I learned a lot during my three months working at home. And although I talk about the benefits a lot, there are definitely some drawbacks to the four hour work day that you should be aware of. There’s obviously more risk to starting your own business and that can put a lot of pressure on you. If you have a bad month or sales are down, your income will suffer and you might not have enough money to eat. It’s also hard to get self-motivated sometimes since there’s no one forcing you to be in by 9 am and work 10 hour days.
The nice part about a day job is that there will always be a paycheck there waiting for you at the end of each pay period. It doesn’t matter how your company fared or how you performed, you’re still going to get paid at the end of the day. But while I was working at home I also started to miss all of the relationships I had made working in an office environment. Sure you have the “Is it Friday Yet?” Guy and various other office characters but I made some good life long friends at my last company.
Do You Work Well in Groups?
If you’ve ever interviewed for a job, you’ve probably gotten a question about how well you work with others or how you’d do working with a team. I’ve always had good responses to that question since I’ve played sports all my life. And sports are the perfect analogy to working a day job: your teammates are your co-workers and your coach is your boss. The success of your team/business will depend on how well you all work together which is why nearly every employer asks this question.
But when you’re working for yourself, you’re the boss. And if you’re just starting, you’re probably also your only employee. Sure, you might hire help here and there but you are going to be doing 90% of the work and there’s really not a lot of teamwork involved. This could be a good thing or a bad thing though depending on how well you work with others.
Not Many People Work at Home
One of the things I was most excited about when I started my four hour work day experiment was the freedom I’d have to pursue my hobbies. I could bike, surf, play tennis, work out and go for hikes whenever I wanted to. I ended up doing a lot of this stuff during my time off but most of the time I was flying solo. There aren’t a ton of people who work from home or have the flexibility to take time off whenever they want. It didn’t help that I had just moved to a new city and only knew a few people, but nearly everyone that I met or already knew was working a 9-5 job.
What Type of Person Are You?
During the fall semester of my 3rd year of college I went to Budapest, Hungary to study abroad. The trip was a lot more like vacation than studying and we ended up traveling all over Eastern Europe. During our travels, we met tons of people from all over the world and the one thing that stuck out to me was how many people traveled by themselves. We met men and women and travelers young and old. Some had been on the road for months and others were just doing a couple weeks, but everyone had similar personalities: they were friendly, fun and extremely outgoing. You kind of have to be if you’re going to travel all around the world by yourself. What fun would it be if you never talked to anyone or shared your experiences with anyone while you were gone?
I think that attitude carries over perfectly to the four hour work day since you don’t meet a ton of people working from home. You have to be willing to go do things on your own: I’m sure a lot of the people we met while traveling wanted to go with a friend but couldn’t find anyone. They didn’t let that stop them though, they went anyways. I have friends who won’t even go to lunch by themselves and I know that the lifestyle of the four hour work day would not be right for them because it can get lonely. You have to make the effort to reach out to others and meet new people in order to stay sane.
People With Money Tend to Have Jobs
As you can probably tell, I love to travel. Whether it’s exotic vacations to Thailand and Tokyo or just day trips down the coast, I’ve always been a fan of traveling. I thought working from home would enable me to travel more but I failed to realize one thing. Most of the trips I wanted to take required money and most of my friends that had money didn’t have time to travel because they were always working. The best part about my online income is that it’s flexible: I can take a whole week off and it won’t affect my income as long as I make up the time the following week.
But for most people, they work 9-5 day jobs and their only free time is during the weekends. I got pretty spoiled during my time off since everywhere I went during the week was pretty empty. I actually started spending a lot of my weekends working so that I could have more free time during the week!
Ultimately, I think I made the best of my situation. I was able to find a few people to hang out with during the day when I got lonely but I also didn’t mind exploring on my own. It would have been a lot nicer to be able to spend time with my fiancee during my break but she was very busy with the first couple months of med school so I made the best of it.
For me, it’s a tight rope to walk. I want to find a job that enables me the freedom and flexibility to work at home but it’s also nice to be able to enjoy life and experience things with someone else. Hopefully, with this blog I’ll inspire a few of you to go out on your own and start working for yourself. That way, there will be more people with the financial flexibility to do the things they enjoy.
Readers, would you miss the relationships you’ve built with your co-workers if you started working from home? What do you think would be some good distractions from loneliness when you’re working for yourself? Kids, dogs, friends?
-Harry @ The Four Hour Work Day
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Clarisse @MakeMoney Your Way says
At first it was very, very difficult to work at home alone. I was kind bored with this kind of work but that was before, after how many months I already adjusted in this kind of job. Listening to jolly music really helps me a lot and now I really do love my job even on weekends my days is incomplete if I’m not facing in the front of my computer!
Harry Campbell says
Haha that’s a great tip actually! I can’t listen to music while I’m writing but I love listening to music while I’m taking care of all the other stuff.
I’ve been working from home for more than 4 years and LOVED every minute of it. No, I don’t miss colleagues, I don’t miss the office gossip of being ‘stabbed’ in the back just so that someone else can get ahead. I don’t miss wasting time driving/walking to work, I don’t miss wasting money to buy crap food, when all I need to do now is head to the kitchen and get some good stuff prepared here, at home.
We do get out, we do see FRIENDS, we travel a lot. Working from home doesn’t mean you’re tied to the desk, it means you actually have an entire day to work/have fun/stay with the family. If one chooses to be a recluse, it’s only one’s fault. The freedom we have (husband is also working from home for more than an year and also loving each second) is clearly something worth the efforts.
We schedule work around fun times most of the time (since we don’t have a clear schedule), we bring in money and also don’t miss a nice sunny day or a good time with our friends.
Harry Campbell says
Wow, you two have got it made. I’m definitely jealous. That sounds like my life up until a few weeks ago when I started working again.
I could never work for more than a few hours in a row anyways(when I was working at home) and living in SoCal doesn’t help either. When you’re sitting at your desk and you see the beautiful weather, you just wanna get out there and I did haha. I think it would definitely be more fun if you had someone like a spouse there with you the whole time too.
We had a very nice summer here too, so it’s clear that such days are not really good to be productive. The idea is that you don’t need to work more hours anyway. I usually work around 5/day (really work), then I ‘waste’ time on blog or just ‘hang around’. The work hours can be schedules when you don’t want to go out (early in the morning, evening etc.) and then you can also take advantage of a good day.
It’s all in how we learn to manage our time. Having a entire day to schedule is clearly better than not having a choice, but you need to study yourself and know when you work best and how to get maximum productivity.
If you’re used to this, you’ll be able to even work 2-3 hours (when you get more done than in 8 sometimes) and then just relax. Or, do as I sometimes do .. just take an entire day off and, when it’s raining or you don’t feel like going out, do more work to cover for those days.
It’s not that difficult, it takes a little discipline and a lot of knowing yourself. And I’m not the most focused or productive person either, but things get done 😉
Harry Campbell says
You’re right on about only needing to work 4-5 hours a day if you actually do work during the day. That’s why I named this blog the four hour work day! I can’t tell you how many times I went in to work and did 0-1 hours of actual work haha.
The awesome part about working for yourself is that when you’re done with your work you can go do whatever you want.
I would love to work from home. I absolutely agree with dojo. I wouldn’t miss any of it, and since I am a graphic designer I would be so creative, my projects would have no boundaries, no noise, no distractions, I would do 3 times more work efficiently if I could only work from home. I would be okay to come to the office from time to time to discuss ideas or catch up but then I would be so so glad if I could work from home most of time if not all the time! I relate so much to dojo’s comment, she nailed all my thoughts regarding this topic.
Harry Campbell says
Well if that’s what you want, I expect you to be a long and faithful reader of my site because I will help you get there! Graphic design seems like the perfect field to start your own business or at least start freelancing on the side and keep your day job until you’re ready to make the switch. And the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to live like the dojo haha 🙂
Cara Brett says
I enjoy the alone time, so that when my partner gets home from work I am ready to give him my full attention. I am also very much looking forward to getting a dog. I think if you are a social person my nature, you will still find ways to connect with people when working from home, or at least ‘break up’ the days
Harry Campbell says
A dog is perfect for the work from home type! I have always wanted a dog but I would feel bad leaving it locked up all day while I was at work(no backyard). I’ll probably get a dog when I buy a real house or make the switch to working at home full time. Both are coming up 🙂
STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION) says
Working at home has spooked me and freaked me out. I need to be around people. Isolating at home when I worked at home got me depressed. I think I would go nuts if I ever retired!
Harry Campbell says
Haha yea working at home by yourself is definitely not for everyone. I think I’m a lot more efficient though when I’m working at home and once I’m done I try to go out and interact with people outside of the house.