch endless episodes of ridiculous alien hunting shows. It’s okay to have bad days. Give yourself the grace to know when you need a time out. Burning yourself out helps nothing and no one. I think a lot of self-employed people who work from home feel like they are under constant scrutiny from the public workforce. Like we have something to prove, or the need to feel like we are working just as hard as everyone else. There are no time clocks, or promotions or overtime. It’s just us.
You are working hard and you are doing a great job. If you’re somebody who needed to read this today, remember that it’s okay to have bad days and to put things on the back burner until tomorrow. The to-do list will still be there. Sometimes to ensure that we are giving it our all, means sometimes doing nothing at all. Take a break, regroup, and come back tomorrow in full swing. Your work, and your sanity, will thank you.
As for me, my to-do list is almost back up to speed, and hey, I even squeezed in a blog post to tell you all about it. Know when to take a break, and trust that it’s probably for the best.
Happy binge-watching, my fellow alien hunters!