Working from home is one of those things that you either love or hate. I totally believe that adapting to a home office is a matter of personality more than anything. You have to be extremely organized, disciplined and self-motivated, otherwise the chances of turning your living room into chaos are high. As the trend of remote work increases, I think more and more people are willing to give it a try, so this post is dedicated to sharing my experience of over 10 years doing it and tips to build a “home office, sweet home office”
Routine: you got rid of commuting and office hours but it doesn’t mean that a routine is not important. Keep in mind that you’ll need to reply emails and make phone calls during the 9 to 5 period, and that deadlines still exist, so establish a schedule and stick to it. Of course, you have the luxury to sleep a little more if you went out the night before or had insomnia, for example, and there will be days of extra procrastination on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube (hello, makeup tutorials!), or an afternoon in the kitchen baking chocolate muffins (love them!) – which is perfectly normal as long as they are exceptions.
I usually go to the gym in the morning, so I try to check emails and reply anything urgent by 10 am. Before lunch, I tend to organize my mailbox and set up the day tasks. Obviously, I don’t need to take exactly one hour of lunch, but between preparing the food, having the meal (never ever in front of the computer!) and doing the dishes I spend at least 30 minutes. I also take the break to post on Instagram and Snapchat, so the afternoon is dedicated to work on clients’ projects or write the blog. I try to finish at 7 pm tops, however, depending on the time I start and amount of work, I can go on until 8 pm. After I check the final emails of the day and make the round of social media, I really turn off and don’t even leave the mobile near me. This separation between office and leisure hours is kind of sacred and I try hard to not mess it up.
Space and décor: your office can occupy an entire room or be in the corner of your living room but it needs to be the place where everything related to work is close – and organized. Investing in a proper desk and chair is one of the best things you can do to your physical and mental health so put a real effort here. Also, take light (natural is better) and noises into consideration, especially if you live with other people. My desks have always been by the window in order to take advantage of natural light and because I love to be able to look at the sky and at whatever the view allows and do some wandering. It’s great to inspire! By the way, try to decorate it with colours and elements that reflect your style and are inspirational, after all, you are the boss now! The images above can be good references.
Personal Image: the time saved when you don’t need to choose different outfits every day or waste 10 minutes just concealing a pimple is incredible, but, on the other hand, working in your pyjamas can’t be part of the deal. As I said in the first topic, it’s essential to establish a routine and to differentiate work from chill time, so leave the PJs in the bedroom.
Evidently, you don’t need to dress up, but choose some “work clothes” to rely on, something comfortable that doesn’t embarrass you when the postman or the Amazon delivery guy come in the door, ok? Also, don’t ignore your hair and skin cares. I wash my hair every other day and style it as if I were going out. The same applies to my skin regime: after cleansing, I apply a moisturizer with SPF because even indoors the light from the computer screen can be damaging. My current favourite is Clinique Superdefense Daily Defense SPF 20. Lip balms (Chapstick, Ceralip or Dr. Paw Paw) and hand creams (Cowshed Cow Pat, Roger Gallet Crème Sublime Bois d’Orange or L’Occitane Vanilla Bouquet) are always strategically near. I truly believe that taking care of ourselves help improving our self-esteem, thus when I’m feeling down I swap the lip balm for some layers of bright lipstick. I can’t get enough of Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy or Clinique Pop Lacquer Lip Colour + Primer
Human Contact: as much as you love the freedom of listening (or not) to your own playlist loud and clear (singing along when a favourite song plays!) and the fact that you don’t have to deal with annoying co-workers that are part of every company, sometimes, is normal to long for some interaction.
Since I don’t drink coffee and can be easily distracted by the noises inside a café, I’d rather schedule regular network events and kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Meetups and talks/workshops from organizations as General Assembly and Google Campus are great to meet people with similar interests and unwind. I try to go to one of them at least twice a month. The events don’t necessarily need to be related to your work, but surely will bring a breath of fresh air, so just sign up and go – work hours is not an excuse anymore, remember? Also, don’t forget that you are more flexible to catch up with friends, so instead of meeting them in a packed bar at happy hour, schedule brunches, lunches or afternoon teas, for example. Feel the good vibes and enjoy it!