When I left my corporate world job in August, I could not wait to work in my pajamas. Nothing in the world could convince me that there was anything better than making my own hours, eating cereal while answering emails and not having to get dressed everyday. For the last 5 years, I had spent my days dreaming about the chance to stay home from work! So when the opportunity presented itself to actually work from home it felt like a dream come true! (Pinch me!)
I began my days with coffee, and social media! A downward spiral which eventually turned into, the “Ok, I guess I should do some work now!” setting in around 11am. From there, I would review some emails which took up majority of my day. After that I would scramble to finish work before my husband got home at 5pm so that I could have dinner with him and enjoy his company, only to find myself still working into the night on my laptop at the island in our kitchen! This got really not awesome, really fast. Shortly after my new work from home gig set-in I realized that there were quite a few things I had not considered. Like the eight hour silence I experienced from not talking to a real human all day, or the inability to think because it was so quiet. I never expected to hit some of the roadblocks that I did while working from home. But they surely came, and when they did I felt the pressure of letting myself down. How did my dream job turn into a sad day in leggings and large t-shirts? How was I still oversleeping when I made my own schedule? If you work from home or aspire to work from home, you should know that there are a few hurdles to get over and I’m here to equip you with a guide for coping, that’s sure to help you kick those work from home blues in a hurry! Or even better: Things to think about before you decide working from home is for you!
- Sunshine and fresh air is essential: I can’t even begin to tell you how many times a trip to Starbucks has saved the day! Anyone who has ever scheduled a meeting with me will probably tell you it was in a Starbucks. Not only because I’m obsessed with coffee, and who doesn’t love Starbucks? But because it makes me go outside. Don’t under estimate the power of a little sunshine and human interaction. Even if the only thing you say all day is, “I’ll have a tall peppermint mocha!” At least you got to see a real person. Sometimes the silence is deafening and we just need to see, feel, and re-activate our senses. Find a local coffee shop or lounge area to get out and do some work to cure that cabin fever!
- Get dressed, and show up everyday for yourself: I used to hate the business casual dress code from my corporate job! I mean coordinating outfits, ironing outfits, who has time for that? Not ME! But what I didn’t realize is that all those cheesy presentations about your way of dress affecting your mood were TRUE! Even if you’re not business casual every day, doing your hair and make up can make your days a lot prettier (pun intended) There’s something about fixing yourself up that says “Today I choose to show up to work for myself!” – While staying in your pajamas says something more like, “I’m really sleepy but I guess I’ll get up and do some work, on the couch, and also watch some TV.”
- Find an accountability partner that also works from home: My friend Charity, of Whimsicle Photography, made all my days of working from home feel less lonely just by coming to do work with me. We would get together at a cyber cafe or a local coffee shop about twice a week to just chat and have someone else in our presence. Not to mention how amazing it was to have someone to read email drafts to, proofread my work, and give opinions on brainstorm sessions! Knowing that someone else wanted to accomplish a common goal with me was so awesome! Like a co-worker but BETTER! Although our work progress wasn’t directly effected by each other, we definitely helped each other be more productive and accomplish more goals! Except for the days that I talked her head off and she couldn’t get anything done – But I knew girl talk solves everything and sometimes that’s just what we both needed. Find someone you can call to chat with throughout the day or simply to work in your space! You’d be surprised what the two of you could accomplish!
- Set your office hours and stick to them: When I first started my business I had no clue when I was “closed.” My idea of out of the office was only vacations and times that I didn’t have access to my phone, which was hardly ever. This New Year, my sister in-law helped me brainstorm my “office hours” and I added them to my email signature. Talk about a life-saving moment. Not only do office hours help your clients and colleagues know when it’s acceptable to expect a response from you, but it also helps you to mentally know you have a daily deadline. Now, instead of working into the wee hours of the night, my brain knows that If I don’t stay focused I won’t finish my work by the end of my business day. It has already changed my daily productivity to have these office hours and something I highly recommend. But don’t just make them, stick to them. After you’re “closed” for the day, tuck the laptop away and be present with your family. You’ll feel so much better and actually look forward to starting the day because you know when it ends!
- Work from home doesn’t equal no days off: Office Hours bring me to my next point which is having days off. Working from home mostly sucks when you feel like you’re always at work because your work is in the room of your home. Knowing when to have days off is just as important as deciding what days you work! I give myself half-days on Fridays AND I observe Holidays just like the corporate world. Why? Because without some peace and calm times you will not be in a good enough place to make yourself, your clients, or your family happy! With all the energy you’re burning you won’t even have time for yourself. Take a day – get your hair done, nails done, walk around at the mall. You can do anything but you can’t do everything! It’s so amazing what a personal day can do for the mind, heart, and soul!
- Create a work environment that is your happy place: Last but most certainly not least, fill your work space with things you love. Now I know you love snacks and coffee, but that does not mean you should work at the kitchen table covered in dishes, and dirty coffee mugs. If you can, try to make your office neat and decluttered as possible. Section off a space in your home that’s just for you! Preferably somewhere that isn’t used for something that requires peace like sleeping, because I can guarantee having a laptop staring at you will interfere with the decompression you need to do before falling asleep. If you don’t have a space in your home that can be a home office, still take pride in the space you’re in. Clean it up, don’t squeeze yourself into an uncomfortable space for the sake of getting work done, and know when to “close the door” even when there isn’t a literal door to your space. Also be sure to put up picture of things that make you happy. Quotes and sayings on the wall help me, courtesy of Hobby Lobby and Homegoods!
Working from home has been an incredible journey full of self-discovery and exploration! I’ve experienced various lows of feeling down, stressed, not eating right, and I haven’t been as graceful with myself as I should’ve been! But even my worst days working from home couldn’t replace the happiness and joy I feel from working for myself and pursuing my own dreams. Everything in this life worth having will require great sacrifice. I’ve learned that you will have pro’s and con’s at every job you ever have, including your dream job! The key here is to take those con’s and work them in a way that works for you and your dreams. Everything I’ve faced as a work from home business owner I have faced with tenacity and optimism, and lip stick and caffeine. If I can do it, so can you! Whether you’re a stay at home mom, entrepreneur, or working from home in the corporate world, I encourage you to take this guide and use one thing from it this week. You’ll be amazed at the difference you feel and the joys of Working From Home full-time will come rushing back like a dream!
Love, Maliquea xo