WORK FROM HOME:
AN ISLAND AND A CREW
Sooooo, the world is bananas right now, huh?!
Though some of us have our daily lives returning to some normalcy, there are many of us that still aren’t there or are navigating a “new normal” – though that term feels overused and also doesn’t carry the weight it feels like it should for the situation. When it comes to work, the shift is impossible not to feel. Even those of us that worked from home before this all happened have had to adapt in ways that feel surprising to us.
One of the biggest challenges we have found is the daily struggle of working independently from home but also being part of a wider team. This challenge pertains to freelancers who are working with clients who have had their routines shifted, too. So, what IS the fu*king balance when you’re both an island and part of a crew?!
As a seasoned “work from home professional”, here are a few tips:
- Keep regular hours & build a routine
This particular one has been gospel for me since I started working for myself six years ago. Though the “routine” part can be a struggle, as is the nature of being your own boss and working with multiple clients, you’ll get an A for effort. And the biggest part of this is to keep regular work hours.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of having your office be steps from (or on) your bed, so access to your computer is too easy. Well…BE STRICT WITH IT. Keep regular hours – it’ll be good for your sanity and also offer the people you work with some structure that feels normal. Since it can happen sometimes that a deadline needs to be hit or a project comes in last minute, sure, work a little later or put in some time on the weekend.
But listen to us and listen to us good – if you are routinely working over set office hours, you either aren’t managing your time well or you have taken on too damn much. Boundaries are important for a reason, but it is up to you to create them.
- Create a dedicated space
We know this is a big one, especially in the world of social media. Everyone has tips and tricks for creating the best work from home space whatever your situation. So we won’t tell you what we think you should do specifically with your space – you know how you’re most comfortable – but we will tell you to create one.
It goes back to normalcy and structure and comfort – it is easier to set boundaries for yourself (and get sh*t done) if you create a space specific for work. Maybe it is an entire room or maybe it’s just part of your kitchen counter. Whatever it is, make it yours and make it as stationary as possible.
- Make an effort to be social
This doesn’t mean go out to real happy hour, nor does it mean that you should burn yourself out on Zoom Happy Hours. But set aside time with the people you work with to ask them how they are – not work-related but just check-in on them. We are all in this together and all feeling a lot of the same pressures, so to be able to have that bit of support and camaraderie makes more of a difference than we are probably even aware.
- Limit distractions
This one is tough. We know this because it’s the hardest thing us regular “work from homies” struggle with. You’re at home and you’re trying to focus but all you can hear is the laundry that needs to be done screaming at you. Or you go to make lunch and think “I’ll just watch one episode of this show I like as a break”. And next thing you know it is 8pm and you’re still doing chores, on hour 5 of the same damn show.
We aren’t monsters so we aren’t saying don’t EVER let yourself get distracted. That’s one of the perks of working from home! But it’s a slippery slope, so be careful.
- Remember that physical isolation doesn’t always mean support is non-existent
It is very easy to forget, as you type away at your desk on your own, that you are still working with a team, just in a different context. And if you truly do work on your own, there are so many online groups and places to connect to remind you that there is a world of people out there feeling exactly the way you are. Lean on people when you need to. Seek out people in new ways. Keep connecting, we all need it.
- Be easy on yourself
Here’s a weird truth – none of us know what to expect right now. None of us have ever been through something like this before. And none of us know the plan the universe has (though we wish it would figure it out because enough already). None of us have a rulebook no matter how hard we try to create one. So take it easy on yourself! This learning curve is a wild ride in so many ways, in so many aspects of our lives, but keep learning, growing, and be as kind to yourself as we are sure you are to others. You got this, you’re doing great.