I’ve been working full-time from home for over a decade and thought I’d share how I do it – AND how I manage with a husband who also works from home – and is also always on his phone or on a conference call.
I have no advice to give you if you have kids, sorry. But, I hope to help in the work from home area or how to support someone who works from home.
When I worked in corporate over 10 years ago, I negotiated a work from home every Friday deal which was awesome, and then adjusted it every Friday off before I left and became my own boss and I run a few businesses to earn a full-time living. You can read that story here, if you’re interested. Just like being an entrepreneur, working from home isn’t for everyone as glamorous as may sound. But for most of us right now, we don’t have a choice. So I wanted to share some of our learning curve tips.
When I first worked from home – fail
When I first started to work from home I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I would roll out of bed and log on when I had to, do some loads of laundry, watch some TV, check personal email, scroll Facebook and Twitter, I think I got work like company work done.
I’m pretty certain I wasn’t that productive. I had no idea of structure or what I was supposed to do.
Once I started to work for myself shortly after was when I realized if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Now whether you work for a company or yourself, it’s important you are working the hours you are getting paid to work, so I want to help you manage your time productively and stay sane. And also share a story with you when Benjamin and I tried to share an office space – it only lasted for a few days.
Story about how hubby and I worked together for 3 days before he left!
The home we live in now I bought while we were dating. It is a 3-bedroom, 1952 home and was 1750 square feet at the time (we since expanded). It was perfect for me, a cute little master bedroom, a guest room (because I have so many out of state friends who visit and family!), and an office – which I made a big French door hole in right off the front entrance/living room area because at the time it was important for me to have my wedding clients come to my home for meetings.
I didn’t expect to get married to a man who need an at-home office as well and I was not happy to give up the guest room. So, after we got married I told him we should share an office, it would be fun! He was hesitant and said he had lots of marketing material but I had this dreamy idea that we’d share a work space and it would be beautiful and fun and we’d be productive.
We didn’t even last a week. We shared the large dining room table which was my office desk (I still think dining room tables are where it’s at for office desks), and since Benjamin is in sales it meant he was on the phone ALL THE TIME. And he has a loud deep voice. He would talk and I would slowly turn my head and open my eyes at him like, Are you serious? How dare you make so much noise in my office look and he would just keep talking. Then when I edited my photos I would get excited and I’d say, “Honey, look at this photo!” only to follow up 5 seconds later with the same thing and he would say, “If you want me to make money I need you stop making me look at a photo every 2.5 seconds.”
Then one afternoon he came home from running an errand, Walmart that is, and had a small black folding card table, the half size, and he popped out the legs and told me he was moving into the guest room.
There he stayed for years sharing it with guests, and we had guests stay and he was so great about it and would move out his things. Oh, and his clothes are also in that tiny closet. We got him a better desk, and just last year we finally moved the guest room to a Murphy bed in the new garden area room. So we now have two rooms that are full-time dedicated offices.
But enough about that story, I know not everyone has their own office work space, so I’m going to give my best advice knowing what you need to work from home and how to navigate when both work from home and did I mention one is super loud and likes to talk on the phone and walk around the entire house as he’s on the phone?
How Work From Home Productively and Stay Sane
1. Get your cute self ready
Set the alarm, get up like you would for work. Take your shower, make your coffee, get dressed, put on light makeup or at least the falsie lashes (hair maybe optional, use that dry shampoo sis), make your breakfast, sit down at the computer and log on. If you don’t want to do any of this, just get dressed, change your clothes it will make all the difference with how you feel.
2. Open the windows + light a candle
Let some crisp fresh air in, it really does wonders, light a candle. You couldn’t light a candle at work, work from home perks! Woop woop!
3. Turn off the TV and radio + distractions
It sounds great as if you can do the fun personal stuff while working but don’t be fooled! My emails and blog posts have typos and I’m scatter brained by disruption. I will close out my iMessage when I need to focus, turn off the inbox notifications and sometimes just close out the mail app completely until I’m ready to respond. Close the doors if you need to. I cannot listen to music with words in it, but I found a playlist on Spotify called “No Words, Just Vibes/Studying” which is the pop music but instrumental, like karaoke but not the actual song music if you know what I mean, more high-end restaurant, hotel music which I love.
4. Have a dedicated work area
If the dining room table is now the office space, let it be. Since you’ll be working from there every day, you can decide if you want it to be the full-time office area, or clear it up after the work day is done and you need to use it for its intended purpose. The good thing about being able to remove and clean up your work space is you will feel like work isn’t lingering over the weekend staring at you.
5. Sit in a chair
I have a laptop and I love it, and I often pull it out and work a bit on it while doing other things (oops, I know I said that was a no-no) but I only do it for the small things, like a quick email, or to check in. For the big tasks I am always in my office sitting in a chair (it’s OK if I’m crossing my legs on the chair like I am now), but it forces me to feel like I am at a desk, working and makes me feel more alert.
6. Whoever talks on the phone gets the room
Whether it’s a bedroom or whatever room it is, trust me, you want that door closed when they are on the phone. Sometimes Benjamin takes his calls and walks around the house I literally go bonkers, but I decided that since I do have my own office space with doors, I can just close my doors.
7. Separate working spaces + close doors
Whether you’re the dining room and he’s using the island countertop for work, if you get distracted a lot, face away from each other so you can focus on work and not be tempted to chat all day. I mean chatting is fine, but sometimes we really have to focus on the emails and task at hand.
8. Take a lunch break
Just like you would at work, go on your lunch break. This is when you do your laundry, take a walk outside or in your backyard, check the mail and packages. Watch an episode of Netflix (work from home perks!). This is what will keep you sane and avoid burn out.
9. Have fresh flowers
If you can get fresh flowers at the grocery store, get them! Or a little house plant would make your space feel lively. I love fresh flowers, and Trader Joe’s often has the best selection – if you’re on budget grab the greenery/fillers they have some smaller flowers that might last longer, or lilies, they can last a week and a half!
10. Make sure your work area is well-lit
Whether it’s by a window, or you bring in a task lamp, make sure you feel like you have enough light.
You got this! Do you have any work from home tips? Have you been working from home? Tell me how you’re doing in the comments, or if it’s not going well. I saw a funny Facebook thread that said refer to your husband or child as your “co-worker” and say what is happening in the comments. They were hilarious stories!
Diana Elizabeth wants to change her home office, starting with the curtains now. It all started with pink pleated velvet curtains which then turned into a new curtain rod, rings, and curtain trim. Expect another updated office reveal in the next few months – this is just what happens when she’s really stuck at a home.