With so many people currently confined to their home, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned over the past seven years as a freelance, work-at-home blogger. I don’t have to juggle work and childcare admittedly, so if you want to switch off now go ahead. But I have developed a work/life balance that works for me and may be of some help to you too. Admittedly I am a bit of an introvert and I like my own company, but even a self-confessed loner can soon start to come apart at the seams without some structure and support from time to time.
Create a Workspace That is Inspiring
Image: Anna Jacobs
I can’t even work with an utidy desk, so to have an inspiring workspace is important to me. I have recently had to give up my home office and I’m now camping in the bedroom, so I know it’s possible to make do if you have to. I’ve created a workspace in one corner, with my desk, chair, most used files, and a printer on a wheeled trolley. And because it’s in the bedroom, I’m scupulously tidy. It’s important to have a chair that gives good support but apart from that you can utilise pieces you already have in the house without rushing out and buying office furniture. What is more important is a good lamp, and to surround yourself with things that make you happy. I nice plant or flowers, a scented candle, and pretty stationery should not be underestimated.
Get Dressed and Make Your Bed
It can be very tempting to start work before getting dressed but believe me you’ll soon feel dreadful. Especially if like me, you’re working from a corner of the bedroom. It makes a difference to my mood if I’ve made the effort to shower, dress, do my hair and makeup and start the day as if I was going out to work. The nice thing is you can dress down everyday. But when I say ‘down’ I mean comfortably – I don’t mean in a clean pair of pj’s. I always try to dress as if I’m anticipating an imaginary phone. Would I be able to leave the house immediately without changing clothes and still feel ‘put together’?
Keep to a Routine
Image: The Find Store
Routine is so important. Without it your day is unstructured and either it’s unproductive, or you spend too much time on one task to the detriment of everything else. Try to keep office hours if at all possible and plan your day ahead of time. A planner or diary is helpful. Do the tasks you have been putting off first thing in the morning, and don’t spend too much time checking emails. Turn off notifications so that you stick to this. I usually use the last working hour, preparing for the next day. There’s nothing worse than knowing you have to write a blog post first thing in the morning without the foggiest idea what you are going to write about. I like to use late afternoon as my ‘looking for inspiration’ time.
Make Time for Exercise
Image: Furniture Choice
Up until this week, I’ve exercised in the gym. Now like a lot of other people I’m having to find a way to do this at home. And it’s hard! Hard to find the motivation when all you want to do is flop on the sofa. I do walk the dog every morning which gets me fresh air, but I know that’s not enough. Luckily there are so many trainers out there who are putting classes online. For free. Take advantage of this, move the furniture out of the way and just get on with it. We all know that exercise endorphins have a positive effect on our mood after all.
Take Frequent Breaks
Build breaks into your day. Stop for a proper lunch for at least half an hour, and get up from you desk once an hour. Make coffee, hang up the washing, or make a phone call. Anything to take your eyes off the screen for a few minutes and get you moving.
Join a Social Network
Image: Cult Furniture
Facebook groups and Twitter have been lifesavers for me since I started working from home. You can have proper private conversations in a Facebook group with like-minded people who can offer advice, practical information or sometimes just listen to your latest rant. Twitter on the other hand provides some much needed light relief at times. It’s the social aspect of working in an office that we all miss the most, but these two platforms (along with WhatsApp and Messenger) can go some way to alleviating that loss.
Keep Evenings Free of Work
One last word. When you close down your PC at the end of the working day, let that be the end of it. Don’t continually check you emails on your phone. I don’t always stick to this I must admit, but we all need some downtime at the end of the day.