I’m a freelance copywriter so work for myself and spend most of my working week tapping away on my MacBook in my home office. I get mixed responses when I tell people that I work from home, varying from “Oh my god you’re living the dream” – which I think every day and never take for granted by the way – to “God, I’d go crazy cooped up in the same four walls all week!” And everything in between. And the main question I get asked interestingly is how I stay motivated when I’ve got no boss, nobody watching what I’m up to and am accountable for myself every minute of the day. So, I thought that I’d share my thoughts on how I make working from home work for me in case it’s something that you’re thinking of doing or you’re doing it currently and struggling. Here is how how I stay engaged and productive when I work from home.
Make a beautiful space for yourself!
I hadn’t realised how important ‘things’ were to me before I started to create my home office; how much a positive and thoughtfully created, creative and visual space can have an impact on my mood and output. I surround myself with my favourite photos, books, stationary and objects as they inspire me and just put a smile on my face really. When my office is organised and tidy, and everything is in its place (because I can be a bit anal), I am one happy, productive camper but when I’ve got half constructed flatlays (for Instagram pictures) strewn on surfaces, half my lipstick collection occupying random surfaces and my eldest son has obviously been using my stationary (and shoot me now) eating crisps at my desk, it does my absolute head in, I can’t concentrate and either have to bring order to the chaos immediately or move to a different part of the house!
So, know who you are, what inspires you and surround yourself with visual reminders!
Make work buddies!
I’ve read lots of advice about making sure that you have a corporate mindset when working from home i.e. get dressed (no PJs people!), put on your makeup, keep to a strict schedule, sit up straight blah blah blah and I don’t necessarily agree. I think that you have to be very self-aware when you work independently (and know what works for you) and need to create the environment that suits you, your role and the way that you work. I walk my boys to and from school every day (unless I’m at client meetings) so am up, dressed and ready to start the day early doors so there’s no need to be worried that I’m mooching around the house in my PJs. For full disclosure I am sitting here in a cardi and my uggs writing this though so comfies are allowed at This Mad Life! I love my office and working space and have put it together carefully to make it a very happy place for me to work and create but sometimes I just don’t want to be there. Sometimes I want to sit on the sofa with my cats and drink a coffee whilst I research a piece of work for a client or draft out a newsletter and that works for me too. Equally, sometimes I feel like working with other people to bounce ideas around and have a bit of like-minded banter. And that’s when I seek out my friends who work in similar fields to me or work for themselves and invite myself over for a bit of co-working. Or I jump on the (clichéd) freelance bandwagon and work at my local café along with the rest of my fellow suburbanites who work for themselves also. And that’s viable for me as I write for a living, can block out conversations and noise and work pretty much anywhere if I have my laptop and phone. That being said, if you’re in a different field that requires a lot of telephone-based activity for example, that wouldn’t necessarily work for you, so it’s really important to think about what your role entails, how you need and like to work most effectively and then shape your working day and week to maximise your output and results.
So, know your job and yourself and make it work for you!
Make every second count!
I’m a bit of an anomaly in that I consider myself both a morning and an evening kind of person. I’m a morning person, who on the odd occasion that my husband drops our boys to school will be at my desk smashing through work and have it nailed by midday. And I love those uber productive mornings. But then there’s something to be said for working late at night when everyone’s in bed and the house is silent. I can do both, it just depends what else I’ve got on that day or week and I guess that’s the joy of freelancing; you can work to your own rhythm. And I think that’s critical; we don’t all work in the same way and need to recognise that one size doesn’t fit all and that 9-5 isn’t for everyone.
So, figure out how you work and your peaks and troughs in attention, inspiration and activity and shape your day accordingly.
And finally, and I could talk a lot about this and it’s probably a blog for another day, but the main reason that I manage to stay motivated, on task and highly productive is that I love the work that I do. Because I need to love what I do and want to do it otherwise I’m a stubborn bugger to motivate; it’s that simple. And I need to believe in and love my clients. Which I do and I count my lucky stars every day that I get to write for people and businesses that I’m interested in and care about; that I get to play a role in shaping the voice of a brand. If I didn’t enjoy it, it would be a hell of a lot harder and I reckon I’d be frequenting the kitchen cupboards and Nespresso machine and flicking through West Wing episodes way more than I do now! And I’ve been there. I’ve worked in roles that I could do, and do well, but I just couldn’t stand, and back then had to give myself a bit of a daily talking to and a mental kick up the arse as I sat down at my desk for the day.
So, in an ideal world, try and do something that you love as the motivation will follow and if not – as every job has its good and bad bits right – prioritise the critical tasks and the things that you like to do so that you can be effective and engaged in case life intervenes later in the day and you lose your momentum or mojo!
So, there are my thoughts on working from home. Do you like working remotely or for yourself and do you have any tips to share?