Like many other creative entrepreneurs, I work from home. Some people assume I must stay in my PJs and work from my couch all day. But working a few steps from where I do dishes and laundry can sometimes be a challenge. I am my office coordinator, janitorial staff, accountant, cook, and receptionist. I can sit down at my desk and get lost in emails any time of day or night or weekend or holiday. But while it working from home may not the PJ-wearing, movie-watching life that people sometimes to imagine, I really love it. I’ve found that a few simple habits help me maintain a healthy work-life and get my work done, all from the comfort of my own home. –Kim from Bright Room Studio
1. Keep a schedule. I used to work in my PJs for a few hours in the morning and then shower mid-day, but you know how that goes. Sometimes the shower gets pushed later and later, sometimes my mid-day shower break took way too long, and sometimes taking a break to shower breaks my creative momentum. Now I get up in the morning, shower and get dressed (in real clothes!), get a cup of coffee and get to my desk at 9am. I’ve found my mornings to be WAY more productive when I started my day “properly” – I can jump in to big projects more freely and I don’t feel embarrassed to open the door at 11am in my sweats. That doesn’t mean there aren’t yoga pants days, but I try to keep that as a little treat on rainy or cold days or when I have a lot of production projects to do.
2. Keep a dedicated space (if you can). I’m lucky enough to have my own office space and I try to do my work in there (my hubby has a corner of the office but I take over more and more all the time). I have a large monitor that connects to my laptop and a nice comfortable chair that helps keep me at my desk (working on my laptop on the couch isn’t as efficient). This keeps me from answering just one more email late in the evening. My office is decorated with inspiring things to make sure it is a place where I can happily work day in and day out.
3. Set some boundaries. This means for you – and for your friends and family. For me, I try not to answer emails in the evening or weekends if I don’t need to. I might pop in the office to quickly respond to someone but, in general, I save communication to business hours as best as I can. I do my best to treat my work-from-home job the same as any other job, so we have a dog walker just like we would if I worked in an office. For friends and family, its a little harder, because you always seem so available. When someone asks if you can go shopping with them on a Tuesday, just let them know that you have to work (you’d be surprised how quickly using the word “work” changes people’s perspective on your time!). It will take some reminding but they’ll start to realize that your flexible schedule isn’t just open and free all the time.
4. Podcasts! People always ask if I get lonely working alone. I don’t, but I do sometimes miss the energy of having other people around. Podcasts are a great way to mix things up. They are perfect when you are doing work that doesn’t require too much focus. My current go-to favorites? This American Life, The Mystery Show, Start-Up, Reply All (and anything else that Gimlet will release next), Invisibilia, The Lively Show, and After the Jump.
5. Enjoy the good parts of working from home! Don’t be so strict about keeping your schedule that you don’t get to reap the benefits of working from home. Whenever I can, I do my shopping on weekdays and I meet my mom for lunch at least once a month. I get to make dinners that require more cooking time because I can get them in the oven mid-afternoon. And since I don’t have office lunches or coffee breaks, I sometimes make up for it by treating myself to a nice lunch or latte break at my desk.
What are you tricks for staying happy and healthy while working at home?