Here at LD, many of us work from home. Some of us have remote, full-time jobs, others are in school, a few of us are freelancers, and all of us know about the side-hustle. Whatever your reason for working at home, we know that it’s a struggle to stay organized, motivated, and, you know, human.
In some ways, working from home is the dream scenario. You don’t have a commute, you can wear whatever you want, and, of course, you get to hang out with your pets all day every day. Other times, it’s a complete nightmare in which you spend hours freaking out alone in your pyjamas, watching TV and avoiding emails and phone calls. In the words of Hope Racine, our co-founder, working at home can turn you into an actual troll.
But we’re here to help. Here’s our best advice for loving your stay-at-home job:
1. Organize Your Space
Trust me, you don’t want to start off each work day with, “Oh but first I have to tidy my desk.” Make sure your workspace—and the entire room if possible—is clean and tidy, but only do your upkeep outside of work hours. Spruce up your desk with a framed photo, a scented candle and a vase of flowers, and store your pens, paper and any other work materials nearby.
2. Figure Out When You Work Best
I always felt that, in order to be productive, I had to start my day at 9 a.m., just as I would in an office. But it turns out I really don’t like writing first thing in the morning. Once I accepted this and stopped forcing myself to my desk as soon as I was done with breakfast, I felt much happier. I now use my mornings to read, answer emails and exercise. My days are a little longer since I work in the evening to compensate, but I don’t mind. Experiment until you figure out what works best for you.
3. At Least Put Some Pants On
Not having to get dressed every day is perhaps the most universally appealing aspect of working from home. But you should at least put some pants on, worker bee. Getting washed and dressed signals that it’s time to start the day. It’s up to you whether you get into full-on work attire or just some clean, comfy clothes, but show your work some respect, OK?
4. Keep A To-Do List
Without a boss to bark orders at you, you might feel overwhelmed by all your tasks and unsure of where to start. Keep track of them with a to-do list and write down your deadlines. At the beginning of each day, write down no more than five items that you aim to accomplish.
5. Take Regular Breaks
Don’t just sit down to work and come up for air five hours later. You need regular breaks to keep your brain focused, so don’t skimp on them. I generally organize my tasks into blocks of 90 minutes or two hours, and I find that it’s helpful to take a mini break halfway through and a longer break at the end. Because you’re at home, you can do all sorts of weird yoga stretches and/or motivational chants without bothering anyone else. Stretch, have a cup of tea, go outside for a walk—whatever takes you away from your desk and allows your mind to pleasantly wander.
6. Beware Of Distractions
I think fondly of the good old days before I had many Facebook friends, used a smartphone or watched any TV on my laptop. Now, distraction is everywhere and it can be hard to resist it if you’re not surrounded by nosy colleagues. But you need to—even if you get an app like SelfControl to keep yourself strong, close those fun-time tabs. We all know the stress of feeling like we have to be available to everyone at all times. But it really is OK to switch off your Wi-Fi and your cell phone. If your work requires you to stay connected, try to return messages or schedule calls at certain times in the day when you’re not in the middle of a task.
7. Do Your Errands On A Designated Day
When we work from home, we become all too aware of the mounting laundry pile or the lack of groceries in the fridge. We must all do our chores, but sometimes we use them as an excuse not to do any other work. To prevent this, I’ve found that the best solution is to designate a day each week (mine is Sunday) to do them all at once. Do your laundry, get your groceries, clean out the car, whatever, just don’t let these tasks bleed into your work week.
8. Work Elsewhere
Truthfully, I don’t really do the bulk of my work at home; I escape most days to a coffee shop or deli. I find that I prefer a bit of background noise and company, and changing my setting can help me get back to work if I’m procrastinating. And it’s fun to chat with the baristas and customers who are working remote and/or multiple jobs like me.
9. Socialize With Fellow Trolls
Do you have friends who are fellow working at home trolls? Ask them to meet you for lunch or coffee. You could have a work date if that’s productive for everyone, or just take a break together.
10. Get Out Of The House
This is perhaps the key ingredient to working at home sanity. Get out of the house during non-work hours, whether that’s to the gym, the park, a restaurant, the movie theater or a friend’s house. Make the most of your weekends so that you don’t feel like you’re a caged animal, or a creature living under a bridge.
What are your best tips for working from home? Tweet us @LitDarling!
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