We’ve been talking about working from home for a few weeks now, right? So far, I’ve compared remote working to both an urban legend and a folktale… but, really, what are both of those things? When you boil them both down?
Well, they’re stories. At the bare bones, they’re simply stories.
My favorite kind of storytelling is when people leaves bits of themselves scattered throughout the words; if you read closely enough, you can see clues to their hopes and dreams, see how they feel about the world.
In this tale of working from home, it’s essential to keep yourself in the story.
Yes, you’ve got deadlines. Yes, you’ve got overdue payments to chase after. Yes, you will always have too many things on your calendar… but freelancing can’t always be about the work. If you want to enjoy this lifestyle and avoid burnout, don’t forget to keep a close eye on how you approach your family, social life, and well-being.
1. Family time is not work time.
A good portion of people working from home often have at least one other family member living with them. Whether it’s a spouse, kid, or great grandma, you’ve got to learn how to keep work and family separate. Checking emails at the dinner table and typing on your laptop while Junior tells you about his baseball game is only going to result in hard feelings and guilt.
And I know, trust me, sometimes you’ve just got to answer an email. Sometimes it’s a workmergency. Try to be mindful of how many times that happens, take care of it quickly, and get back to that game of Monopoly with your Great Grams. Focus on quality in both work and your home life… after all, isn’t that why you’re working from home in the first place?
2. Take that work elsewhere.
One of the risks of working from home is that of becoming a hermit. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a family or not, it’s still easy to become isolated from the rest of the world when you’re not forced to chat with anyone at the water cooler.
A wonderful way to avoid utter isolation and still meet those deadlines is co-working. Being able to sit at a table with someone in the same boat as you, someone with deadlines and responsibilities and a thirst for occupational freedom is both extremely motivating and a huge relief.
If you know of other entrepreneurs in your area, ask about get-togethers, and start one if there isn’t something already established. Talking with other entrepreneurs is energizing and inspirational.
Even the act of simply taking your work to a coffee shop can be an uplifting boost. For me, the roasty smell of coffee beans and the super-hip ambient music of a local java joint can be all I need to break out of a funk.
3. Include household management in your schedule.
You’re working at home, right? There’s no boss hovering over your shoulder, yelling at you for using work time to call your student loan servicer. Allow yourself a few blocks of time to take care of necessary domestic duties so that you don’t have to pay your bills at night or use your precious weekend time doing next month’s budget.
4. Go to a conference.
It may sound scary, or it might seem like a hassle, but I can’t express enough how beneficial an industry or niche-related conference can be to both your business and you. Find a gathering of people who do what you do, or one that is centered around something you’d like to learn about. Even if you’re quiet, you’re going to find someone to talk to, and this can lead to new friends, new perspectives, and even new clients.
In addition to a much-needed social boost, a conference can be a huge brain boost. Each entrepreneurial community has its own geniuses, and they’re usually the ones who are speaking in front of people. Listen to these talks, learn about things you might not know, and use them to keep abreast of your industry and improve the quality of your business.
5. Give nature a big high-five.
At the risk of sounding like your crazy aunt who likes to wave scarves at you and chant, I’ve got to include this strict order:
Go outside. Get in touch with nature. Even if it’s just sitting on your stoop and drinking a gin and tonic.
It’s not just new-age talk; it’s science. One of our only ways to get the proper amounts of Vitamin D is to be in the sun. Vitamin D has been known to aid in the prevention of diseases like osteoporosis, diabetes, and a handful of the other Big Ones.
Your eyes will thank you, too. The combination of adding natural light and temporarily removing the screen-element can prevent nearsightedness and correct your circadian rhythm (which means more sleep, which is awesome).
There are plenty of other benefits to heading outside, some backed by science, some backed by your aunt’s yoga teacher… the bottom line is that it’s good for you. Whether it’s a quick walk around the block or a power nap in your hammock, temporarily escaping the glow of your computer or the air getting pumped out of the AC is a fantastic way to shake things up and push your body’s “reset” button.
Don’t let “everything else” be an afterthought.
When you’re working from home, you’re in command, and that’s a very good thing… but when you’re on the brink of burnout, being in charge is often one of the last things you want to do.
Take care of your body and mind, and don’t neglect your social life. You’re working from home so that you can live life on your own terms… not put it on the back-burner.