by Veronica Louis
As a freelancer, I’m often asked if working from home is hard. For the most part, it isn’t. Sure, it can get lonely at times, it’s just me and my computer. However, I’ve developed tricks over the past few years that have made working from home a breeze. Making a schedule, having To Do Lists and changing locations are three great ways to successfully work from home.
Making a daily schedule will prove to be very beneficial. Jotting down what you are going to do and when, before starting your workday, makes the day go by quickly and keeps you on track. It’s a great way to avoid procrastination. It’s almost like a game, you are trying to see if you can beat the clock and get everything on your schedule done before time runs out. You write down the general activity of what you would like to do in a specific time slot. It’s important to make sure that the time allotted for each general activity is reasonable.
08:30-10:30: Work on novel
10:30-11:30: Email and social media correspondence
11:30-12:30: Work on blog
01:30-04:30: Work on projects for client X
Schedules can change daily. And every morning, based on priorities you can determine what projects you will tackle that day, and the time allotted to each project. It is important to have breakfast and to schedule in a lunch break, so that you don’t all of a sudden find yourself interrupted by hunger pangs. It’s also important to give your mind a break from work and to recharge.
By knowing what you are going to do and when, it’s less likely that you will feel stressed about getting something done, because one glance at your schedule and you know that you will get to it in due time.
To Do Lists (TDL)
I can’t stress enough the importance of having a TDL. Having a TDL might make the difference between feeling completely stressed out or not. When something is written down, you won’t forget to do it because it’s written down. No matter how small the task, it won’t be overlooked.
Sometimes, the most stressful part of performing a task is just remembering to do it. And at times people remember to do something when they are in the middle of doing something else, which adds another layer of pressure to hurry up and finish what they are doing to move on to that new task.
Just like creating a daily schedule, before starting on a general activity it is a great idea to break down the project into smaller tasks.
So for example, before I tackle my 01:30-04:30: Work on projects for client X, I would make a list:
☐ Email Person A
☐ Reply to Person B
☐ Copy-edit blog post about language
☐ Take photo of dictionary
☐ Publish blog post with photo on WordPress site
☐ Facebook and Twitter about the post
☐ Upload book launch photos to Facebook album
☐ Create Photoshop composite for book review
☐ Publish featured post slider on WordPress
Every time I complete a task, I put a checkmark in the box. The checking off of the box has a direct psychological effect; it’s rewarding and satisfying and a clear visual representation of what’s getting done. There is no doubt, that creating lists is the best way to get everything in your schedule done.
Location (Working Away from Home)
I find it helps to change locations once in a while. When weather permits, I like to start my workday in the park, working on my novel. The routine has solidified a writing-novel-mode in my mind. I sit at the same picnic table, listen to the same music as I type away, creating my own special universe.
The other choice locations include a nearby coffee shop and the library. The coffee shop at the corner of my street is a hub for others who are working away on their laptops. There’s little interaction between the regulars, but there is a sense of solidarity of working alone together.
The library Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, downtown Montreal, is optimal for working away from home. There are different types of workstations throughout the library and the lighting is great. Libraries are always a great place to work away from home. There is always Internet access, plenty of resources and they’re always quiet.
With tight deadlines, it’s not always possible to work away from home, but it might be a good idea to schedule at least one day of the week away from the home office. That way human interaction is not completely lost and a different sort of inspiration might come from the shift in environment.
There are hundreds of other tricks to successfully work from home. The idea is to keep on refining the techniques that work for you until maximum efficiency is reached. But the reality is: there is always room for improvement.