When I decided to use my skills in a self-employed capacity, I had time to think about how it would work and to organise the logistics. Given the recent work from home recommendations put in place by the Government, this week has seen many people thrust into a completely new way of working. To ease the transition a little and help you stay on top of things, here are a few tips based on my experiences of homeworking – may they help you stay cheerful and motivated in difficult times.
Get up and treat your day like a normal office day
Enjoy working in your PJs for the first few days. It’s a novel feeling. On day three get up, get dressed for the office and then start your day. If you treat your workday exactly as you used to, you will find your motivation levels are much higher. I don’t know about you but if I started my workday in pyjamas, I suspect it would end by lunchtime and my afternoon would be spent reading or watching something on TV.
The second part of this is, of course, to make sure that you have a dedicated working space. You may already have a home office or spare room that you can use, or you might not. If you have to work from the kitchen table (I did initially) you need to make it work for you. Make sure wherever you are working is comfortable (but not too comfortable!), tidy, clutter-free and as free from disruptions as possible.
It can be difficult enough to distinguish between your work and home life when you have a dedicated office in the home. It’s even more difficult when the place you work and the place you eat your meals/relax are the same room. Make sure you pack everything away when you finish work for the day. This helps to signal to your mind that you are moving from the work phase back into your home life. If you can create an opportunity for a quick walk as you finish for the day, even better.
Children at home? Create a routine
I don’t have children at home so school closures and long school holidays don’t affect my working day directly. I do know and collaborate with freelancers and self-employed professionals with children so can share one top tip for making it work, based on what they have shared with me. Don’t try to be everything to everyone at the same time. You can’t be parent/carer, a worker on a deadline, a partner and “you” all at the same time. If you try to juggle everything plates will get broken. Schedule work time, children time and free time as best you can and stick to your “role” during these times. Doing this will increase productivity and help you be a happier, less stressed person.
Remind yourself of the benefits of working from home
Being in a home office may not be the ideal situation for you, however there are many benefits. For example, you have a very short commute! You won’t have your boss or coworkers looking over your shoulder. You can set the heating to your personal preference or open a window without upsetting someone. You can work with music on. Your work lunches are likely to be much tastier, now you can whip something up in the kitchen, rather than rely on a pack-up or hastily grabbed canteen sandwich. Garlicky lunches don’t cause any office upsets if you are working from home.
Don’t forget to look after you
When working from home it can be very easy to get caught up in what you’re doing, calls, balancing home and work and children at home. This often means forgetting to look after yourself. With burn-out being a real issue with some home workers it is important to prioritise both your physical and mental wellbeing. Ensure that you have some time out, some self-care and opportunities to refuel regularly. If you are well rested and manage to keep your stress levels down you will be much more motivated, productive and cheerful while working from home. If you would like to discuss this further please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07970 955535.