Working from home as a self-employed person is something I never thought I’d do. I always assumed that I’d get a job after college graduation and I’d work in that career for 30 years, or more, until I could someday retire.
As you know, that assumption was very wrong. Instead, I quit my job to pursue my freelance business full-time and I’ve been working from home.
Working from home has been amazing so far and sometimes it still feels like a dream I’m going to wake up from at any moment. I still have the feeling that I’m going to have to go back to work at the office once this “vacation” is over.
Of course working from home is still work, so I’m not really on a vacation. 🙂 In fact, I usually work more hours/day on my freelance business that I did at my full-time job. My full-time job was a basic 40 hour/week schedule with straight 8 hour days. Now that I’m self-employed, I actually work much longer days than that sometimes and I definitely put in more than 40 hours/week.
Because I still have to work productively from home, I decided to make some “rules” for myself so I stay on task and remain productive during my work hours at home. Here are my work from home rules.
Get Dressed Everyday
For my first month of self-employment, I did wear yoga pants every day. It was a great break from the business casual wardrobe of my full-time job. Then again, because I spent so much of August catching up on life (and sleep), my income from down a little bit and I am not surprised by this at all.
But since I couldn’t continue at that rate and I wanted to increase my productivity and my income, I started getting dressed and ready every day – just like I used to for my full-time job.
I definitely dress more casual now than I used to, but getting up, doing my hair, makeup, and putting on “real” pants helps me be more productive that staying in yoga pants all day every day.
On the flip side, when I’m especially tired or I don’t feel well it’s nice to still have the option to wear yoga pants.
Make a Schedule
I’m still getting my schedule figured out, but as I get closer to having a set routine for my workday, I tend to get more work done too.
So far I’ve stuck pretty well to a “normal” schedule of working from 8 or 8:30-11:30. Then I take a lunch break for an hour or so before getting back to work. Most evenings I quit working between 7 and 8 p.m. Some days have more work and others have less, but for the most part, this is the schedule I try to stick to.
Create a Designated Work Space
Some people in the freelance community are able to work productively while hanging out on the couch or sitting in bed, but that doesn’t work for me. I work primarily from my home office and I almost never work from anywhere else in my home.
Every two weeks I do venture out the local Starbucks or the library so I can get some work done while my housekeeper is cleaning my house. (Yes, I kept my housekeeper. No, I don’t plan to get rid of her. I hate cleaning.)
Having a designated workspace also helps me shut down at night so I don’t work 24/7. I’m pretty much obsessed with “the hustle” so I know that if I didn’t have a designated work space I’d be working all the time.
When evening rolls around it’s nice to step away from my computer, close the door on my home office, and shut off the shop talk in my brain. I do keep up with emails on my phone during the evenings and weekends when I’m not working, but I do my best to keep that to a minimum.
Although I actually work more than 8 hours most days, which is more than at my 40 hour/week day job, I balance that out by taking more frequent breaks. I try to take a short break every 1-1.5 hours to get up, stretch, walk around, etc.
Sometimes I walk outside to get the mail, let my dogs out in the yard, get a drink of water, or even to change the laundry. I also take a longer break in the afternoon to wash the dishes or to work on cooking supper.
I’m working hard to make sure I leave the house on a regular basis so I can get fresh air and avoid becoming a hermit.
Since I started freelancing, I’ve enjoyed taking my dogs on regular walks again to get a little exercise, enjoy some fresh air, and settle my mind. This is something I basically stopped doing when I was working full-time at my day job and hustling in the evenings and weekends as I didn’t have the time, energy, or motivation to do so.
Fresh air and exercise is essential to your health and I find that it helps me regain some focus, so when I get back from my outdoor adventures I am able to put in a couple more hours of productive work on my business.
Working from home is amazing, but it’s easy to get distracted and not use time productively. Creating some rules for working from home has really helped me to remember that what I do is a business and it needs to be treated as such. It also helps me work more productively and achieve a better work-life balance.
Do you have any rules for working from home?