I have fielded so many questions about working from home since I left my nursing job last year. Most of the time, I get the sense that people think it is extremely glamorous, so before I dive into my list, let me tell you what it is really like..
Living without a boss sounds dreamy and all but we (I mean all of us) are trained to be employees. “Go to school and get a good job” is spoken over us our entire lives, so of course, we go to school, get a job, work for someone, and are told what to do. We can then clock out, mentally check out, and finally netflix and chill all night. So what happens when you take that away? That boss, and those “normal” work hours, the task list that is expected of you... I’ll just say it in one word: confusion.
For me, it took time to figure things out. With my online business building, technically I could work around the clock.. no one is here telling me to start and stop and by utilizing social media I could truly just work forever. Now doesn’t that sound glamorous? I had a really hard time in the beginning with the simple things: I have to connect with my team but that laundry needs to be done.. ok I better leave so these things don’t distract me.. I’ll just do a quick load of laundry before I do leave, of course! I would end up running in circles with any and all work that needed to be done at home or online. The same work that I just left behind and did later as a nurse, was slowing me down. Kind of like that junk drawer that you always have to organize before getting started on your school project that your life depends on.
I also felt some guilt. This one shocked me but I would feel badly if all things weren’t completed since I was home all day: A perfectly clean apartment, groceries bought, dinner on the table, me looking like I wasn’t in my robe all day with a pen sticking out of my messy bun. And all of my work goals for the day reached. That includes photography, editing, networking, answering emails and messages, running a blog & instagram, working part time as a photographer, and planning our next moves on our personal projects. My husband has never put those expectations on me, those came from my lovely overdrive achievement mentality (enneagram number 3 anyone??).
With time, and a lot of adjustments, I am beginning to feel balance. I am also able to stop the work (another thing I used to feel guilty about) and live in the moment. This makes my life a whole lot easier and better, I hope it is helpful for you as well.
1) Set work hours. This is a must and took me almost a year to give in in to. Of course when you work online you are going to be using your phone/computer to answer messages and helping your customers, but you must be able to shut that down for family time and intentional living. Even if your hours are in different blocks from what is “normal” or you change them seasonally, this will help you to mentally shift in and out of work mode. I have a point in the evening where I just toss my phone in another room and hang out with my husband. It always makes me happy, even though I love what I do.
2) Go out to lunch. Really! Just like you would have that lunch break at another job (not that I knew that very well as a nurse ha), give that to yourself mid day. Take a ten minute walk, leave your phone and laptop behind and enjoy your meal. This always allows me to come back feeling recharged and ready to get more work done! Being “offline” also allows for more creativity and innovative thoughts.
3) Stay off of the couch. This one is really helpful for me. Again, I think it is a mental thing. Even though I don’t watch tv, there is something about the couch that puts you in a “chill” mindset rather than work. I use my desk or the table to set up my laptop, notes, and task list. Or I head to one of my favorite coffee shops.
4) Put your phone away. This one may seem confusing if you use your phone for business like I do. I try to switch and do a lot of work on my laptop, that phone with all of it’s notifications can be so distracting. I either put it in the other room, or use it to play music, set the notifications on silent, and flip it over so I am not seeing messages come in.
5) Add inspiration. Your “why” for what you are doing should be near. Can I assume you are working from home to build something better? Please don’t tell me you are just working to pay the bills. There has to be a dream. Place your vision board or anything that inspires you near. Use it to fuel you in your work. One of my “whys” is to be able to spend more time traveling. While I work, I surround myself with my house plants (which also has some health benefits) to remind me of the outdoors. I open the windows and face the trees right outside of our apartment. Because I am working now to have the freedom to be out there more.
Mug pictured from Awk Clayworks.