Sometimes I talk to myself. Sometimes I talk to myself more than I’ll talk to anyone else in a given day. Sometimes, I start to think talking to myself is normal.
This might well be a sign that I’m fast heading for crazy-land, but it’s more likely that it’s a result of working from home. Alone.
If you’re a fellow freelancer with a desk squashed into your lounge/kitchen/anywhere it will damn well fit, you might also be facing similar signs of crazy.
The truth is, if you want to work from home you have to face up to the fact that a lot of the time you’ll be spending time with you, you, and…. Yeah, you got it, you. Unless of course you’re part of a family of freelancers or some other situation that’s probably a whole lot healthier.
When I first started freelancing I struggled to work from home simply because I didn’t know how to structure my time to make the most of it. This meant I ended up working longer hours than I needed to (because, well, procrastination) which in turn resulted in me seeing less people and being released into the wild more (because, well, work).
After a few months of trial and error I found a routine that worked for me. I get stuff done early and leave the afternoons free to work on the blog or, you know, see people. Talk. Interact. That kinda thing.
Sometimes it’s impossible to set up a work from home schedule though, depending on how much work you have and other commitments (kids or animals and stuff. The usual).
So when you feel like you’re about to start pulling your hair out and mumbling nonsense to the spider plant, try one of these suggestions and let me know how it goes!
Work from Home? Here’s How to Not Go Crazy!
Take Regular Breaks. Please.
Oh man this is so, so important.
So many people cut breaks from their schedule because they waste time. They are especially nonsensical when you have a lot to do, right? Truth is, when you’re busy you need breaks more.
Even if it’s five minutes away from the computer to step outside, make a cup of coffee, or take a phone call with a friend, this can do you the world of good. Seriously, just try it now. Get up, step away from the computer, and find something else to do.
Breaks are great for a number of reasons. If you do them right – i.e. clicking over to another website for a few minutes isn’t a break.
Firstly, you’re moving around. Getting the blood flowing, moving your limbs, and having a good old stretch. When you work from home you tend to sit slumped in front of the computer all day which leads to bad posture and the inability to straighten up completely when “hometime” comes around.
Secondly, you’re stepping away from your work. If you’re stuck at a tricky spot or aren’t sure how to make the next move, taking a break can be a great way to refresh a tired mind and come at it fresh.
Plus, you won’t be tempted to click over to another site to pass a few minutes whilst you come up with some ideas. Oh wait… what happened to the last 3 hours? True story.
Finish at a reasonable time
When you work from home you don’t have set working hours. For many this is an absolute godsend, but for some it’s difficult to really switch off at the end of the day.
For most employees, the end of the day is signified by the clock striking 5. Then they leave the office and head off to sunny, sunny Mexico (a.k.a. the sofa or the pub).
For those of us who work from home, this isn’t the case.
Sometimes the clock keeps ticking by and we don’t even realise we’re working our way towards midnight. Eek.
Finishing at a reasonable time each day not only gives you the closure you need at the end of the day, but it also gives you an allotted time by which you need to finish your work. As soon as you have that structure in place you’re more likely to whizz through your to-do list and less likely to spend a couple of hours browsing videos of cats.
Make the Most of Your Time Off
And, when you finish work for the day, don’t stay sitting at your laptop. I know Netflix and YouTube are oh-so tempting, but make an effort to go outside, meet friends, indulge in a hobby – basically anything that’s unrelated to work.
So many people I know who work from home will switch off for the day and then switch over to some other website or task that involves the laptop.
In my eyes, this completely ruins the whole point of having an end time.
Confession: I’m often guilty of this. Sometimes I’ll finish work and head straight over to the novel I’m writing or finish up a blog post. Now I try to go outside for a bit first, have a read, or do something else in between.
Just that brief time away can work wonders (see: take regular breaks).
Put Some Damn Clothes On
There’s this horrible stereotype about people who work from home that basically suggests they lounge around in their pyjamas all day watching films and drinking whiskey.
Whilst this romantic (is it really romantic?!) idea of freelancers and writers in particular is doing the rounds in films and books, it’s so often far from the truth.
As soon as I get up in the morning I shower and get dressed, which makes me feel ready to work. On a couple of occasions I’ve stayed in my pyjamas and I just haven’t had the same amount of motivation. For some reason pyjamas equals Netflix and relaxing for me – basically the complete opposite of work!
Say No to Friends (Within Reason)
Since I’ve been working from home, I’ve had a lot of friends who seem to think I don’t do very much all day and can pretty much go out and about with them whenever they want me to.
I mean, yes, sure I can rearrange my schedule to fit in lunch with friends and I do this regularly, but it can also be stressful when you pack too many social arrangements into your calendar just because you can.
One of the best (and hardest) things I’ve learnt is to say no when I feel stressed out with work or feel like it’ll ruin my schedule if I take a few hours out for lunch. Usually, I love to say yes, as it means I get out the house and can actually talk to people (and the whole point of this post is to stop you from going crazy not talking to anyone all day so it can seem a bit contradictory) but it’s good to know your limits. And it’s good for your friends and family to know your limits, too.
Use a Different Base
If none of these things work and you still find yourself singing into your banana in the morning, it might be a good idea to completely up sticks and move your office.
Sitting at the same desk in your house day in day out is bound to get tiring after a while, so why not plan a couple of days in a café or a co-working space each week?
You’ll not only get a change of scenery which, let’s face it, does wonders for motivation levels, but you’ll also be able to meet people (yay!) and not go crazy talking to yourself all day. Sure, you might have to spend a bit of money, but it’s worth it for your sanity, right?!
Your turn! I’d love to hear how you stop yourself from going crazy when you work from home! Any techniques or tricks of the trade you can share?