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#020 - The Myth of the Lonely Work from Home Entrepreneur

category: entrepreneurship entrepreneurship type: podcast

Welcome to BS’ing with Brandi where my mission is to help you #GetShitDone. I'm your host Brandi Good and today we’re going to talk about the lonely life of the entrepreneur - or maybe I should say the myth of the lonely entrepreneur.

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So ever since I became an entrepreneur, and in fact even before that when I worked a 9 to 5 and remote working was becoming more and more common place for businesses I would always see articles about how people working from home would go to coffee shops or libraries to work, just to have other human interaction. Or there would be tongue-in-cheek comics about entrepreneurs in sweatpants and messy buns who flinch at sunlight because they haven’t been outside in so long.

I hear a lot of my peers bemoaning this very same thing, saying they need to get out, or cringing if someone else hadn’t been out. It’s led to the growth of coworking spaces, and in fact in my city there are a couple of really amazing coworking spaces that are beautiful and filled with awesome people. I think coworking is great. But . . .

I will never be their ideal client.

Why?

Because working in my own comfortable space has been my dream for as long as I’ve been in the workforce. And being constantly told by people that I need to cowork or get out of the house was starting to grate on my nerves. I’ve tried it. I’ve done coffee shops. I’ve done coworking spaces and shared offices. And you know what happened?

I was sooooo unproductive almost every time. It wasn't my space. It didn’t have my things. The temperature was too cold. The temperature was too warm. People were having loud conversations and distracting me. If I needed a break I couldn’t just lay on the couch for 15 minutes and listen to music. I couldn’t just wander around and visit with my husband for 5 minutes. I couldn’t play with the dog. I couldn’t change into looser pants if I ate too much for lunch.

But here is the thing that really drove me to today’s rant: just yesterday I read a lengthy post from someone who was reading all of the same articles as me and seeing all of the same jokes and comics as me and they were wondering if there was something wrong with them for actually not minding “being lonely”. They liked the comfort of being at home, which other people are referring to as isolation. They liked that they didn’t have to conform to a dress code and could wear whatever was comfortable, which other people are referring to as lazy. They liked that people couldn’t just barge into their office or interrupt them at any time, which other people are referring to as bad customer service.

I call all of these things boundaries, and self care, and knowing what makes you most productive. If you are forcing yourself into an environment where you feel uncomfortable just because society tells you that’s what you should do, how can you give your clients your best work? How can you show up as your best self?

So for any of you out there who are busting your ass from your couch in your yoga pants and telling yourself you are lazy - cut. it. out.

If putting on business casual and doing your hair and makeup make you feel better and make you more productive - then go for it. If those things don’t concern you, then as long as you are clean and you don’t smell who the hell cares what you’re wearing?

If interacting in person with other human beings makes you feel like a better human being that’s great. If people are distracting and they suck your energy then sit down in your comfy home office and work away.

If the whole process of getting up, getting ready, driving to the office, and saying hi to your peers gives you that boost of energy and accomplishment to start your day, then by all means. If you want to maximize the # of hours in your day when you can work and when you can play, then those things are going to be time wasters that you can’t get back.

So there are certainly entrepreneurs who are working from home who are lonely. Maybe circumstances dictated that was their only option, but they are extroverted and thrive on the bustle of people surrounding them. Maybe they were stressed out so they thought working from home would be the answer and then realized that it was the shitty job that was the problem, not the ‘being in an office’ part. This is true, and is probably quite common. 

But just like the stereotype of the lonely entrepreneur, unwashed, squinting into the bright sunlight as they emerge from their cave-slash-office, I am here to tell you that there are also those of us that work best in relative solitude and comfort

Sometimes it’s a big fuzzy blanket with a lap tray and a giant mug of tea.

Sometimes it’s out in the gazebo with birdsong on a warm day.

Sometimes it’s in a home office with Sia blasting from the speakers as you work through a big project.

We do not feel lonely. Most of us are connecting with people every day via phone and video calls, through text and messenger apps, or networking inside of Facebook groups.

My gut tells me it’s an introvert-extrovert thing. Age probably plays into it too, since different generations are accustomed to working and communicating in different ways.

It’s so rare to hear other entrepreneurs talk about their love of working from home except in half-ashamed half-joking ways like ‘because I don’t have to wear pants’.

Now, that is true, but it’s also kind of bullshit that we have to wrap it up in self depreciation like that.

 

Here’s why working from home works for me:

  • My best days start when I don’t have to be scared awake by an alarm. Seriously - someone needs to do a study on how that jolt of adrenaline first thing can’t be good for the human body.

  • The hours spent doing hair and makeup, commuting, making a lunch, etc. are hours that I can instead spend either working, or doing personal things that I love.

  • I have control over my physical work environment. Need 100% focus? I’ll be in my office. Want to be around my husband? I’ll work on the main floor. Is the weather nice? I’ll work outside. Not feeling well, but still well enough to work? I’ll curl up on the futon with my laptop, the heating pad, and relaxing music.

  • Need a snack? I have an entire kitchen to choose from.

  • And in that vein, I have some food intolerances, so I like that I have total control over my food selection.

  • If I need a break and have nothing urgent I can take one guilt-free. This means Netflix at lunch, or joining my husband on a shopping trip, or even soaking in the bathtub in the middle of the afternoon.

  • I set the hours where I do my best work. If that means I have half of my day done before 10am and then pick it up again at 7pm so be it.

  • I spend waaaaay less money on clothes and shoes and bags, and snacks and eating out for lunch.

  • I am easily distracted. Cubicle/office life could sometimes be a nightmare for me since I’d lose focus if I could overhear someone else talking on the phone, or other people having a conversation. Or if someone needed to talk to me, that interruption usually derailed whatever I was doing to focus on their issue.

 

If you relate, then I want to emphasize that you are not alone. You are not lazy. You are not lonely. You are not a hermit who needs to get out more. If you are productive, and your business is going well, and the people around you are happy with your work then you are doing something right.

As always, I want to emphasize that you need to find out what works best for you to be successful, and then fuck anyone else who tells you you’re doing it wrong.

/End rant!

That wraps up today’s episode of BS’ing with Brandi. If you enjoyed this topic, you can find more like it at bsingwithbrandi.com, along with show notes and links to any resources mentioned today. While you’re there, feel free to subscribe to future episodes on the platform of your choice, and I wish you all the best getting shit done this week!

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