The Grass is Always GreenerWorking from Home

When you work full time {or even part-time but every day}, you tend to think a lot about not only how great it would be to work from home but how much you could get done as well. And it’s true. In the beginning. But as time passes and you have so much time at home a funny thing starts to happen …you’re always in “work mode” but you never quite feel accomplished.

When you work in an office or just out of the house all day, you come home and allow yourself time to relax. You feel a fairly good sense of accomplishment even if you’re not working your dream job, and you feel justified in sitting and doing nothing for the rest of the evening {unless you have kids, of course} or even dabbling in your side hobbies/projects just for the fun of it.

But when you work at home, the job is never done. Your side projects and hobbies aren’t relaxing any longer because they have now turned into your work as a means to make more money. So when you are trying to rest and relax you have this feeling that you could be finishing that project or putting in a little more time. ALL THE TIME. And if you don’t, your mind continues to think about it. And on top of that, there’s “always tomorrow” to get done the things you really don’t want to do. Then, you just start feeling guilty for not getting it done thus adding stress to your poor body that you never ever give time to relax.

In my early twenties, as an “actor” waiting for and going on auditions, I had no problem being at home all day. Sleeping in until noon, reading a great book out in the sun by the pool, working the evening shift as a waitress and staying up all night partying. But that’s acceptable when you’re in your twenties. And not so much as you age.

Now, I tend to think, well, if I had kids, I would be on the go all the time, never a chance for idle thought, busy and working and doing something all the time. That would probably be beneficial but I would most certainly complain about that too. But complaining is better than depression. And that’ what feels like is happening. But then things get tricky. Once you’re home, you don’t want to have to go out every day to an office helping to make someone else’s business grow instead of your own …even if it makes you feel better. It’s such a strange circle.

Many of you know that since the beginning of the year, I’ve been working at the gallery three days a week instead of 5 {Thank you recession!} which only gives me two days at home. But really, it’s 4 days at home when you count the weekends. But the weekends aren’t really weekends any longer …they are two more days where I feel like I should be working. Four days where my mind gets to focus on ME and what I’M doing or not doing instead of others. And really, it’s not healthy.

I’ve worked from home before. For the same boss actually, but full time at home where I was also taking freelance jobs and working for my ex’s company and during that time, I fell completely into a panic/anxiety/agoraphobia disorder but it’s only in retrospect that I can see that much of it {well, some of it} was because I had so much time alone …at home.

It’s now that I can feel it happening again that I can pinpoint what the problem is and try to take steps to avoid it rather than letting it take over me leaving me helpless to it. And I often wonder if I didn’t live in Los Angeles, where you’re made to feel like a failure if you’re not SOMEBODY …would it be as challenging? Would I be able to relax more and allow myself free time or would I be just as insane?

I know a lot of you have been affected by the recession and are at home much of the time like I am. How has it left you feeling? Do you find yourself spinning in circles sometimes wondering WTF? …and if not, what are you doing that’s preventing you from going crazy? I would love to hear your perspective on this.

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LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at ...love Maegan.com sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, recipes & home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life, her journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life with her adorable French Bulldog brothers, Trevor and Randy.

42 Comments

  • Dana

    June 3, 2009 |

    Oh, I’m a freelance writer and translator, and I feel the same! I used to work at an office, and weekends used to be so exciting! Now they’re just like regular days!!

    I always feel I’m lazy, but I’m not, I only don’t have a huge amount of work like I used to! If you ever need a translator let me know jeje, I have a lot of spare time!!

    Oh, and also I don’t get paid like I used to, every client has his pay time, so I have to be very organized in order to have money!

  • ...love Maegan

    June 3, 2009 |

    Yes, Dana …totally! The feeling lazy thing is so weird even though you’re busy from morning to night all day every day …you feel lazy. It’s just so weird.

  • Lauren From Texas

    June 3, 2009 |

    I work for a company (so I don’t work for myself) but I do work from home 4 days a week. It’s hard to separate work and home. I sit down at night to relax but I am like, hey! I’ve been here all day already! It’s tough. Hopefully you find your balance soon.

  • Yaya

    June 3, 2009 |

    I think this feeling would follow you no matter where you live. When I haven’t had a job I always feel like there is no point to my days.

  • Newlywed Next Door

    June 3, 2009 |

    I work in consulting and used to travel a lot to my clients in Nor Cal, but now I work from home a lot b/c they don’t want to pay for me to travel. I’ve noticed that I get really lonely and I am definitely in constant “work mode” when working from home.

  • brooke

    June 3, 2009 |

    the only thing i can compare this too was when i desperately wanted to be a stay at home ma…i wanted to sleep in…do whatever i wanted whenever i wanted to do it and just not have to answer to anyone but myself…uhhahahahaha…yeah no that’s not how it works…i got the opportunity to stay at home when we moved from washington to georgia and i stayed in phoenix with my in-laws for a few months…i have never in my adult life been as busy as i was being “home” all day with two little ladies…i was still up early and busy busy busy…and then yes even at night it still felt like i was “on” and couldn’t relax…i have to say i am a better mother working out of the home!!

  • Elizabeth Marie

    June 3, 2009 |

    When I’m home, I go effing insane. I have to force myself to take a shower and do the weave haha. I know so many people are affected by this damn economy and I am trying to believe the rumors I’m hearing about things getting better! Ugh it just sucks! 🙂

  • Erin

    June 3, 2009 |

    I work a full time job and still wonder WTF. I go crazy everyday…more so because I hate my job but to look for a new job at the moment just dosen’t seem like the right thing to do. To prevent myself from going crazy….I cry….alot 🙂

  • ...love Maegan

    June 3, 2009 |

    yes …crying actually does help …it releases those endorphins and makes you feel better …like a good rain, it cleans everything out …but it’s hard not to hold those tears back trying to look like you’re holding it all together ..lol. my poor husband.

  • mjb

    June 3, 2009 |

    I agree that it’s hard to track the time that I’m working, so I either feel like I’ve worked too much or not enough at the same time. What helps me is making occasional appts to meet people for lunch or coffee to make sure I get out of the house and have some kind of a schedule to my days.

  • Ana Aguilar

    June 3, 2009 |

    Well, as far as I can see, it’s absolutely the same wherever you are. I live in a city in the south of Spain, an important city but nothing to do with Madrid or Barcelona. Here, it’s not the end of the world if you’re not “someone”, but it’s a big fuss if don’t have what it’s called a propper job (un trabajo formal).
    A couple of years ago I had the most horrible proffesional year of my life. I felt completely miserable with my job, my boss was a complete nerd who treated me like his servant, reaching the point of insulting me whenever he had a bad day. So I reached my limits and I left after two years. At the beginning I felt released and happy because for the first time in two years I had a little time for me. But soon after, I started feeling depresed, frustrated, lazy and guilty for doing “nothing”, and crazy for not earning my own money…even when we were not going for a bad economic moment at home.
    I came into an insane circle of self-blaming and I started thinking I would never get anything in my life. Fortunately, my husband spoke to me seriously and made me see it was in my hand to change the situation. Here are some tricks that helped me to go through this without going crazy:
    – Start all the free distance learning or internet courses you think may help you in the future or to improve your career.
    – Choose a place at home “to work”. This must be your office, with office enviroment.
    – Make yourself to wake up early in the morning, as if you were going to the office. Take a shower, get dressed (nothing of going around all day in pyjama and bad hair), have your breakfast and then go to your home-office-space.
    – Set time limits of work. For ex. from 8 to 15 or something which suits you the best, and stick to it. Try not to leave before or after the times you set.
    – Organise your time: time for the courses, time for job hunting, time for studying, time for a coffee…Don’t mess your working time with housework. It’s ok to stand up a moment to set the washing machine, but don’t mix the two things all the time beacause them, you don’t separate your two lifes, the professional and the household.
    – When it’s time to finish…JUST LEAVE IT ALL. Don’t stay to finish anything, you can do it the next day because they’ll be there waiting for you. Leave the bedroom (close its door if it’s possible) and now treat yourself right.
    – Go out for a walk, run, go to the gym, go out to see your friends, and very important, enjoy you sexual life. I know this might sound a bit out of place, but I’m affraid that when we come into these panic situations we start abandoning ourselves and our relationships…something which make the situation even worse because we feel unsexy.

    And mosst important of all…everything changes if we try it.
    I send you all my best wishes to those who need a push up at these bad moments!
    Love
    Ana

  • Ana Aguilar

    June 3, 2009 |

    I forgot to say…sorry for the spelling mistakes! English is not my mother tonghe and I don’t use it daily! 🙂

  • ...love Maegan

    June 3, 2009 |

    ANA: fabulous recommendations! Fabulous! Thank you!

  • Ana Aguilar

    June 3, 2009 |

    Wow!! amazing speed! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I really hope these tricks help you. Those moments are quite difficult and sometimes people around us don’t realize how we’re feeling.
    Also…weekend must always be weekends. Plan something special that make them different. It doesn’t have to be something expensive or glamourous. Maybe going out with the bikes, visiting these museums you never find time to see and something which really will make you feel good, helping someone. This will give you confidence and the sense of being useful.

  • Felicia

    June 3, 2009 |

    I think about this quite often as I watch my friends go onto bigger and better things in their careers and I just stay in the same spot. It’s not that I really mind, but when is it going to be time for me to grow up and take the bull by the horns? I feel like I should be doing more, but then again sometimes I feel like I was born to be a slacker.

  • J-Diggety

    June 3, 2009 |

    The planets must be all fucked up and misaligned, because this seems to be a common theme lately for peeps… check out my blog…
    J

  • KT

    June 3, 2009 |

    I wish I had a good answer or ideas. I worked from home/my car for a few years. It was a disaster. I don’t have enough self discipline for it or motivation.
    If you figure it out let me know!

  • Heidi Renée

    June 3, 2009 |

    I work full-time from home for a charity. I used to work in the office, but then the Navy moved my husband from the East coast to the West coast, so that’s no longer possible. Luckily I was able to keep a full-time position and even got a promotion of sorts. Although I do work East coast hours on West coast time, ugh. I do not get dressed most days. We go out a lot on weekends so I don’t turn into a total hermit.

  • chicncheap

    June 3, 2009 |

    Oooh, this is so me. I am overeducated and unemployed. I graduated with an MBA (from a decent school too) a few months ago and my dreams of switching jobs has/is vanished.

    But, my fiancee decided to go to school in London next year so the replanning of our wedding has been my life. While I discovered blogs, became inspired, and am happy with our wedding planning, I would love to have a full-time job again. I love the socialization in the office and a to-do list. I am trying to be sane by keeping regular hours, having my own to-do list, learning to craft (though it’s for the wedding), and volunteering. I would love to have an income of course, but at least my time can be useful to someone else.

    I am a former project manager and am biased, but it’s all about structure. It’s what makes the wild world a little more liveable.

  • Allison aka HaselBride

    June 4, 2009 |

    Ahh! I’m totally going through this right now. I’m a graphic designer and editor. Last year I worked in an office, but because I hated the people quit to freelance from home. At the time the freelance only took up half of my time so I went on day trips with friends, to lunch, ran errands, and planned our wedding. Well, we got married, moved and my freelance gig recently turned full-time with benefits which I could NOT pass up with this economy.

    Now I feel trapped. I don’t ever relax. I’m always tired. It is very weird. I feel like a project is always hanging over my head and that if I am at home I should be working on the house or working for work. I enjoyed it a lot more when it was just part-time, but I love the money full-time!

    It doesn’t help that we don’t have a lot of friends here yet to hang out with on weekends or have lunch with during the week. My husband is an Air Force pilot and we do have some friends from our previous base, but they are stay at home wives/mothers and we don’t have a lot in common. I never thought my life would be like this. I love working in an office, having co-workers as friends, etc. etc. So glad to know others who work from home feel a similar way! I don’t feel so weird!

  • Girl Japan

    June 4, 2009 |

    Maegan, I can tell you working from home is not for everyone.. you have to be disciplined to MAKE yourself go out at least every few days–

    I did this for a year once and I too could not step one foot outside, where in the hell was this fear coming from, the over working, the lack of sleep, the over working but not leading too anything REALLY beneficial…

    After that I did not even want to see anyone, I grew self-conscious, and HELL thank goodness I was not the only one who suffered from that…

    But you can turn this around, set a time, and take your lunch like you normally would do if outside the home and force yourself to go outside even if it is just to the store, work from you Balcony if the weather is nice, open the curtains, shades…

  • brandi milne

    June 4, 2009 |

    I agree with Ana, I work at home, as a full time artist. I keep my schedule – I KEEP MY SCHEDULE or I’ll slack off and hate myself for the rest of the week (really!). Schedule, schedule, schedule and you’ll feel great, accomplished and efficient!

    …Schedule!

    Totally cute!

  • Manda

    June 4, 2009 |

    Thanks for writing about this. You know, sometimes you are going through something and you feel like you are the only crazy one. The post couldn’t be better timing, as I have the same thoughts. I have the same feelings and thoughts, waking up thinking…what is my purpose today. I work about two days a week outside of the house. Although, I am learning to just enjoy it at home and not take it for granted or feel guilty, because I have learned that nothing stays the same. One day, this time and phase will pass and we/us/I/you will be hoping for this time at home. Sometimes, we are given what we are in need of, even if we don’t realize it at the time. Your post has put a new perspective on my situation though. Hopefully your hubby is supportive for you, it helps to have someone on your side. I have been giving in to the free time and visiting friends and family to get out of the house and keep socialization up. Sorry you are going through this, but I always enjoy when you write about your personal stuff…I think it helps a lot of people, or at least it helps me.

  • Milly

    June 4, 2009 |

    i’ve done both…when i was at home yrs ago it was great at the beginning then it was driving me crazy, now work is driving me crazy and wish i had more time at home..we never are truly happy..lol..i sooo understand you

  • Chessa!

    June 4, 2009 |

    this is a very difficult one. I think, like many of the others have said, that it’s a process and you have to learn to separate your time. After two years of working from home I don’t know if I know how to do that yet…it’s the most difficult thing. So, I make it a point to go out everyday, go for a walk, have some “non-work” time and I make it a point never to take my computer out of the home office…otherwise, I’m really working all day.

    I don’t mean to sound trite here…I’m going to email you bc I have lots of thoughts on this and I think we’re very similar…
    xx

  • ♥Aubrey

    June 4, 2009 |

    You’ve been tagged. Go to my blog 🙂

  • Kez

    June 4, 2009 |

    I just finished working at home. I know what you mean. That job dried up too though…
    I spend a lot of time at home feeling boring and exhausted these days. I am studying “full time” but that full time is mostly home work.
    I have exams coming up and I’m going stir crazy. My hubby and I got hit by the recession in January. One car broke down and the hubby is too timepoor and money poor to fix it. I spend so much time just working around his timetable or being trapped places without the independence I so cherished.

    I’m trying not to get depressed (I should know the signs – I’ve been studying mood disorders for days *groan*) and figure out how to be productive and all I’ve come up with is keeping in touch with people online and exercising and trying to be domesticated.

    THIS SUCKS! But I agree, I would whine if I had to be out all day so yeah, the grass is always greener on the other side!!!

  • Christina Lee

    June 4, 2009 |

    Maegan- I’ve been working from home for the last year-freelance writing for a local newspaper (I ahve my own weekly shopping column), doing my style blog and strating up my jewelry business. And i can honestly say I ahve never worked harder. I work all the time (but dont have all the money to show for it). I feel “guilty” stopping for lunch (to sit on my own couch)or to go to the grocery store in the middle of the day. When my son comes home from school (and hubby from work) I’ve had to train myself not to constantly check my computer all night-arghh it is a frustrating thing- learning how to relax and separate it out and feel ok with yourself! Oh and not feel lonely for adult co-workers!GREAT TOPIC!

  • Anonymous

    June 4, 2009 |

    Just wanted to give you some advice. I used to work alone for a long time and it started to make me distance myself from other people. I started to feel uncomfortable and awkward around new people and not talk much and I just wanted to stay at home with my boyfriend so make sure you spend plenty of time with people!! Talk to people as much as you can!!

  • Hanako66

    June 4, 2009 |

    I used to work from home 4 days a week, full time and was on the road one day a week travelling around LA, OC, and SD counties for work. I had to set up an office space within my house and get dressed and somewhat fixed up in the mornng as to not go bonkers. I allowed myself breaks, but no tv, etc….it was the only way that I could make it work.

  • Candi

    June 4, 2009 |

    I <3 you lady! I care for my grandma who has dementia, at times it gets very difficult especially when she isn't doing well. I tend to worry in general...and around Christmas when she was very ill..my anxiety was pretty bad. If anything now I take time for myself, and if there's something I don't feel like doing, I don't beat myself up about it. Prayer helps a lot. The more I pray, and give thanks for what I have, the better I feel. When I have the ability to cry, which is rare in itself..I feel so much better.

  • Erienne

    June 5, 2009 |

    Ugh as much as this situation sucks right now it is nice to know there are other people out there who understand what this feels like! I’m a recent college grad, living with the parents (UGH, SHOOT ME!), and currently unemployed. To make matters worse I live in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the county. Yay. Though I have managed to keep myself busy and am taking care of things around the house (I recently moved back here and have been trying to organize my life!) there are times when I just feel like a big blob of poo! I start to get depressed and feel like I don’t know what it means to be out in the real world anymore! I feel so unproductive (and I pride myself on being an active person and always having something productive to do with my time!) and I’m hating it! BAH!

    Apologies for my ranting ; ) And LOVING the curls. I may just have found something to do with the next few hours of my day!

  • Vanessa

    June 5, 2009 |

    I’m no help but I just wanted to say that I feel the same way…I just went from a 80 hr/week job down to part time…I’m going crazy!

  • hautepocket

    June 5, 2009 |

    I’m working from home and it’s making me feel like shit, honestly. My job provides *just* enough to pay my obligations, but not a cent more. I don’t mean to complain because the thing is-I LOVE my job. I just wish it provided more than it does.

    With that said, I don’t want a job just to have a job. My friends here all have full-time jobs, and honestly…their jobs sound super lametastic and soul crushing. It’s like they are all drones afraid to hope for something original or better. Maybe I am delusional but I refuse to settle. It’s said that having standards translates to being ‘unemployed full time’. I have a part time job but it’s not a “traditional job” and people look at me like I’m a fucking loser. It’s maddening.

    But I know what you’re saying-working from home sounds great, and it is in many ways–but you lose the ability to relax and actually enjoy time at home. Everything seems like work.

  • Jayci

    June 5, 2009 |

    I have worked from home for only a few months in my life and I found that it wasn’t right for me (at least not at the time).

    Right now – I work 40-50 hours in the office but have been feeling crazy about being unproductive. I’m a Financial Analyst and I don’t love my job – but it’s a good job. I’ve got a great boss. But my problem is feeling like I’m getting something out of life. That I’m doing more than just my damn job! I actually posted just a few days ago 50 things I want to do in 500 days. There are things pertaining to physical, spritual, giving back, creative aspects in my life. I’m hoping that as I work my way through these different things that I’ve wanted to do or feel the need to do, I’ll feel more whole or like a better person. I dunno. It’s hard to explain. I have a hard time just chillin’ at home. I feel completely lazy when I’m not going, going, going. ARRRGGHHH! Balance. My husband say’s it’s all about balance! Hopefully we all can find it.

    I think you are amazing and I love getting to know you through your blog.

  • Sherin

    June 5, 2009 |

    This is so interesting and you are completely right. I’ve just started my first real job and I’ve been complaining non stop about how little free time I have. But it does make me appreciate it a bit better and at least I know that I’m actually doing something with my time rather than dossing around the house.

  • The Lil Bee

    June 6, 2009 |

    I work from home a lot, sometimes exclusively, and struggle with this myself. Usually I make myself go to the gym first thing in the morning, so that I feel like I’ve accomplished something right off the bat. But it’s definitely hard to concentrate on work stuff when I have my dogs here and the TV to distract me. Still trying to figure it all out!

  • Dirty Slipcover

    June 7, 2009 |

    Maegan, I have felt the same exact way many times. Even to the point that if I don’t go out on the weekends, I feel as though I have accomplished NOTHING. It’s hard, especially living in Chicago – where no one can go outside in the winter because of the dangerous wind chills.

    I help myself by making day dates where I go to museums or explore different parts of the city and take pictures. Because otherwise I do become agoraphobic and it totally scares me to go outside and be around people.

    It’s a normal feeling though. I believe that we as humans need a sense of humanity and you usually need to experience this connection with other people all around you.

    I hope you start feeling better!

  • amber {daisy chain}

    June 8, 2009 |

    yes – you’ve hit it right on the head. I do freelance graphic design form home, after years and years of working in corporate retail offices (thank you, recession). It’s SO freakin’ hard to keep my head together and focus, sometimes I feel like I spin all day. I do have a daughter that keeps me plenty busy, but she’s at school until 3 so I try and get everything finished up before then. I rely on lists. For everything, it sounds compulsive but it’s the only way I can discipline myself to get anything done!

  • Miss Eve

    June 8, 2009 |

    I completely understand you. I’m planning to set up my business and I decided I will NOT do it from home. I spent the last 3 years at home and I’m definitely around the edge to “crazyness”. It is really difficult to separate work and relax time when you are doing both things at home. It’s difficult for everybody, we are humans and so far from being perfect 🙂

  • lookrichbitch

    June 11, 2009 |

    I think I’m through just the opposite. I currently have 3 jobs! One full time that I’m not crazy about but it pays the bills.. One part time that I am hoping will someday become full time because I enjoy it sooooo much more and that’s why I was willing to take a part time position. And then I help my folks out at their jewelry shop on Saturdays. I’m completely tired and with my wedding planning, I pretty much have zero time alone.

    I wish I could stay home an extra day. Sundays are my only day off and most of the time I’m catching up on errands that I couldn’t take care of during the week!

    The grass is always greener!

  • SoulstoneLife

    April 1, 2011 |

    Oh my gosh Maegan is this some sort of phenomenon? I am reading through these comments and everyone’s going through the same feelings of anxiety/agoraphobia etc. (including myself). There must be studies on this sort of thing, and if not then there should be. I thought I was the only one and reading your post really helped.Thank-you SO much. You’re amazing xox