Being Your Own Boss: The Joys and Perils of Working from Home

Working from home definitely has its perks. Setting your own schedule, choosing the type of projects you want to take on, and not having to answer to anyone but yourself. Last week I said good-bye to the 9-5 grind and set off on an adventure to become my own boss. It was all very thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time.

Monday morning I re-arranged my room, making space for a desk to set up my brand new MacBook. This would be my new office -- my safe haven to work and create without any distractions. It was all a great plan, except for one small problem: I live in a house with 4 other people. No, not roommates who I share the rent with and can expect to know the boundaries of co-living. I live with my entire family -- My mom, step-dad and two school aged siblings.

You see, I used to share an apartment with my older sister downtown. While she wasn't the perfect roommate (God forbid if she ever replace the toilet paper roll!) for the most part we had very different schedules and our paths rarely crossed during the week. It was the perfect set up. We stayed out of each other's hair during the week, then actually enjoyed each other's company on the weekend. But my dear sister met the love of her life, and got married this past fall.. leaving me to find a new living situation.

After an endless apartment hunt turned up nothing but overpriced shoe boxes, strange landlords, and sketchy basements, I finally conceded defeat and decided it was time to move back home. My mother was thrilled. I was not as optimistic.

But as they say, everything happens for a reason. Little did I know, just four months down the road I would be leaving my job to take on some personal projects of my own, and I would never have been able to take the financial leap had I not been living with my parents.

But as I mentioned, being at home permanently comes with is challenges, especially now that I'm spending much more time in my "home office" (aka bedroom).

My first week working from home went like this..

MONDAY

I'm working at my desk, trying to figure out my new computer. My 13 year-old brother comes into my room without knocking, as he often does.

"Ginella, you have to watch this video. It's so sick!"

I continue typing away, not looking up. "Okay, later. I'm busy right now."

He's persistent as always: "It will just take a second. Look!" I'm getting annoyed because, as usual, he doesn't seem to comprehend the word "no".

"I said I'm busy right now. And we've talked about knocking."

He retreats to the door. "Okay, I'll knock. Knock, knock!" he raps on the open door with his knuckle, and asks in his sweetest voice, "Ginella, can I show you a video?"

I finally turn to give him my attention. "Ok, we're going to have this conversation once," I tell him in a gentle but firm voice. "Just because I'm home now doesn't mean its 24-hour play time, and you can come into my room any time you want. When I'm at my desk, this is my office. So I need you to respect that I'm working. Okay?" I know I have to set the boundaries or he'll trample all over them.

He nods. "Okay, okay, sorry. I'll come back later."

I muss his hair and promise to watch his video later as he skulks off.

I thought he was the only one I was going to have to give this speech to. But it was just the beginning...

TUESDAY

I'm on the phone trying to set up a meeting. But my 17 year-old sister is laughing uncontrollably in the hallway.

"Ginella, come look at this!" she calls, exploding into a fit of giggles.

I shut the door trying to drown out the noise. "Yes, Thursday sounds great," I say into the phone, trying to wrap up the call. But apparently she cant take a hint and opens the door, still laughing out loud.

"Come look at what your brother is doing! Hahahaha! " I give her an exasperated look and point to my ear. "I'm on the phone!" I mouth.

"Oh sorry.. " she says, and sheepishly slinks away.

I thought it was just going to be the kids, but my parents are just as guilty...

WEDNESDAY

I'm working on my website, and being the technologically impaired person that I am, it's not going well. My mother comes into my room, without a knock. "Okay, I need to cut my hair. Can you help me?" (see my previous blog for more on this one!)

I sigh. "Mom, do I have to give you the same speech I gave your son? I'm working."

"Oh." She replies. "I thought you were just playing on your computer."

Right. Because I quit my job and bought a thousand dollar laptop to play. I just shake my head and tell her I'll be out to help her in a few minutes.

It doesn't end there..

THURSDAY

My car is missing from the driveway. I find my step-dad working in his office. "Um, where's my car?" I ask.

"Oh, I told your sister to take it instead because it was parked behind mine," he says, not looking up.

I just stand there, giving him a moment to let those words sink in. Finally, he looks up and sees my less-than-impressed face. "Oh, sorry. I didn't think you were going out."

"I have a meeting," I reply tersely. It comes out harsher than I intend. My poor step-dad is about the become the straw that broke the camel's back. I want to scream, "I'm not on vacation! I have work to do! Why is that so hard to understand?"

"Sorry, sweetie," he says, reading the frustration on my face. "Here, you can take my car." He reaches for his keys.

I take a deep breath, take the keys from him and force a smile. "Thanks. Just check with me next time, please."

I think I'm going to start spending more time at the library...

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About the Author

Ginella Massa is a Canadian journalist, producer, and media trainer. She became Canada's first Hijab-wearing reporter in 2015. Ginella  has worked for CityNews, CTV News, Rogers TV, and NEWSTALK 1010.  She frequently writes about issues affecting Muslims in North America. 

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