Do you work from home or are you just planning to do so? In this post, you can read about the misconceptions I face during my work and how I make sure to work productively.
I’m a teacher, translator and interpreter. All three jobs involve some work to be done at home, in connection with which, there are a lot of misconceptions.
1. It provides more freedom
Your boss doesn’t watch you all day, you do whatever you want and manage your time however you want to. You don’t have to get up early and you can watch TV all day if this is what you feel like doing. Right? Wrong! Working from home requires a very high level of self-discipline. Let’s take my first profession. I’m a teacher. I teach at a language school where I don’t have a lot of classes, but my boss expects me to prepare for my lessons and keep the course documentation up-to-date. In addition, I have to prepare different training programmes, exam materials, then I have to correct the written exams and finally, I have to write the exam reports. Everything has to be done by a certain deadline. I have to dedicate time to prepare for my lessons and also other obligations as well. As far as administration is concerned, I work with my boss’s assistant who works from 8 to 4, so I have to take her working hours into considerations as well when I submit something.
The next field is interpreting which doesn’t mean a lot of work to be done at home, but I like to go to events well prepared, so again, I have to manage my time wisely.
Well, the third field is the toughest. Translation. Clients like translators who translate accurately and quickly. When somebody orders a translation, they usually give a deadline (quite a tight one). I know how many characters I can translate in one hour, so based on that, I calculate how many hours or days it would take me to do the job and I can decide whether the deadline is acceptable for me. If the answer is yes, I create a schedule for myself: I dedicate a certain period exclusively to translation every day. For translating, I need silence, which isn’t a problem as my husband works and my daughter is in daycare, so after 12 o’clock, I’m alone at home. I keep my schedule strictly and I also make sure to calculate with the amount of time I need for proofreading, not only the time I need for the actual translation. I usually check the text to be submitted three times and I check it once with the help of a spell check app – I use a Hungarian one for the Hungarian target language texts and Grammarly for the English ones. The schedule allows me to avoid last-minute submissions. I usually work very accurately, there’s no need for modifications, if it was necessary, I would still have time to do that before the deadline. I also make sure to work on only one translation, but that has to be done with undivided attention. I translate it quickly and I’m ready for the next text.
2. I can wear pyjamas all days
No. I get up early even on days when I don’t teach, “just” translate. I have breakfast, do my hair, apply minimal makeup and get dressed. The latter means jeans and a proper top. If I feel as if I was going to work, I can focus on my work more and I’m more productive as well. Also, if an ad hoc Skype meeting comes up, I look presentable.
3. I can work even from bed
It’s “no” again. I have a home office which is arranged in a way that it facilitates work. I can’t work and I don’t want to work sitting/lying in bed because I like to separate the place where I work and where I relax. In my office, I have a big desk which is an IKEA find. Although there is room for a lot of stuff on it, I like to arrange my things and only keep the items which I need for translation: notepad, pen, glasses or a text relevant for the topic and a glossary. If I deal with language teaching tasks before sitting down to translate and there are for example course books or course documentation on my desk, I put them away. The same rule applies when I prepare for lessons: I only keep teaching-related stuff on the desk and put my translation-related objects away. If you don’t have a home office, I suggest that you dedicate some space to work.
4. Your home environment is so much better…
Sure. However, there are a lot of things that can distract me. I have to clean the house, cook lunch, I’m tempted to watch TV, the cat wants to cuddle with me, the dog barks, etc. As far as cleaning is concerned, I don’t like to work in a dirty environment. Of course, it’s not difficult to keep my 10-square metre office clean, but there’s the rest of the house and when there’s no-one else at home, I usually leave the door of the office open and I can see that for example the living room floor is dirty. When I get home after my lessons around noon, I usually do a speed cleaning in about 30-45 minutes. It means vacuuming and mopping the floors in the living room, kitchen and hall-way, I also open all the windows to let some fresh air in. This makes me feel better, it only takes half a hour and after that I feel a lot more effective. My lunch break is a little over half an hour, including cooking and eating. I have a low-carb diet due to an illness and fortunately, over the past four years, I have collected recipes for a plenty of dishes that can be cooked in 20 minutes.
5. I can hang out in the city all day
Unfortunately, I can’t. Deadlines is deadlines. If I spend the day hanging out in the city or watching TV, I have to work at night which I don’t really like. If we have to do the shopping, we usually do it when my husband and daughter come home and I hardly ever go the shops during the day, only if I have to buy something urgently. My daughter, Janka likes to go to the shops, so all three of us do the shopping. If a deadline is very close, my husband does the shopping.
6. How lucky I am because I don’t have a boss
In fact, I have a boss in a sense. I work part-time at the language school, so I do have a boss there. As far as the rest is concerned, well, it’s true – I don’t have a boss. I’m the translator, the translation organiser, the secretary, I reply to emails, answer phone calls, manage the finances of my business, etc. In translation, there are a lot of unexpected situations. For instance, the source language text doesn’t arrive on time (but the deadline is the same anyway), the deadline changes but I have seen situations where a text was sent but the client changed their mind and sent 2-3 modifications. Situations like these require constant modifications from the translator. Some parts of my work can be planned and have to be planned. For weekly planning, I use an A/6 Filofax planner and I plan a week ahead. If I have a lot of things to do, I sit down in the evening and write a to-do list in an A/5 notepad for the next day or do it before sitting down to work once I get home from teaching. I usually start with the easiest or the least time-consuming tasks because the positive experience helps me to start the more difficult tasks with a higher level of enthusiasm. So I don’t have a boss, nobody checks what I do all day, but I do have deadlines due to which I have to work in a disciplined and organised way.
It’s not an easy situation
For me, the biggest difficulty is that my family sometimes has a hard time accepting it when, for instance, I have to work at the weekend. Besides, it’s really weird that I’m at home but I’m not available because I work. I guess my parents have the most difficulty with understanding what I do as their workplace was elsewhere, not at home, they had 8 to 4 jobs, plus overtime if that was necessary, so for them, the home and the workplace were clearly separated. My mother, for example, when she comes to babysit finds it really strange that my phone rings all day, I get text messages, spend the day in front of my laptop and I don’t have time to chat with her when a deadline is close. My work often comes with me when we travel. For example, I take my work with me when we go to visit my in-laws and I talk to my colleagues and clients as if I was at home. For my husband, I think it’s the unpredictable nature of my job(s) is the most difficult to get used to. We can’t usually plan more than a week ahead and even then, our plans often change.
Despite all the difficulties, I enjoy this system of work a lot and I wouldn’t change a thing. Do you work from home? If you do, what misconceptions have you faced? What useful tips do you have on working from home? Leave them in the comments section below.
(Source of the image: Designed by tirachardz / Freepik)