This month will mark 4 months since I left my midtown corporate lawyer gig for self-employment out of my 1 bedroom apartment. I'm amazed to realize that it's already been 1/3 of a year because as the saying goes, the days are long, but the weeks and months are short. I could write a novel on working from home, but instead thought I'd share some of the top tips, lessons learned and rules I've made for myself so far.
* Start your day with a routine, or a meeting, or something
For me, the hardest part of working from home is getting the day started. Without an office to report to I often sleep later or sit down to my laptop in pajamas and suddenly realize it's 2pm and I haven't brushed my teeth or eaten a thing. Having to get up and go to work forces you into a routine that working from home makes easy to skip. DO NOT SKIP this routine! After 2 months of disastrous days at home (and Dr. H questioning my basic sanitation) I made a rule to always get up, clean up and get dressed, even if it's into comfy clothing. I also try to schedule breakfasts and morning meetings that get me up and out of the house.
* Be ok with having a weird schedule (and use it to your advantage)
Sometimes I'll have an entire morning without anything urgent to do or a crazy day that suddenly opens up at 3pm. And though you'd think I'd be all "awesome, free time!" more often I'm like "crap, I need to find more work to do because this is "work time"". It's ridiculous. One of the best things about working from home is how efficient you can be with your day, placing appointments, errands, meetings and breaks where you want them to be, instead of outside 9 to 5 or during lunch. Don't feel guilty about a 9:30am workout if it isn't going to impact your day's overall productivity. If you finish everything you need to do early, shut the laptop and relax... we're often our own toughest critics so you'll know deep down the difference between slacking and taking advantage of a good thing:)
* Get out of the house
As we barrel towards the cold, dark, winter months, I've found it increasingly important to leave the warm cocoon of my apartment and work elsewhere. Not only did staying home every day make me miss all my (awesome) work outfits, but it made me lonely and probably a little depressed. Now I work from coffee shops, restaurants, Dr. H's office, anywhere with other humans, at least once or twice per week. It's made a world of difference for my mood and overall enjoyment of working "from home".
* Have a physically separate work space in your home (if possible)
Earlier this fall Dr. H and I decided not to move to a larger apartment and while I don't regret that decision at all, I do see why moving next year to a place where I'll have an actual office will be a huge upgrade. Right now, my desk is in the living room and it's led to a variety of issues like difficulty disconnecting at night, lack of focus when Dr. H gets home early on nights when I need to work late and a desperation to "get out" on weekends instead of home feeling like a haven. If you can, have your office be its own space with a door you can open and close so that you can enter and leave work without entering and leaving your house!!
If you're a fellow work-from-home'er, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you handle the overlap, isolation and lack of supervision... what are your tips and tricks!?