After years of commuting to the office and then thinking of nothing but home every minute you were there, you finally decided it was time to make home your workplace.
You applied here and there, talked to a few people and finally found a job that lets you work from the comfort of your own living room.
That annoying manager is no longer watching your every move, the morning commute with heavy eyes is over and your work schedule depends only on you.
Congratulations! You are setting yourself up for a less stressful and possibly, much happier life.
But beware, despite what many people think, economic issues aren’t the only challenges that come with working from home.
The first period will be fine, you are pumped and excited and you’re loving the freedom of your new lifestyle.
However, without structure working from home can make you lazy. Procrastination and cognitive dissonance appear, and you begin to push things back. Before you know it the productive, driven person you knew yourself to be will be replaced by a couch potato who only changes out of sweatpants for special occasions. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Sooner or later you need to understand that working from home isn’t just a different job, it’s a completely different lifestyle! If done right, the change can be the smartest and most rewarding decision you have ever made.
Let’s look at the biggest secrets that will help make working from home as productive and enjoyable as possible!
Accept & Adapt
It all starts with acceptance. Realizing that you no longer have a fixed 10 hour shift each day can be hard, especially if you have done such a job for decades.
So, the first secret is as simple as they come: Tell yourself that part of your life is over, and keep telling yourself until it sinks in. You will be working in a less stressful environment (obviously) and through a more flexible work schedule you will have more free time.
When those facts seep through, you can start to adapt.
At first it feels strange and have a lingering feeling that you aren’t doing enough; that you’re wasting your days.
It takes patience and time to adapt but eventually you’ll realize that less can be more. That’s what working from home is all about!
Create a Workspace & a Routine
If you are home on the sofa, with your laptop on your lap and your favourite sitcom on in the background you can be certain that meeting your deadlines will be difficult, to say the least!
This is still a job and as with all jobs, 100% of your attention should be on the task at hand. The best way to stay focused is to create a workspace in your house, your new version of an “office.”
Creating a daily or weekly work schedule is also key, so print it out, put it on the wall and stick to it, no matter what.
Tell your friends and family to stay away!! In your space, from a certain time to a certain time, daily, you are not to be disturbed by anyone. No calls, no texts, no complaints from your kids and no Facebook or Instagram.
Be strict with yourself. Keeping a tight and organised schedule will make the transition from office to home so much smoother.
Stay Fit & Healthy
It may not have been much but that 10 minute walk from the train station, climbing those two flights of stairs to the office or your walk to lunch was helping you both mentally and physically during your last job. Now you’re at home most of the day, sitting on a chair, raiding the cupboards and drinking one too many cups of tea with milk and sugar.
Before things go too far and you develop a sugar addiction you should set a few rules concerning your health!
You need to make sure to exercise several times a week. Go for a run or take a long walk, cycle, go to the gym, whatever you prefer. It will do wonders for your motivation, energy, and focus. Exercising can also be a type of meditation and help take your mind away from the four walls that are constantly surrounding you. A healthy body equals a healthy mind.
Your diet is also extremely important so during work hours you should make a rule to stay out of the kitchen! Being home can create bad habits and have you reaching for a cookie every few minutes because, well, they’re right there.
Once again be strict and set some restrictions. Work is work, not lunch or dinner. Have a coffee and focus on your daily tasks.
There will be hard days, as with all jobs.
Your company may cut your hours or, as a freelancer, you may be having a hard time landing a job. Sometimes that “drought” can last for days, even weeks, and it’s easy to fall into a slump and start sleeping a little longer every morning or spending a half-hour more on social networks instead of hunting for jobs.
To battle this slump of motivation I find that resetting every single day does wonders for your mind.
After a day full of rejection and disappointment there’s nothing like switching off for the evening and thinking of anything but work.
But, the next day, fresh and focused, you need to muster all your motivation and restart from zero. Hit the job sites or take in your boss’s notes and give it everything you have. Forget about yesterday and start again today.
Remember: it only takes one job and one successful assignment to get things rolling again.
Schedule Breaks & Holidays
As the money starts to roll in and you find yourself with more free time than you expected you may start asking for more hours and searching for extra jobs. Freelance work can pay pretty well.
There is nothing wrong with a little extra work however, working too much may start to affect your work and even your health. So when you feel the urge to spend all your waking hours in front of a screen, remind yourself to take a break!
Finish your hours for the day, step away from your created workspace and forget about work. Let go of deadlines and projects and give your full attention to the people you care about and to the things you love to do. Work will be there waiting tomorrow.
Socialize & Stimulate Your Mind
When working from home, it’s so easy to close yourself off from the world.
You learn to be by yourself most of the time; working, eating, relaxing. Suddenly, you wake up and realize you haven’t seen your friends in months, you haven’t been around town in just as long, and your inbox is full of unanswered messages. There’s only one thing to do:
Meet your friends, spend time with your loved ones and even make new friends. If meeting new people seems hard, now that you don’t have co-workers, think again! There are countless groups full of people like you, who work from home. Join up and go to a meeting or two. There will be many experienced people with valuable tips on your new career path.
Read books, try new foods, drive around, or try new hobbies. It doesn’t matter how; what’s important is that you stimulate your mind with thoughts and activities outside of work, and stay around people. Working from home can be a rather anti-social lifestyle if you let it.
Make it Work!
What’s left now is for you to take the points presented above and adjust them to your new career from home.
Before you know it you will have created a relaxed yet productive routine, with a bunch of spare time on the side to do the things you love. Working from home can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling career paths to pursue.
It’s up to you to make it work!