Working from home is every writer’s dream, isn’t it? Sadly though, it’s not all pyjamas, Netflix, late starts and early finishes.
Sadly, right now, I’m not in a position to be able to blog/write full time. Whilst I don’t work from home 5 days a week, juggling blogging with a full-time job means that my weekends look very much like real work days.
From time working from home with my full-time job and my weekends of blogging, I’ve created this list of tips. Hopefully, these tips will help you make the most of working from home.
1. Create Working Hours that Suit You
As with any job, your hours will change on a daily basis depending on deadlines and other commitments. The beauty of working from home though is that you can choose hours that suit you.
I try to stick to 8 hours a day but the way I split those hours up is entirely up to me. I’m a morning person so a 7 am start is ideal but I tend to lull around 3 pm and perk up again much later – around 7 pm. So I take a weird break in the afternoon. You see, there’s not really much point in saying that I’m going to work 9-5 if I know that from 3 pm I’m not going to get anything done. Especially when I know I can work later instead.
The other thing to consider when you’re picking your working hours is your clients. If you work a lot with people in different time zones, your working hours will need to cross over with their working hours at some point.
Whatever working hours you pick, try to stick to them as much as possible. Creating a routine is great for productivity.
2. Have a Morning Routine
I know the temptation to stay in bed until 5 minutes before your “start time” is there but trying to work with a brain that’s still half asleep isn’t great for productivity.
Treat your days like any other working day (minus the commute time). Wake up in time to shower, get dressed and eat breakfast before your working day starts. This will give your mind and body time to fully wake up before you make a start on anything important. It’s also a great way to get into the habit of separating work from home which can be difficult. Get ready away from your laptop (and workspace if possible) and only sit down to work once you’re ready to start.
3. Dress for the Office
Now I’m not saying that you should be in a suit but, it’s key to productivity that you get ready in the mornings like you would for any other job. The process of getting ready before starting work will help you get into the right mindset for the day. Wearing pyjamas, even if you’re sat at your desk, will subconsciously make you feel sleepy and, for want of a better phrase, “like having a lazy day”.
One of the major upsides to working from home is comfort so pick clothes that you’re comfy wearing. But it’s important to have designated “work” and “home” comfy clothes. Don’t mix the two up. If you’ve ever worked anywhere that isn’t home, you’ll know the relief and relaxation that getting home and changing into your non-work clothes brings. It’s important to try to hold on to this feeling even when you work from home as it will help you switch off at the end of the day. Having designated “work” and “home” clothes will help with this distinction.
4. Think Carefully About Eating
This might sound like an odd one but working from home makes it easy to fall into bad habits.
Firstly, there’s the temptation of snacking. Chances are, there’s lots of food in your house that you wouldn’t have access to in an office. Now I know it’s really easy to sit here and say “don’t snack” but the reality is that if you’re feeling peckish and there’s a cupboard full of food a few feet away from you, you’re probably going to snack at some point.
Meal planning is a great way of overcoming this. Firstly, make sure you have breakfast. This will not only help with energy levels but will hopefully help you feel less hungry before lunch time. If you know you’ll need snacks throughout the day (which many of us do), get them ready in advance, like you would do if you weren’t working from home. This should reduce the temptation of grabbing anything and everything you can get your hands on!
And that leads me nicely on to lunch…make sure you take a break. It can be a big temptation to just grab something and eat as you work but that’s not good for you. Set aside some time for lunch and make yourself a proper meal. I don’t mean like a three-course gourmet dinner, sandwiches are fine, I just mean avoid ready meals if possible. It’s a topic well outside of this blog but we all know there’s a link between nutrition, energy levels and concentration.
If possible, try to eat somewhere other than where you work – at the kitchen table or out in the garden if the weather is nice. Give your mind and eyes a break from your regular workspace.
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5. Create a Work Routine/Schedule
This tip relates more to working for yourself than specifically to working from home. Having a routine or plan on how you will approach your work is super useful for productivity. Without having a boss looming over you and colleagues around you that can see your computer screen, it’s easy to get off track.
So, set up a plan of action. For example, you might start your day by checking your emails, replying to those that you can and making a note of new tasks and deadlines that might have come through in those emails. Then make a to-do list for the day and start working your way through it.
Your schedule really depends on how you function best. For example, I’m much more focused and creative first thing in the morning so I like to write then. I move on to other tasks such as taking and editing photos, replying to emails etc. later in the day.
I know I said you should have working hours and stick to them but it’s also important to get things done. Some days, you might need to work late to ensure that deadlines are met and your to-do list is completed. Again, try to think about it like any other job. If your boss had given you a task to do before you went home, you wouldn’t leave until it was done, would you? Well, not within reason anyway!
6. Invest in the Right Equipment
If you’re going to be sat at your desk pretty much all day every day, invest in a proper chair with the right support. You might also want to buy a larger screen to hook your laptop up to. If your business involves a lot of time on the phone, invest in a good headset. Something that will allow you to have your hands free to make notes and not tie you to one place.
Anything that you would expect from any other office, you should expect from your own office. Notepads, pens, a calculator, the list goes on. Make sure your home workspace is fully kitted out. Not only will this help on a psychological level by making you feel like you’re in a “real office”, it will also help with getting work done. Constantly popping out to the shop for things can be a real drain on time.
It’s also super important to look after your health so having the right chair, lighting and general set up is crucial.
7. Leave the House
One of the biggest downsides to working from home is getting cabin fever. It’s so easy to get caught up in a routine where you never leave your house. And, let’s face it, although that might sound like a bit of a dream right now, it’s not good for you.
Try to leave the house at least once a day. Make an effort to carve out time in your day to go for a walk or head to the gym. Where possible, arrange face-to-face meetings at your local café. Not only is fresh air good for you and your mind, but human interaction is a big deal! Humans weren’t meant to spend that much time alone!
Exercising has huge mental benefits too and can leave you feeling refreshed and energetic. Working out is also a fantastic way to clear your head at the end of a stressful day too, helping you to switch off.
8. Get Rid of the Guilt and Make the Most of Working from Home
I know a lot of people have a working from home guilt. Whether self-imposed or driven by comments from others, it’s easy to fall into a guilty mindset. Working from home does not make your job any less hard work, time-consuming or important than any other job.
But you should also make the most of being able to work from home. Create your own hours that work for you, be flexible, be comfortable, get things done that you couldn’t otherwise do…
I hope these tips help you make the most of working from home.
Do you work from home? Got any other tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below.
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