Sunday, January 6, 2008

10 reasons to work at home

Photo: "Freedom" by [K]

Upon hearing that I’m about to leave my job, many people are incredulous. After all, I make a pretty good living, I work in a prestigious organization, I do noble work that helps improve people’s lives, our medical insurance plan is good, and my office is very tolerant when I have a sick child or school commitments.

But I believe that I’ve got pretty compelling reasons to work at home instead – 10 in fact:

1. I want to raise my own children, instead of relying on babysitters, nannies or day care workers.

When I first became a Mom and returned to work, I calculated the number of waking hours I spent with my baby and got very depressed. However, I was convinced that I needed to work – for my child’s sake – and so I buried the number in the deepest recesses of my mind to quiet my guilt. I’ve missed many of my children’s milestones so I simply didn’t record them. Sometimes I even felt that my children were better off in the care of others than with me. Thirteen years and three children after I first gave birth, I now realize that I am the best caregiver for them and that it’s time I take full responsibility for their care.

2. I don’t want to work 40 hours a week.

I work fast. But as an employee, I have to stay at my desk until a certain hour, even if my work was completed much earlier. I prefer to work only for as long as I have to. I don’t want to have to stay in my cubicle for 8 hours straight even after the work is done or my mind is no longer working efficiently. I’d like to use some of that time to pray, exercise, read, and pursue my hobbies. Deprived of all this, at the end of the day I am so spent that what comes home to my husband and children isn’t me but a mere shadow of my real self.

3. I want to set my own working hours.

I want to respect my body’s and mind’s rhythms and work when I am most productive. I don’t know about you, but I am not productive for 8 continuous hours. Sometimes the best time for me to work is in the middle of the night. It could be in the morning only. It could be in a coffee shop, on a park bench, or on my bed. Sometimes I need to take my mind completely off work and do something different, such as watch TV or browse a magazine. I’m not trying to make excuses to be indolent. I just know that my creative juices flow at different times and settings than what my job dictates.

4. I want to engage in more creative activities.

I’ve always considered myself the creative type, not the type who would do well in a traditional office environment. When I was younger, I used to draw and paint and sing. My office job did allow me to use my creativity through writing and problem solving. Once in a while my artistic abilities were put to good use when developing a publication or making a presentation. But it still wasn’t enough. Besides, I have since developed new creative outlets, such as cooking, sewing and knitting. I want be have more time and energy for these and my other budding interests.

5. I want to be able to choose projects and refuse those I don’t like.
As an employee, I have to do pretty much what the job description and my supervisors tell me to do. Even when I disagree with them, I need to comply with their wishes. Fortunately, they have never ever asked me to do anything immoral, much less illegal. But there are those tasks that are so tedious or boring or just plain unpleasant that they seem to suck the life out of me. I refuse to do them anymore.

6. I want to interact directly with my clients and see the fruits of my labor first-hand.

I’ve been doing noble, worthwhile work in the UN but, let’s face it, we’re pretty much insulated from the realities of the people we are trying to help, a.k.a. our “beneficiaries”. Occasionally, I go to the field and meet some of the children and women whose lives have been affected by our work. But that is few and far between. As a childbirth educator, I’ll be interacting directly with my clients and seeing the birth of their families. It’s more satisfying and fulfilling.

7. I want to stop the daily commute to and from work.

The first time I began thinking of leaving my job was when we moved halfway across town to save on rent. My 30-minute car ride to work became 1 hour in the morning and 1.5 sometimes 2 hours at night. Sometimes it would take even longer. That’s at least 2.5 hours every day wasted traveling when I could have been playing with my kids, exercising or taking a class. We have recently moved much closer to work, so the time isn’t a problem anymore. However, we still spend a lot on gas and parking. By working at home, I “earn” an extra 7.5 hours a week and more than enough money for my kids’ piano lessons.

8. I want to avoid meetings, especially long and boring ones.

Talk about a life-sucking activity! I’ve been to meetings that lasted more than four hours, meetings that didn’t have a clear agenda, meetings that ended without clear agreements, and meetings that did have an agenda but it were hijacked by somebody who had a very strong personality and authority. Please, no more!

9. I want to avoid office politics.

I’ve always believed that hard work and talent will get one ahead in life… until I met sycophants, bluffers and others who've advanced their careers through their “people skills”. I think I would have gone farther in my so-called career if I had flattered the bosses more and made the right connections. I don’t want to have to do that to get my skills and myself recognized. I just want to be true to myself.

10. I don’t want to wear office clothes anymore.

My office environment is quite casual about clothes, but I still can’t wear flip-flops and jeans to work every day. I would also save more money if I didn’t have to wear office clothes any more.

These are my own reasons. Ultra-successful blogger, Steve Pavlina, whose website encouraged me to begin blogging for a living, lists 10 reasons you should never get a job. They're worth checking out.

What are your reasons for wanting to leave your job?

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itsy said...

I'll be back with my 10 reasons as soon as I've edited them down from 100.
Thanks for sending me this link I will be back to see how yo are going.
come and check out my story about how I got to direct sales.
Now I have to dress up for work after years of jeans to work!

Divine said...

Thank you for posting this article. I also try hard to work from home as much as humanly possible and this article helps tremendously. My appreciation to you is in the highest sense.

To show you my gratitude I would like to share with an article I found that also helps in regards to finding your passion and making it your career:
Thank you indeed, please keep up the incredible work!

Lexi said...

@itsy: thanks for your comment. i checked out your blog and i hope you post some more.

@divine: thanks for the link. i'm going to blog about a similar topic soon so this will come in handy. watch out for my post!

itsy said...

It's the balance that makes the difference and the flexibility. As a single parent of two very independent and confident children I believe they benefit from childcare away from me. But the hours they spend away from me are limited, manageable and flexible.
Thanks for reminding me to post - I,m off to do that now.

lara said...

hey lexi! congratulations! i just discovered your blog today and really enjoy reading it. :) a lot of what you say remind me of the same reasons that made me make my little "silly" decision a year ago. so happy i did! here's to many more adventures for you, your B and the kids! :)

Lexi said...

hey lara, nice to see you here! yup, i followed your footsteps. did you ever keep a journal of your own life shift? would be interesting to look back on those days now....

lara said...

i didn't keep a journal but i kept in mind things that i learned as i did the shift. like getting in costume for work, even if i wasn't going out of the house.

and i told myself that i wasn't willing anymore to take on work that i didn't really really feel passionate about. :)

i'm so excited for you! keep at it!

lissie said...

You's is an interesting view point - certainly I can't imagine how you can put coherant posts together with a 1yr old under foot! On the other hand previous generations didn't spend their entire time entertaining their kids so maybe you are on to something! I don't have kids but have trying to escape the rat race which had become my IT career. Instead I have tryed 4 months of self-employment- which was great fun but didn't make much money! Now Iam combining a couple of different jobs which still give me 2 full clear days to write so hopefully long-term I will find a way out! I must say going back to manual work is a) keeping me fit and b) elimnates your following reasons:# 2, 3, 8, 9 10!

Lexi said...

@ lissie: i think the money doesn't come right away with self-employment. but keep learning and you'll make it. i have to learn a lot of business skills especially since i've only ever worked in non-profits for the last 19 years. good luck!