How to Work from Home (Without Losing Your Mind)

I’m a professional blogger. It’s weird to write that out, honestly. It doesn’t sound like it should be a real thing. But it’s true. I’m not talking about this blog, which is new and small and not something I get paid to do, but about my day job. I blog for a yarn company, so I’m paid to write about knitting and crochet.

Since I’m also working on my dissertation, I accepted this job as a part-time, freelance position. A few days a week I do go into the office, but frequently I work from home. Actually, going into the office more than once per week is a relatively new development — I used to work remotely almost every day. This isn’t my first work-from-home job, either. I’ve had several of writing gigs where a lot of the work was done outside of an office.

Working from home can be wonderful. However, if you don’t do it right, it can be lonely, depressing, and hard to concentrate. Here are some ways to combat that, based on my experience.

  • Get out. That’s right, tip number 1 for working from home is to not actually work from home all the time. Go to a nearby cafe or library, just to get a little fresh air and human contact.
  • Have a separate work space. This can be tough in small apartments, but working from your bed isn’t ideal. Even if you don’t have the space for a dedicated desk area, transform your couch and coffee table into your office each day. Have things you put out while working and tuck away when you’re just hanging out. Just setting out a notepad and pen cup or turning on a specific lamp can create a symbolic distinction between the work day and personal time.
  • Set ground rules. If you live with others, it may be hard to get them to realize that you are at work, even if physically you are at home. You will probably have to set up boundaries about what kinds of interactions you can have during work time and enforce them.
  • Invest in a coworking space. If you decide getting out is good for you, find a local cowork facility that will allow you to rent a desk. WeWork is all over the place, but there are other, independent spots as well. I’ve used Croissant, which is an app that gives you access to many different participating spaces. It only operates in a handful of cities, but it’s good if you like having options.
  • Set start and finish times. Stick to them. Of course, the occasional project may come up that demands more attention or a longer work day — that happens in offices too — but most of the time if you set shifts for yourself, it will help you keep yourself balanced. Make sure your coworkers know when you are and are not available to do tasks or answer emails.
  • Take breaks outside. Go out to lunch occasionally. Go for a walk. Getting outside (weather permitting) can clear your head and rejuvenate you.
  • Have a social life. Otherwise you may never leave your apartment.
  • Get dressed. You don’t have to get dressed up, but putting on something other than your pajamas marks the beginning of the work day. Even if it’s just leggings and a tee, it’s still clothing you didn’t sleep in. You can change back when your work is finished.
  • Keep things clean. If your apartment is a disaster, you won’t be able to focus. Make sure to tidy up regularly and don’t let your work space get cluttered or dirty.

Do you have any tips to make working from home better?

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