My job sucks more than your job – no really

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2009/12/my-job-sucks-more-than-your-job-no-really/

In the game of “My job sucks more than yours” I NEVER win. Because my job doesn’t suck. Not a lot, not a little, not even a smidgen. At least not according to anyone I’ve ever met. That’s because I’ve managed to do what a lot of people want to do but can’t – I work at home (writing no less – ah glorious writing) and actually make a living at it.

However, right now know where I am? I’m outside, on the porch, in 30 degree weather typing away as my fingers turn an ever so pretty shade of blue because it’s the only semi-peaceful place in the house. Oh so glorious right?

It’s winter break – which serves to remind me that my job choice is far from perfect. My son goes to a cool school but they close up shop for three long weeks in the winter so he’s home. My boyfriend’s daughters are also out of school and so they’re here hanging out as well. Don’t get me wrong. I’m as jolly as a flipping elf to see everyone but with just three bedrooms, five people, and no dedicated office space for me – well you do the math. Yup I’m working in the middle of chaos. Well, technically I’m not working because of said chaos, but you get the picture.

Currently we’ve got my office space in the living room, which is fine when my boyfriend is at work and my son is at school, but add in three not in school kids + one Wii + impending holiday excitement and I’ve got a less than ideal work situation.

Long story short I’m going to go insane, not to mention I’m not getting anything done. This is just the tip of the iceberg though. If you work at home successfully there are trade-offs which trust me, no one but you will see.

YES MY JOB CAN SUCK EGGS AT TIMES:

There’s no luxury of getting off work for good for the day. If I quit working my work space is still hanging around looking at me as if to say, “Um, how come you’re not over here working – can’t you see I’m all alone!” Stupid laptop.

The coffee shop idea, while nice in theory, is a pipe dream. If I am forced to hear, “Wow, I can’t believe you stay home. If I worked at home, I’d go to a different spot each and everyday” one more time I will pull my own ears off. If I do pack it up, head to a coffee shop, or library, or wherever, it’s time consuming. Driving, looking for parking, getting out of the car, ordering coffee, finding a seat, and then dealing with people asking me, “What’s up?” is all very time consuming. I can easily kill off two solid work hours with traveling shenanigans. Here’s the truth – if you work at home (and make a living), you’ll most likely stay put because any extra movement is time you don’t have.

Kids are always a distraction. Even the good ones. My son and my boyfriend’s kids are all awesome, but they are totally distracting. Just because you have kids who are older it does not mean that they will fend for themselves either. In fact, if you’ve got a baby yay because at least that baby sleeps. Last night at 1am all the kids at my place were still wide awake. Sure during the day I could take my laptop into another room, but those crafty kids have one, learned to knock on my door, and two I can still hear them perfectly from the other room. When kids are hollering you don’t know if it’s because of the Wii or because someone caught on fire so of course you’re going to go check. If it’s a holiday break good luck getting work done at any time that’s not between 1-4am.

Other adults don’t get it. I get that kids are loud, active, and need attention. However, it’s the other adults I know who really irk me. Most non-work-at-home adults don’t seem to feel that I have a real job, one I get paid for, one with deadlines and editors who make me do stuff, and yes, real work to complete. It’s not uncommon for people to call me up (during a workday) with nonsense about me taking time off since I “don’t work for real anyhow.

I am always the one who gets shafted. ALWAYS. Here’s what I mean by shafted: I work at home, thus people think my schedule is far more flexible and less important then their schedule. If my son’s school has a snow day, guess who gets him? It’s not his dad because he has a “real job” with a “real schedule”. Since it’s winter break, the kids want to be up late, which yeah, I get, but right now nighttime is currently the only somewhat quiet time I get. That said, if I want everyone quiet by a certain time guess who gets labeled as the big meanie scrooge in the situation? Here’s a hint, it’s not the kids. Because people perceive working at home as setting your own schedule at all times (which is not true) my needs are always shafted before other people’s needs.

The workspace is not always your own. I need it hyper organized to concentrate. If it’s messy I work slower, because I’ll stare at the mess. If you work at home and don’t live utterly alone, other people’s messes will become your own and for a neat freak like me that means less productivity. Legos on the floor around my desk, stuff all over the table, dishes, and so on all distract me, but unless I can force everyone around me to be tidy naturally (I can’t) I’m screwed. Other work-at-home folks I know get slack from others because their house is not spotless, because in theory, since they’re home all day they should have time to clean. Annoying.

All of this and… I don’t get health insurance through work, paid holidays, or a 401K! Yipee! Working at home sure is fun.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of the time I know I’m damn lucky to get paid to write, at home, and I honestly love my job. It may even be that my job does not suck more than yours, but the truth is that working at home is not for the faint hearted. It can be very hard. When holiday breaks, sick kids, and other distractions pop up, it makes my job about 90% harder and way more time consuming.

Luckily there are some ways to improve the situation. You don’t have to put up with all of the above. Later this week we’ll look at some ways to make working at home easier. But for now, I’m out of time, so you tell me… what are the biggest problems you have with working at home? Is winter break busting your chops too?

Comments

  1. Haha, that’s so true re: the coffee shop. About midweek, I always need a change of scenery. But I have to pray that one of the two power outlets are free when I get there. And there’s nothing worse than getting all settled after paying $3.00 for a cup of tea and then opening your laptop to find out that the WiFi is down that day.

  2. I’ve worked from home since 1992 and have had a variety of home situations in that time. By far the worst, is the one you are currently living/working in – and by coincidence, I am also working in. I also have a three bedroom house, but with three kids (two teens and a tweenie) there is literally no space to work in quiet when the kids are home. I had very similar problems back in Half Term Break – When I first started working from home the kids were babies and people assumed they would play beatifically at my feet whilst I worked. Now they seem to think that the teens will ‘let me be’ to work. Um, no. Though a lot of baking took place! ;-p http://bit.ly/8DIWKV

  3. I couldn’t have written this better myself! As a single mom with two boys, I feel your pain (especially the part about the Legos!) I do my best blogging before 6 am or after 10 pm. And I’m running out of excuses in trying to NOT schedule “before 9 am or after 3 pm” meetings because what I really need to do is take or pick up my kids from school. Not the most professional response. :)

  4. You made good points up there, Jen. I can relate to some parts of your ‘tragedy’.Well, I would say that my biggest problem is other people’s opinion about working at home. It looks like I was jobless, doing nothing, only surfing the web for fun or spending most of my time with the net. They don’t get the point of all these things. FYI, I just started from the scratch a couple of months ago and I haven’t earned a single dime, which makes things harder.But I’ll stick with my goal as long as I can because the game for newbies like me just got started and I have no reason to stop this early.There are months and years in the future with brighter chances provided that I persevere.

    Happy holidays, Merry Xmas and Happy New Year for everyone!

  5. @Jack Busch I know – sometimes I really need a change of scene, but it’s almost always far more trouble than it’s worth to bother trying. Nosy coffee drinkers, sticky tables, and too much time!

    @Vegemitevix – good post! Funny all the baking you did. I like the last part the most, the “what did you do all day bit” so flipping true. My ex used to do that to me all the time when I homeschooled AND worked at home. It was the most annoying comment ever.

    @Amy Kennard – yeah my son’s school just got an after school program going, which helps a ton, but before than school ended at 4 and Mondays are shorter, starting at 10am, so setting meetings is really hard. I can relate.

    @akhlis – when you haven’t made any money yet it is hard BUT you have to put in the time first, which is what non-work-at-home folks don’t get. No worries though; after you make a ton of money people will still assume you’re a slacker with no job – so things won’t change much ;) I make a good deal of money and most people I know still think this is some hobby and that any day I’ll be getting an actual job. Good luck to you as you kick off your goals!

  6. Thanks Jen. I guess I ought to start setting aside what people think about this job I’m trying to do. I care about them but when it comes to underrating attitude they show to me, I can simply opt for focusing on my job instead of thinking too hard how to change their mind.

    Speaking of some office area at home, I suppose every one of us needs that badly. I’m single and thus have plenty of time dedicated to my passion, which is why I can’t be more grateful to God. While working I’m pretty much distraction-free since I have my own private space here, in my attic with a view to blue sky (today’s a bit somber, cloudy). I can stretch my back when I get bored and things get dull. There is no chance for my family to bug me and I can stay as long as I like. I only stop when my eyes get red and dry, haha…^_^

  7. You almost made me spew coffee, and that might have awakened the kids – killing my own quiet time this morning. :D I think I live in this house. Only I homeschool, have a work at home husband, and three VERY LIVELY boys (13, 10 and 4).

    Our house is small (1700 sq ft) with three bedrooms. My first office is in the kitchen but I retreat to the back bedroom when the rest of the house starts to wake.

    Working in this environment is a blessing until its not :D and then it is again. Have a wonderful Christmas and an amazing New Year!

  8. Hi Jennifer,

    Wow! So sorry you have to work outside today. I’ve heard of freelancers going into their parked cars to make a phone call without any background noise.

    Do you have any closets big enough to hide out in? Or, can you lock yourself in the bathroom? (Don’t try that last one if you only have a single bathroom…)

    There’s got to be some alternative to freezing.

    All the same, have a wonderful day. :-)

  9. I can’t agree more with “people don’t think it’s a real job”

    My parents, girlfriend and friends really don’t understand the concept that it’s possible to make money online. Even though I make more than my mother at age 20, she still asks me “When are you going to get a real job”

    So many people are conditioned to think that you have to work for somebody to making a living, it’s actually kinda sad.

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