Firstly, let me say, working from home is an amazing gift. You set your own hours, work to your own pace and every now and then you can chuck the slow cooker on or a load of washing, which (let’s be honest) isn’t a huge plus but it really helps! So yes, I am very grateful I get to do the job I love... in my pyjamas. (Some days)
So, when I talk about my work or tell new friends what I do, I get two very conflicting responses:
1. I don’t know how you do it; or
2. You’re so lucky
Both are pretty valid and true statements, some days I don’t know how I do it, and other days I thank my lucky stars.
Let’s talk about point 1.
I don’t know how you do it
When friends say this, they are referring to working on my own day in and day out and the often creatively stressful nature of my work. The isolation, motivating myself, paying myself and not distracting myself with coffee dates, online shopping, social media and other non-work-related things.
Let’s be real, some days are shitty, really really shitty. Here’s an example: My fifo husband is away for work, my daughter is home sick, my phone is ringing off the hook, emails streaming in and I have a 12noon print deadline...that scenario happens all too often. I would be forgiven if every now and then I threw my hands up and turned my phone off and downed a bottle of cab sauv! Some days I wish I could take some paid sick leave, delegate tasks to a colleague or at least seek solace in another staff member who understands my struggles. But the reality is, I don’t have those things.
It is important that I am reminded that I chose this life for myself for a reason. Yes, my daughter is sick, BUT I can have her at home with me. Yes, my emails and phone are going crazy BUT that means I have work which means I have an income. Yes, I am isolated BUT that means no office politics and a boss breathing down my neck. I have built my business at home to give me the freedom I really desire. This life is not for everyone. It takes years of discipline to work from home successfully. But when you get it right, it is worth it.
Here are some tips to deal with motivation and organisation if you work from home. These are things that have worked for me, but I can’t stress enough... these things work for ME and might not be for everyone.
Be clear with your capabilities and what clients can expect from you: From the very first contact with a new client, inform them how you run your business. For me, when a new ‘cold’ client contacts me, I inform them that I am a freelancer working from home, my turnaround times are X many days and X is my hourly rate. This will avoid any surprises or disappointments on either end of the working relationship.
Set your hours and stick to them: It is easy to be coaxed into your office at all times of the day and night when you are walking past it constantly. It is so important to set your working hours and breaks and try as best as possible to stick to them, it won’t always happen that way, but it gives you the feeling of a structured environment. Put your hours in your email signature so you clients also know when you are available. Do not answer your phone or emails outside this time, it is a slippery slope and sets a precedent with your client where they feel they contact you at any time. I have learnt this the hard way.. trust me!
Don’t over commit: Can’t fit the job in? Then say no, or at least tell the client that it will be a long wait. This gives them the choice to go somewhere else or wait for you. Don’t say yes to please your client as ultimately that will tarnish the relationship when you don’t deliver.
It’s ok to post-pone: This relates to meetings or engagements that fall in your designated hours. We can’t be everywhere all the time, saying yes to everything is just not realistic. It is important that you are where you need to be, that is completing your work in your set hours and making an income. I used to really struggle with cancelling or postponing. However, if you are overwhelmed and can see that losing that time will affect your progress than it is totally ok to reschedule, with enough notice of course. Your clients will understand your position as by now, they should be aware of your working situation, and most often, will offer to come to you to save time.
To do lists: This seems like an obvious tip, but sometimes it is the most obvious things that we forget to do. Once you see your tasks written or typed in front of you, everything feels clearer and much more achievable. There are also some great workflow and project management apps out there that can assist you in this area. I have worked with Clockify & Workflow Max with great success.
Silence is not always golden: Once again, this is something that helps me and is not for everyone. I cannot work in absolute silence, I think I’d go crazy! For some people a radio or music is a winner, for me it is re-runs of light hearted shows like Friends in the background. The conversations are quite soothing, and it feels less isolating.
Make connections in your industry: This can be a valuable tool to have. If you have a small network of trusted professionals that you can get feedback and advice from this can be handy. Sometimes some outside perspective can really help you see things differently.
Don’t forget your social life: It is important to work on relationships outside of work, sometimes we can go days without a genuine social interaction, this can impact your mental health dramatically. Human interaction revitalises the mind and releases endorphins which ultimately will enhance your creativity and productivity!
These are my top tips that help me get through a week, I would love to hear about what works for you!
Next let’s talk about…
You’re so lucky
This section will be a lot shorter because the gist is basically… Luck has nothing to do with it.
Yes, I am lucky that I can work in a home environment, be more present for my family and make an income on MY terms BUT I have had to make many sacrifices and have had to work for 10+ years to get here. It might come quicker and more naturally for some people, but for me, it has been a steady climb and I am proud that I have stuck it out and achieved what I have.
When people say this to me, I am by no means offended at all as on the outside it must look like a dream. Almost like the Instagram reality, things are never what they seem. I just remind them that there are good days and bad days but yes, ultimately, I am very happy that I have created a work environment that works for me and my family.
Do you have any friends or family that work in isolation? If so, check in on them, they could be having a tough day. 😊
Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you found this blog useful or you want to chat about anything at all!