Staying focused working from home. With ever changing work dynamics and more freelancers working from home – how does one actually flourish in a live work space?
Great! You’ve decided to become your own work from home self made entrepreneur (or maybe the new gig economy kind of forced you into accepting that this is how the real economy in 2019 actually works)- and you’re determined to succeed.
And while you may have years of experience behind you, a rolodex of promising clients, a bunch of social media followers, reserve capital to help you get through the choppy months every indie knows about (or will soon find about)– there’s just one more thing you have to reckon with. You staying focused while actually working from home.
As one recent business article reported: ‘Working from home is great, but it’s important to be intentional about how you’re using your time. It’s way too easy to get distracted and lose your motivation, leading to lower productivity (and lower billable hours!)’.
Keeping in mind that there are now an estimated 57 million plus freelance workers working from home in the US- the challenge remains how are you going to stay the course- get through the moments/hours of loneliness, boredom and the temptation to just ‘goof off’.
Here are some ideas that I have personally adopted over the many close to 20 years I have been working for myself and away from the confines of the traditional office desk as a professional blogger.
1/ Don’t always work from home
It might sound counterintuitive but actually it’s not. Sometimes the key to ramping productivity is putting oneself in a position of having to reacquaint oneself with foreign elements and how that so often jars you into high gear.
This may mean pick a week to work out of the library-but not just any old library- a gorgeous one steeped with history, space and access to resources that you may not have thought possible.
One of my personal favorites is the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch opposite Prospect Park. The joint comes with state of the art fast powered internet, stellar air conditioning during the hot months (you will appreciate it), other like minded Indies or maybe Phd candidates who are committed to hours of working (silently) from their computers in big cavernous rooms and the best part- oodles of books from which to browse from- whether anthropology, history, architecture or whatever.
You’ll be surprised how that jogs your mind and gets you thinking in directions you might not have otherwise considered. And of course you will probably end up taking in the occasional events and classes on offer that will only further kick up your lateral thinking and keep you constantly educated and informed.
The change of pace will rivet you, keep you on your game, open the opportunity of meeting people you might not otherwise and keep you sane. Of course there’s the park across the road to sit at while having your lunch break too.
2/ Fly to another part of the world and work from there.
This might sound counter-intuitive but it’s not. I have made it a habit as a prolific writer and blogger to find exciting cities from which to base myself from over the years – where the costs are not too steep – and often to my buying power advantage.
One of my new favorite cities to work from is Berlin – Germany. Cost of renting an apartment there is fairly cheap- this article will explain why– you can get your own one bedroom for way under a $1K a month – far cheaper than what you would be paying just for a room in NYC where I normally live.
The morning can be spent tasting local delights and walking around markets- I recommend the outdoor markets in Kreuzberg on Tuesday’s and Fridays and then hunkering down for the next 12 hours knowing that the time difference will force you to really be on your game- not a bad trade off considering you got your exotic thrill off and satiated your need for diversity, human interaction and inspiration. All things you can talk and share about when it comes to sending the occasional unique gift to friends and family back home. Click here for a good read on ideal travel gifts.
3/ Make your home office a productive arena
When I do work from home, which is quite often actually- I demand absolute quiet (that means avoiding living with roommates if you can afford it or the occasional great one who is never home) and a set up that is conducive to productivity.
I am fortunate I have a studio apartment that opens up to my own private garden that I can catch myself from moment while dragging on a cigarette and listening to classical music in the background.
Private Garden Oasis or not- you have to make sure your home office which for most is their bedroom is as professional a setting as possible. That means you are not allowed to work in your pajamas – and actually make the effort to get up early- exercise, shave, groom and dress office casual accordingly -even if it just you at the ‘home office.’
The key is to get your mind to understand that this is the real deal- that there is a distinction from you being home idling away and you working ‘productively’ from home.
Now that you have done your bed, made sure your room is spotless- you have got to make this a habit – you also got to think about your work from home space as its own bunker of productivity.
That might mean equipping it with home office equipment to help create the ideal work environment- click here for some nifty ideas. It will also mean – making sure your friends are not allowed to call you or visit you during office hours (even if you are home) and it might also mean making sure you keep with protocol and keeping with regular business hours as you compete to market yourself with the world at large. And sorry – t also usually means keeping off Facebook and Instagram- all your other favorite idling away distractions- unless of course they are part of your business marketing growth.
4/ Allot some time away from the home office to keep you fresh
So you’re groomed, home office equipped, brimming with assignments and you’ve just come off another 12 hour work bender. Great! Time to get on your bicycle and catch the new art gallery opening up the road you promised yourself three weeks ago (remember??) that you would attend.
Some of the best moments are also forcing yourself to do your chores- from grocery shopping- who knew Whole Foods would finally make it to once holier than though hipster heaven– Williamsburg, Brooklyn- from making time to fix those holes in your favorite shoes ( my local shoe cobbler has his own unique stories that always entertain).
You get the gist- mix with real human beings- even strike up a conversation with the barista at your favorite cafe house (or meet some random person who will end up becoming your next love interest- been there, done that…). It will help keep you fresh- give you that portion of real life human interaction you’re not getting working from home and keep you sane, productive and in the money!