So here’s the situation: I’ve become a real estate agent and I work for an office and a broker who is pretty generous with our independence and autonomy. Like, we are supplied templates, checklists, processes, etc. if we want them. We can also completely choose to ignore most of them if we want to (barring legal and ethical requirements and the occasional operational procedure meant to protect us as we conduct business).
We have team meetings, but they’re not mandatory.
We can work out of our office, but we don’t have to. Heck, one of the agents that turned me on to this brokerage in the first place said she’s been to the office all of four times since she started working with them like… several years ago.
And during the pandemic, this is great! It’s a lot safer to be able to work in isolation and minimize the amount of physical contact I have to do in an otherwise face-time-oriented industry (although some people do buy homes without ever seeing their agent – or even the property – in person and this is likely to grow in popularity in the future, especially considering the circumstances).
For my personality in general, this is great. I like autonomy and independence. I like being able to determine my own schedule, my own work location, and my own method of operations. I like that I can pick up the phone and call whenever I want, but that I never have to if I don’t want to.
It’s why most of us have become agents in the first place, right? The independence? The fact that nobody’s going to tell us what to do unless we ask them to?
And I think I’m gonna love it. Eventually.
But right now it’s driving me insane.
Here’s the sitch
(Does anybody even say that anymore?)
I bought my house in April. When I moved in, I moved my boyfriend of (at the time) four months in with me, which has been an adventure all on its own.
I’m actually super thankful for how well it’s gone. We haven’t really had any issues, except the occasional growing pains that come with any relationship as it moves out of the honeymoon phase and reality starts to set in. We’re seeing each others’ human and that’s always a moment of truth to be reckoned with.
Other than that, it’s smooth sailing.
Immediately before he moved in with me, though, his office shut down and he started working from home for the first time.
My house is a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom with like… 800 square feet. I love it, it’s adorable, it’s affordable, and the utilities on it? Amazing.
But it’s not conducive to two adults being here 24/7. It’s just not.
But I think I could have dealt with it…
Except that I also moved in a roommate, who I knew from my previous work. Her lease was expiring as I was closing on my house. She needed to save money on rent. She’s moving in a few months, so she definitely couldn’t sign a new lease.
And hey, it helps with expenses for me, too. That turned out to come in a lot of handy as I went on furlough almost immediately after closing. Then my furlough became permanent and I decided to make a career transition. I’m not saying I couldn’t do it without the lowered living expenses, but it would have been a lot harder to do so, so I’m grateful.
I want to reiterate that again. I’m incredibly grateful for my situation and recognize how fortunate I am. I have a boyfriend I love, a roommate I adore, a comfortable and reasonable living situation that’s sustainable as I make a career transition into something I absolutely love doing (and can see me doing for the rest of my life, happily).
But her work shut down its offices, too, and moved all its employees to working from home.
My boyfriend’s workstation is set up in our bedroom, her workstation is set up in her bedroom, and my workstation… Well, I work in a corner of the living room right now, sitting at a very small kitchen table and chilling on my piano bench.
At first, this was doable. I was studying for classes (and then my exam), so I needed a lot of breaks for my brain. I was doing basic research and working on a marketing plan, but mostly I was playing the waiting game – waiting for my classes to start, waiting for my test to come, waiting, waiting, waiting. I was working on things, but I had a lot of time.
Things are a little different now.
Now, I’m trying to get myself into business. I’m trying to make my phone calls and send my emails and get my marketing materials into the mail. I’m trying to do market research and read over contracts and take yet-another-Zoom-call for training. I’m busy. I have work to do.
And my paycheck isn’t guaranteed anymore. I’m living off savings now. Every day that goes by without a closing is another day with a dropping bank account balance. It’s a scary feeling.
And I don’t feel like that’s getting respected right now.
As I said, I love both of these people dearly, but they’re starting to get me a little stressed. Their breaks line up in perfect opposition. He starts work at 10 AM; she starts at noon. He takes his first break at 12:15. She takes her first break at 2:15. He takes lunch from 3:15-4:15. She takes lunch from 4:30 until 5:00. He takes another break at 6:00, she takes another half-hour break from 7:00-7:30, and then he gets off at 9:00.
I don’t know if you want to bother with the math, but it means I get around 6-7 hours of uninterrupted time each day. He also takes three days off every week, so I have around 27 hours of uninterrupted work time in a week.
This doesn’t even consider that it takes on average 23 minutes to return to work after a distraction.
Oh, and two of those hours are spoken for with required dance classes that take up part of my longest stretch of uninterrupted time (in the evenings).
So I’m going to spend some of my very limited time trying to figure out what to do about all this. I need to figure out a situation that’s going to work for me. I think it’s going to involve some tough conversations about boundaries and the “not when my headphones are in” rule – perhaps harsher conversations that the ones I’ve already tried to have.
But if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, I need to know: what did you do to resolve this? Am I going to have to bite the bullet and start working out of the office instead of remotely? Do I need to hang up a curtain blocking me from sight? Keep a spray bottle handy to chase off would-be distractions?
Now it’s time to go to one of my aforementioned dance classes.
Wish me luck! I’ll provide an update once I figure out what’s actually going to work for me.