Making Working From Home Work For Me
When you think of working from home, what do you think of?
Working from bed? Wearing PJs? Meeting up with friends for coffee in the day? Not having to stick to a 9-5 schedule?
Perhaps these all seem like great things to you, or maybe they’d be a nightmare. We all have different work habits, and working from home isn’t for everyone.
Until 2018 I’d always worked outside the home, with a boss to tell me what to do and by when. The last year has been a big adjustment, as I’ve started Rosalyn Oxer Coaching, worked at home and had to determine the direction for myself. After listening to a recent episode of Letters From A Hopeful Creative on this topic, I realised that I have begun to find my stride and what works for me. We’re all different, and maybe these tips won’t be useful to you. Maybe you’ll find the exact opposite of each of these to be useful in their own way, who knows. Perhaps you’ve got some tips to share with me, to make my work even more successful. If so, please share them!
Know yourself and your good hours
The hardest thing for me about working from home is that, in theory, I can do anything at any time. There is too much freedom and I don’t know what to do with myself half of the time. Since working out that I do my best “desk work” between 9am and 1pm (or whenever I stop for lunch), I have been far more productive. This is when I have the most energy, concentration, motivation and creativity. Basically, all of the good stuff. As soon as I stop for lunch, it’s gone, so I make sure I’m in my seat early and I get my head down when I need to.
The non “desk jobs” can be done in the afternoon and evening. By that I mean the household tasks which linger in the background, exercise, seeing friends, chatting to my parents and anything that isn’t moving me forwards in business.
I used to love a morning walk until I realised it used up almost all of my energy and it would be a far better idea to go after lunch when I need that fresh air boost to then transition to other jobs. It still tempts me sometimes, but now I realise how much more I get done when I stick to my schedule, it’s a lot easier to avoid that temptation.
Listen to your body
This sort of contradicts what I’ve just said, but it’s really important for me. As I have CFS, each day isn’t the same and so although 9am-1pm are usually my good hours, it’s not always the case. Sometimes there are no good hours, and when that happens I can either “push myself” and achieve very little quality work, or I can cut myself some slack, rest and feel better sooner.
This continues to be the most challenging part of working from home for me. Just because I’m in the vicinity of my desk doesn’t mean I have to be sitting at it. Just because I could work until 10pm doesn’t mean I should.
Whatever challenges you face, listening to your body and working out when to push and when to stop (or at least slow things down) is never wasted. It’s a really important self care life lesson.
Plan in breaks
I love client calls and they are definitely my favourite part of my job, but they are incredibly draining because I give all of my attention to my client for an hour. I have to have half an hour or quiet time before I start a call and then I have to plan in another quieter slot after I’ve emailed follow up notes, to let myself come down from it too.
I know how many calls in a day I can manage and I don’t exceed that. It’s another perk of getting to know my body and my abilities really well and it helps me have energy in reserve for the next day.
Even if your energy isn’t in such short supply, it’s more than OK to give yourself a break for lunch, a walk, to stare at the wall and think of your best ideas- whatever works for you. Sometimes I’m more creative when I’m waiting for the kettle to boil than in the whole rest of the day!
Get ready for the day
I can work well in my dressing gown but it’s a pretty rare occurrence. I can work without a shower, or having eaten something in the morning, but they don’t help me do my best work.
The best thing for me is to have my morning coffee in my PJs whilst reading, then to have breakfast, shower and get dressed for the day. I never dress up. Comfy clothes I can sit and work in (usually with something smarter on my top half for when I have client calls) work best for me, but still make me feel a bit more ready for the day.
Whatever helps you feel in that work head space, be it lighting a candle, journaling, setting goals for your day or listening to certain music, do just that!
Set your own hours
I don’t always wake up to an alarm in the morning and that’s another thing I’m flexible about. I work by myself and for myself, so I don’t answer to anyone else time wise and can set my own hours. Having identified the good ones, I’m good to go, but does that mean I’m always at my desk by 9am? Nope.
If I’m having a low energy spell then I let myself sleep more. I’ll get more quality work done in the hours I am at my desk that way. There’s no requirement that we all work a 40 hour work week as a minimum. If you can get your work done in fewer hours and make the money you want to make, then great. If you prefer to work later on the day, then throw away those 9-5 ideas. I think this is a huge part of making working from home, your own.
However, like with the other things I’ve touched on, we need to be honest with ourselves. If pressing snooze means you miss your good hours, or that working in PJs makes you feel lazy, then you need to make some changes. Just because we can do it, doesn’t mean that we should do it.
Where’s the off switch?
When I talk about working at my desk, I’m referring to my office but I sometimes prefer to work from our dining table or the sofa. They can all work for me, but the easiest way to switch off is definitely to leave it all in my office and be able to tidy my desk, switch off the light and close the door to signal the end of my working day, whenever that is.
If I have a stack of notebooks around me in the living room (as a I frequently do), then I find it much more difficult to switch off to work and view it as the end of the day. This is something that I will continue to work on, as I don’t have this as under control as other items on my list.
Do you work from home? What are you tips for making it work for you? And what do you struggle most with? Share in the comments.