Advice on working at home – from people who do it all the time

Advice on working at home – from people who do it all the time

Working from home might seem like an easier option, but there is plenty to learn about using your place of rest as your place of work.

If you still don’t feel quite settled into your homeworking environment, who better to share some secrets than those who’ve been doing it for years?

For the self-employed, working from home is the norm, and there are plenty of tricks to surviving the process. From the serious – such as making sure you don’t work from bed all day – to the silly (hello, cats on keyboards), here’s what to expect, from those who know.

Pets will disturb you. At first it’s cute, by day three it can be quite annoying.

‘Cat on keyboard’ is a standard experience for many freelancers and homeworkers. Your pet will be happy to have you at home, and it does mean you have company which is a bonus. But as many know, dogs can bark through conference calls, too.

Getting dressed is optional (but it’s still better to put on clothes)

Sure, it’ll feel liberating to be in your pyjamas or loungewear all day long. Some advise that even a bra is optional – hoorah! But not getting dressed can be a habit which has an impact on your work. Like when the boss wants an impromptu video call, or a delivery driver rings the bell.

Ensure you have enough coffee and tea

The freelancer’s diet consists of lots of coffee and/or tea, depending on their preference. Running out (and indeed of milk, too) is a no-no.

Try to eat healthily

Working from home means you will graze the fridge and cupboards ad infinitum. It’s hard not to, but rationing (especially if supermarket stocks are low) is important right now.

But accept that you’ll consider biscuits one of your five a day

Most homeworkers will agree there’s only one course of action: embrace this, resistance is futile.

And you’ll be the parcel collection person for the whole building

This is freelance 101. If the whole apartment block or road is working from home then they should be able to receive their own parcels. But if not, you are not – we repeat NOT – the Amazon depot for your road. Fall into this trap at your peril.

Find a proper place to work (that’s not your bed or the sofa)

For independent video game developer Adriel Wallick, one of the key things is a proper workspace that’s not also your relaxing space.

It might feel comfortable working on the sofa or the bed, but when it comes to the evening, you’re going from ‘work’ to ‘leisure’ without moving a muscle.

Move around

When you’re in the office you walk up to other desks, or to the canteen and usually outside for your lunch break. You need to keep that regular ‘exercise’ theme going when at home, for both your physical and mental health.

If you can, even a walk around the block is a good idea to clear your head and stretch the muscles. If you can’t get outside, then try some yoga stretches or  an online workout to break up the day.

Try and switch off your mind

As well as moving your body, it’s good to try and make sure you get regular screen breaks and switch your thoughts off from work when you can.

Just like you might when you stop for that afternoon watercooler moment in the office, you need some mental downtime.

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