I started working from home over five years ago when my employer was bought out. I was excited when I first began working from home. I’m home when my grumpy but obliging UPS man comes, I can make it to the bank and cleaners before they close, and dishes don’t pile up like they used to. If I had a cold, I didn’t need to leave bed and could still be productive. Heck, I didn’t need to leave bed at all, and if I did, I could keep my slippers on all winter. If I wanted to sleep in and work late, I just had to reset my alarm. The world was my oyster.
As time passed, I realized I was becoming a shut-in. I sat in one place most of the day, stairs became a challenge (sort of), and leaving the house meant bringing everything I could possibly need with me. After six months, a change was necessary.
Since then, I have carefully collected recommendations from other entrepreneurs and work-from-home folks, to great benefit. I still have all the perks of working out of a home office, and certainly still take advantage of working from bed if sick, but overall I have struck a great balance between home and work life. I am excited to share these lessons with you.
Start your day early.
My body argues whenever I wake up before 9am, but I do it anyway. My aim is between 6-7am depending on the season (raise your hand if you hate waking up without the sun around). I’m definitely not always successful, but if I sleep in I feel like I’ve wasted my day. Set a goal time and a cut off time for yourself. Snooze if you must, but do not pass the cut off time.
Your first hour should be silent.
Avoid the radio, podcasts, music (I break this one regularly), and phone calls. Give your body and mind the chance to wake up. Check out the sun rising outside your window. Stretch. Try meditating as long as it doesn’t put you back to sleep and set your intention for the day. Get yourself a cup of tea or coffee — most yogi’s recommend starting your day with warm water before eating anyway to prepare your stomach for food.
Get ready as if you were going into the office.
Shower, you dirty bum! Put on your make up (or shave yer face), do your hair, dress dapper. You’ll feel like a million bucks, ready to take on the world. If you have meetings later in the day, you’ll be ready and able to focus on preparing instead of scramble to primp at the last minute. Several studies show that being well-dressed also changes your attitude and demeanor which your clients will pick up on, even if they never see you.
Try not to eat at your desk.
It’s the same principle as not working in bed (please tell me you’ve heard of not working in bed…). You’ll confuse your mind and your work area will become a mess. Plus no one wants mouse poop on their computer.
Make sure you STOP working!
If your industry ends its business day at 5pm, then stop working at 5pm! Try really hard to schedule meetings according to this rule. Use programs like HootSuite or Buffer to manage your Social Media during off-hours. If you work into the evening, your work/life balance will become blurred and you may begin to hate your boss (that’s a self-employed joke).
Do something to signify the end of the work day.
I had a hard time getting out of work mode for the first few months. I would physically stop working, but I’d feel antsy and my clients would be on my mind. My solution is a regimen of five activities that I vary depending on my mood: yoga, meditate, go for a walk, have a dance party, sing. All of these are decidedly not work activities, and all provide peace of mind. I especially enjoy my walks as they replace a commuter’s decompression time. Once I’ve bookended my day, I’ll begin making dinner or chat up some friends to make sure I don’t get cabin fever once more.
I’m really interested in what you do to keep yourself sane. Please share so we all can continue to refine our methods!