Next month I’m hitting my two year “working from home” anniversary and it’s taken me a while to get into a healthy productive routine. While the whole world thinks that working from home is the best – it certainly can be – it also comes with a host of challenges that you didn’t anticipate. For one, you can do whatever you want. It sounds great until you realize that means you could watch Netflix all day and get nothing done. Holding yourself accountable, setting goals and stepping away from any type of entertainment is a must.
Routines are crucial. I have written out a sample schedule that tells me what I’m supposed to do each day of the week, Monday through Friday. Any time I feel like I’m drifting or I think I have “nothing” to do, I look at the schedule to see what I may have missed or can do to work ahead. My work days are never the same but with my sample schedule I try to give myself structure and guidance. I try to hold myself to it as best as possible but also don’t beat myself up if a task runs into the next day.
No meetings on Mondays. While this isn’t a hard rule, I try not to schedule any meetings on Mondays. I use that day to catch up with existing projects I’m working on, emails that came in over the weekend, and brainstorm new ideas for future content. It gives me the chance to set my week up for success and ensures a productive first day of the week.
Learn to say no. This one took me a very long time to realize, especially when it comes to time management. One may think I have all the time in the world to attend meetings or go to fun events but in reality, that eats into my writing/filming/editing time. I’m a one woman show and since I make all the decisions around here, I have to weigh how important that opportunity is in relation to what content I want to put out that week.
Create an office space. I’m currently writing this from my desk in our bedroom and while it’s not ideal to be in the bedroom, I don’t want to be in the living room where the tv and kitchen are. I’ve arranged our bed so that I have a little office space in our bedroom where I can also film videos, take blog photos and have my equipment laying around. If you can have a separate room, like a guest room, that is the best way to go. Being able to step out of a room and closing a door is beyond important. But any area that you can call your designated work space will do.
Stop working. When you work from home there’s no official clocking out and it’s tempting to keep working until the wee hours. I’m terrible at this because I do things throughout the day to avoid the masses. Exercising and going to the grocery store, scheduling doctors appointments; all those things are great to avoid rush hour but they also cut into my daily work routine. Sometimes I also have a writers block or don’t feel inspired until later in the day and I have to force myself to get into the mood. I try to get all of my work done around when Greg gets home (between 6pm-7pm) but oftentimes I still have a few things left to do after dinner.
Find your tribe. Working from home is a lonely affair and while I have Daisy to keep me company, I can’t really bounce around ideas with her. Having a group of people that understands who you are and the industry that you work in is so important. Greg is super supportive, shares little bits of wisdom and always gives me a fresh perspective on things I’m not sure about. Washington D.C. is filled with creators of all kinds and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing people with whom I can discuss and share information with. Find your tribe and you’ll know you’re not alone.
Working from home has it’s ups and downs but with these tips I set myself up for a productive and successful week. Do you have any tips you’d like to add to the list?