I started working from home since early 2011. At first, I was satisfied with the comfort and convenience of being at home and not having to spend hours on the road, stuck with my office mates in a heavy traffic specially when its raining (worst during storms). At first, I was satisfied with occasional visit to my friends from my previous company and never bothered myself again with those late night hangouts. At first, I was satisfied working in a silent room with no one to bother me with non-work related stuff. At first, I was satisfied implementing my own solutions without the need to discuss it with a team, arguing which solution and technology is better.
I was satisfied to work alone, at first.
Prior to working from home, I was struggling and working hard to meet the medical needs of my parents. And even after they started to get well, I still worked hard in order to secure their future, knowing that their medical needs would constantly grow as they grow older. And indeed, I've reached that level of financial security where I don't have to worry again about their expensive laboratory tests and medicines. At last, "Now I could start living for myself".
I worked and lived for myself.
After several months of working alone for myself, I started to grow weary in what I do. I know I enjoy coding, building software and websites, but I eventually found myself sitting at my work desk the whole day (and even up to late nights) and yet got barely 4 hours of productivity, and sometimes even less. I tried a few online suggestions on how to improve productivity:
- I tried to travel occasionally to release stress.
- I improved the ambiance of my work place.
- I tried to use the Pomodoro technique (taking a break every 25 minutes).
- I tried to occasionally work in coffee shops and restaurants and malls.
These helped me to some degree, but none of them really worked.
I started to get bored doing things myself for myself.
I tried to quit my job. I emailed my client that I'm not working anymore. I told them that if I can't do my job excellently, then I would rather not work at all. I ended up not quitting but rather agreed to stay after coming up to a solution: we would rent an office, and get a few people to work with me side by side (which we didn't have time to make them into reality).
I tried a change of environment, change of community, and change of activities like schooling, biking, travelling and couchsurfing. In search for meaning, I read the book of Mitch Albom "Tuesdays with Morrie". I read the book of Ecclesiastes in one sitting one evening. I revisited a book "How to enjoy your life and your job" by Dale Carnegie. They gave me insights but they didn't make much sense to me. I tried their suggestions anyway.
I searched for meaning in what I do.
Then I remembered Solomon:
I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well?the delights of a man?s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;?
In search for meaning, I went back in volunteering at Kids Church as a teacher. I met new friends and started to grow my social community once again.?Since I started to work from home, little did I realize that my social circle is shrinking slowly. This time, I met few people who are less fortunate than I. Some are struggling to find a job, others quit school due to financial difficulties, while others didn't even consider studying. And yet there is genuine smile and joy in them. I never heard them complain and they just do what they do, and make the most out of the little resources they have. And who wouldn't want to be around them?
After spending time with them, my concern for their battles started to sprout. I wanted to help some of them financially, but this time I couldn't because I haven't been working really hard. I barely have enough to sustain my lifestyle. So I said to myself, "I would work harder so I could help them". Then "Aha! I think I found meaning in my work".
Things are coming back to life again when I stopped living for my self and started loving and fighting for others.
Now that I found a new motivation to work, still there is something missing. I couldn't work straight for few hours like I used to do without occasionally opening Facebook and randomly checking posts of friends. I was trying to find the answer until I came across this post in Facebook:
To find out the story behind it, I went to talk to her. She said she was not used to getting low scores in exams, but lately that's what was happening. She's been trying to stay strong by not giving up and studying harder instead. Until one day when she got a score with only 1 point to meet the passing, she was on the verge of crying, and told her friends not to come any closer, "Wag kang lumapit! Wag kang lumapit!" They managed to come close and hug her, then she just let her tears flow freely.?To encourage her, they gave her a cupcake with a stick note in it "Stop crying na".
Now the photo, the tears and the cupcake paint a whole lot of sense.?Despite the difficulties they are facing, these people found great joy in studying together, laughing together, and even crying together.?I think the primary reward of doing things together is not the product of your labor or endeavor. It is more than that. It is deeper than that. It is the friendship that is created and bonded by those failures and victories you shared along the journey.
Friendship is the reward of doing things together.
1. I didn't know I was addicted to Facebook, so I deactivated my account and my productivity got better.
2. I started hanging out with people who have the same battle as mine. I started attending conferences and meet ups for programmers which rekindled my passion for what I do.