Working from home. Something people don’t talk too much about. Usually you tell someone you work from home and you get the “must be nice.” Guys, I really dislike Must Be Nicers, like as if they are being held captive and can’t do something they want to do.
Anyways. What is often not discussed is the challenges, the isolation and struggle to set boundaries while working from home.
I have been working from home for 2.5 years now and I am so so grateful! I literally have a moment of gratitude daily for the flexibility and ability to work from anywhere. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I work for the same graphic design company I have been employed at for 10 years doing freelance 30 hours a week, I also do marketing and social media for a fellow NTP and blogger remotely, and I am in a mostly online school program. So I am home A LOT! Good thing I am an introvert because I actually enjoy being alone but at times it can feel very lonely.
Boundaries. Now this was the hardest for me to learn and I still struggle with to this day. Let’s be honest, one of the hardest things about working from home is that work never ends. The computer is right there, I could literally work 10 hours a day if I wanted to and in the beginning I did just that. I used to rush to eat lunch just so I could get back to work as if all hell would break loose if I was gone for 30 minutes. I would feel guilty for running an errand, meeting up with a friend or making an appointment mid-day.
Fortunately these feelings have passed and I have learned over the years to create boundaries to allow myself the freedom to still do things I love daily with a whole lot less stress, rushing, and guilt.
Here are some tips and tricks to working from home that have helped me tremendously.
- Put your phone away. Literally put it in another room while you work so you are less distracted. If you think motivation is hard in an office, imagine how it is at home with all the other things you could be doing like laundry, cleaning, crafts, yoga or whatever else you fancy. This one was particularly hard for me since I do a lot of work on my phone on social media. I learned to schedule times to check my phone and post things when necessary.
- Create an office space. Whether it be a small area in your living room or a full blown office. You need to be able to separate your work- time from home-time. Sure it sounds comfy to sit on the couch and work but I learned that’s a boundary that needs to be put in place in order to be productive. I pretend like I am going into the office and this also helps me feel less isolated. Sure some days I do sit on the couch and work on a slow day, I mean that’s one of the joys of working from home, but I try to not make it a habit.
- Any chance you get go work in a coffee shop, trust me, you’ll be 1,000x more productive in up-beat surroundings.
- Make sure you are taking time for yourself every single day whether that be a walk, getting a coffee with a friend, or taking time to make an amazing lunch even if it takes longer than an hour. Work will be there when you get back. I like to do this first thing in the morning whether it be walking with my husband, bike rides, working out, or just relaxing in my PJs while sipping my tea and watching a movie. I also make it a point to go for a walk mid-day to get my body moving. You will find a mid-day walk will make you so much more productive when you get back!
- Community. Make sure you are getting out and socializing with others even if its during work hours. You’ll be much more productive, less lonely and a better person for doing so.
- Scheduling. Get yourself a nice little planner or calendar and schedule your work times. Plan out what you will be working on ahead of time. I have even gone so far as to set alarms on my computer so I know when to take breaks and when to switch tasks. I have also set boundaries to never work before 8 and after 5pm regardless of how busy I am. Some days are exeptions but it is very rare.
- Maximize productivity. This could just be putting your phone away but for others this means putting in headphones and listening to music or podcasts. Anything that will get you in the groove and motivated. Save the the more tedious work tasks for a time you are most productive. For me this tends to be in the morning hours.
- Get rid of the distractions. I know it seems like a dream come true that you work from home and also get to stay home with your kids so you don’t have to pay for daycare. From experience working with women who have tried doing the work from home and stay at home mom thing all at once, it’s so stressful and typically never works considering kids need your undivided attention at all times. I recommend setting aside “office” time away from your children or new puppy or whatever other living thing that is keeping you from giving your work 100% attention.
- Get dressed. Put on some jeans or some nice loungewear and get ready, take a shower, do your makeup, fix your hair! This can be so hard working from home especially when nobody sees you all day. It might be enticing to sit around in sweatpants all day but who feels good doing that? If you look good, you feel good and can show up ready to work.
- Understand your value. One of the biggest issues with working from home is feeling unvalued. It’s easy to feel so disconnected from your fellow co-workers that you feel like you are of no value to the company and they could get rid of you any day. This is so untrue, if you are doing the work and doing it well, they appreciate you even if they don’t say it.
What it comes down to is do what works for you! Some people are great working from home and others struggle. It took me some time to master the art of working from home so don’t be discouraged if this is new to you!
Also, don’t be a Must Be Nicer, it’s not all matcha dates, yoga and sunshine (as Instagram likes to fool you). Altho working from home is a blessing it can also be very challenging.