Look, I’ll be honest here. I feel like a total fraud trying to write a blog post about “how to survive working from home”, when I myself am hardly surviving at the moment. OH WELL!
Four months into 2015, I’m well and truly batshit crazy. The thing is, up until now I’ve always had somewhere else to go; a few part-time gigs in an actual real-life office. With a water cooler and everything. (Just kidding, I’ve never had a water cooler, but I hear they’re pretty cool. Ha, get it? COOL.) <---- See what I mean by crazy?! This year, it’s all about finishing off my thesis, and all my freelancing is done on my own time, in my own house. I’m currently writing this from the State Library of NSW because I could not stand another day in that apartment. Doing a PhD and working as a freelance writer and editor means my home is my office more days than not, and I’ve been playing this sweet game for about four years now.
It IS a sweet game, right? How many people aspire to this life of freedom, flexibility and comfort? So why am I such a jerk, taking advantage of this awesome lifestyle by giving myself a ridiculously hard time whenever I watch an episode of Friends while I’m eating lunch or allow myself an afternoon nap when I can barely keep my eyes open at 3pm? Ugh, I’m so lazy. I will never survive in the real world. Maybe I should’ve finished that law degree, then I would really know hard work. Hey, Amz, don’t worry, you do work hard. Man, you’re doing a PhD, that’s one of the hardest things you’ll probably ever do (aside from potentially pushing a baby out one day, but I’m not speaking from experience here). Give yourself a break. One day you will look back on this life and mentally punch your own face for not appreciating the good times while they lasted. Ugh.
These are the thoughts that go through my head on an almost-daily basis. Welcome to my crazy mind, enjoy the ride!
A lot of people think that greater work-life balance would be achieved if they could just work from home. The lifestyle, I admit, is more flexible, but you’ve got to know how to handle it. Kind of like training a particularly unruly puppy. The reality is, working from home can actually blur the lines between work and play, without you realising. One day you just wake up and realise it’s 9pm and you’ve been sitting at your desk since 9am and there are food crusts littering the floor around you and you can’t feel your butt. And you’re not sure if you remember how to relax on the couch at the end of the day, because THERE IS NO END OF THE DAY.
Here are some of my “survival tips”. Stay tuned for next week’s blog post, during which other cool people will offer potentially more sound advice than ‘GTFO every once in a while’. (But hey, that is legit too.)
Stay out of the bedroom, sailor
Bed is for relaxing; keep it that way. If you’re going to be working from home, make sure you assign yourself a specific working area that, if possible, is outside of the bedroom. You need to train yourself to associate bed with sleep and relaxation, not with deadlines and stress and a laptop on your lap. This year, I even bought an alarm clock, so I could leave my phone out of the room at night. Yeah, I did. Go me! I swear my sleep is better for it.
Assign some anti-screen time
Boy, this is a tough one. In this day and age, our lives more or less revolve around our screens. About a month into this year, my partner and I were both working from home, and one day we realised we hadn’t actually spent any time together for a few weeks. We were together every day, side by side, working on our laptops. Sometimes we would go to Coles. It was all very romantic. But enough is enough. Yes, I had major withdrawals when we first decided on a work-free Sunday, but I’m getting better at it, and my writing and ideas are fresh.
Occasionally, you need to GTFO – get the eff out. Working at home can be a sweet, sweet time. But sometimes, it’s just not. I’m particularly distracted by housework as a procrastination tool. Like, I will only be able to draft this chapter of my thesis if the dishwasher is unpacked, I’ve vacuumed and done three loads of washing. When you’re a seasoned working-from-home-er, getting out of the house for the day can seem like a task full of effort. Why should I pack up my laptop and some pens and get on the train? You get totally caught in a bubble sometimes, and the outside world can be scary. Ew, people. Ew, public transport. Ew, delicious breeze and sun on my face. Oh wait, that’s kind of nice, why don’t I get out more often?! If you’re going stir crazy (hello!), find a new place to work for the day. Whether that’s a library, or a café, or your partner’s office, a change of scenery will do wonders for your productivity. Kind of like a holiday. A working holiday. Don’t forget your sunscreen.
Go forth and be cool!