I love working from home.
Like everything else, working from home has its pros and cons.
I read about the pitfalls of working from home, long before I got the chance to experience it for myself.
One of the negatives written about was that people working from home have a hard time separating their home life from their work life.
I wasn’t concerned with reading these articles. I knew that wouldn’t happen to me.
Well, this is a bit embarrassing. It seems my confidence on this matter was slightly premature. Lately, it seems, this is exactly what has happened to me.
My working life and my home life have blurred into one.
It can be hard to relax at home when you also work there.
The fact that I live alone (which I love by the way) doesn’t seem to have helped the situation. I have no one (like a partner or children) to tell me that it’s time to stop working and spend some time with them.
My cat jumping on the keyboard demanding my attention helps, but that’s about it. He hangs around for a cuddle, then he’s off for a nap.
I’ve decided I need a plan of attack. Fundamentally, it’s about setting some working boundaries for myself.
Here are my thoughts on how to relax at home when you also work there.
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Have scheduled downtime
I know this seems obvious but when you get caught up with work, you can simply forget to take time out.
I noticed recently that anytime I didn’t have my laptop on when I was at home, I started to feel guilty.
Yes, I know, not a good sign.
It’s time to start enjoying my evenings again and schedule in some downtime.
Related content –
- Working Alone – Is it For You?
- Working Alone – Is it For You? Part 2
- Working Alone – Is it For You? Part 3
Take a digital sabbatical
I have read a bit about this on a few other blogs. Rowdy Kittens have a great post about it.
While I was over picking up this link, I also found an interesting post over at 99% called Insecurity Work. Also very thought-provoking).
In theory, a digital sabbatical sounds just dandy. The practicalities, however, involve not turning on my laptop over the weekend.
Honestly, I’m breaking into a sweat just thinking about that, so this part of the plan might take a little more work.
One day a weekend, without turning on my computer – sounds like a good place to start.
Get out of the house
This probably seems like a no-brainer.
But here is the drill. I normally work on Saturday, to get the drafts of my blog posts up and running for the following week.
Sunday is primarily my day off. So what do I do on Sundays? I schedule social media and check emails (which is still working).
By midday on Sunday, I’m usually over working and want to take the rest of the day off (which I then proceed to feel guilty about).
The solution, get out of the house. Leave the laptop at home. Have fun and drop the guilt.
Related post – 20 Ways to Stop Feeling Guilty All the Time
Work outside of the house
This probably seems obvious these days in the world of laptops, iPads and wireless Internet.
When I started working from home, I had every intention of going to a coffee shop and regularly working from there. I did it once.
Personally, I found the noise too distracting. I like a quiet environment when I write. No music, television or people chattering in the background. I tried working in the library once and it was much better (quieter naturally).
I need to give it another shot and keep trying until I can fit working sessions outside of my home office into a normal part of my routine.
Collaborate on work projects
I have to admit, I haven’t done a lot of this yet and I seriously need to get cracking on it.
Since I lack experience in this area, I thought I would share some information from the pros.
Related content –
- 33 Types of Blogger Collaborations For Fun and For Profit
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Get out and network
I am not doing enough networking. If you work from home, there’s a good chance you aren’t networking enough either. Jump on Google to see what networking functions, workshops or conferences are coming to your area over the next couple of months. Do your research. Ask your peers what they are attending or interested in.
Then, of course, it’s a matter of getting your butt out the door and going to these functions. Intention won’t cut it, you need commitment and follow through.
If you need help with networking (and let’s face it most of us do – particularly if you are an introvert), check out the popular The Art of Networking online course from the creative folks over at CreativeLive. You can learn online and then attack your networking with confidence.
Related post – 7 Thoughts on Networking from a Former Social Butterfly
Pick up the phone
To say I have been a bit reclusive lately is a bit of an understatement.
I need to remember, it’s not just about seeing my friends (which is difficult in many cases, since a lot of my friends live overseas or interstate). Even my close family live hours away.
Hence where the good old phone comes in. Note to self: ring people more often dammit. Shut the computer off, pick up the phone, and reconnect with someone for a long leisurely chat.
I am sure a lot of people (including myself just thought about ringing them on Skype instead). More time sitting in front of the computer, is not really what I need.
Related post – How to Cope with Feelings of Loneliness
Plan activities with people
Again this seems like a no-brainer. But for someone who lives alone and is single, it suddenly takes on a lot more importance.
Back when I was saving to leave work, I could on rare occasions go whole weekends without speaking to another person. I know that would drive most people nuts but it didn’t bother me because I enjoy my own company. Besides, I had the office from Monday – Friday as a source of communication with people.
Now I don’t have that, which is fine. The problem comes when you are spending too much time on your own (even I have my limits it seems). I don’t feel lonely but I can sometimes feel isolated (and I’m the first to admit that this can be a result of my own doing).
This might be a good time to point out that some people might have the exact opposite problem. They are surrounded by people all the time and never have any time for themselves. You might enjoy being in this situation but remember even the most extroverted people could benefit from five minutes of reflection time every now and then.
The other issue that everyone faces is that people have busy lives.
Spending time with friends, particularly ones with partners, children, or extended family, is not always easy. I have to be a lot more organized if I want to see my friends nowadays. I need to book ahead. Sometimes way ahead.
Get organized, get planning, and book time with people. It’s always worth the effort.
Related content –
- Are You a Planner or Are You Spontaneous?
- Do You Need to Reconnect with Old Friends?
- 20 Heartwarming Friendship Quotes
Eat regular meals sitting at a table
This one just popped into my head for one simple reason. I can’t remember the last time, I sat at my table and ate dinner.
I normally sit in front of the television and eat. On the odd occasion, if I am upstairs working in my office, I skip dinner altogether.
Again this is probably worse because I am single. No rallying the troops to the dinner table for a sit-down meal. Though I can’t help but wonder, how many families don’t have dinner together anymore or sit in front of the television to eat dinner?
I have a sneaky suspicion I might not alone on this one.
Have a place in the house that is a non-working area
I have a small townhouse (compared to Australian housing standards), so this is not all that easy. I tend to mainly relax out in my courtyard (usually with my boy by my side).
I have on occasion had trouble falling asleep at night and thought to myself, ‘I should get up and get my laptop and work in bed’. I did it once but thankfully have talked myself out of it on other occasions. This is one area where setting boundaries come into play.
My bedroom is a no-work zone. (I don’t even take my mobile in there).
Related post – Why Boundaries are Important
Writing can be bad for your health. Okay well, that is not quite true, writing won’t hurt you – but sitting for long periods of time, hunched over a laptop is bad for you.
Just ask my chiropractor.
The trick is to sit correctly (you need to constantly recorrect your posture) and to take regular breaks in which you move around and stretch. I plan on taking this a step further by actually stepping out of the house and going for a walk.
The other great part of this plan is that walking always gives me some of my best writing ideas. A walk around the block and I will be pumped up with ideas and energy!
As I have mentioned in an earlier post on how to stop clock watching, I tend to suffer from an energy slump in the afternoons. My friend suggested recently that this would be the perfect time to take a walk.
Be more productive by working less
I need to get more done in the traditional five working days time frame. They can be any day of the week mind you but I need to start working within five days.
I find what is happening, is I am wasting time during the day, with the thought that I can make up for it by working the weekend.
You can see the problem here already, can’t you?
For starters, we can never ‘make up for wasted time’. The time is gone. Secondly by the time I get to the weekend, sometimes I am either too tired or I have run out of energy. Consequently, my workload on the weekend doesn’t go to plan. I don’t get enough done, then Monday morning the cycle starts again.
Therefore, it makes sense to take more time off on the weekends and focus on being more productive during the week.
If you are reading this and thinking, this doesn’t apply to me because I work in an office, you may have a valid point.
On the other hand, substitute the words home or house for office and you might need to have a rethink.
If your partner is subtly begging or downright nagging you to spend more time with them, you might want to take notice.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love working from home. I simply need to make some adjustments to make my work life more productive and my home life more enjoyable.
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I can totally relate to this. Not only do I work at home, I also homeschool my youngest child. It’s very hard to transition from writer to mother and from teacher to mother. Sometimes, he’ll have to remind me that, “Mom, school’s over for the day.”
Hi, Thea. All these are good tips to get away from the laptop—but what is there to go toward? Having equally compelling passions apart from writing is what keeps me balanced. My daily life (I don’t think it’s overstructured enough to be called a “schedule”) falls organically into segments. Mornings I blog/learn about being a better blogger/engage in social media to meet other bloggers. Afternoons while I listen to books on CD, I create wearable art/photograph my work/upload photos to my online shop. Evenings I teach dance/nurture my marriage/connect with my daughter by phone/study recorded dance performances to inspire future choreography.
If I didn’t have these other passions I would quickly burn out as a blogger, because my life wouldn’t be as rich a source of inspiration for my writing.
Oh! Were you writing about YOUR life? Oops, sorry, I thought you were describing mine… I should have noticed it was not about me when you wrote ‘pick up the phone’, though (I work on the phone/skype everyday, so this is something I run away from as if from hell itself).
All the rest, however, fits like a glove, and I’ll be following up the comments on this one, and your blog (as well as Scrollwork’s) to find inspiration to deal with a (yet another, suspected) upcoming career change.
Thank you for voicing my thoughts and fears!
Thank you so much for commenting. Lovely to see you here on the blog. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
I would run screaming from the phone too if I talked on it all day, I think. I admire people who can speak to people all day, I think it would be quite difficult. My friend is a development manager and she talks to people all day as well (both on the phone and in person). It suits her personality and she is great at it which is good. I think it would take a lot of skill and patience.
I hope you don’t mind me asking but what is Scrollwork’s?
Thanks again for stopping by and I hope to see you here again. I hope everything goes well in your upcoming career change. I would love to hear how you go.
Here I am again. Reading and commenting some more…
Scrollwork is the person who commented your posted before me. 😉 I checked her blog as well. Her point on ‘what is there to go toward?’ is a valid one because you need to feel that being disconnected from the Internet is not a sacrifice, but a shift in focus that can also help you be a better person, and blogger.
I could say I mixed the ‘plan activities outside’ with the ‘eat regular meals sitting at a table’ to schedule a regular Sunday lunch with friends. We are in 6 families (mine is the smallest, a 1-member family), each contributing a dish for the meal. That gets me out of the house 5 Sundays out of 6, and as there are children, adolescents and adults, I end up engaging in activities quite different from the ones I would usually choose and spending at least 6 hours away from the keyboard. 😉
So glad you are back commenting again!
Apologies for not realising Scrollworks was an earlier commenter, I should have checked that first. Naturally I clicked through and had a look at it myself as well. 🙂
I really like your Sunday lunch idea. It sounds wonderful! I might have to try and get something like that going myself. In all honesty I do need to start developing more interests outside of work. I guess for me I ‘go towards’ travel but the problem is it doesn’t happen regularly enough. Definitely something to think about there.
Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. Much appreciated.
I’m a novelist and musician and have just launched a new site and blog. I also live alone and have no partner or anyone to stop me working. Since a short holiday five weeks ago I have been working at my computer every day and a lot of nights as well (lifelong insomnia). I have encountered massive stress in trying to get Amazon to upload my file conversions (they still won’t) and many other technical problems and delays in distributing my books. I am at the end of my tether physically and mentally and yet I cannot stop. I don’t drive and the weather here (U.K.) is so appalling it’s no fun going for a walk, my usual daily stress release and time off. I live in a small flat and my computer is the centre of my life – as well as writing and producing music on it and doing all my online admin it is also my TV, DVD and CD player, meaning it goes on when I get up and stays on all day. This means that, even when trying to relax, work is just a few clicks away. I have chronic pain and this is doing me no good at all. I spent 7 hours today trying to upload one of my novels to a new platform and it still hasn’t worked. Tomorrow is Sunday, a day off – oh no it isn’t, that’s the day I research and compile my blog 🙁 I’ve tried working to set hours but I just can’t do it. I badly need 2 says a week where I don’t switch on the computer and just check emails on my phone. I think I’ll buy myself a CD player this week so I can have music on without the computer. Sorry to go on so much but it’s been one of those days…
Thanks for your comment and don’t worry about the length, sometimes we need to get things out and share them with others, particularly when it’s been one of those days… I totally understand. 🙂
Sorry to hear that you have having so many technical problems. I know from experience they can be time-consuming and stressful. I haven’t uploaded anything to Amazon, so not sure how it works but do they have some sort of help desk or equivalent? Is there a particular reason for the the technical difficulties say the formatting or types of files perhaps? Just a thought, maybe looking at it from a different perspective might help.
Sounds like you need help from some of your friends or family. Make commitments with them to get out of the house, even if it’s just for a cheap meal or movie or both. Set time aside every week to get out and about. Like you said, it’s hard with having work at your fingertips, so you need to leave the house. Make sure when you do go out with friends that you turn off anything attached to the Internet. Your friends can help you with accountability as well. They can stop you when you start making excuses for not going out or physically take your phone off you for a while to give you a break.
As a musician perhaps you could go and out see other musicians perform or as a novelist head off to a local library (again no Internet access whatsoever)? As least the library will be heated and warm so weather won’t be such an issue. Pick up a good old fashioned hard cover book, find a comfy chair and read for a couple of hours.
Just a few ideas. The main point is you have to take some time out or you will burn out then you will feel even worse and get less accomplished. The pain issue is not good; definitely a sign that you need to take action and take some time off. Your body is sending you a loud and clear message there.
Thanks for your input, it was good to hear from you and I hope things improve for you. I hope the technology become a lot less of a headache.
I look forward to seeing you here again soon.