Working from home has the most ridiculous blessing: curse ratio I’ve ever experienced.
When I started working from home full time almost 3 years ago, I was so stunned by the change in lifestyle that I didn’t know how where to begin. I was so used to my entire schedule being determined by someone else, and when it came down to it, I just didn’t have the self-motivation to “fall into” a regular schedule.
So I didn’t fall into a regular schedule. I enjoyed the experience and made it work for my tastes. But I also mistakes. I got lazy. I lost potential client leads. I slept in. I continue to sleep in. I’m still (despite my increasingly desperate attempts) not a morning person.
But I make it work and so can you! Here’s how…
1. Don’t miss a call. Not ever.
It’s hard to know what your clients schedules are like. Don’t let your new-found freedom as a freelancer fool you into believing that clients can be as flexible as you are. In my first month, I missed two calls. The first call I thought I simply couldn’t make. I had a conflict, but in retrospect, I should have been the one to reschedule. It turned out my client was booked solid for a straight month. So one missed phone call led to one month without work. The second call I missed accidentally. As a result, I completely lost the client. In freelancing, it’s essential to take each client appointment as seriously as possible. It’s one of the only ways to verify your professionalism before you’ve begun on a project.
It’s easy to forget the pressures of a traditional workplace, but the majority of your clients are still acutely aware.
2. Pace yourself.
Although your client phone-calls may be set in stone, very little else about your work day is, including when it is. There’s no need to jam-pack your weekdays anymore.
If you live in a big city, the 9-5 crunch makes the best time to complete traditional weekend chores, which means your Saturdays and Sundays are free to do the work that you love.
Don’t feel guilty about being easy on your mornings either. We’re not all morning people. Space out your projects throughout your day and your week to let your creativity flow.
3. Manage your vices.
Don’t let yourself go just because no one’s watching. It may be tempting to whip out that Old Fashioned and get down to work à la Don Draper, but a sober mind works best.
Playing video games and watching television can quickly go from a 30 minute break to a 3 hour binge. Now that you’re charging by the hour, start thinking of your time as that valuable. Don’t waste time on something that’s not going to feed your mind.
4. Take advantage of being alone.
There are many ways to enjoy being alone, but the absolute BEST thing about being able to manage your own schedule is the freedom to schedule productive non-work related activities into your breaks.
You don’t need to squeeze your gym time into your lunch break anymore! If you’re more productive at night, go ahead and work at night. Spend the afternoon at the gym, running errands, cleaning your house, whatever. If it’s on your to-do list, there is a way for you to work it into your schedule.
Not to mention the COOKING… You can make whatever you want to eat, and eat as healthy as you want (this can go both ways, obviously. )
Of course, you can push the meaning of “productive” a bit further now…
Give yourself treats. Afternoon stroll, do yoga in the nude, take an hour with a book. So many options available to you when you work from home, it’s just a matter of working the most productive ones into your schedule so that you can ENJOY that… say… hour gym trip.
Also NONE of this tip applies for you if you live with a partner who works normal hours. When I lived with a 9-5 partner, I did my best to mirror his workday so that we could spend time together in the evenings. But now that I’m on my own, I take FULL advantage of that nighttime work zone I fall into so much easier.
5. Invest in your workspace.
Now that your work desk is also your home desk, you can dress it up a bit.
Some recommendations: Aromatherapy, standing desk (I use a large Varidesk), decorative salt lamps (or any type of beautiful lighting), plants surrounding your desk, and artwork arranged behind your computer so that you are surrounded by beauty even if you’re feeling stressed!
What are some things you would do (or have already done) with your newfound freedom? I’d love to hear about it!