My Golden Rules For Working From Home
Despite working from home for almost 6 years I often still feel like I’m finding my feet with it all from scratch. My life has changed so much over the years and naturally, it’s affected my workdays but there are some golden rules that I now try and stick to and if I go off track I notice a big difference in my productivity levels and also how I feel about work in general. When you’re your own boss you have to have to be strict with yourself there is no denying that and learning that kind of self discipline by itself can be so difficult but these are the things that help me stay on track.
DON’T WORK FROM YOUR BED
This is the biggest rule that I have in place for myself. When I first started running my business it was from my bedroom at my family home and often I would find myself working from my bed and granted I still got a lot done but it made the lines of work and home life too blurry for my liking. Once I moved out I made a big point of not working from our bed as I didn’t want to blur the lines of work life and home life in my new home as they can already get so hazy and this has helped a lot. This somewhat simple rule has probably made the biggest difference in my life. Now our bedroom is strictly somewhere to relax in rather than somewhere I sit with my laptop and notepads scattered around me all day. I used to struggle quite a lot with going to sleep and would frequently work until the early hours of the morning but now when I do have a deadline or need to work late then I make sure I work downstairs where its still comfortable but it’s not the environment where I sleep which I’ve found is so important for me and my work boundaries.
HAVE YOUR SPACE WHERE YOU WORK the best
Apart from not working from my bed, I’m pretty relaxed about where else I work from. I’m incredibly fortunate to have an office which I love but I’d be lying if I said I did 100% of my work in there. It’s the spot where I do all my photo editing, e-mails, and all admin work as it’s where all my important documents live so it's easier to do it all from that room but I certainly don't do all my work in my office. I write probably 2/5 blog posts a week from my office but the rest is done from my laptop and typically downstairs and I think that’s ok. There isn’t a single person who I know who from home who doesn’t have their preferred spot to work from, for some it’s the sofa and for some, it’s the kitchen table. I don’t believe that you need to have an office at all to run an awesome business but having somewhere that is just designated for work in the house has helped me a lot and it takes time to find your groove and it’s all about trial and error.
find a routine that actually works for you
Something that I rely on quite a lot is my routine, and it’s nowhere near as structured and strict as it once was as I allow for wiggle room as you can never perfectly plan out a routine but I do still like to have the bare bones of one as that’s how I thrive in my work. I’m not someone who can just see how the day pans out, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who can work from home and do that but I’m not one of them. It’s the small things in my routine that make all the difference to how my workday goes like making sure I walk the dogs in the morning, having a coffee at lunchtime and then logging out of my e-mails at 6 pm. The best thing about being your own boss is the fact that you don’t need to work 9-5 if you don’t want to, you get to pick your own hours that you know that you work best in.
TAKE PROPER BREAKS
I wish I could go back in time and tell myself the importance of taking regular breaks throughout the day. In traditional work environments, you’re made to take breaks but once you’re your own boss it’s so easy to just work through them, eating your lunch whilst you work or not bother taking them at all. For so long I was guilty of sitting and eating whilst still ticking off my to-do list but now I take a good half an hour break when I eat so I can not only concentrate on what I’m eating but let my brain have a rest from staring at a screen. I always thought I was being more productive just working through my breaks but I wasn’t at all as I was constantly on the edge of burn out and that’s not a fun place to be. I’ve also made sure to take regular breaks because I’ve got pretty severe RSI in my left wrist and it’s not something that I want to make any worse as if and when that flares up it means nothing gets done.
A FUNCTIONAL AND WELL CONSIDERED TO DO LIST
Just like I love my routine I love my to-do lists. I went through a stage of trying to go without them to try and see if I could still be productive without them but I couldn’t. My days were so scattered and I would always end up forgetting something which doesn't bode for a good flow. I’m very much a fan of a physical to-do list as I find by writing stuff down not only do I get the satisfaction of ticking it off but it helps me to remember things to so I don’t have to constantly come back to my list if I've left my diary in another room. When it comes to writing a good to-do list I have a few rules, I like to have a separate list for life and work and I never make the list longer than half a page either. Writing ginormous to-do lists might be tempting but for me, they never make me any more productive and are typically pretty overwhelming which is the exact opposite of what you want to feel. I know lots of people to use digital apps to organise their workday and I’m a big fan of iCal but I think I’ll always be a pen and paper type of girl.
FIND WHAT YOU WORK BEST TO
Despite having my little sighthound companions to keep me company throughout the day I still find myself feeling pretty lonely from time to time which I think is normal and something everyone who works from home can relate to. Having Josie and Edie helps me a lot and I talk to them throughout the day but I still find I need something on in the background too. I find the combination of music and podcasts is what works best for me for when I’m writing and taking pictures but when I’m doing anything like admin or e-mails then I might put an episode of whatever show I’m watching at the time on. Everyone has their thing that they like to have on in the background as they work, I know my boyfriend loves listening to the radio but that isn’t for me and I prefer something a little more upbeat to keep me motivated.
LEAVE THE HOUSE
During the colder months especially it’s all too tempting to hole yourself up at home and not leave the house but it’s so, so important to make sure you are getting outside. The dogs make sure I get out of the house at least once a day and then I go to the gym frequently to so I’m around other human beings every day at some point and that makes a huge difference to how I feel mentally. Like I said, working from home can get seriously lonely and even if you’re not directly talking to people I do like to at least see other human beings. Getting outside also helps give me a lot of mental clarity too which is something that I can struggle with if I'm just sat at my desk or staring at my laptop.