In the last 10 years, most of my working time was spent at home. Working from your home office, especially when you have children, allows you a certain flexibility and the possibility of being there - at least as a physical presence - but on the other hand it might be a frustrating experience. How many sunny spring and summer days - such a commodity in Germany - I've spent working non-stop, fighting hard with deadlines? How many weekends were a sacrifice on the altar of hard work - and not always enough money - waiting for some editor to announce me if the article sent couple of days ago is really fine? As I do operate on a different holidays schedule than most of the world, when other people are enjoying their vacation during the winter holidays time, I am always hard working and this might be difficult also when it comes to making a common program with a partner or friends as well.
However, I personally find this kind of work rewarding, as it gives me also the chance to work with a diversity of people and personalities, being involved in many different complex projects allowing me to use at their best my personal and professional skills.
For all those freelancers working from home that, like me, are sometimes having some hard time being stuck at home for such a long time, here are my 4 tips for a better working from home experience. Those tips I've tried more than once myself and found always an experience good enough to recommend it to my readers too.
1. Break your working time into short breaks
The most important thing you have to have in mind as a freelancer is to be organised. As organised as possible. I usually have a tight schedule for the week, day and sometimes, even hour by hour. I set up my schedule at the beginning of the week - which, for me, starts on Sunday, sure that I can cover properly all the hourly rates of my projects. I do have separate Excel sheets for each of my projects, that I update instantly after receiving or finishing a work task.
Being organised means also that I am trying to give myself some breaks between projects. Either you are using the Pomodoro technique or not, those breaks are very important for recharging, relaxing while getting ready for a new start.
I do not have a given amount of time put aside for the breaks, but usually it is around 5 minutes and 30 minutes. It might be enough to check your other emails, your WhatsApp, call a friend or just haev a coffee or prepare your lunch.
2. A little bit of sport movements every day
I am guilty for not spending enough time exercising, one of the many reasons being that I am simply out of time. I have to wake up early for work, finish the first batch around 8am when I have to prepare my son for the kindergarten and after that, continue with more work, business appointments or some house chores that I prefer to do it when I am on my own. After 15.00 o'clock, the rest of the day is spent again together with my son so no way to go out for one hour to practice. After all, my day is already packed with action therefore, why should I pay for some fitness studio?
However, I am terribly missing my gym time, especially after a couple of hours tied to my chair working in the front of the computer.
As usual, I've found a solution that relatively makes me happy for the time being: using at least two of the work breaks for a bit of stretching, various movements and other practical physical exercises that might give you physical power to succeed through the rest of the busy day. As for now, I am looking to set up a couple of useful practices and tips, so watch this space a bit later for more tips and inspiration.
Since breaking into smartphones, one of the few apps that I am checking every day - besides WhatsApp - is SamsungHealth, as it records automatically the number of steps that I set up as a goal every day. As for now, I am modestly aiming at 10,000 steps the day, but usually during the weekend and while on various trips, I am hiting much farther. As this number of steps can be easily achieved within one hour of walking, I am trying to use as much as possible my outdoors time for achieving this goal.
Regardless of the weather conditions and of how much work I have to do, one hour of walking relaxes me - especially when I walk in the middle of the nature or through a forest.
Don't try to cheat. You cannot decide to stay one day at home while considering to spend 2 hours outdoors the next one. Every day counts and when once in a while - usually maximum twice the year - I am simply stuck at home and cannot enjoy the fresh air, I feel bad both physically and mentally. Moving means your body is put into motion and this motion compensate the extra energy vacuumed by the intellectual activity.
Obviously, you need both a healthy mind and a healthy body.
4. Don't neglect your social life
You might say: a busy single mother life, an active child, a lot of activities and business ideas to be developped, when can you meet other people than your potential business partners? Although I may feel overwhelmed and I am a bit neglecting my dating life, getting in touch with my friends and having a certain - although limited - social life is important for my overall success. It can be a playdate, or just a short coffee with a date, or a visit at an exhibition or at your local library. Connecting with people, getting familiar with something different than your line of work might be a relaxing yet inspiring experience. Catching up with friends might not always be possible in person, but using your break time for calling a friend to ask him or her how he or she feels, helping someone in need are healthy social life experiences that you should not ignore and give them a given place into your everyday life activities.
What about you, what are your tips for an efficient homeworking experience?