When I left the corporate world, one of my motivations was the possibility of working from home. I knew it would be an adjustment, but the experience of working from your own home far exceeds the experience of a cubicle or sterile office. If you’ve ever thought of working from home (either as a freelancer or full-time employee), here’s some lessons I’ve learned. Hopefully these will make your transition as smooth as possible.
Set an alarm
On your work days, you need to set an alarm, and find a way to make sure you get up when it goes off. Not everyone is a morning person, so you’re alarm doesn’t have to be set for 5:00am. However, your wakeup time needs to be consistent.
Take advantage of extra time
Getting rid of the commute is a huge relief (especially if you were on the road for over 2+ hours every day like I was), but you need to make sure you don’t waste the precious time you’re getting back. Put together a list of tasks (they don’t even have to be work related) you can accomplish in the time you’ll save from not having a commute. We’re all given 24 hours each day so make the most of them.
Create a schedule
Regardless of how structured you are, you need to have a calendar you can update with your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. It’s important to know when certain deadlines (like quarterly and state sales taxes are due) so you can account for the time you’ll have to sink into those tasks. Also, if you share your home with a significant other, spouse, kids, and/or family it’s important for everyone to know each other’s schedules.
Change out of pajamas
I’ve read this in multiple articles before, but it’s worth repeating. Your clothing has a impact on the way you feel and carry yourself. So, make sure to change out of the pajamas in the morning to get yourself in the right mindset, and save those comfy pajamas for a rainy day.
Separate work from play
This can be applied both physically and mentally. Physically, you want to have a private space where only work is performed. This way when you’re in that space you’re subconsciously telling yourself that it’s time to focus and get shit done. Mentally, you’ll need to remind yourself that you as a person is not defined by the work you do. So, make sure to take time to relax and decompress (especially after a long day).
Get out of the house
This is one of the things I still struggle with (mostly because the summer heat makes it unbearable outside), but it’s easy to find ways to get outside. Doing simple things like checking the mail, going for a short walk, or driving to the store can help you escape the feeling that you’re trapped inside your own home. If I haven’t felt the wind or the warmth of the sun within 3 days I make sure to take an extended trip outside.
Take time to clean
A clean home = clear mind (or at least for me anyway). The most important thing is to make sure your home and work area are clear of any distractions. If you’re not a natural neat freak, it may be worth paying someone to clean your home.
I don’t need to reiterate all the health benefits of exercising (there’s enough of those articles already floating around), so I’ll just say “find a way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine”. I’m not a workout warrior, so my wife and I developed a simple 20 minute workout routine we do every day. It’s not going to make us fitness models, but it keeps us toned and in shape. If you enjoying going to the gym, you’re even better off because you are getting out of the house on a consistent basis.
Make sure you have a comfortable desk and chair. I’ve found that I sit at my desk more now than when I worked a corporate job. If I hadn’t spent money on a decent chair I’m confident I’d be having back pain every day. Also, buying the right equipment is an investment in yourself (so treat yourself nicely).