Try These 6 Work from Home Tips
Right after I decided to leave my full-time editing job for the freelance life, I went out to lunch with a friend. She congratulated me on the decision, but I could hear the worry in her voice as she asked me questions about what I’d do, whom I’d do it for, and how. She had good reason to worry: Working from home is risky and often terrifying, with unknowns always looming on the horizon. It’s also isolating, and it can make you feel a bit less human and more mole-like.
Over the years, I’ve learned some tips for making freelance life more human-y. They’ve been tremendously helpful to me, to the point where I now love freelancing. Some of the following tips might seem obvious, but trust me, it’s easier to forget to shower and change clothes than you’d think.
Work out. Gym memberships are well worth their cost—for their physical health benefits, for their stress relief, and for just getting you out of the house. However, if you’re swamped and unlikely to make it to the gym, I recommend multitasking with a stationary bike that has a laptop holder. The physical effort of biking actually helps me stay more alert as I work through writing and editing projects. You can find cheap ones on Amazon; they’re self-assembly, but with easy-to-follow instructions.
Stand up. You’ve probably come across the scary headlines proclaiming that sitting is killing us, increasing risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and more. A 2012 study from the British Psychological Society showed that the average office worker sits for five hours and 41 minutes a day. I imagine that the number would be higher for freelancers. I am among the many converts to a standing desk who swear by its benefits. It feels terrible to sit all day, so I’ve stopped doing it.
Change clothes. I’m a clothing-industry truther. Having different outfit requirements for work and play and sleep is all a conspiracy meant to force us into social norms that are unnatural and part of a megabillion-dollar fashion industrial complex….Just kidding, but it did take me awhile to learn about the benefits of not wearing yoga pants all day and night: to sleep, work, eat, work out, and run errands. Now I know that you feel so much better if you follow regular clothing patterns, changing in the morning as though you are going to the office, and then again whenever a non-work-from-homer would. I still consider bras optional, but the rest of day-to-day attire protocol is good to follow.
Shower. Not a lot to add to this one. Just make showers a habit.
Get social. An essential freelancer quality is self-starterdom. Clients may find you, but chances are you’re going to need to find them, or at least network to get to the point where they’ll find out about you. So, network! Go to local events that are in your field or adjacent to it, join a professional group, and even network online through professional groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. (I first learned that Tailor Magazine was looking for writers through a Facebook comment!) Not only will you up your chances of getting more work, but you’ll be able to flex your socializing muscle, which can get a little stiff when you don’t have people to talk to throughout the day.
Take breaks. If it starts to feel as though your brain is made of static, it’s time for a break. As reported on Health.com, “Office workers who take short, frequent breaks during the workday have more stamina and fewer aches and pains when they return to work.” The article cites a study conducted by Baylor University management professors Emily Hunter and Cindy Wu, who found that breaks can improve job satisfaction and reduce exhaustion. Plus, your eyes need computer and phone breaks to reduce strain. WebMD recommends the 20-20-20 rule: “Every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.” WebMD also recommends taking longer breaks, around 15 minutes, every two hours of staring at screens. I find it helpful to take short walks outside, to get fresh air and disconnect for a few minutes. It’s more refreshing than using break times to log on to social media or visit Buzzfeed.
All of these tips boil down to one thing: Take care of yourself. Your mind and your body are your everything; don’t sacrifice their health for a project, no matter how important it is.
About the Author
Grace is an Albuquerque-based writer and editor with a background in book publishing. She loves musicals, bar trivia, and breakfast burritos.