Some time ago I asked on Instagram — if you do not follow me, go here — about what you would like to see on the blog. One of the answers I got back was how to stay sane when you work from home. It is something that many freelancers or small business owners struggle with, myself sometimes included. However, along the way I’ve found a couple of things that can help make it less lonely and more productive.
CREATE A PRODUCTIVE SPACE FOR YOURSELF
Having a dedicated, productive space in your home to work at is the first thing you need to invest in when you work from home. It helps you stay sane, productive and focused. You will want to create a space that feels like your very own office that you go to every day.
Another argument to make a little office or studio in your home is your health. Having a good desk and chair is important for your back and arms. Especially if you spend a lot of time behind a desktop or laptop, make sure everything is well adjusted to your height. As a freelancer or small business owner you often don’t have anything to fall back onto financially so you don’t want to be take out by carpal tunnel or a bad back.
In my small space I have an extra big desk from Ikea. I have a laptop stand so that it’s on eye-height with a separate magic keyboard and mouse. And I also have a bigger screen to connect to my laptop so when I’m designing I don’t have to squint my eyes. I do have to admit that my chair could be better for the time I spend on it. Anyway, invest in your office space. It is so important to stay sane when you work from home.
GET READY & DRESS UP LIKE YOU ARE GOING TO AN OFFICE
Like I said above, how to stay sane when you work from home is to create a space that feels like your very own office or studio. The next tip is to dress like you are going to the office. It is very alluring to just work in your pjs when you work from home. From experience I can say that you will loose your sanity way faster when you spend the day in pjs the whole day. You will feel less like a normal functioning human being really quickly.
Dressing for the office doesn’t mean you need to be all dolled up every day — reserve those days for when you actually see people — unless you like that. There are outfits that are just as comfortable as your pjs but look office appropriate. One of my favorites — especially since it is almost fall — is a pair of wool or cotton slacks with a cozy sweater. Another outfit that I like is a pair of (stretchy) jeans with a nice blouse and a (wool) blazer.
INVEST IN ITEMS THAT MOTIVATE YOU
Surrounding yourself with items that motivate you sounds a little materialistic but it does honestly help. Did I need to upgrade my white magic mouse with a space grey one? No. Did I want to? Yes, yes I did. It doesn’t really does anything for my workflow but it does make me feel motivated.
Items can also be non-tech supplies like plants, a lamp, a mug or a print for on the wall. Something you can really enjoy when you are working hard on your dreams.
Items I have around my little office corner are my iPhone stand, laptop stand, a pair of Sony noise cancelling headphones and Satechi hubs. I also have an Ikea lamp that I love, notebooks, planner, lots of pens and a little acrylic drawer boxes to keep all my post-its in. If you follow me on Instagram you know that I always drink my coffee from my black mugs.
FIND A SCHEDULE THAT WORKS FOR YOU
So this is one that I struggle with still because I’m apparently really bad at time management but it is definitely something that will keep you sane when you work from home. Even though you work from home, having a schedule is a must. What that schedule looks like is all up to you — the beauty of working from home. However, keep a couple of things in mind:
• Always work the times when you are most productive. A no brainer but it needs to be said. From some it’s at 6am til 10am for another it is 6pm til 8pm. Take mental notes when your most productive times are. Whatever works for you.
• Figure out if you are a person who loves to get the things they don’t like to do out of the way or the other way around. This way you can plan your schedule accordingly to what gives you the most energy.
• If you are really bad at making and sticking to plannings it can help to put a treat in place when you do. It’s kind of childish but it can help to get you even more motivated.
In the end it is all a bit trail and error. Try things out and pivot to design the perfect schedule that works for you. I’m still in the pivoting phase and figuring out what works best for me but I’ve noticed that I’m most productive between 10am and 12pm. Once I stop after 3pm with the idea to pick things up, I mostly don’t.
TIP: Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t seem to be as productive as others or do enough. You only got so many hours in the day and you need time to take off. Having focus on your business 24/7 is not healthy. You will see that when you switch off you will get more energy. Don’t be rushed by all the stories of people working from the morning til deep into the night. Some people can handle that life, some don’t. It doesn’t make you less motivated. Same goes for people saying ‘I got up early in the morning when I found something that I love’ — that is how it worked for them, it may not for you.
BACKGROUND MUSIC & PODCASTS
If you miss the hustle and bustle of an office, having a playlist on when you work or a podcast might make the whole working from experience a lot more enjoyable. I have my own Spotify playlists (this one is perfect for a Sunday morning) I put on but sometimes I put a random playlist on so I don’t get distracted by the music. I’ve found out that I’m not really a fan of those playlists with music that is supposed to be less distracting. I rather put on a random playlist with music that I don’t know.
I also love to listen to podcasts when I design — not when I need to write texts for blog posts or for my website. Especially podcasts about true crime or one that’s about personal development, marketing or music. I have so many different podcasts that I listen to but you can find the true crime podcasts that I listen to here (it will get updated with new ones this weekend) or click the link below.
PLAN HUMAN INTERACTION
Last but not least, to keep yourself sane when you work from is to plan human interaction. And I don’t mean meetings. I mean real human interactions with your friends or family. Plan an after work dinner, go to the movies or meet up for coffee. Or whatever you like to do with your friends and family. The number one thing people often miss when they work from home is the interaction you have with colleagues.
For downtime I like to meet up with my friends to do something fun or relaxing. Just seeing them and have a relaxed hangout is enough for me. I also like to meet up with people at the co-working space I work at. I’m surrounded with other freelancers and small business owners with whom I can talk shop with and bounce ideas off them.
TIP: If you’ve tried many different things and are still searching for the magical answer to find sanity in working from home, your magical answer might be that it just isn’t for you. Sometimes how to stay sane when you work from home is just to not work from home. It is what it is. There are many self-employed people who work from an office outside the house or a co-working space. If this is you, check in your city if there is a co-working space or office you can rent.
Even though this is a blog post about working from home, I do think it is important to switch your work environment up. The whole beauty of working for yourself or having a job that lets you work from home is that you can switch it up sometimes.