I work from home and I love it. Atlanta traffic is horrific and I have no commute. The only traffic I deal with is an occasional jam on the stairs if my great dane mix stops midway to check that I am close behind. I am disciplined and motivated enough to get up and work every day, and I have studio space in my house (separate from my living space) where I work. When I go to the studio, I am at work. When I leave the studio, I am home. I think this separation is what has kept me thriving for 20+ years self-employed, working from home.
I also need quiet and stillness to focus effectively on my work. I marvel at those who can work in coffee shops and airports surrounded by noise and busy-ness. I just can’t do it. My neighbors are getting a new roof. For two days in a row the roofers have been banging away causing constant distraction and irritation for me. I tried headphones and while that does block out much of the noise, I can’t concentrate on what I am reading or writing with music playing in my ears. I can’t even effectively focus and work on a visual design with the headphones on.
I know I’m not the only one. In the book Quiet by Susan Cain, she cites research showing that popular open/shared work environments are a hindrance to productivity and that innovation often comes from someone working on their own, in a quiet space.
With 20 successful working-from-home years behind me and many more ahead, here are a couple of essential tips to help you thrive while working from home:
Create a specific place for work that is separated from your living space.
While you are in that space, you are working. Keep work materials out of your living space. When you leave work and are in your living space, you are home, not working. It’s an important distinction and will help you get work done and also have personal and family/friends time. You can also get a tax deduction for the portion of your home dedicated to your work space.
Set a work routine and try to stick to it.
I’m certainly guilty of rebelling against schedules and working too much and also blowing off work from time to time. But, I am at my best when I stick to a reasonable routine. I break my work day into 2-3 hour segments to ensure time to work on my own business/projects, client projects, unexpected client requests, etc. I recently read an article about the daily routines of history’s most creative minds suggesting (among other things) taking significant breaks to talk a walk or something between these segments is beneficial… I think I will give this a try and see how it works for me.
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