5 Tips for Working from Home Without Going Insane
Working from home is based on the same revelation that most supervillains must have: Removing other people eliminates 90 percent of your potential problems. But turning your home into a hollowed-out volcano to build a lava cannon would mean filling it with other people again, and you're right back where you started. And if you're a supervillain, your minions' idiocy leads to you being thrown face-first into lava instead of being bored by vacation stories.
"Jenkins, I would rather be thrown face-first into that lava than hear your vacation stories."
Working from home has all the advantages of supervillainy: You set the rules, no one can stop your monologues, and Internet access will cause your contempt for humanity to grow at almost the same rate. And with enough hot wings you can still build your own lava cannon.
The most powerful weapon to use against the Ninja Turtles.
But the Internet will try to sabotage you. Most online "tips for working from home" are softballing participation trophies for toddlers. Their idea of advice is "Remember to do some work" and "Try to be conscious for a few hours each day." If you need that kind of help, you're the reason most jobs treat adult humans like naughty schoolchildren who have to be bullied into homework.
"No, Jenkins, I don't believe that a dog ate your work and ran away. Because you make Dog Paralysis Poison."
I've already provided tips for freelance writers. Here are some real tips for working from home.
Set a Minimum Pants Threshold
The first and worst of the useless tips is always "Wear office attire to get into the right mindset for work." If you're still wearing clothes, you're not working from home -- you've let the office annex your living space rent-free. Flopping around is one of the biggest advantages, ladies and 10 percent of gentlemen, saving wear and tear on your clothing budget and eternal soul. That's why angels are always so scantily clad. They're not free of clothes because they're in heaven, but vice versa.
"Wow, all the guys up on Cloud 9 there sure are naked."
The last time a work uniform helped the wearer, it was plate steel and had swords bouncing off it. Modern uniforms are how corporations say, "We don't have the technology to reformat your personality yet." The tie is a symbolic leash, but without the potentially enjoyable aspects. And even if you could employ better bondage, anything you're forced to wear all day becomes less pleasurable.
"Sweat productivity up 300 percent. This is not a good thing."
The only problem is that once you're free from the tyranny of pants, you can be careless -- nay, insensitive -- to those still restrained by the Matrix of garmentry. Set a minimum pants threshold: If you're expecting visitors, pantfully prepare before they arrive. Nobody needs to hear the desperate scrambling that says, "Until one second ago all the air in here was being gently genitaled." A dressing gown/bathrobe should be available for unexpected visitors. Think of it as your Batman outfit: something you can change into at a moment's notice when the evil outside world strikes. Batman-themed bathrobes score double. And nothing gives you the upper hand in unexpected encounters like being able to wear a bathrobe. There used to be reasons wearing only a bathrobe would put you at a disadvantage, but we invented technology and laws to counter them. The fact that the other party was forced to wear clothes and go outside now gives you an air of authority.
"Yes, tell me more about this 'Lord' fellow while doing my nails. You say he got to wear a robe at work too?"
You could take on the galaxy in one of those.
Narrate Your Life
Working from home frees you from interacting verbally with other humans, which causes you to start saying things like "interacting verbally with other humans" or, in advanced cases, "Hssssssssssss!"
"The small talk, it burns!"
The Brownian interactions bouncing us off other people are a big part of what prevent us from devolving into giant models of single-celled organisms, spherical blobs with vague desires for food and an inability to communicate beyond quivering and pain signals.
Explaining 90 percent of all Internet comments.
The most enjoyable anti-Morlockification strategy is narrating your life.
It prevents your vocal cords form curling up and hiding, and a tree doesn't sound crazy if there's nobody around to hear it. Besides, you're already on the express train to crazytown: Might as well be the conductor instead of the creepy quiet guy staring from the back seat. It means you don't end up coughing and spluttering at unexpected visitors, and there are many motivating role models for when it comes to choosing a narrative style. I recommend Raul Julia's Gomez Addams, Raul Julia's M. Bison, Dr. Algernop Krieger, and John Astin's Gomez Addams.
The best role model in sitcom history. Sadly not a joke.
Screw Around Properly
When people work from home, their worst problem isn't not working properly -- it's not playing properly. Schools teach too many people how to sit quietly at their desk on time instead of how to learn, and that has prevented them from learning anything since. Vague guilt keeps them at their desks, but a lack of any other motivation has them pissing away time instead of getting anything done. They're why most jobs pay you for how long they can see your carcass instead of by how much you actually do.
The worst part is he's dreaming of Minesweeper.
These are the people filling out the "Which asshole are you?" quizzes and posting the results to Facebook. (Answer: an asshole.) They're connected to the greatest information system on Earth, and never mind work, they're not even wasting time on anything new. Instead they're reminding themselves of something they've already seen for 10 minutes. It's memory masturbation. It's easier to respect people physically masturbating to Game of Thrones characters; at least they're getting a bit of exercise and doing something they really want to do.
This is why most useless work-from-home advice builds a psychic schoolroom out of guilt. At which point you might as well hire someone to come and be strict with you. But most freelancers don't earn that much.
Well, some do, but they're the ones being strict.
When you're working, work properly. But the instant you find yourself refreshing a site instead of getting anything done, get off your ass and do something fun.
Clean the House
Anyone who's had housemates has had arguments about cleaning. But they're worth it because they force you to tidy up after yourself through shame, shouting, or the disturbing silence as the newly evolved life-form picks people off one by one.
"I wonder if the filthbeast wants some cake. Eh, I'll just eat the whole thing so it can have some later."
Living alone is much more dangerous. You're either constantly cleaning your environment or assembling your own Sarlacc pit to slowly digest your standards and social life. If you have to ask yourself if the place needs cleaning before guests arrive, the place needs cleaning before guests arrive. Smell is the worst offender. You get used to it, so trusting your own sense of smell is like trusting your own opinion of your poetry: Anyone exposed to it will try to be polite but will want the experience to end as quickly as possible.
"Shall I expose thee to a rancid pizza's box? Thou art disgusted by my evolving sink fluids."
The most contentious case is a working couple where one has to labor in the Outdoors Zone. The danger is that the person who leaves the house thinks that the one still pantsless in the bedroom isn't doing any work. People often joke that freelancers get to set their own hours, and we do. All of them. But commuting alone cancels that out. The commuter needs to spend time in horrible cramped conditions just to go somewhere worse. Cleaning means getting to stay in your favorite place to make it even better.
"I am jealous of hamster wheels."
Cleaning is often incorrectly described as Sisyphean, an eternal battle against entropy whose results are always undone. But the point of Sisyphean tasks is that they don't have a point. They don't make things better for the worker. Cleaning the house is better described by the Krebs cycle: Yes, it repeats over and over, but it's something you have to do if you want to live in an environment with breathable oxygen.
Or attract any other aerobic life-forms to your home.
It's also an excellent change of mental gear. The human brain simply needs to stop staring at the same damn thing once in a while, but in regular workplaces your only break from work is actively anti-working. There are no other useful tasks to break the cycle. Cleaning the toilets at work is a horror, an arrest, or worst of all a new job requirement freeing up some of your company's budget for a weekly chili night. So instead, you actively try to not do anything useful, and this rearrangement of your internal wiring pisses off your brain more than connecting it to your kidneys.
Learn Your True Nature
In any science-fiction series, a character will eventually be locked into their own mind to face their own failings by alien abilities, telepathic attack, or a particularly lazy holodeck episode. Freelancers manage that every day. An Internet connection and a lack of co-workers is more than enough to reveal all your deepest secrets. You might think your co-workers have been holding you back from achieving your true glory, but they've also been restraining your sub-ego's darkest desires.
"No longer shall Jenkins stand against my pregnant male ponies, except in this part of my fanfic!"
Working from home replaces your co-workers with the seven deadly sins, then levels them up to nine by resurrecting old ones like acedia and vainglory. Acedia is not doing something that you should be doing. That's not just a word the Internet needs, that's a word the Internet is. Vainglory is unjustified boasting, pride in something you haven't actually done, aka "every tough person and most of the 'experts' you've ever met online." I think these two deadly sins were retired in 590 because Pope Gregory knew we'd need at least a millennium of buildup to power the Internet. Developing transistors was just a way of venting the backlog.
"Way to longball all the pornography, Gregory. Appreciate it."
Sloth is comfortable, greed is only a fridge door away, and the Internet makes lust less difficult to indulge in than flipping a light switch. Many people online have been surprised to find the room around them dark. No one has ever been been surprised to find their computer screen full of filthy bodies. One of the most important aspects of working from home is not sitting around all day jerking off, metaphorically and literally.
Forget magical mirrors -- being in charge of your own schedule is when you really find out everything that's wrong with you. Working from home self-employs you as the Ghost of Christmas Present 365 days a year, revealing everything you do wrong. And sometimes requiring supernatural assistance to leave the house.
Like I say, all the best jobs wear bathrobes.
Your home becomes a psychic echo chamber, teaching you more about your limitations and abilities than a dozen remote mountain monasteries could. And you'd better learn to access your secret abilities, or you're screwed. Get things done, whether it counts as work, cleaning the house, or assembling your army of minions when you decide to be a supervillain after all.
Or all three.
But the prize is worth it. Instead of enduring the clock until it's time to get home, you get to wrestle your demons in a palace of comfort to triumph in your chosen profession.
Then you can jerk off.
So if you'll excuse me.
Behold, my most powerful dick joke! Or, as I call it, my "Lava Cannon."
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