I’ve being working from home now for almost seven years. Some contracts are on-site so I go to the office, but in general, I work in my home office. Actually, for the past 7 months, this means working in my bedroom. More on this later.
I’m married, with a little nipper, and friends are always popping over for a chat. How do I cope?
- Attitude – you have to learn to take the rough with the smooth. People will interrupt you, the web will go down, all kind of things will go wrong. So keep your attitude positive, otherwise go back to the office.
- Monitor – get the largest monitor you can. Like the girl says in the ad – because you’re worth it! Seriously, this had made a huge difference to my health, productivity and sanity. PS: if you work for yourself you can always claim it back as an expense.
- Nice Chair – it doesn’t sound like much, but if you spend 10 hours per day sitting down, get the best you can. I have nice chair with a high back and good support. It really makes a difference. Warning – don’t use the kitchen chair. You’ll weaken your back and once it goes, or you slip a disc, you’ll regret it. Invest in your health.
- Health — I go to the gym between 11-1 about twice a week. I really try to get out for a walk, for at least an hour. You will go mad — and worse! — if you stay glued to the PC for long hours. Long walks blow the cob-webs away. Also badminton and swimming seem to help reduce neck and lower back pains. Badminton forces you to look UP! Yoga is also great.
- Schedule — Stick to a schedule, otherwise you’ll never stop working. Up at 6. Start at 6.15 am, school run at 7.30, back at 8.30, work till 11, gym till 12.30, and lunch till 1.30. Then work flat-out until 5.30. School run. Then more from 9.30-11 if possible.
- Weekends — I try to keep these two free but usually end up dabbling with lighter stuff , like changing the WordPress theme again!
- Food — I keep lots of fruit next to my PC. Avoid snacking on sugars and candy. I have a grapefruit next to me (which has a great kick) and some dates. Plain Yogurt also helps. Add honey and black pepper if you want some flavor.
- Coffee – here’s a trick if you eat the stuff for fun. Buy a nice, expensive expresso cup. It has to be SMALL. Only use this for drinking coffee. So, I still have 4 cups a day, but the size in cut down. It’s a stupid trick but it seems to work.
- Sign on the door – If you have a conference call coming up, walk around the house and remind everyone. I know it sounds dumb but if you don’t, they’ll walk in the middle of your presentation. Hang a sign on the door if needs be saying ‘At Work’ or something like that.
- Intervals – you can’t work flat-out all day. Work for 20-30 min, top, get up and do something, then get back to work. The key is to get UP and walk away from the PC.
- Stretch — learn 5 yoga exercises and stretch your next, shoulders, lower back and legs a few times a day. Nothing crazy. Just get into the habit of stretching.
- Walk after lunch — a quick 15 minutes walk helps digest your food. Skip this and you’ll be falling asleep, looking for coffee, at 3 pm or so.
- Routine – I use Google Calendar to plan my week. Stick to the schedule. Create your routine and you stick to it.
- Interruptions from friends — one way to get rid of the unwanted guest (you know the type) is to remind them that you’ve a conference call coming up. It’s better than saying “go away, some of us have got things to do.” Just be polite and head off. Skype is great if you do have to make conf calls.
- Interruptions from family part 1 — a bit trickier admittedly. You need to be realistic here. It’s naïve to expect a 7 year to understand that you have to update your status report or whatever. Why not go out a kick a ball? You may as well. If you stay inside, you’ll just feel guilty. Anyway, isn’t this why you wanted to be at home?
- Interruptions from family part 2 — ok, you need to work. Cut a deal. Say, give me 20 minutes, let me finish this and then we’ll play. It usually works. Other tricks involve pacifying the child with yu-geeo cards, football magazines, or whatever keeps them busy for a while. You need to be creative, so plan ahead and always have some things in store.
- Avoid time-wasting activities — if your kinds are on holiday or have a short school day (e.g. finishes at 1.30) then avoid time-wasting activities wherever possible. Unsubscribe from newsletters, forget the news, ignore facebook, turn off twitter. Just get the important things done first.
- Other parents – if you have kids consider picking up a friends kid(s) one day a week, so they have a few spare hours to do their work. Later in the week, they can return the favor.
- Know when to Stop — many freelancers burn out because they can’t pace themselves. I try to stop at 6pm. Sometimes I have to go past this but if you don’t have a cut-off point you’ll end up working non-stop. This is a real problem for freelancers, small business owners.
- Know when to Sleep — don’t fall asleep watching 24. If you’re tired, go to sleep. Don’t take your laptop to bed or into the toilet.
Tomorrow is another day.
What have I missed?
Let me know if you work from home what works best for you.