People working from home is the new norm this week so it wasn’t too surprising to find lots of Hi Susan e-mails asking me if I had any tips.
I was lucky enough to ease into working from home because my last employer let me do about 50% of the work from the home office I’d set up at my house. When it came time to part ways with her, I sort of knew some of the pitfalls. Although, I did have to approach it in a whole new way because I no longer had a paycheck coming my way. That in itself is a huge incentive to get things done. However, I know many of you suddenly working from home this week still have an employer but nevertheless, here are some of the tricks I’ve used over my 20 years of being a freelancer. And by the way, they work great for getting your writing done too!
Plan Your Day
Without a doubt, sitting down and making notes about everything I wanted to get done each day, saved the day. Before I started to do that I would sit and think, and sit and think and before I knew it hours had passed and I’d forgotten what the first thing on my imaginary to do list was. Write down...here’s what I need to do today. Check each item off as they get done. Anything that’s left over, move to the next day.
I always tell my students not to panic if they sit down to write and nothing happens. Maybe you need to come back to it an hour later. Best part of working from home, you can shift the hours you work…hopefully, your company is letting you do that too.
I still have to remind myself to do this. I work on something, get so involved with it that an hour’s passed and when I finally stand up, ouch! Happened to me the other day and I had a pain in my shoulder for two days. Set a timer if you have to, take some breaks, stretch your legs, even do some yoga.
Another drawback is when you sit so long and if you don’t have a glass of water or whatever, within reach, you get dehydrated. That makes you tired…can even make you hungry, work starts to lag and that’s bad news. In fact, when you get up to stretch, make yourself a cup of tea or whatever it is you like. Mid morning for me, it’s green tea, afternoon break is iced water with a lemon slice.
Let Others Know It’s Not Free Time
It’s tempting to let other people intrude on your time. So keep regular hours like you would at work. I would often give in and go have lunch with someone…a long lunch and then scramble to make up time which often went into evening hours.
One of the drawbacks to having an office at home is your work’s always there and it’s hard to switch off like you do when you leave a physical building and drive home. Everyone needs to recharge…yes, that’s writer’s too.