In January, I became a full-time freelance writer. This means that depending on the client I’m working for, I can work from anywhere I want, anytime I want. Except for a permanent office. Because I no longer have one of those.
I often work from home, which is a strange beast that can take some getting used to—which is to say by working at home you can underachieve re: general productivity more than you probably ever thought was possible.
Here are some tips I’ve culled from my experiences thus far working from my apartment in Bushwick (a janky area of Brooklyn). They may help you out if you ever end up working from home permanently, or on the every other day or so this winter when you’re going to be snowed in and can’t make it to the office.
- Wake up early. I’ve found that successfully, efficiently, and productively working from home is a game fed best by momentum. The earlier you get up and get your day started, the better you’re going to feel and the more you’re going to get done. This means you’ll get to quit earlier, too.
- Make sure you shower up and get dressed like a normal person. I don’t mean you have to put on a tie or anything, but throw on some jeans and a T-shirt at least. Spending the day all disheveled and in your pajamas will make you feel like you’re not really working, like you’re a loser who doesn’t deserve a job in the first place and whose mom doesn’t really love him as much as she loves his siblings.
- HOWEVER. I find it’s nice to get a little Casual Friday thing going on. If you don’t have to go out to any meetings or anything, go ahead and spend Friday in your boxers. Just make sure you don’t let all of the awesomeness of not wearing pants to bleed into the rest of your workweek. On my Fridays, I like to wear boxers and a Hawaiian shirt. Because we like to have fun at my “office.”
- Make a quitting time. It becomes even more important to achieve a work/life balance when you’re working from home, or else the two will become so intertwined that you won’t know the difference between a love letter and a spreadsheet. At quitting time, do something totally non-work-related. Like having a drink or watching some television or rubbing one out or whatever.
- When you take breaks during the workday, make them productive. At the beginning of every day, I make a to-do list that is split between what I want to achieve for work, and what I want to achieve as far as apartment and life maintenance are concerned. When you need a break, fold a load of laundry or do some dishes—something that you can accomplish since you’re home that you wouldn’t have been able to accomplish if you were at an office. Checking these things off your list will make you feel great and accomplished, and it’ll give you more free time for your own entertainment at the end of the day. (If you’re thinking you shouldn’t take more breaks if you work at home, think again: that extra break time equals the time you would otherwise have spent commuting.)
- On occasion, make yourself a nice lunch. You may as well improve your culinary know-how if you’re going to have access to a full kitchen and all of your own food supplies all day every day.
- Make a defined workspace that is built to your preferred specification. If you work better lying down in a pile of pillows and blankets, cool. If you want a stand-up desk, that’s fine. If you want to kill your reproductive abilities by perching your laptop on your thighs and groin for eight hours while you prop your feet up on a coffee table and sit on a couch, then you do you. Don’t feel like you need to sit at a desk if it’s not the best way for you to work.
- Get outside for at least a few minutes every day. When I first started working from home, I would spend days without leaving the comfort of my apartment. This is not healthy for a number of obvious reasons. You need Vitamin D. You need to, like, move around a little bit. And you need to ensure that your are seeing and communicating with other people.
- STAY AWAY FROM NAPS. You’re not in college anymore, dude. Naps are the worst opponent of productivity and favorable momentum. When you’re left to your own devices without visual supervision or judgment, you’re going to want to take a nap every once in a while (or a few times every single day, more accurately). Don’t do it. Stay strong.
- Make sure that you’re still communicating with human beings in meaningful ways on a daily basis. When you’re alone all day, you can retreat into yourself and disregard the world around you. It’s important to use your voice, so make some phone calls or go out and interact with people every day. (I like to try and get together with friends at the end of most days. It’s also easier for me because I have a roommate I can talk to when he comes home at the end of the day.)