20 Feb My Essentials for Working from Home
Working from home as so many benefits. I can work when (for the most part) and how I want (for the most part). I can choose to wear pajamas, sit outside with a cat on my lap, take a long lunch, take a nap… whatever. I love that I don’t have to ask someone for the day off, or to leave early on Friday. I don’t have to work around anyone else’s schedule. Except for in a few months when I have this baby—but we’ll talk about that another time.
But because I can do what I want, and don’t have anyone watching me to make sure I get everything done, it can be hard to stay focused and motivated at times. I go through ebbs and flows where I’m so motivated that nothing can stop me, to times when it’s difficult to even look at my computer. In order to keep these unproductive times to a minimum, I’ve come up with a list of things I need in the house, and things to do to keep on track while working from home.
Fruit- I need fresh fruit around. If I’m working on something difficult and can’t seem to focus, I tend to take breaks to eat. A lot. My brain doesn’t want to write or edit or whatever it is, so it turns to eating. Because I don’t want to munch on chips and sweets all the time, fruit is a good alternative. If I can go to that before any junk food, I’m hopefully making healthier choices and not hurting myself in the long run.
Music-While sometimes I can be so into something the outside world falls away, most of the time I sit in silence and feel the distractions around the house calling to me. A lot of the time music can help “silence” these distractions. I listen to Spotify either out loud or with headphones. I tend to get more work done this way.
Good Internet- This is obvious, but how annoying is slow Internet? I usually have to deal with it while traveling so I definitely do not want to when I’m at home. Working on my website or searching for new freelance opportunities is such a hassle when I have to wait for a page to load.
Good Lighting- I like having the windows open so real light can get in. It makes me feel a little less stuck in the house. An added bonus is if the air is fresh and a breeze and flow inside. But in Texas, most of the time I want the windows closed or else I’ll melt.
Space- I need an area that is meant for work. I can usually get work done anywhere (see my post about working on the road). But sometimes, especially in my house, work seems way more difficult. If I’m sitting in the kitchen, I think about food or what I need to clean. If I’m in the living room, the couch is pretty comfy to cuddle up on, and the TV is just staring at me, begging me to turn it on. So when I have my own little space, I can close the door to all of the distractions and just be in my creative world.
An outside place to go- I like my back yard at times because the sun feels nice after being inside so much. It’s usually a nice change from the music I listen to inside. The silence of my yard relaxes me. Or I like to go to the library in town so I can have a quiet place to sit away from home distractions. These places are necessary so that when I start feeling antsy or unmotivated in my home–or you realize I’ve watched 5 episodes of Project Runway instead of getting work done–I can leave and have a set place to go where I know you’ll be productive. Find your place to go, either physically outside, or another location outside of your house.
Paper and Pens- In this extremely digital world, I still need some non-technical things. Maybe it’s staring at a screen all day, or just the feeling of actually writing, but I prefer to make lists or take notes by hand. I tend to spread these around, on my desk, on the walls, anywhere that I can see them easily. I seem more able to grasp things this way than on a screen.
A Planner/ schedule- I have planners and calendars to keep track of what I need to get done. I need to set out a schedule the night before so when I wake up I know exactly what I need to do. Otherwise the day seems to stretch on endlessly. I can make excuses to lie on the couch for a few hours “getting ready” to work.
A good chair- We finally got a nice office chair when we moved to Texas. This was an amazing thing. Before this I was sitting on a folding card table chair. It was a nightmare if I was on it for more than a few minutes. This nice chair is soft, swivel-y, and perfect for working at a desk for a few hours.
Start each day as if you’re going to work: I actually wake up when Steve does for work around 6 AM (at least most of the time). I really don’t like waking up that early, but once I got over the initial distress it’s not bad. I actually like it because I feel really productive. Waking up at the same time as him, and being around as he’s getting ready to leave, makes me feel like I’m getting ready for work too. When I wake up after he’s already left, I feel sluggish to get out of bed. I don’t shower right away, so I’m not completely woken up. Things move slower and I get less done.
Plan out the day beforehand: I try to plan my whole week at once the Sunday before, but usually on Friday. That way my weekends are pretty free for adventuring. No matter what, I go over what I want to get done the next day or what I need to do the night before. That way, when I wake up, it’s already in my head what I need to do. I also try to plan out a schedule. This way I make sure the really important things get done.
Let people know what you’re doing: This sounds so silly. But sometimes people around us think that because we’re home, we’re not really doing anything. They might call to have us run an errand or do something extra. While I like working at home so I have the flexibility to do things like that, I don’t want to be expected to do things for everyone because I don’t have a “real job.”
Surround yourself with inspiration: There’s nothing worse than feeling uninspired. If you were once inspired by something: a story, or a business idea, try to keep that momentum going by surrounding yourself that. Remind yourself why it was inspiring to you in the first place. Hang pictures on the walls from the place you’re writing about. Write why you love the idea for this business so you can remind yourself when things get tough. Whatever it is for you, just find something that inspires you and keep it around you.
Have a “punch-out” time: I have a problem that most people working at home have. Because I’m at home, work never seems to end because I don’t step out of my workplace and go home. I tend to keep working well after I should and pick it up throughout the night. Then I’m working even when I’m in bed ready to sleep. Sometimes this is okay because I just need to quickly get something done, or I suddenly have inspiration for something I need to do. But I get fatigued and burn out if it happens a lot. Then have days where I get nothing done. So most days I try to work through the day, like while Steve is at work. When he gets home I try to hang it up and not think about it. Then I’m refreshed and ready to go the next day.
With all of this said, the most important thing to do while working from home is work. Obviously, right? But we have to remember that even when everything is perfect, when we have all of the snacks or the exact right workspace, we still have to make ourselves work. So don’t get too bogged down in creating this perfect space. Instead, get in the mindset to actually get things done. And hopefully some of these tips from my life will help you do just that.
Let me know some of your essentials!