Working from home. I never really had much experience of it up until about 3 months ago. OK sure, I did the blog on the side and I still had emails, meetings and work to do, but actually spending my whole day at home behind a desk? I have to admit it took some getting used to. I went a little mental with being in my house all day, and I found myself so distracted, I was actually less productive at the blog than when I was working a 10 hour day at work and then doing the blog at night.
However after 3 months of trial and error I think I've got a flow going. So here's what I learnt and my top tips for working from home to keep you sane.
Have a structured day routine
Working form home can be tough because there is no formal structure or boundaries. Sure, this is also the beauty of it. If you need to put the washing on whilst you write that essay then go right ahead, we all go to have clean clothes. However suddenly I found myself getting up at mid day, watching TV and faffing about, because, well I could. So stop right there if that sounds like you.
Set a structured routine. No one says you have to do 9-5. Personally I work best in the evening. Right now its 11:06pm. But carve out your working hours and dedicate that time for your work, because otherwise you'll have deadlines looming and you'll regret that second episode of Friends. I actually carve my day out into 3 chunks. 3 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon and 3 in the evening/ night. No one says you have to work 15 hour work days, unlike some of the "bragging" I see online, it's not a competition. Plus has no one read the 4 hour work week?
Dress for the occasion
Under no circumstances sit in your PJs all day. I repeat, do no sit in your jammies. I'm a big believer if you just sit in the same clothes all day, you won't be out of your 'down time' routine, and you won't be in the right frame of mind. I'm not saying put on a suit, but get washed and dressed and you'll be ready to face the day.
My old job back in the city was quite a reactive job. I logged on in the morning and see what had occurred over night in the US and stuff would happen throughout the day that I would deal with. Sure, I had things that were on going and lasted more than a day, but when it came to doing my blog no one was going to email me to tell me something needed doing. I had to remember when deadlines were, negotiate on my own without a manager to back me up and so on. I needed to make a list of everything I needed to do the next day, so when I sat down in the morning, I had it all laid out for me to just tick off. If I don't finish something, it goes to the top of the next days list.
Take a break... or two
Working and living in the same space can be quite claustrophobic, especially if you live in a tiny flat like I do. It's sort of like a studio but the kitchen and bathroom are separate. This means it's so hard to switch off, and sometimes if I really get into my work, and the fridge is well stocked, I can find I haven't left the room for days.
So I always now make sure I take at least 2 breaks. One at lunch, even if it's just to walk around the block, and then one around 6pm, again just to get some fresh air.
Whilst some people think that working from home if just a euphemism for slacking, it's actually a statistical fact that people work longer than if they were in the office. It's 6pm and someone emails you, sure I can just answer that now, one less thing in the morning. Soon that one email turns into 5 and a quick update of that proposal you sent through. It can be so hard to switch off, especially if your work if like mine and it's the online world. Whilst I might not be the best at this because of my work pattern of nights, I do move away from the computer and just go do something else. Sure, I get that guilty feeling too. But it's healthy, and also no one wants to just work all day, every day. So log off that computer at the end of a hard days work and put your feet up and think nothing of emails and deadlines. You deserve it.
If you found this helpful, please do share. Sharing is caring after all. Also, I recently went to a blogger co-working day with Dell and The Apartment, to celebrate the launch of the Dell XPS One laptop, which was all about working from home and freelancing, so check out the video I made on the subject.