Working independently or from home, sounds like a dream to some people. The freedom to be in the comfort of your own place, to make your own daily or weekly schedule, to work from anywhere you feel like going on that day or to just not wear pants… No but really, it sounds pretty darn ideal to most. But, whether you’re working for yourself or just working from home, there can be many not-so-glamourous factors involved that a lot of people just don’t see.
A little backstory on me before we go any further. I quit my cushy 9-5 job with the Canadian Government at the age of 25 to move to the UK, because I knew that if I didn’t make a big life change for myself then, that I would never do it and I’d be stuck and unhappy forever. Now, I’m not saying that working in a stable job at 25 is being stuck – but I felt that, at the time, it wasn’t right for me. I also know that not everyone has the means or opportunity to be able to just up and leave their whole lives to move to a different country and start over. But I worked really hard for a whole year, planning and saving responsibly, to get to a place where I could feasibly achieve this goal. And then, when I did it, I let myself be open to any new adventure that came my way and even ended up living in New Zealand!
What I didn’t realize, is that the choice I made to re-direct my life path, sparked something within me that would ultimately change my life forever. The independence I created along the way and the lessons I learned about my inherent resiliency, allowed me to embrace my courageous and creative nature. It allowed me to go back to school when I returned to Canada and study within a field where I felt nurtured and inspired to build something for myself and to change other people’s lives.
Fast forward to today and I am now working independently and 100% from home. Don’t get me wrong, this journey wasn’t without obstacles. But now that I’m within this space, I thought that things would be so much easier and that I could embrace all of the freedom that this new role has to offer. Well, I was right about a few things – but I didn’t realize how many more challenges this scenario would truly bring to the forefront. That’s why I want to share my experience with all of you, in hopes that it can make chasing your dreams just a little bit easier. Hey, by no means am I an expert, but I do know a thing or two about living this life. So, I’ve put together a few general tips on some healthy ways to work from home.
Treat it Like You’re Still Going Into the Office
Morning routines are so important in order to ease you into the day, and with that comes some consistency! Be sure to get up at the same time every day and get ready like you would if you were going out of the house and into the office – even if you’re only going a couple of feet away to your desk or work area. This will help to prevent you from sitting around all day with no pants on, or from sleeping in and missing out on maximizing all of the hours in the day ahead. Plus, your body will thank you over time for the small amounts of routine in a not-so-routine lifestyle!
Take Regular Breaks
No, like actual ones. Ones where you stop staring at a screen (this also means your phone) for a solid chunk of time. Get up, walk around, stretch, go outside, fit in a workout, grab a coffee, go out for lunch – there are so many different ways to break up your time in order to be more productive. But beware of how you chose to spend this time away from your work. Home has many distractions (oh Netflix, you black hole of pleasure), so be sure to set yourself boundaries and time limits in order to get back into the groove of things.
If you know what hours of the day you are at your most productive, then plan your day around them! Award Winning Canadian Blogger, Casie Stewart says, “I do my best work at my desk from 8am to noon. In the afternoon, I always take a break and do something other than work (unless I’m on a deadline). Today, I even took a 30 minute bike ride!”
Create a Zen Den
If you don’t have the right work environment for you, you won’t accomplish much. Be sure to choose the right furniture, area and objects for your space. Here’s an example – if you are sitting on a couch all day, your body may be more inclined to relax. Find ways to separate your space from the rest of your house. And this advice is coming from someone who lives in a one-room apartment, yet I still have a proper area for my desk, separated from the rest of my place with inspirational photos, a white board, plants and some of my weird hippy crystals that make me feel awesome. So, if I can do it, so can you.
Also, I recommend keeping a clutter-free environment, as this will help to de-clutter your mind and get you into the right zone to get shit done. If you don’t feel like your house is the right place for you to work, then look into other places where you can be more productive – local coffee shops, library, communal work spaces, etc.
Schedule Work Jams With Other Work-From-Homies
It’s very likely that you know a few other people who are also in the same position as yourself, so why not get together to work! Grab a few of your fellow work-from-homies and head to one of your places or to a local coffee shop, for a great inspiration session. I always find these days to be some of my most productive – from a creative standpoint. You can share and bounce ideas off of each other, you can trouble shoot and learn new things from each other, or you can just have a nice change of scenery with people who are in the same boat as you.
I don’t believe in competition within my industry. I believe in “co-opitition”, as there is space for all of us. If one of my peers succeeds, so does the industry – and in turn, more room is made for me to succeed as well. Be sure to surround yourself with people who truly support you and advocate for your happiness – this is key. Feed off of those vibes and help each other out every once in a while – it goes a long way!
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Burnout is a serious issue. It’s hard to shut off and disconnect from your work, like you might if you had a job where you could leave it all behind at the office. And if you’re a creative person like me, you’ll get these wild ideas and bursts of inspiration at the strangest times. But, boundaries are so important. If you don’t set them and exercise them, you will reduce productivity and risk damaging your personal life (yes, you should have one of those, by the way). Have non-negotiables and stick to them because you owe it to yourself. For example, Sundays are MY day. I don’t give a hoot what the heck is going on, I am not working and I will try my best to stay off of social media altogether.
Prioritize and work on the tasks at hand. You could spend your whole day putting out fires, but sometimes you need to focus on what you can control by staying as organized as possible. Use the tools that work best for you – planners, calendars, sticky notes, whatever they may be! Find a system and really stick to it. The most productive people are the ones who don’t need to spend too many hours in a day actually working. There’s a whole life out there, are you ready to be living it to the fullest?