If you run a business from home, it is important to recognize that it is going to mean living a completely different lifestyle from the majority of people you know. Not having to commute in the morning, not spending all-day sitting in an office and being able to generally create your own working hours puts you on an entirely different pedestal from most people. For the most part, this is a good thing.
Being able to set your working hours, to dictate the way you work and when you work and getting to spend time doing something you love can all contribute to a much happier and healthier lifestyle on the whole. In fact, it is a starting point for improving overall health. At the same time though, this type of lifestyle also brings with it, its own challenges. And because very few people live the same lifestyle as you do, that means you are going to be somewhat ‘on your own’ when it comes to finding advice on how to manage this work-life balance.
The long and short of it is that being self-employed and working from home gives you the freedom to begin your own ‘lifestyle design’. This is pretty much the way things are moving and is likely the future of working. Technology is making it possible for us to work remotely in more and more industries and more and more roles. The benefits of this kind of work drastically outweigh the disadvantages – for both the employee and employer – and so the traditional office may soon become a rarity rather than the norm. That means the emphasis is on us to look after our own health and work-life balance.
The Possible Health Benefits
As mentioned, when done right, working from home has the potential to lead to incredible health benefits. Most of the population is overweight, overtired and over-stressed. If you can still remember working in an office, then no doubt you will recall what it felt like to have a full day in office, to travel home for an hour on the train/bus or in the car and then to have to cook dinner when you got back. What did you most often end up doing? You threw something in the microwave and you collapsed in front of the television. And then when your friends called to invite you out, you ignored that and carried on ‘vegging out’.
Many of us talk about ‘time management’ and we say that the reason we don’t stick to a training regime/weight loss programme is that we don’t have the time. This is in fact all wrong. Most of us have plenty of time but what we lack is the energy. Without energy, we do not have will-power. Without willpower, things don’t get done and we start to drown in a list of things we need to be doing and become incredibly stressed. Our bodies suffer, our relationships suffer and we don’t live life to the fullest.
Working from home can change all that. Working from home means that you can choose to work out in the morning or in the afternoon – you just have to choose the time that you have the most energy. At the same time, it means you can put food on the gas cooker while you’re working and watch it simmer. Working from home means you can sit outside and feel the sun on your face, instead of being cooped up in an office (which is known to contribute to stress and depression). Working from home means that you don’t have to commute down busy streets with hundreds of people walking at you during rush hour – this wreaks havoc with your heart rate. In short, when you work from home, you get to choose your priorities and you reduce the stress of working several times over. Now you can put yourself first and that’s an incredibly important and valuable thing to be able to do. The potential health benefits are transforming and life-changing.
The Health Risks
Working from home also has some health risks, so make no mistake about it. Think that being shouted at by your boss is stressful? How about being shouted at by 10 angry clients who are dissatisfied with your product or service? And here’s the difference between working for someone versus working for yourself: when you work for someone else and you have an unproductive day, you still get paid. When you work for yourself and you have an unproductive day? You get nothing. Have a bad month? You still get nothing. Working for yourself is highly volatile and unpredictable and that’s why some people refer to bipolar depression as ‘the entrepreneur’s disease’.
Here’s another difference: when you work for yourself, none of your friends or relatives will respect the fact that you have to work during the week. Never mind that you promised your clients their work would be finished at 4.00 p.m. Never mind that you’ll now have to work until 5.00 a.m. through the night. And on the flip side of this, your clients won’t respect that your home time is your home time. They’ll think nothing of e-mailing you at 5.00 a.m. on a Sunday to tell you the work you handed in three days ago was sub-standard.
And you’ll have the same problem: you’ll always be tempted to finish a little early on a Friday, or to work a little late on a Wednesday. Goodbye body clock! Goodbye healthy sleep! Goodbye good quality work. Then there’s the fact that working from home means working on your own, with no one around, in the same room you’re likely to spend your evening in. You never get to leave this space and you never get any outside interaction or input. Working from home gives you freedom and that freedom can give you the option to become incredibly healthy, happy and effective. At the same time though, freedom also comes with responsibility. Fail to manage that time well and everything can all go wrong.
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