What I've Learned from a Year of Working from Home
It's been just a little over a year since I went full time to working for myself, and more importantly- working from home. When I worked for others, I would dream about spending my days at home, working on my own schedule, when I wanted and how I wanted. I don't care much for being told what to do, and find that I'm such a driven person without others rules and always hated that I "had" to be at a job at a particular time and couldn't work how I wanted to.
Fast forward to today, where I've been self employed for almost a year and a half and y'all...its the most amazing, yet hardest thing ever. I never knew how hard it would to work from home in particular, and spent the better part of the first year of self employment struggling hard to find boundaries between my own personal life and my work life. Personally, I think it was more the working from home than the self employment that challenged me so much. After a few months, living in your pajamas and never putting on makeup gets real old...and I started to not feel like myself, was constantly working and was missing social interaction big time.
After a solid year of working from home, I'm finally starting to get the hang of it! I do truly enjoy working from home, creating on my own schedule, but I've learned some key strategies that I've learned are a must for me to maintain my sanity:
Creating boundaries or a "flexible schedule" for work helps create structure and helps me avoid the "working all the time" mentality. Working nights and weekends are a hard no for me, which took quite some time to realize. After months of scheduling clients, meetings, and other work tasks late into the evening and on weekends, its a firm boundary I now have to no longer do this. The only thing I'll do late or on weekends is photoshoots, but those are super fun and don't feel like work. What also helps, especially when I do have clients later in the day, is to estimate the amount of hours I'll be working, and start work later in the morning or take a couple hours off in the afternoon for a yoga class, long walk outside, etc. Its VERY easy to keep working non-stop when you work from home so I try to keep myself in check with the amount of hours and keep it to 8-10 hours daily. Morning and nighttime routines are also an absolute necessity and help me better separate work from home. Speaking of...
Having a space that's just for work is the BEST. I luckily had an extra bedroom I was able to convert into my office, but even a small corner works (here's a pic of Meg's set up!). Boundaries are vital when working from home and I have found having a space for my work helps me separate my personal life from my work. My office is pictured in this blog post, and its one of the first spaces Nick and I renovated! We tore out the carpet, replaced it with the matching laminate that was already in the house, painted it Ultra Pure White and added a futon so that it could become a third bedroom when needed.
Personally, having my space look visually appealing is super important to me. I don't think this is a must for most people, but if you are visual like me- its so helpful to work in a beautiful environment! I find I'm so much more creatively inspired. I kept the office very light and bright, which is quite different than the rest of the house, in order to keep it a clean and creative space.
Other important things I've realized:
I've got to get out of the house and interact with other people at least once a day.
I like to work at coffee shops 2-3 times a week to further encourage getting out of the house.
I need time outside at least twice everyday. Vitamin D, y'all.
Showering and actually getting dressed makes the biggest difference. Most of the time I just wear a tee and jeans and minimal makeup (BB cream), but a few times a week I love putting together an outfit, wearing cateyes and red lips- even if I'm still at home!
I need to MOVE my body. Y'all know I'm not much into intense exercise, but I also need some form of movement daily, especially since I'm in my house most days.
Planning skype or work calls with your friends who work in the same industry is THA BEST. I love chatting with my girls and makes me feel not so alone and helps me process and break through creative blocks too.
Find ways to not work while your eating AND CLEAN YOUR DISHES IMMEDIATELY. The struggle is real. Its not worth it. Just do it immediately. Or else it builds up and you pretend like its not but than at the end of every work day there's a pile of dishes. Not. Worth. It.
Some meal planning and food prepping helps create some routine and makes sure I eat. Otherwise its super easy to just graze all day and not sit down and eat a full meal.
Getting organized with a bullet journal is so helpful for me. I've loved planners since I was little, and I like writing things out versus doing all my planning on the computer. I still use google calendar, but prefer to do most of my planning in the bullet journal.
I underestimated proper work set up in the beginning. As a consequence, the first six months I had SO much neck and back pain and headaches. Now I've got a work stool, my laptop raised, and other tools to avoid poor posture. I also go to a massage therapist once a month and a chiropractor twice a month to reduce pain.
And that's it!
Tell me: Do you work from home? If so, do you have any other recommendations?!