The key to working from home like a pro is this: find balance. But is that even possible when your desk and your bed are under the same roof?
People who hustle from home tend to suffer from one of two afflictions. Either you’re so distracted by simply being at home that you can't get anything done, or you're so intensely focussed that you don't even realize it's 6pm and you’re still in your pjs.
Personally, I relate to the latter. I love working from home, where the wifi is reliable and the coffee is affordable (no offence to every cafe in Vancouver). Unfortunately, this means I have first-hand experience ignoring my friends and family on evenings and weekends, because it’s just so easy to get a little more work done.
Whether your work habits border on obsessive, or you just can't get comfortable working at your kitchen table, these tips can help you get a little closer to the elusive balance. Because once you get your shit together, working from home is the best.
Create a morning ritual
One of the best parts of working from home is the absence of a commute. And as tempting as it is to go straight from your sheets to your desk without even brushing your teeth—especially when you've overslept and you've got a million deadlines—skipping that sweet spot of time between waking up and starting work almost always makes you feel more stressed out.
So give yourself 30 minutes every morning to do your thing and feel human. At the very least, get dressed. This sets the energetic tone for the rest of your day and allows you to feel accomplished and focussed before you even turn on your computer. And you won't be too embarrassed to answer the door when the Amazon delivery guy knocks (yes, I’ve been there).
Buy yourself a decent chair
I spent the first few years of my freelance career working from kitchen tables, coffee shops, and couches. And it didn’t do my career—or my spine—any favours. When you’re uncomfortable, it's nearly impossible to focus on even the most mindless tasks. My productivity improved tremendously the day I invested in some lumbar support and a grownup sized desk.
Commit to 90 minutes
Studies have proven that we do our best work in cycles of 90 minutes. So if you're feeling guilty that you can't stay on task without the boss breathing down your neck, it probably has nothing to do with your lack of supervision and everything to do with the fact that you actually deserve a break. So set yourself a timer and reward yourself with regular stretches, snacks, or walks.
If you find it difficult to tear yourself away from the job, even when the alarm is going off, see below for some unconventional, but highly effective ways to sneak some downtime into your work week.
Hit up a happy hour
Seriously. I've found that a surefire way to make sure I turn off the clock is if I've got somewhere else to be. When you're used to putting in long hours (as most of us work-from-homies are), bailing for the occasional 3pm cocktail with friends is nothing to feel bad about. You rule your schedule. That’s the magic of working from home.
If drinking isn't your thing, here are a few other ways to make sure you take breaks:
Embrace your cycles
We all go through cycles of hyper-productivity and total distraction. Figure out which times tend to be the most difficult for you to focus and plan non-work things around them. For example, sometimes I like to work in the evenings but I find it really hard to get anything done when my partner gets home at 5pm. So now, instead of fighting through the distraction, I let myself take a break so he and I can catch up. This way I feel refreshed when I dive back in, and he doesn't feel ignored when he gets home. Once you start noticing the trends in your work cycle, you can start using them to your advantage.
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