Working from home might be your ideal job situation, but it has its own special challenges. These can range from needing to provide your own office supplies to setting firm limits on how your time is to be used – both for yourself and for others.
Have a space or a container that protects your office equipment and supplies
While pictures of people seated in full lotus at the beach, with their laptop on a log or big rock look romantic, the reality of making that happen might not always meet expectation. Digital equipment of any kind is sensitive to dust, dirt, and heat. Sand in a camera lens extension, for example, can be a real show stopper.
Make your workspace comfortable
The human body was not designed to type for eight or more hours per day. Optimize your production by cutting down on discomfort. Comfort can mean different things to different people and can range from sitting at a low coffee table or in an ergonomic chair to cuddling in a snug corner of your bed against a pile of pillows. The key is to support your body so that you can minimize fatigue.
Plan breaks and take them away from your computer
You can do your daily work in a series of sprints rather than as a marathon. Between work sessions, stand up, walk around. Sweep the floor, load or unload the dishwasher or washing machine. Better yet, take your break outside. Walk around the block or use an exercise bike placed on your front porch or positioned to look out a window.
Plan for comfortable lighting
Eye strain is a common problem for people who use computers all day, and poorly positioned lights can make it worse. Try for indirect or low-level lights that will brighten your workspace without glaring. Salt lamps make a cheerful, decorative light source – but make sure to get one that meets UL standards. Strands of cable lights or even Christmas lights can make a cheerful addition to your workspace.
Save your work, and back it up twice
If your valuable documents (and they are all valuable in terms of the time you spend on them) are saved to your local hard drive, to an external back-up drive and to a cloud location, you are protected from power surges and from malicious computer viruses, curious children and incautious cats.
Enable distance communication and collaboration with a cloud service such as Folderit
A folder system makes it easy to give access only to the teams who need it, and to place only the materials required for their project into that file. Better yet, make sure that the service includes OCR, optical character recognition, which facilitates working with scanned files.
Protect your time
While you might choose to take breaks that include picking up household clutter, or puttering in your flower beds for thirty minutes, make sure you avoid the “Mom’s home all day, she can do it,” syndrome. Friends and family can eat up a lot of your time – keeping “office hours” can help prevent this problem. By the same token, feel free to hang a sign on the door “author at work,” and to turn off the ringer on your phone.
Avoid using your break time to play computer games or becoming absorbed in a book or video or checking your social media sites – save those activities to relax with at the end of your work time.
Plan your workload
When the bills loom, it’s easy to panic and to take up too many assignments. Down that road lie frustrated, disappointed clients and personal burnout.
Working from home can be rewarding and lucrative. It’s real work and should be treated with the same professionalism and dedication you would give to a day job – or perhaps even more. If you are a freelancer, your reputation and the work of your hands are your bread and butter. Keeping up morale might be the hardest part of your job. But you’ve got this. You can do it. Better yet, every day is an adventure with new projects and new learning. Let’s hear it for working from home!