Three Big Tips for Working From Home

I have to say, working from home is a pretty sweet gig. You have the freedom to work on your own terms. Pants are optional, you set your own hours, and no one is concerned if you talk to yourself a lot. The downside of all this glorious freedom, it that nobody is going to stop you from spending your time poorly. It’s easy to get distracted by family, housework, or funny pictures of cats. I love my job, but it took me a long time to figure out how be productive when no one was telling me what to do. I can’t tell you how to be your own boss, but these are a few simple things that have helped my productivity.

Set up a dedicated and comfortable workspace. This may seem like a no brainer, but when I first started out I often plopped down on my coffee table. It was in the way, I tended to lose things, and ergonomically speaking it was atrocious. You can get to work a lot faster if you don’t have to set up from scratch every day and if you are in a comfortable and pleasant workspace you are less easily distracted. If you are working from your laptop or computer, find a nice chair, good lighting, and maybe a view out the window. If you have children or pets, try somewhere out of the way, or that you can cover up so it won’t get easily disturbed. If you are short on space even just a small table or corner helps. I have a rather small apartment, so I started off with a corner of my desk, then later rearranged my bedroom to fit in a small table as well. If you have a study or spare bedroom that you can shut off from distractions, I’m terribly jealous!

Develop a routine. One of the advantages of working from home is that you get to make your own schedule. At first I thought that meant I could just work whenever I wanted. It turns out that was a mistake. It was too easy to tell myself I could fritter away my morning and I would work “later.” I ended up feeling guilty all the time when I wasn’t working or stressed out because I had to work long days to catch up. Finally I admitted I needed a routine. Having a routine doesn’t mean you have to be in the 9-5 grind, nor does it have to be set in stone. sat down and decided how many hours I wanted to work in a day, what days I wanted to work, and what my other time obligations were and used this to build a rough routine for myself. It’s a lot easier to stay focused if you know when you’re supposed to be working. Now I don’t have to feel guilty anymore when I’m enjoying a beer and cartoons in the evening.

Get out of the house! One of the major disadvantages of working from home is the lack of social interaction. The time comes when talking to your cat just doesn’t cut it anymore. If I don’t get out enough I get irritable and frustrated and my productivity goes way down. Remember to work breaks into your work. I walk to the post office instead of having my packages picked up. I have a weekly breakfast with one of my cohorts. These little activities to get me out of the house and break up the monotony. When you get cooped up, take a break, go for a walk, have lunch with a friend. Take your kids out to the park or have a play-date. If your work is portable, try out a co-working space or another public environment once every week or two.

Now that you have my sage advice, may you go forth and be productive!

Amy Monteith, often known as Jefita, is a Maker of Things varied and wonderful. She spends her time being an artist/illustrator person and sewing tons of tiny creatures. You can find out more about her and her work at jefita.com


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