It's almost here! The last day of my job is June 27!
Which means soon I'll be working full-time on my editing business. From home! The picture above is my newly organized home work-space. Aren't the bookcases cool? My Dad built them for me as a 30th birthday present. Isn't he talented? They're made from solid pieces of cherry wood and hand-finished. Both the chair and the desk were road-side finds from back when we lived in Maryland. I still need to hang a few more pictures and actually put some books in my new bookcases, but I think the space is coming along nicely.
I needed to do a little writing from home the other day (my last research paper), and it was so nice to work at that desk with all that room. Plus, it was great to finally get some quiet writing time. Normally, I work in a cubicle and my office is really loud with people coming in and out, discussing research, or worst of all - eating with their mouths open (damn you headphones, no one can hear themselves chewing anymore!). I get so much more writing and editing done when I'm working from home.
It's funny, though, my husband feels just the opposite. He says he's much less productive at home, and maybe other people feel the same way. So here's my work-from-home method in case it's of any help to you:
Step 1) I wake up early to get my fiction writing/editing done. When I don't have to commute to work, I try to write for at least two hours early in the morning, starting ~5 am. This is my daily writing routine, and I like to stick to it as much as possible.
Step 2) Get dressed. While it might be comfortable to wear a bathrobe all day, I know I'm more productive when I act as professionally at home as I would at the office. I just can't take myself that seriously when I'm still in my pajamas, and I think it shows in the quality of my work. So I get dressed, brush my teeth, etc., while my husband is also getting ready for work. I think getting ready together is the key to actually making it happen.
Step 3) I put out all the food I want to eat that day on the kitchen counter, if only to remind myself that's what I was planning on eating. No snacking from the cupboards. If you're like me and need a morning and afternoon snack, again, I just leave them out on the counter. I don't know what it is, but if I remind myself what healthy food I planned on eating, then I eat it. If I don't make a plan, I end up snacking endlessly on whatever I can find.
Step 4) On a piece of paper, I write down a list of things I want to accomplish in the approximate order I'd like to do them. I start with the first item on the list, finish it, mark it off, and move on to the next. I know, it seems obvious, but the lists keeps me organized and on-track. Whatever I don't finish on the list that day gets copied down onto the next day's list.
Step 5) I turn off the internet. Well, to be fair, the internet is always off in our house, but I do shut down the data plan on my cell phone to keep me from browsing The Washington Post all day.
Step 6) I use my watch to measure how long I'm in the "zone" (i.e., really focused) and I stay in it for at least 30 min. If I find myself getting frustrated or distracted, I check my watch, and if I haven't been working for a least a half hour, then I force myself to refocus on the writing again. However, if a half-hour has passed, then I give myself a mini-break (get a glass of water), and then return back to work again. If I've been working hard for over an hour, then I go on a mini-break regardless. I've just noticed that I need little breaks through the day and that after an hour of solid work, I start to become less productive anyway. So I get up, stretch my legs, and do something else for about 10-15 minutes.
Step 7) I try to use those 10-15 minute breaks to do something productive, like unload the dishwasher, clean a toilet, or do my strength training routine. I figure if I'm working from home, then I should use that to my advantage to get little chores out of the way so my family and I can have more fun in the evenings or on the weekends.
Step 8) I take a short midday walk with my dog after lunch. Exercise is important and it helps me think straighter and write/edit better.
Step 9) I finish up my work around 5 or 6 and then take the dog for her long evening walk. I aim to get 15,000 steps a day, which is hard when I'm working from home, but I still try. At the very least, I try to get 10,000 steps. There's no doubt I'm more sedentary when I'm working from home. The house has a way of confining me more than my workplace does, so I have to make a concerted effort to document my exercise to make sure I'm not sitting around all day (I use my Fitbit Charge hr and I love it).
Anyway, just a few thoughts and I hope some of them may be helpful. Bear in mind, though, I don't have kids, which is probably what makes a lot of these tips work. I don't know how you work-from-home Moms and Dads do it, but I salute you.
Do you have any working from home tips?
Writing Streak: 3 days
My Books on Amazon:
Waking Lions by Avelet Gundar-Goshen
Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro