Whether you are a freelancer or in a "compulsory" home office there are many tools you can use to be/remain productive and mentally healthy while working from home. The tips I'm sharing below are helpful for both fresh girl bosses and those affected by the big C19 (which by now is pretty much everyone, and hopefully things will get shiny again soon).
So, whether you've just set up your business after leaving uni or a full time job, or are now in isolation (which being a freelancer kind of is anyway) chances are you are facing a whole new way of everyday life. Here are the (not so) magic tricks that've kept me going the past nine years as a home officer (is that a word?).
1. ROUTINE / PATTERN
Switching to home office means loosing some of the previous habits and patterns you had, which can easily make you feel all over the place. Having a routine gives you that balance back and provides a sense of safety.
Try to stick to your previous one as much as possible or establish one that reflects your new situation.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN A ROUTINE?
- get up at the same time every day
- stretch / work out
- meditate /journal
- go for a walk (treat this as "commute" to work)
- have breakfast / coffee / tea
2. DRESS UP
Nothing really fancy unless that's what you're into. Just make sure you change from your PJ's into something else. PJ's are for bedtime and even though they are comfy, if you keep wearing them for work you'll confuse your brain and will not wind down once you are done working because it will not recognise the difference.
I like to wear a pair of jeans when working from home, sometimes I even put a nice shirt on, but that's just my preference. I also put on some lipstick to feel more fabulous (at least that's what I'm telling myself).
It's self explanatory not just for obvious reasons but also it gives you a sense of self-care, a sense of accomplishment and contributes to a better mental health (believe it or not).
4. SET BOUNDARIES
Not just with others but with yourself, too.
Allocate a space for your home office. This can be a quiet corner of the house, the dining table or the sofa. Anywhere where you won't be disturbed (or relatively isolated).
Once you have your nook ready, ask family, flatmates to kindly leave you alone so you can run the world from your laptop and phone.
But we're not done setting boundaries just yet. You will have to be very clear (for your own precious sanity) about how much you will be working and how you will separate work life from private life now that you are spending most days in the same environment.
Do you remember my PJ's analogue? The same rules apply here, too give your brain the chance and clear guidelines for recognising the difference between work mode and relaxing mode.
It's also essential because when working for home in many cases your laptop and your phone are used for both personal and business purposes. So unless you make some decisions (and you stick to them) you will easily find yourself working 24/7.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN THESE BOUNDARIES?
- the timeframe for office hours
- your availability for business phone calls and emails
- area(s) of your home you will NOT bring any work related stuff into
5. HAVE A BREAK
Just as in an office, include some break into your daily home office schedule. I like to set 90min time slots for continuous work and then have a break. I would break off for 5-10 minutes when I either put in some washing, have a snack or wash a bit of the dishes - whatever makes your mind unwind a bit. Then back to another 90min chunk. For lunch I usually take a whole hour and go for a walk.
It is absolutely crucial for your mental health AND productivity to have some time off, especially when working from home. So, if you've considered it a waste of time think again, because in the long run it can make or break you and your business.
Working from home can be lonely and even introverts need some form of human connection. Call your friends, family, sign up for some online groups to connect with likeminded people or do online workshops every once in a while. I am a member of the Coven and The Work Club, both are online female freelancer communities where I get lot of support from and business related resources.
Shake it, twist it, bounce it or just walk it off. Everything goes. Make sure you go too (unless you're in quarantine/C19 isolation) - for a walk, to the gym, to a class or just hit up good old YouTube for a video on living room bikini body making (FYI, every body is a bikini body).
Your body (and mind) needs the exercise not just to keep you juicy but for processing stress hormones.
That's all folks, hope you've found these helpful and if you have any other tips, please do share, I'd love to hear from you.