Erin Mallory Long
May 12, 2014 6:00 am

I’m a person who works from home and works from an office and works from little tents near where TV is being made. I’m a freelancer. Wow, did I make that sound like a promo ad for “We Are Freelancers” or what? (Not the goal.)

Anyway, what I’m getting at is I’ve worked in many different work environments. Sometimes I’ve even provided all my own office supplies. So I’m pretty good (usually) at getting stuff done in whatever environment I’m faced with. But you don’t get to be able to do that without making some mistakes and figuring out solutions. Here are some things you can do if you’re working from home and don’t have the luxury of a FULL “home office” (like say you live in a one bedroom apartment or you have three roommates or you live in a dorm).

UNPLUG

You know how sometimes if you work from Starbucks the internet just won’t work? You connected to the right thing and you watched that stupid ad but some guy must be streaming a movie and doesn’t he know not to do that? And you’re annoyed for a bit but then you realize, “well, I didn’t come here to look at Facebook and refresh Twitter so…” And you suddenly get it done. (Unless what you need to get done is send emails, of course.) Well, it’s kind of like that. If you’re working from home it’s very easy to get distracted by catching up on TV during the day or posting to Instagram or live tweeting the argument you hear through your window. But sometimes it’s good to turn off your wifi at home and put your phone on silent and pretend to be at work for a while. You’d never act like that at an office so why do that at home where you’re also working?

NEST

Not like a bird. Like a work nest. You know? When I start a new job I like to bring a coffee mug from home with me to use (because it both helps reduce trash and also reminds you of home) so why not do that AT home? Get cozy. But in a work way. Put up a calendar in your work space and get a pen cup so it looks like a real office and try to at least get comfortable and hunker down. The calendar directly next to my desk at home is not something I fill in too much but it’s still nice to have as a little friendly reminder. And I have a folding chair I put in front of my desk but it’s uncomfortable so I have a  pillow or two nearby to swap in.

I also sometimes just work in the dining room facing different directions. Which sounds crazy but it helps if one day you can see out the window and the next day you’re facing the kitchen, etc.

TAKE BREAKS

I know. Usually the biggest problem working at home is that you take breaks all the time. So many breaks that it’s almost as if you never really worked and the day is gone. Just me? Just like an office job, change of scenery is important. Walk somewhere. Go get iced coffee. Walk around the block. Stare out the window. Make yourself a sandwich and let yourself watch half an episode of Bob’s Burgers – okay, the full episode because really they’re ONLY 22 minutes! Anything to just re-charge your brain.

GET DRESSED IN THE MORNING

This is the biggest one for me. Like when I’m sick and have to go work in an office I tend to dress UP because it’ll force me to not wallow in my illness more. So if you’re working from home it feels like “let’s not get out of pjs! Yes!” But really, that is detrimental to the spirit of working at home. You need to make yourself feel like you’re working and actually being held accountable for stuff. You don’t have to get dressed fancy. Just, put on real clothes, you know? Real enough so if you had to answer the door you wouldn’t have to yell, “just a minute!” before getting it.

And if none of these plans work, just get a water cooler and make your pets talk to you about their days by it. Just like a real office!

Featured image via and add’l Images my own)

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