Working from home. It’s the dream, right?
You lie in bed until five minutes before you’re due to log into work and then spend your day in your pyjamas while you are working. Yeah, that doesn’t work for me.
These days I work completely from home – juggling part-time hours in my partition job (remote work back to Sydney), with my fiction writing, astro writing, and content creation/ marketing. The thing is, I’m not naturally disciplined – I need the commitment to a routine in order to get anything accomplished. It’s a boundary thing.
Anyways, here are my tips to working from home and getting stuff done.
- Have a work routine
Just as if you had to get up, get dressed and commute to work, set a repeatable routine for yourself.
In Sydney, my alarm would go off at 5.30am so I could leave for the bus at 6.20am, to be in the city for coffee by 8 and at my desk and working before 8.30
These days, my alarm still goes off at that time, but I head down to the beach for a walk.
I’m still at my desk and working by 8.30, but I’ve had some exercise and fresh air as well. Hashtag winning.
- Get dressed
Yes, get out of your pjs. You don’t have to dress up and do the make-up thing, but getting dressed is you telling yourself that you mean business. It’s part of the ritual of going to work.
- Go to work
I’m lucky in that I have a dedicated office slightly away from the rest of the house –up 5 stairs. When I go to work, that’s what I’m doing. If you don’t have your own space, dedicate an area to your work zone. It doesn’t need to be huge, but it does need to be where you work. It’s a symbolic thing.
Of course, going to work could mean picking up your laptop and escaping to the nearest coffee shop, park, beach, or whatever. I do that too – especially if I need to change my headspace from partition to creative.
- Implement a reasonable internet use policy
Just as you have a reasonable internet use policy in the office, do the same when you’re working for yourself or at home. If it would be unacceptable to sit on Facebook all day while you’re in the partition, why is it ok to waste your working hours on it at home?
Naturally, the exceptions are if you’re on there for genuine research purposes, or for social media marketing/ content scheduling.
- Take regular breaks
Although the temptation might be to work through, make sure you completely stop for a lunch break. If you’d normally have a sandwich and a walk during your lunch hour, do this at home too. Just stop – for at least 30 minutes.
- Stock your pantry
If you don’t want your lunch hour spreading into a lunch 2 hours, have your pantry (or freezer) stocked with lunch options.
- Clock off
Again, because you’re at home, it’s way too easy to just keep working. Set a knock-off time and stick to it. Of course, the exceptions are deadlines and those amazing days when the words are flowing easily – but for all other times, close the laptop at the end of your designated working day.
- Put a full stop under the day
If you were commuting, you’d usually have a period of time between the end of the work day and the beginning of home time. Do the same here. Whether it’s taking the dog for a walk, relaxing with a book, pouring a glass of wine – whatever. Make a ritual of something that symbolises that your work day is done. I usually take the dog for a walk, or duck back down to the beach to watch the sunset. Then I come home and it’s time to make dinner.
- Set boundaries
By far, the hardest part of working from home is persuading others that you’re working from home.
My husband isn’t working at the moment, so is home most of the time. At first he had a few issues with this concept.
‘But I never know if you’re working,’ he’d say.
‘If it’s Monday to Friday and I’m in the office, it’s safe to assume that I’m working,’ I’d reply.
‘But I don’t know whether you’re work working, or working on your stuff working,’ he’d say, the inference being that if I was work working ie back to Sydney being paid directly for what I do working, he wouldn’t interrupt me. Hmmmm.
- Maintain a schedule
Ok, this is one I struggle with at present. The work I do back to Sydney is the only income producing activity at present – we certainly can’t pay the bills on what I earn from my writing…yet. This means that although I start each week with a schedule of when I’ll be doing partition work and when I can work on anything else, if it has to change to squeeze more partition hours in or move them around – then that’s what I have to do.
Blogging gets squeezed in usually on the weekends, and I always find extra time over the weekend or in the evenings for my novel.
I break my days into three sections:
- Mornings 8.30- 12pm I’m most productive in the morning, so this is the best time for me to be doing partition work, and anything where I need a clear run.
- Pm 1: 1pm – 3pm I use this for any leftover partition hours
- Pm 2: 2.30 – 5.30pm
At present I’m working on converting some astro blog content to an ebook, and my latest novel – although it changes depending on whether I have any freelance work booked. In general I prioritise whatever is associated with actual now income rather than future income e.g. from next week I’ll be putting together my presentation for the RWA Conference.
Anyways, on an ideal week, my days might look something like:
|am||Partition||Partition||Blog to book||Partition||Blog to Book|
|pm 1||Partition||Partition||Novel||Partition||Explore & lunch|
|pm 2||Blog to book||Novel||Novel||Blog to book||content scheduling/ admin|
What about you? Do you work from home? How do you get stuff done?