Over the summer I shared my first post in my writing series, ‘How To Beat Writer’s Block’…something I think every writer suffers with now and then but today I wanted to share a slightly more generic post on how to make the most out of working from home.
I don’t think it would be wrong to say that there has been an increase in the number of parents who work from home; it allow flexibility with hours, school holidays and just generally being able to be there for children. Meg starting school was certainly what prompted me to start my freelance writing business and whilst it sometimes feels like I never actually get any work done because I’m just constantly ferrying children from A to B it has also been a real blessing with not having to worry that I won’t be able to be there to pick them up, or that we will need to find childcare for the six week summer holidays.
However, that does mean that the hours when I am meant to be working I need to be ON IT. Which isn’t always easy when there is a pile of washing calling my name or Season Two of Rookie Blue…
Which is what has prompted me to write this post; so whether you are designing a new logo, writing an essay or simply want to be more effective in your home, these are my tried and tested tips:-
Pretend you’re going to work in an office
Something I hear a lot when people learn I work from home is ‘oh, you must love working in your pyjamas’ … whilst I certainly don’t have to don my three piece work suit every morning, sitting around in lounge clothes doesn’t really put me in the mood for cracking on and getting work done. Having children certainly helps as I have to get up and out but when I get home it is all too tempting to put work off for just that one episode…don’t do it!
Get dressed, make yourself a drink and sit down at your working space. It’s the best way to convince your brain that now is the time to switch on and work.
Have a plan
You need to have a plan of exactly what you want to achieve that day. For me it only works if I have every detail written down; that means how many articles I want to get written, whether I want to do a load of washing, when I’m going to stop for lunch etc but you can be as detailed or as vague as you want. For me it helps me to keep on top of my work load so that if I have an unexpected interruption I know where I left off and if things need to be moved around I can do that with ease.
Have a designated working space
I mentioned this in my last post but I’m bringing it up again because I think it is so key to working productively at home. Not everyone can have a home office, I understand that, but if you are going to be working from home on a regular basis then make sure you have a designated work space. Not only will this keep you organised and you won’t lose vital bits of information but sitting down at your work space will also help you stay focussed; as opposed to working with your laptop on your knee in front of the television (I’ve done this too…)
Get out and about
The one thing you really miss when you work from home is interaction with other people; you don’t have co-workers to have a quick gab with over a tea break and it can get quite lonely. In the early days I would end up in coffee shops with my laptop which proved quite expensive so now I try and head out just once a week which is much more manageable. The great thing about it is that I feel as though I’m surrounded by co-workers and I can end up being much more productive. If your work doesn’t allow you to get out of the house or for whatever reason it just isn’t convenient then why not have the radio on instead? Believe me, there’s nothing worse than sitting and working in silence for 5 hours straight…
Social media, your mobile, that ‘must read’ article you’ve been meaning to get to, knocks on the door…these can all rapidly eat into your vital working time. Put your phone to one side, don’t open up any websites that are not related to work and resist the temptation to answer the door every time it goes (let’s face it, if you were working in an office you wouldn’t be around to answer the door in the first place…) It’s amazing how much time can be wasted just by taking a ‘few’ minutes to scroll through your Facebook timeline.
It is absolutely vital for brain function to take regular breaks. Although you may have that huge deadline looming but if you don’t set aside time for a regular break you will find that you actually become less and less productive as time goes on. Recent research has shown that the ideal break time is around 20 minutes for every hour spent working.