This is not a post where I have all the answers. Everyone’s a little bit different, but after almost 5 years of working for myself, almost always from home, often in my pajamas, I’ve learned a few things that work for me.
Know yourself and reconcile yourself to your habits
I am not – never have been, and am increasingly convinced I never will be, nobody in my family is – a morning person. Left to my druthers I would sleep from about 2am to 10am. Sometimes I go through stretches of beating myself up and trying to force myself up before 8am so I can be the model of a type-A productive morning person, but it never creates a new habit and I just end up tired and irritable. If you are a morning person, awesome. If you’re not, figure out how to make it work for you and stop kicking yourself. Science indicates it’s not your fault and we should all be more understanding of people with different sleep patterns.
Set boundaries with your clients or co-workers
When you work for yourself and you work weird hours, the line between work time and playtime gets really hazy. Taking time off is super important, and it’s also important to make the most of the hours you have chosen to work. Unexpected client calls can really throw off a work schedule or interrupt fun time, so I make it very clear with my clients that, while I am happy to hop on the phone with them, that we need to schedule a time for a call. When clients do call me out of the blue, which does happen occasionally, I politely but firmly remind them to please set up a time.
Be less beholden to your phone
My life changed the day my boyfriend made a simple suggestion: turn off email sound and badge on my phone. We’d be out at dinner and I’d hear that little buzz and immediately stress. I’d see that little red badge on my email icon tick up and up and up. Obviously, I’d end up checking my email instead of enjoying the time I’d chosen to take away from my desk. Turning off the alerts doesn’t keep you from checking your email on your phone (I still do often), but there was something really therapeutic about not having that little buzz or badge. When I look at my email it’s less stressful. It’s because I chose to.
Track your time
There are a ton of ways to do this (I use my billing system Paymo), but get a rough idea of what kind of time you are putting in. Even if you are not billing hourly, this can help you get data on how many hours you can work each day/week/month and how long certain projects take you so that you can budget your time more effectively.
Find an outlet for your stress, preferably out of your house
When you work in an office, you have coworkers to complain to, happy hours to attend, watercoolers to chat around… but working from home can be lonely and frustrating. I feel really thankful that my boyfriend also works from home and is ready to hear any horror stories at a moment’s notice, but I also go to yoga and aerial (like, flipping around on circus equipment) a few times a week. In addition to getting me out of my house and clearing my head, it’s also nice just to have the instructor ask how my day is going. I can vent for a minute if it’s turning into a frustrating day and she can respond with a “well at least you’re here, now get on that mat!” and it helps.
Hopefully these tips help your work-from-home life to be that much more pleasant