At the 2 month mark of my going remote for Visually in San Francisco, I’ve definitely learned a few things that have made a significant difference for my productivity and my happiness since my first two weeks. It will be interesting to see 6 months from now, or a year, what I can add to this list. I hope to help others navigate their way around the freedom, sporadic isolation, or idle creativity that can come with working from home.
1. Get Ready. Don’t stay in your PJs! Shower, get dressed, make breakfast and coffee. Treat the day like you’re going to the office, because in reality you are! It will really wake you up and get you motivated for the day.
2. Get in “Work-Mode” Right Away. I write down my first 2-3 tasks the night before. This way, I sit down and know exactly what to get started on and get straight into it. I find that scheduling Google Hangout meetings in the morning with my co-workers in San Francisco helps me to get in work-mode early!
3. Schedule Your Day. The fact that we can get up from our desks whenever we want is both a luxury factor and what can really slow us down. I get up to play with my dogs, clean the kitchen, hang up frames on the wall…and so on, because I can. So I’ve started scheduling my hour lunch break and one other 20 minute break to in the later afternoon. Then there’s the other side of the coin, you don’t have a set time to stop working, so you keep going until 10pm. Set a time to end the work day so you can do everything else important in your life.
4. Get Out of the House. The best part about working remote is the choice I have in working where I want. Only 1-2 days a week I actually stay home and the other days I go to the local coffee shop, or meet up with friends who also work freelance or have work-from-home days. The newest addition to my location list is a nearby co-working space, with like-minded freelancers and other telecommuters to work with side-by-side. I could go on forever about the benefits of co-working spaces, after all its how many great businesses started out including Instagram before they became worth over $1 Billion, but we will save that for another post. Which leads me to my next point…
5. Stay Social as Often as Possible. Without an office or a team to communicate with all day long, working remote can be very isolating. This is the worst part about it. It was an obstacle I had to figure out immediately before I tore my hair out from island fever /slash/ cabin fever…or whatever fever it is when you start talking to yourself. I have lunch with friends on my breaks as often as possible, schedule dinner dates with them after work hours, and make sure to plan fun activities and dates with my husband and friends all weekend. My new work-from-home job has brought me a lot closer to the people I care about.
6. Stay Active and Eat Right. An obvious tip for really anyone, but I’ve realized my eating schedule changed significantly since leaving my office environment. At my last job, I would wake up with just enough time to get ready, walk the dogs and jet out the door …with no time to make breakfast. In the afternoons, I would get so focused on a task that I would skip lunch constantly simply because it would take too long. Now, the fridge is right there when I’m hungry. So I’ve changed my diet significantly with more fruits and veggies, and many more vitamins and I make sure to get off my butt and hit the gym after work. Life changing.
7. Nurture Your Passion. Chances are, if you’re lucky enough to work from home, you’ve been making the right career moves. And, I’m guessing you love what you do. But if you’re an ambitious person, there are always more business ventures you dream about and goals you want to accomplish professionally. Take a lesson from Google’s ol’ 20% time policy and spend that time working on personal projects that you’re passion about. It’s how projects like Gmail and AdSense came about and innovative companies like Apple and LinkedIn followed suit. Even 1-2 hours a day working on your special interest will increase your happiness and get you excited to start your day.