Without a clear structure, which disappeared after we closed our downtown storefront office, I had no idea what each day was. I had been so used to a six day work week built around a weekly deadline that I knew daily what tasks had to be done in order to stay on track. Now working as a freelance writer I have several deadlines and timelines but not a weekly one.
I made a conscious choice two weeks ago to make a mental note each morning as to what day it was. That gave me a good starting point as there are still things that need to be done on a regular basis – pay the mortgage or take out the garbage – and I needed to be tuned into them. Once I started paying attention to that the week started to make a lot more sense.
So here are a few tips to help you with the transition to working from home:
Don’t Toss The Alarm Clock
As tempting as it may be to sleep in every day now, I still need to get a lot of writing done on most days. I used to get up daily at 6:45 PM and go to bed nightly between 10:30 and 11:00 PM. Now I get up at 8:00 AM each morning and go to bed around 11:30 PM. There is not much of a difference in the change but I knew early on that I needed to keep a regular sleep schedule.
I also find that once I get up, have breakfast and hit the shower, I am raring to get at whatever the daily writing task is. With a good night’s sleep I can also accomplish a lot in the morning and early afternoon. When I do this I have time each evening to relax with Brenda before heading back to the home office for a bit in the evening.
Don’t Toss The House Keys
As soon as I started working from home as a steady ‘job’ I quickly realized I was not leaving home often. After having a business routine that took me downtown daily, shifting my workplace to the upstairs home office changed that drastically. If I don’t find myself downtown once every few days, I will find a reason to get out of the house.
Trust me, I could easily not leave the yard ever again but we still need interaction with other humans so I’ll run down to the grocery store or to check the mail. Sometimes both Brenda and I will just go to the coffee shop – for coffee. It gets us away from the home environment and surrounds us with other people. This is a good thing to do.
Don’t Toss The Office Clothes
I started working upstairs in my pajamas almost as soon as I started working from home. While it makes everyday feel like ‘Casual Friday’ there are days where it just isn’t comfortable anymore. I am trying harder and harder to at least wear jeans and a shirt to the upstairs office and leaving the all-day jammy days for those when the weather sucks outside.
Do Take A Number Of Breaks
You know, I have always been a fan of pacing myself. Now that I work at home with my wife doing her thing downstairs in the kitchen, I have added a new feature to our new routine. Almost every afternoon we will have what we have started to call our ‘tea break’ and stop what we are doing for a single cup of tea. I am a fan of tea and have many so this became a natural choice.
The regular break during our day is nothing more than the standard mid-afternoon coffee break that many offices already follow. In our house it is becoming a moment where we can catch up on what each of us has done so far during that day, plan upcoming activities or just chat about whatever comes to mind. Tea break is a daily activity we both look forward to.
Do Take Time Off Whenever
One of the most unusual things for us to get used to since our work weeks changed so much is the freedom we have. Instead of trying to jam a lot of activity into a single day off on a Sunday, we can take any day off we want during the week and just do nothing. Typically for us a day off means spending it together on the couch with a stack of DVDs to watch.
We also have been rather good at honing our travel skills down to where a single day trip will get us recharged and excited about work. Again, when we had our downtown business our day trips were restricted to mostly Sundays. Now they aren’t. In fact, the odd day trip taken so far saw us in places where customer volume was different. That’s because we had never been to some of these places during the week.
Do Take Advantage Of Your New Time Schedule
One of the best parts about working at home with Brenda is that we get along. We worked together virtually side-by-side for over twelve years in our downtown business. Working together at home is almost easier. Granted, we are on different floors doing very different jobs, but we can still feel part of each other’s work successes.
Basically each morning we will outline roughly what each of us plan to do for the day. By the time we reach the afternoon ‘tea break’ we will share our progress with each other. Sometimes I will just work a half day or Brenda will. As long as we stay on track for the clients we are serving individually, we can use that flexibility to our advantage.
Would I Recommend Working From Home?
Well, let’s face it, the current economy is pushing a lot of us to work from home as tasks get outsourced. In my case, becoming a freelance writer opened doors to those looking to outsource writing jobs. In Brenda’s case, regular vending events keep putting a demand on her products so we both are kept relatively busy at the moment.
If your career can be an easy shift to the home environment, I strongly suggest you take a look at what it can bring you in the way of life/work balance. I know both of us are enjoying the freedom and flexibility. We may see it differently in six months but for now, it’s working out just fine and really, that’s all that matters at the moment.