I am self-employed and I work from home. It’s both a blessing and a curse. I think most people who’ve never worked from home think it’s great (I know I did). And the truth is, most days I love it. I like the freedom, flexibility and independence.
But there are a lot of challenges as well. It can be socially isolating and it requires a lot of willpower (there are a lot of distractions at home… mainly my cozy bed and the TV). I think in order to work from home effectively and happily, you need to set some perimeters. Otherwise, you might find you’re lonely, inefficient and longing for the office life. I don’t actually follow all of these rules… but I strive to.
Get ready EVERY day
It’s really easy to just crawl out of bed, shovel some food into your mouth and sit down at your computer for the day. Next thing you know your husband is home, there’s a half-eaten cake by the computer and you haven’t showered (again). If you don’t get ready, you will start to feel bad. When I first started working from home I was militant about this rule and the truth is… I’ve been sliding. That’s why it’s number 1.
(ok, an exaggerated before… I brushed my hair for effect)
Fail to plan and you plan to fail
I have several clients that I work for in a day, so for me it’s really important to break my day into sections and stick to that allotted time. It gets too confusing to track your time (or to keep your concentration) if you’re hopping from project to project. If I’m writing, I close my email and ignore the phone. If I’m available, I login to Skype so people know they can reach me. Of course, there are always urgent situations, and rules are made to be broken. This is also important with your evenings. I find it hard not to work in the evenings. Try to limit your hours to feel like a workday (it doesn’t have to be 9-5… but maybe it’s 6-11am and then 8-10pm). Otherwise, it feels like you’re always working.
Anti-social hermit, anyone?
If you have the opportunity, make a phone call instead of sending an email. Or, arrange to have a lunch date instead of a video call. Human interaction is very important. If you know someone else who works from home, you can meet up and work somewhere together. Even a few video calls in a day help make it feel like you’ve interacted with someone. If you’re starting to feel stir crazy (“I haven’t left my house in 3 days”) go work from a coffee shop or meet up with a friend.
* I google image searched “photo of anti social hermit”, and it just came back with a bunch of normal looking people.
A Place to call your own
Sadly, I don’t have this luxury because I live in a one-bedroom apartment. So, during the day I work at my kitchen table and in the evening (once my husband is home), I work from my bedroom. If you can create a space for yourself, do it. Right now… I’m writing this post from the couch. I will regret it later when I have sore shoulders.
My “Home Office”
(aka The Kitchen Table) Example of what NOT to do
There are some shared workspaces popping up in cities for an alternative to the home office (Halifax has a place called The Hub that looks pretty dandy). But, I think if you follow these rules most of the time, you’ll find working from home to be very satisfying. Do you work from home? What are your tips and tricks for making it work?