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Working from home – 5 tips to stay sane

Working from home

Today it is much easier than ever before to work from home and even to start your own businesses with home as your base. Working from home has many advantages, but it also comes with challenges you have to face and solve. Many freelancers working from home deal with these obstacles on a daily basis. This is not an easy job, so don’t worry if you find yourself in struggle while working from home. Today, I want to give you a few bits of advice on how you can make working from home easier and more productive.

1. Set a schedule

Creating a daily schedule can be the most important thing you can do when working from home, but it’s not everything. When you have your schedule set, next thing is to treat it as you would if you would be working in the office. Otherwise, your schedule will be useless no matter how detailed you will make it. You will never get anything done. This means no excuses. If you should be working at certain time you will sit down and work, no matter how nice the weather is or that some new movie was just released. Sit down and do the work.

One pitfall of creating schedule while working from home is the tendency is to be too flexible with your time. You might want to take a break to get a cup of tea or coffee here and there. During the break you will decide to clean the dishes or whatever and so on. The problem is that these small interruptions will stack up and you will always find something next to do. As a result, the real work will remain unfinished.

So, remember to set a strict schedule and stick to it no matter what. Think about it … Would you leave your office to do some homework?

Write down your goals in the evening the day before or in the morning.

2. Set daily goals

This is something I cannot stress enough. When working from home, creating a list of daily goals is a huge help for me. I love to go through this goal-setting process in the evening the day before just at bedtime. I keep two lists. One is for personal things and second is for work. One rule I follow while creating the work list is to focus on the three most important things I need to get done the next day and order them by priority. In case there is more to do, I will write down more than those three. However, I will still prioritize them.

The prioritization part is newer for me. Until recently, I would just write my goals and leave it that way. Problem was when some of the goals were not completed because they were on the bottom of list, even though they were more important. With prioritization, tasks that are really important and has to be done will be done as first. So, write down your goals in the evening the day before or in the morning, prioritize them and start with the highest priority goals. This is the best strategy I found so far.

3. Dedicate specific place to your work

Setting a special place for work in your home can help you stay on the track and create a working routine. This will turn in more productive work and getting more done. Creating this special place for working from home will help you distinguish between your personal and work life. Additional benefit is that after you get use to working at specific place, it will become a habit. Habit will make the working process more automated and easier for you to follow without falling of the track.

However, not everyone can afford to dedicate whole room to his work. I face the same obstacle too. At this moment, I live in a dorm. It is one room with shared kitchen unit and bathroom (toilet and shower). That’s all I have. Personally, I love this minimalist spartan way of living. So, don’t worry if you are in living in similar conditions. The best thing is to improvise. Try to dedicate some part of room to your work, just a table and chair is enough.

4. Keep the dress code (or don’t)

One advice I, and you probably too, hear a lot is to have a dress code to follow while working from home. This means no pajamas, bathrobe, underpants or whatever you have in the closet. When you are about to work, dress like you would go to the office (really, no bathrobe or pajamas). Having a specific working dress code can also be a part of your daily routine that will help you shift your mind into “working” mindset and get started.

However, you don’t have to sweat this clothes thing if it’s not working for you. In a fact, this is what working from home is all about … To find out what is not working for you and what is and do the later. So, if you don’t like to wear casual dress and feel more comfortable in pants, just go for it. The only important thing is that you are able to stay on the track and complete the tasks you’ve set.

Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

5. Take regular breaks

You are not a machine and your body and mind can withstand only some amount of demands. What’s more, if you are a designer, developer or a businessman, you have to stay creative and keep your mind fresh. If you will push yourself to the limits every day and work to complete exhaustion, you will quickly destroy yourself physically and mentally. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. You are in it for the long haul. Please, don’t try to be a machine working twenty four hours a days seven days in a week.

When you feel exhausted and fatigued, don’t be afraid to take a break. Go outside and take a walk. Meet people and create new relationships (not just online). Call your friends or family. Your mind and body needs some time to recharge and the more and harder you work, the more time they will need. Don’t ignore this part.

Working from home when everything fails

Advice and rules are good, but they cannot ensure success on one hundred percent. Sometimes at some days, you might find out they are not working as well as the day before. This happens to all of us. At these days we need to find something that will keep us on track even when everything else fails. So, what can we do at such a moments?

Well, when taking a short break is not working, another solution can be switching places for a while. If you are working from home every day Monday to Friday (or Sunday), going out and working from different place can do the trick. Although following a strict routine day in and day out is good, a bit of randomness can bring fresh air and energy to your work.

Great places for your temporary office can be a near library or coffee shop. Hubs and meetups are also great choices. They can help you find like-minded people, create new connection, learn new skills, even find interesting opportunities. What is better than working in nice environment surrounded by people with the same passions, mindset and enthusiasm?

Final words

Working from home on a daily basis requires you to be well-organized and disciplined. You must have at least some time-management skills and know how to control yourself. However, there are situations where rules will not help, no matter how many of them will you use. Understand that not everyone is built for this. So, before you leave your job in the office, ask yourself if you are able to live in this way. Remember to be honest with yourself while answering that question. Your life, business and future will depend on it.

What are your tips for staying productive while working from home?

Additional reading:

Two great books about creativity and work by Todd Henry – Die Empty book (Amazon) and Accidental Creative book (Amazon).

Jocelyn K. Glei – Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind book (Amazon)

2 thoughts on “Working from home – 5 tips to stay sane”

  1. Good article. Dealing with just the right amount of structure in your day is essential when working from home. I set clear boundaries for when I will work and then set themes for my days to make sure I focus on something essential during the day. That way I don’t feel like I’m working a job, just enough flexibility for freedom.

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