How (Not) To Work From Home

10For the last ten years or so, I have been working from home, at first for a couple of large national charities and now for myself.  The work I was doing required a lot of flexibility in when I worked as everything was deadline driven and this included late nights and weekends.  In theory, this flexibility was returned by the companies I worked for.  In reality, this wasn’t actually the case and there always seemed to be plenty to do to fill up the days.
As a result, I often worked way over my 40 hour week and found myself tired, irritable, and missing my family (even if they happened to be in the next room!).  For the last couple of years, especially, my work-life balance was shot and it’s the main reason I have decided to start working for myself.  I need to be able to breath, eat, sleep, exercise, be a mom and generally have a life.  This week, I got my first contract as a freelancer – exciting.  Not so exciting was the comment the manager I’ll be working for made about sending emails at 11 at night – just what I don’t want to happen!
In the past, I have been my own worst, enemy.  I struggle to say no and I struggle to turn off the computer and the light when work needs to be done.  Working from home makes it hard to switch off when the office is next door to the bedroom.  There were too many deadlines and too many people asking me for things.  Now, whilst the deadlines won’t go away, I know I need to say no to things and that’s my plan.  To help me, I thought it might be quite useful to remind myself and anyone else who finds themselves in this position just how NOT to work from home if you want a life of any description…
1. Don’t get up, log-in at 5.30 AM and work until midnight. Working 17 hour days does not make you more productive, it makes you tired and irritable and that has a knock on effect on everyone around you.  Get up at a reasonable time and, if you have to work more than 8 hours a day, set a limit and stick to it or risk turning your brain to mush and waking up to discover most of the work you did was rubbish and needs to be done again anyway.
2. Don’t go to work in your pyjamas. The plus side of working from home is that you don’t need to be “suited and booted” to go to the office.  The downside is that, when you are busy, you might be tempted to not get dressed at all.  Whilst it’s one thing to check your email over that first cup of coffee, staying in your pj’s all day? Not a good idea.  It blurs the lines between work and the rest of your life, making you more likely to work those 17 hour days. Plus, by the end of the day, you are likely to feel slightly grotty and more than a bit stinky.
3. Do not skip breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And definitely don’t skip all three, not just because food gives you energy but stopping and taking time to eats gives you the breaks away from your computer you need. Otherwise, you’ll end up fuzzy headed, distracted by hunger and, if you’re like me, you’ll all loose all ability to not reach for chocolate and spend the next month dieting.
4. Don’t keep saying yes. When you are stretched to capacity, people you work with will still keep asking you to do things because their lives go on and they still have deadlines to hit. Saying yes every time someone asks you for something not only makes your to do list longer but piles on pressure you don’t need. If you’re already pushed to work too many hours the chance of you being able to more is limited. Say so and say no!
5. Don’t forget you have a life. When all is said and done and you’re old and grey (or in my case, older and greyer), your boss won’t be checking in to see if you are ok, your friends and family will. Or at least they will if they haven’t forgotten about you because you never made it to the pub for a drink or their first ballet performance.  For me, this last one is most important and why I am so determined to get my “new life” right.  I want a good, strong, family life and working too many hours puts that at risk.  Enjoy what you have and don’t just save fun and relaxation for holidays.
There are probably lots more rules, ones you should follow from business leaders and the like that will make you more productive as a home worker but, from someone who has done this a long time, following these will definitely help you.  What about you?  Do you work from home?  Have you fallen into these traps?
Emma x
The Lovin' Life Linky
Linking in with 50 Shades of Age | | Seize the Day Project | And Anyways | Write of the Middle | Deep Fried Fruit.
Images courtesy of freepik and pixabay

19 thoughts on “How (Not) To Work From Home

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  1. I work from home – remotely back to Sydney. My biggest tip is that I maintain the exact same schedule as I used to when I was in the office. I get up at the same time but instead of commuting, I walk. I log on at the same time and log off at the same time – putting my work computer away each night. I take lunch at the same time, I get showered and dressed before work (although obviously not for an office). I used to let it all blur, but these days also do my own writing after work, so it’s an incentive for me to keep the paid work separate from my work. Happy New Year.

    1. A schedule is key I think. I didn’t have much control of that before given the work I did but now I hope to get it under control and, like you said, set work hours. I also need to make sure I keep to the exercise routine I have built up these last few months as I feel so much better for it. I like thinking of my morning run as my commute x

    1. Thanks – I always laugh when I tell a non home worker that I work from home and they say “bet you get loads done around the house”….I wish!

  2. I work from home too Emma, and I love your rules. It can be challenging when clients are asking (sometimes demanding) their work is done pronto, but I try to limit my working hours to 8 per day, and usually don’t start until the kids have left for school and I’m showered, dressed and have had my breakfast. If we don’t set some boundaries, as you say, we end up burnt out 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

  3. Yes I slave from home, but I learnt years ago to have set working hours and to have a work/life balance. I ensure that I get out of the house each day to exercise, socialise, shop or run errands. I also set aside time to clean and cook because I found I was slacking off on the home front! I seem to have achieved a good balance now after a year of so of working tirelessly and running myself down. #TeamLovinLife

    1. Setting hours is such a good idea. Now I am working for myself it’s something I will look to do. Working for someone else though was a struggle as I always seemed to be at other people’s beck and call ! Thanks for stopping by x

  4. Great points here. Working from home can seem flexible, but then with your home being your office you forget when you are meant to be off work. I Have scheduled myself off work the next few days to spend time with my sister and it’s already been so relaxing. Good luck with freelancing. #RVHT

    1. Thanks. Scheduling free time is so important. I don’t know how many times I’ve just had a quick look at email or taken a call when I was off because it was so easy to access….no more though! Enjoy your time with your sister x

    1. It is hard and it’s about good habits I think. I never planned on working from home but now I’m not sure I could go into an office now…my commute is too short!

  5. I have a terrible habit of forgetting to take breaks. Luckily I also have a cat who will literally scream in my face if he decides I’ve been working too long!

      1. Ha, I had to clean one of mine yesterday b/c he’d been walking all over a tractor – the joys of living with kitties! Lol 🙂

  6. I’m one who says yes. All the time. To everything. No matter what. I’m so desperate to try and make sure I’ve got enough to cover myself I find that I’m working until 2am at least a couple of times a month because otherwise I can’t juggle my homelife and uni work.
    Thank you for linking up to #RVHT

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