Boom! You landed that sweet work-from-home gig, or are running your own business from the couch in your jim-jams – welcome to Easy Street. Only it’s not like that.
Working from home comes with it’s own set of challenges, like no structure, no jokes around the water cooler, and having to find motivation all by your lonesome. The good thing is you’re the master of your own destiny. The bad thing is you’re the master of your own destiny.
There’s tons of practical life hacks available for work-from homers (like getting a headset to avoid echo on online calls, dressing like you would for the office, or – gasp! – going for a walk).
Here’s 5 tips I’ve learned over 4 years working from my cramped apartment.
I wish I’d learned how to do this 10 years earlier. Figure out when you work best and when your brain is useless, and structure your day accordingly. I’m a zombie in the mornings and am most productive from 5–8pm, so I get up late and work ‘til late. The mid-afternoon is my favourite time of the day to be outside, so that’s when my dog gets some park action or I zone out at the beach.
Classical concertos, white noise, coffee chop chatter – the right music makes you more productive. I’ve experimented with many, and although it’s ostensibly for relaxation I’ve found ambientsleepingpill.com insanely good for knuckling down to write, be it a blog post or a big preso, without getting drowsy. Something about the drone just works. Plus it comes recommended by maverick author Warren Ellis, one of the most creative and men on the planet and a productive beast.
In the mornings most people are preoccupied with all the work they’ve got to do for the day and where they’re going to get their morning coffee. In the afternoon, however, they’ve knocked the most important things off their to-do list and are more relaxed and receptive to ideas. I like to set meetings at a local cafe or pub – taking people out of their boardrooms jailbreaks their brain and helps opens them up to more creative thinking, plus it cuts out any office-y distractions.
Have you ever been reading something and you get to the point where you look at the same sentence three times over and still can’t work out what it means? The longer you work without a rest, the less effective you are and the poorer your quality of your thinking. Try a Pomodoro and punch out 20mins followed by a 5 minute break, or do a power hour with a 10 minute break at the end.
When someone hears you work from home they assume you spend a lot of time goofing off because hey, nobody will know, right? For most of us that do work from home, it’s actually the opposite – long days, longer nights, and being really, really bad at switching off. Forget that. Want to go for a surf during ‘work hours’? Do it. Need a wine at 3pm? Do that, too. You’ve got an amazing opportunity. Manage your time to take advantage of it and learn not to feel guilty about being the master of your domain.
It might take a while to get into the swing of things – in fact, it definitely will – but having the facility and flexibility to set your own schedule is a freedom most people in today’s working world don’t get the liberty to do.
What’s your #1 work-from-home tip?
(these actually exist, and they're amazing.) Prior to joining Yelp in 2012, Ben worked in both local and multinational advertising and design agencies, and moonlighted in copywriting.