Working from home can be brilliant, you can set your own hours, work wherever you like, eat whenever you want, avoid long commutes, go to the gym at 11am when its empty and don’t run the risk of being interrupted by co-workers! That is all true but with that comes a lot of distractions, procrastination and the biggest thing for me, isolation. So I’m not going to sugar coat this one for you and I’m going to be honest not only to you but to myself, about what I love and hate about working from home. It takes discipline, flexibility and organization to make it happen, though the benefits can make it worth your while.
For my entire professional career I had always worked for brands and within great teams. I’m quite a social person and thrive off of other peoples energies and I find my creativity grows in that environment. So, then comes 2018, that was the year I moved across the globe from sunny Perth, Western Australia to dynamic Berlin, Germany. That in itself brought a lot of new challenges let alone working from home, so I’ll skip over the language barrier, the visa issues and finding a new network etc, for another blog post and focus on once I had myself set up, ready to go freelancing and running my own fashion brand, HC&S.
Over this time as I tried to find my feet, I began to realize that I needed to implement some new practices to ensure I could make this work. Having taken the plunge into a freelancer lifestyle I found it suited me. I love the freedom, the flexibility and the fact I was doing it for myself, I had created my own business! At times I felt like a deer in headlights, feeling overwhelmed with the amount of to-dos and the lack of direction, not to mention doing it on your own was and still is daunting at times for me. I’m not going to tell you how to do it per say because we’re all different, I can only share my realities of doing so. Now, let’s begin…
Structure and discipline are key when it comes to working from home. I found working out my goals and setting deadlines put me on the path for success and of course making sure I stuck to them was the real challenge. This is however also applicable to HC&S and treating what I was doing as a serious business no matter what stage I was at. I definitely faulted along with way with time spent procrastinating on social media, eating, calling family & friends back home, with bouts of self doubt and my dear friend, Laziness. It can creep in often when it’s only yourself to hold you accountable.
The other important thing I realized is not feeling guilty if I don’t stick to these routines on a daily basis. Make the most of your flexible hour as its one of the main perks of working from home. Especially for me as a creative you can’t always be 100% on, some days I just want to drink copious amounts of tea, watch a series and do the bare minimum. Other days, I’d be on fire and could work a +10hr day. Being kind to yourself and not beating yourself up if you’re not working 5 to 6 consecutive days helps with managing stress levels and keeping things in perspective. Flexibility really is key to sustaining such a life style as we cant always control what’s to come.
I live in a cute but tiny apartment, defining my work area I guess wasn’t hard as my options were limited but I don’t blur the lines between where I sleep, eat and work. I mean every now and then I would go sit/lay on my bed and do some work but for the most part I’m using my desk which also works as our dinner table by night. This I found helps set the tone for your co-living/co-working existences. You definitely run the risk of your home-life and work-life bleeding into one.
Setting a time for when my working day starts and ends is crucial for me. I had times when I’d get up out of bed, make a tea, start working and next minute its 11:30pm and I’m still glued to my computer working, don’t worry I definitely made time to eat, priorities, right?! That is not a healthy habit to get into, I had to remember I’m not a slave to my job. Though that is easy to say for my paid freelance projects but that gets a little harder when its in terms of my own business, HC&S. It feels like its never ending and always on my mind but I definitely have gotten better and I’m always working to improve my productivity. I’m a firm believe that if you are productive and get your shit done then you don’t have to pull these crazy 80hr weeks. WORK SMARTER, I say.
I make sure I get up and move around throughout the day. I like to break up my day with tea breaks, I love a cup of tea. Typically I’d work for a couple of hours and then refill my water. Also another thing I had to stop myself doing was eating my lunch in front of my laptop and continue to work. I really found my productivity would be better throughout the afternoon if I actually had a lunch break! That’s applicable to working anywhere for that matter. Yay, lunch time!
Being well organized and structured, ready for success, doesn’t necessarily stop you from feeling disconnected to the outside world. Being a freelancer/solopreneur can be a lonely way of doing things, its the hardest part for me because I’m so social. What I found helped me a lot was going to meet-ups, finding your community of likeminded people to bounce your ideas off and to schedule meetings outside of your home to get you out and about. But considering the current situation we find ourselves in with Covid-19, staying home has never been so important. So, what I’m currently doing is connecting on social media (but limiting my time on there), having virtual meetings/check-ins and of course “Houseparty” cocktail parties with friends to take my minds of this craziness. In all seriousness though, a big factor for freelancers is always being alone, I think that in it’s self would be another blog post I’d love to share my hustle in how I curbed the loneliness.
Last but certainly not the least, actually it may be the most important for my overall well being, is to start my day right by hydrating and to get moving. I no longer go straight from my bed to my desk. I typically drink a couple of large glasses of water and get going for a long brisk walk. Now, hydration is not my strong point, I really don’t drink water enough. Crazy, I know but its a daily struggle for me. Maybe I need to drink more in a way that’s fun or easy, what tricks have you inventend? I’m curious. The other thing is movement! I love physical activity and its so very important for me to keep my mind and body in check. I can’t stress enough the importance of moving and keeping fit. Blocking out my calendar and having a support/accountability group with friends are two great ways I keep myself toeing the line and not falling into unhealthy habits. Basically, just do something, I’m thinking yoga is next for me.
So to wrap this up, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not the most structured, organized or analytical person in the world. I’m more the dreamer artsy type that can get lost in my own world of creativity but I too have found my own grove to make it work. By setting a routine, creating my own work space, schedule time for myself, I’ve come to reap the rewards of working from home without it taking over my life. These are just ways in which you can get a little structure in your life, it’s not the be all and end all. Basically, what I’m trying to say, is that if I can do it, so can you!