So this last week has been pretty interesting on a global scale. Super markets have barren shelves to a Y2K-proportion, schools are closing for the year, the Junos were cancelled (and it was our turn to host!), and tons of people are finding themselves working from home due to self-isolation.
Now immediately I imagine that people are thinking, “Holla! I get to work in my pajamas!!” or “I can totally drink at work!” As a freelance artist who works from home, I can attest that I have definitely done both of those things. Multiple times. However, eventually the novelty of the fuzzy pink slippers will run off, and you might actually find yourself struggling to get work done. The couch is a magnet. The books are the Siren. The forgotten home projects are no longer forgotten. So as someone who works from home on a full-time basis, I thought I would offer some tips for working from home.
The biggest piece of advice that I can give is to find a way to differentiate your work space from your home. If you are fortunate enough to have a home office, that is awesome. Work there. It will help. But a lot of people likely don’t have a home office, or they have a desk that is crammed into their living room. Until recently I practically lived at my kitchen table. I ate there, worked there (yes, the piano was beside the table), and I rested there. This honestly made it very difficult to remain focused and to get anything done.
So in order to differentiate my space, I put on a pair of heels when it is time to start the day! That’s right – heels. I finish my breakfast, clear the table, and then I go switch my muppet-fur slippers for a cute pair of heeled boots. I immediately feel like I am at work. The “click click” of the heels on the floor also gives me an aural cue to my presence in my work place.
And not only do I put on the heels, I actually dress quite nicely like I’m going to the office. By feeling fabulous, I get in a really positive head space for working, which is also really important when you are self-isolated. It’s easy to start feeling glum and lethargic being away from people. So for those of you new this – please take time to make yourself feel great! You are great, and it’s important to not forget that.
Another idea for differentiating your space is to add a nice table cloth to your table while you’re in “home” time; but then when it’s work time, clear the homey décor. The main idea it to find a way to make the space feel different – even if it isn’t.
My next piece of advice is to keep to a regular work day schedule. I schedule myself a meal break at 1:00, and a 15 minute coffee break on either side of that. Nothing says “I’m at work” more than the scheduled, timed breaks. And if you can, find another place to sit for your breaks. Even if it’s in the chair beside the one you’re sitting in. That getting up and moving to another spot helps the brain feel like it’s moving to a staff room or a break space. I will actually go sit in my recliner in my living room, but I leave the heels on.
NOW THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT - - set yourself a timer. When you’re on a break, set yourself a timer. Without the pull of coworkers also needing breaks or your boss nearby, it is really easy to take longer than your 15 minutes. Setting a timer is the best way to alert yourself that it’s time to get back to work. Trust me. Even those with great discipline and super-human intentions will struggle to leave the vortex of the coffee break at home. I’m sure that there is a psychological principle at play here. The comfort of your home surroundings will subconsciously affect you and you will be sucked into relaxing and resting. Timers. Alarms. Timers.
My final tip is to track your time. Be completely honest about it too. Writing down what you’re doing and when you do it will give you a great reference for how you’re spending your time. It can alert you to the potential of taking too-long breaks, or of working too long without a break. I will write down precisely when I start my day (today I started at 9:49 a.m.), when I take my coffee and lunch, when I get back from my breaks, and when I end my day. I will also write down what I was doing. Not only does this offer you some accountability, but it also reassures you that you did get work done. At the end of the day, I often feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. But when I look back at my tracking log, I can see that, thankfully, my memory is skewed. I did in fact get lots done.
So there you have it! I hope these tips for working from home are helpful for you whether you are yourself a freelance artist or you are someone working from home as a result of self-isolation.
Do you have any working from home tips? Feel free to comment below. It’s always great to learn from one another!