Being a digital nomad is amazing. You can work anytime from anywhere. It’s liberating, empowering, and can make you completely crazy! But…it comes with its own particular problems.
Keeping your sanity working from home five days a week isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you have been working from home for a while, you are probably already familiar with some of the pitfalls.
From eternally greasy hair to 18-hour workdays, things can get out of hand if you let them. BUT it’s simple to keep things in check with a few simple strategies.
Here are my most helpful tips on working from home as a freelancer!
By far and away the easiest thing you can do to stay happy, healthy, and productive is to get dressed. And, to be clear, I am talking about putting on clean non-pajama clothes. Ones that you would wear in public.
I do indeed work in my yoga pants some days but I find that I am more productive when I get dressed. There is something magical about the routine of getting out of bed and “getting ready” for the day.
While I’m guilty of wearing leggings most days, popping on a cute top makes a difference. If it’s something I would feel confident wearing out of the house, it gives me a little boost (I write this as I am literally in sweatpants, lol).
Above all, however, honor what works for you.
If getting dressed up once a week or every day makes you most productive, make time for it. If you’re most productive in your sweatpants, rock ‘em! Just pay attention to your patterns to discover the best fit.
Structure Your Day
Too many freelancers get into the habit of sleeping in because they don’t have to go to an office. While that might work for a few of us, it’s a slippery slope for others.
All of a sudden, it’s the end of the day, and you still have a million tasks ahead of you.
I am always more productive when my days are structured. I create a schedule for the day so that I don’t end up asking myself where all the time has gone.
Create a Task List
When you work from home, your laptop is probably the center of your life. But don’t underestimate your physical space! Being physically organized helps me stay mentally organized. At the end of each day, I take a look at what I have on my plate for tomorrow.
I have a paper daily planner where I physically check things off.
This might not work for everyone, but it’s been crucial for me. So much of my work is online and I can find myself plugging away for hours without feeling like I’ve gotten anything done. Having a separate space where I physically check things off is rewarding for me and keeps me on track.
I still use online tools like Asana and Slack to stay in contact with my team and manage bigger products. For me, it’s this hybrid of online and offline tools that works best. Experiment until you find what works for you!
Here are a few of the core apps that I’ve found essential to staying productive.
While it is amazing not having a boss, it also leaves a lot on your shoulders. Working solo means that you are the only one to keep yourself motivated.
Blocking out your time is imperative in these cases. It keeps me on track and allows me to get into a flow without distractions.
For example, I keep a consistent daily schedule where I check emails from 8 to 9 in the morning. I grab a coffee break for 15 minutes around 9 then take on my first project from about 9:15-10:00 am.
Make it a rule to focus exclusively on the task at hand. Don’t get distracted or start scrolling through your phone.
Giving each project your all will make a huge difference in your ability to budget your time.
If you’re a blogger like yours truly, it might feel like you’re being pulled in different directions all day. To manage your time, check out my ten key tips for being a more productive blogger.
Create a Productive Work Environment
If you want to be productive, you’ve got to have a space that is conducive to getting stuff done. While the couch may be calling, a desk space is more than likely the best option.
While it is definitely okay to switch things up and move around the house, I would recommend avoiding your bed.
Move between the kitchen table, your desk, and anywhere else that serves you well. Just be careful to avoid spots that are for relaxing. It’s not good for sleep hygiene and it’s important to make clear divides between space for work and relaxation.
On Coffee Shops + Coworking Spaces
These are popular but your results may vary. It totally depends on your personality. I’m most productive at home because I find that being around other people or in a loud environment is distracting.
Other people find that cafes and coworking spaces get them away from the distractions of home. Do you. If you’re not yet in a routine with working from a particular spot, I’d recommend looking for a few things:
Make sure it’s a space that is productive for getting things done. Think about the noise level. How is the WiFi? Are there enough plugs? Are there cozy seats and usable tables? What’s the overall atmosphere like?
Though I typically work from home, it’s good to be familiar with a few places that are suitable to work on those days when you just need to get out of the house. I keep a list of the best cafés in Cape Town for freelancers and there are probably fab spots in your city too.
Set Work Hours for Yourself
While working from home might seem like a luxury at times, it can also start to feel like you live at work. Again, it’s all about structure. Set your work hours and stick to them.
Avoid checking your work email or logging hours outside of your set time. There will always be emergencies here and there, but make those crazy hours the exceptions rather than the norm. It’s all about sticking with this structure.
Remember that working more hours doesn’t always (in fact, usually doesn’t) equate to more productivity.
Having colleagues in different time zones can be tricky but it is something I’ve found a way to plan around. When you start and end your day is all about circumstances and personal preference.
I thrive on a lot of sleep, but I don’t like working late at night. I’ve found the perfect balance by starting work around 7:30 or 8 am.
I work across different times zones, so I need to be online and available later in the day. For this reason, I take a long break from 2:00 to 5:00 pm every day. This ensures I get some time for myself but I can stay connected to my team in California and other places while I am working out of South Africa.
I work again from 5:00 until 8:00 then quit for the day. And I really do quit then! Setting a hard stop time in the evening is important. It allows you to manage your social life and honor your partner or the people who need you present.
It is also crucial to shutting down your mind and getting a good night of sleep.
- Get Dressed
- Structure Your Day
- Have a Tangible Task List
- Time Block
- Create a Productive Work Environment
- Set Work Hours for Yourself
What tips do you have for working from home? Let me know in the comments below!