Some types of jobs lend themselves to home-based offices while others do not. For example, if your goal is to make your living as a copywriter or an e-marketer, home-based work is a great option. All you need is a laptop computer, an empty lap, and an Internet connection.
Other lines of work might present problems if conducted from home. These might include:
- Lion tamer. Unless you have an expansive back yard, lots of heavy fencing, super cooperative neighbors, and a steady supply of lions that need taming, this might not be a good plan.
- As a fireman, your business occurs outside of the home by definition, unless you are repeatedly setting fire to your own home and must keep putting out, which is a far larger problem.
- Treasure hunter. While I’m sure that it is the dream of many treasure hunters to walk into their backyards and discover Blackbeard’s buried gold, it’s not likely.
Let’s go ahead and assume you’ll be doing some type of web-based work. This means you’ll be spending most of your time behind a computer.
Start with a laptop. Why? Because one of the wonderful features of working from home is the ability to leave it whenever you want. A change of scenery always stimulates creativity, if only for a few minutes, so take advantage of that. Go to coffee houses and donut shops occasionally. Plus, there is scientific evidence suggesting that the murmuring noises of a coffee house stimulates an environment of creativity and focus. I’m convinced this “study” was funded by the International Association of Professional Coffee House Owners (I’m not kidding), because these establishments also stimulate an environment of shelling out big bucks for overpriced coffee and stale blueberry scones.
Laptops are also good for displaying any propensities toward political or social issues by covering the outside with bumper stickers. This is apparently a “thing” that I need to get on board with. Nobody in my favorite coffee shop has a clue about my favorite presidential candidate, what type of cooler I use, whether or not I support gay marriage, or which craft beer establishment I prefer. This is a problem. My coffee shop brethren keep staring at me with quizzical looks of confused frustration.
Nevertheless, I recommend a laptop, and the options are endless. The main thing to remember when buying a laptop is that you are shelling out the moolah yourself rather than having it supplied by an employer, so you may want to exclude the bells and whistles. Get only what you absolutely need, even if it’s old and used. For example, I use a combustion-engine laptop that runs on a gas/oil mixture and often requires ten or twelve pulls on the crank cable to get it started, which can be annoying. I’m hoping to upgrade to a 4-cycle laptop next year.
If your line of work requires the creation of large computer files — graphic design, for example — you will need extra storage. An external hard drive is a great option because not only does it allow you to keep your computer’s hard drive unencumbered, but it also gives you another opportunity to devote hours on Amazon researching a $50 device, purchase the wrong one, and immediately break it. Oh, and there’s the added benefit of now having a small box forever tethered to your laptop so that you can repeatedly drop it or “disconnect it improperly.”
So now you’ve got your computer and your digital storage. What about an Internet connection?
There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. The first and most widely used method is to steal it. It’s a simple matter of launching your computer’s WiFi and sorting through the various networks that appear until you find a free one. Usually, this is provided courtesy of one of your non-computer-savvy neighbors. Their unprotected WiFi network will be named something like “MendlebaumsWifiWeAreStupid.” Choose that one and then be sure to bake a tin of cookies for the Mendlebaums at Christmas. (Leave it on their doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run so you don’t have to make eye contact.)
In the unfortunate event that your neighbors have all locked down their networks, you may have to actually pay for Internet. The cost is actually quite reasonable if you’re the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates. Otherwise, plan on making a lot of money very quickly with your new job.
Internet is often bundled with cable TV. The providers are caring and generous people who have anticipated your every need, including the apparent fact that you require at least 4,239 television channels along with your WiFi. Somewhere around 4,230 of these channels have to do with one of three things: Bigfoot, aliens, or adulterous housewives. If you prefer a package without the adulterous alien Bigfeet — like with the three network channels plus the ever-exciting C-Span — expect to pay roughly $900 per month for Internet.
OK, bag secured with your laptop, external hard drive, and Internet. Now you need a place to sit.
Again, there are many options. There are standard office chairs, big inflatable balls that make you look ridiculous, and standing desks, which are really weird and not worthy of mention unless you’re one of those people who buy into the whole “sitting is bad for you” myth. I mean, how can that be? What’s the first thing somebody tells you if you’re feeling bad or a little woozy?
“You’d better sit down.”
How about when somebody is about to deliver bad or shocking news?
“You’d better sit down.”
See, this person knows what they’re talking about! Sitting down always makes a situation better. Nobody ever says, “Oh, you feel terrible? Dizzy? Distraught? You’d better hop on up.”
Now that we’ve established it’s better to be seated, let’s discuss chairs. There’s one foolproof method for picking out the right office chair for you.
Trying out a chair at Office Max is like trying on clothes at Old Navy. They will always look better in that mirror, just like the chair will always seem comfortable when you’re sitting in that faux office section of Office Max. It’s all smoke and mirrors. When you’re pulled up to one of those fancy modern desks and are surrounded by the wafting aroma of fresh paper, bags of office coffee, and a plethora of leather day planners, everything feels comfortable. Plus, somebody else assembled the chair, which makes it at least 10 times more comfortable.
But when you get home, lug the giant cardboard box up the steps to your dinky, cluttered, mismatched home office, and spend the better part of the evening on the floor trying to follow directions (written by someone for whom English was clearly not their first language) for assembling the chair, it no longer feels comfortable when you finally get to sit in it. This could also be because the lower part of both your legs are now asleep.
This, of course, is vital to the operation. A proper desk must be of the correct dimensions.
Actually, that’s pretty much it.
“What are the correct dimensions?” you may ask.
Well, I’m not sure about that and I’d appreciate it if you held all questions until the end of this book. But since you so brazenly asked, I’d say the correct dimensions are those that can comfortably contain your laptop, an additional monitor or two, a printer, and most importantly, six weeks-worth of scattered junk mail, two dirty coffee mugs, various sales receipts dating back six months, ancient cd and cassette cases, whiteboard erasers and markers that are supposed to be on that little whiteboard ledge, candy cane wrappers, tangled electronic cables and earbuds, loose change, dust, and cat hair.
That’s just a guess.
So you’ve now got your computer, digital storage, chair, the Internet, and desk. Sit down, begin typing furiously, and watch the money start pouring in!
This post was previously published on www.doofusdad.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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