Since I’ve been working from home for a little while now, I thought I’d share some tips for anyone that might be curious how to stay productive in this type of environment. I’m not going to lie: when I initially started freelancing and blogging, I thought it would be way easier to work from home than it actually is. What I didn’t anticipate is that while there are a lot of perks (take a look at my new definition of “business casual” for starters), it’s also a major change to now self-manage my schedule and this can be a lonely work environment without co-workers. If you’re considering transitioning to this type of setting, here’s what I have found works the best.
Get ready every single day
(if you were to swing by my house today, this is exactly who would be greeting you at the door… my hair is in full wavy mode because I decided against blow-drying/straightening this morning to give it a break)
I learned this trick from other freelancers – get ready every morning like you would be going to work. Now, that being said, I do give myself a little more freedom: for me, my typical outfit lately consists of a t-shirt and leggings – but the fact remains that I force myself to stay in a consistent routine. Same thing with waking up at a set time. I’ll admit there have been a few days that I’ve accidentally overslept but for the most part, I’ve learned to stay on a steady schedule that really isn’t that much different from when I was working in a corporate environment.
(Getting to wear comfy printed leggings while I work will always be a major job perk)
Even prior to working from home, I’ve always been someone that had the mindset that I would live and die by my planner. Now I’m essentially on a self-managed schedule, it’s only become more important. I use a variety of apps and resources to keep myself on track, though the MVP of all of them will forever be my beloved Louis Vuitton agenda (I carry the PM size and love how it’s never too big or bulky to carry in my purse). Every single deadline, appointment, phone call gets written down and is always within arms reach – I make sure to “back up” everything in my Google calendar as well so it’s also on my phone.
Avoid distractions – but know when to embrace them
Working from home takes a lot of discipline. I’m going to be totally honest and admit that there are times it’s really hard to focus – I’ll get writer’s block and start thinking that I could quickly do a load of laundry, run a few errands or catch up on last night’s episode of “Bachelor in Paradise.” What I’ve found is key is having a balance. I do give myself little breaks throughout the day. If I know that I’ll probably be working on a project later that night, I also make sure to take a few hours off. And I do schedule time throughout the week for any errands or personal appointments, if needed.
Knowing that I will allow myself to take an hour to relax and watch an episode of “Game of Thrones” at some point keeps me focused. If you continue to deny yourself breaks, it’s going to get overwhelming – I motivate myself by allowing some distraction, but I do plan it out in advance.
(My dog’s sassy expression here is due to the fact he wanted to go for his walk and I had to finish this post first… it is true what they say about little dogs having the largest personalities)
The biggest challenge with working from home is the fact that it honestly can be really isolating. At previous jobs, there were co-workers to talk to throughout the day – at home, it’s just me. In the beginning, this was really hard to adjust to but I’ve learned to make a point of staying in contact with people throughout the day – even sending a Snapchat or a text message to a friend can make it feel like I’m still interacting with others, regardless of it not being in a physical work setting.
It’s also extremely important to get outside throughout the day. I try to take my dogs for a walk every afternoon. All of us seem to benefit from getting out of the house for 15-20 minutes and return a little more recharged.
Equally helpful: staying involved – having events and social gatherings in the evenings and on weekends makes a major impact! As someone that is very Type A (and truthfully, somewhat of a workaholic), I’ve had to remind myself more than once that I don’t work 24/7. It’s unbelievably valuable to have time “off the clock” where you’re surrounded with friends and not thinking about work.
I know these are just a few short tips for navigating this type of work environment – I will make sure to share more in the future as I continue to figure this out myself!