Working from home is great when it works – you can wear what you want and pretty much do what you want. But there are also bad days when the interruptions and distractions keep getting in the way of getting much done.
Here are some ways I’ve made working from home work after 15 years of sharing an office space with the people I share my life with.
I created a dedicated workspace
When our children got a bit older and no longer shared a room, I lost my office space to a second bedroom. I desperately needed a space with a door that I could close, so I dedicated a corner in our main bedroom to my office space. It doesn’t sound ideal, but it’s working.
I invested in a smaller, matching desk and shelf (in an unobtrusive white colour) and purchased a stash of beautiful, inexpensive decorative boxes to keep most of the clutter hidden away.
I treat the space as one of my favourite spaces in the home, not just a paperwork dumping ground. Occasionally there’s a small vase of fresh flowers on my desk and the decorative boxes also make it feel like a pretty, ordered place that I want to spend time in.
A sign on my bedroom door reads “Meditation in progress”. This keeps people out, even when I’m not meditating. Failing that, I lock the door.
My next step to is to build a She Shed in a corner of the garden.
I discovered the positive, productive power of Flow
The real advantage of working from home and working for yourself, is the opportunity you have to find your own optimum way of working and become your most productive self. When you act on inspiration and desire, you become powerfully productive and this is the premise of what “flow” is all about.
It’s anything but taking a back seat. Rather, it’s following where the ease is so that you can get more done, more effortlessly.
I use tools from the Flow Experience and connect with community members on the Flow Facebook group when I find myself resisting and stressing (very unproductive). The tools and the feedback help me shift and get back into flow (effortlessly productive).
There’s a science behind it too. In Shawn Achor’s TED talk on ‘The happy secret to better work’ he says if we can find a way of becoming positive in the present, we can benefit from the dopamine that floods our brains. Dopamine helps our brains work even more successfully, meaning we can work harder, faster and more intelligently.
I learnt to get out
There are those days I feel madly distracted and restless, and nothing helps. What I’ve learnt is that this is a symptom of the isolation that comes with working for yourself. It’s a sign that you need to connect with the world and other people.
There are many simple and pleasant ways to do this. You can work at a coffee shop or library for a few hours, go do some errands or phone a friend. There are also lots of free talks you can attend. Try business schools like Wits Business School and the Graduate School of Business, or sign up for the Creative Mornings talks in your city.
I stopped giving away my best time
I am usually most productive in the morning, from about 8am to 2pm. I’ve learnt that this is time is like gold. But I was giving it away – meeting friends for a ‘quick’ coffee, doing errands, and agreeing to meetings during this time that could just as well have been scheduled later.
One other thing that I’ve learnt not to compromise on is getting exercise at least three days of the week. I’ve made this easier for myself by cancelling my gym contract and investing in a pair of properly fitted running shoes. I also downloaded an app called Couch to 5K which has helped me gently build up my running fitness and get into a running routine.
Take out: Make working from home work by creating a dedicated workspace that feels good to work in, adapting to a flow mentality that helps you find the ease so you can be more productive, leaving your workspace when you feel restless, and not allowing friends or errands to interfere with your gold productive time.
Author: Nicky Grandin