In 2004, my wife Patty and I decided to team homeschool our autistic son because we knew he would need more help as he entered middle school. I had spent 20 years in corporate America, working for both Accenture and Microsoft, but in the Fall of 2004, I became his part-time math and science teacher, spending the remainder of my time doing business consulting and writing books.
Up to that time I always had either a client or office to go to. With the change to homeschool teacher/author/consultant, I now had no place to go each day. My office was either our playroom where we homeschooled, our home office, or local coffee shops. It was definitely an adjustment and I learned a lot about how to be effective without going to a workplace. Now I can’t imagine it any other way.
In 2020, millions of people were quickly forced into working from home. When I started working from home sixteen years earlier, I had the benefit of preparing for my new life—a stark difference from those who suddenly found themselves in work-from-home mode with little warning or preparation. Some aspects of 2020 versus 2004 were easier and others harder, for example, the collaboration tools available in 2020 were simply non-existent in 2004. But the bottom line is the changes were massive and required significant adjustments.
In my 16 years of not having an office I experienced a lot of bumps and bruises to get into an effective work/life rhythm. Key to my learnings was the need to enforce greater self-discipline about:
It’s those bumps and bruises that I want to help others avoid in shifting to a sustainable work-from-home lifestyle, which I have boiled down into five lessons:
For many, working from home may be a long-term if not permanent reality. Consider these five lessons to help you design a sustainable and satisfying work-from-home lifestyle.
Lonnie Pacelli along with his wife Patty created the Six-Word Lessons series. He is the author of Six-Word Lessons for Project Managers, Six-Word Lessons to Avoid Project Disaster, and Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids. See more at lonniepacelli.com.
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