(este post vai ser apenas em inglês, porque a versão em português pode ser lida aqui)
So today I’m writing about something that is very dear to me – working from home and how to deal with it, in an healthy and happy way. This post was written for a beautiful blog, as an invitation of my dear friends Raquel and Fred, but as it’s only in Portuguese, I decided to share it here in english, as it may help some of you as well!
I’m a freelancer since 2011 and I’ve always worked from home. In the meantime I have moved twice, so I have changed my routines a few times and tried a few things to see what could work better for me. First I lived in a very small house, of just 45m2/480 sq/ft, so I worked on my living-room, as I didn’t have any other choice, then I moved into a much larger house of 100m2/1075 sq/ft, where I chose to work in the living-room, despite having an empty room that I could use, and now I live in a bit larger house, and I work in a separate room.
However, one very important aspect of all of this is the fact that in February 2011 I adopted a dog (as you all may know him), and he is the one who keeps me company on a daily basis, and obviously makes it much more fun to work from home.
I never feel alone, because whoever has dogs knows how much company they keep, and the cherry on top of the cake is that he makes me leave the house twice a day. And though for many this could be upsetting, for me it’s actually a great thing! Yes, sometimes it’s not always what I wanted at the moment, either because I’m swamped with work, or it’s raining a lot outside, or too hot. The truth is for those who work in front of a computer for several hours in a row, go for a walk in the neighbourhood, getting some fresh air, seeing people, getting some sun, it’s an amazing thing. He makes me move and keeps me an active person!
So, also because of this, there is no way of being all day on my pj’s, and whoever knows me well, knows that I’m always dressed up for work and always wearing make-up.
Nevertheless, it has occurred to me a few times to get an office somewhere else. Sometimes I actually miss the routine of leaving home in the morning and going somewhere, but the truth is that these thoughts are not that common and once they pop in my head, they immediately leave. And all because nothing would replace the happiness and satisfaction of working from home, that by lunch time I go into my kitchen, I make myself a delicious and healthy lunch, while I watch yet another episode of Modern Family on Netflix. Yes, I’ve watched it all several times, but you know how this goes, right?
And also I have one of the most beautiful cafes in Lisbon just around the corner, and every time I need an extra cup of coffee or I feel like eating a delicious brownie this is where I go. Or of on a particular day I feel like working somewhere else, that is where I take my laptop to and work from there. And at the end of the day, if I have no scheduled shoots, I go to my Pilates class, on a gym that is also a 10 minute walk from home.
So all of this to tell you that for me, working from home is my ideal solution, but I do understand that this is not perfect for everyone. I believe that there are quite a few challenges, being the discipline for setting up a working schedule, and concentration on your work, instead of thinking about every single thing that needs to be done at home, the main challenges. So, as I’ve been perfecting these routines since 2011, I would like to leave some suggestions:
* Get yourself a separate space in the house just for you, even if it’s not a whole room, but where you feel good and concentrated. The reason why in my second home I chose to work in the living-room, despite having an empty room, was because I had a whole wall covered in windows, from where I could see my backyard trees and the whole sky. It felt so amazing to see how the weather was on that day, to get all that light coming in. It felt inspiring!
* Setup some schedule for your work to be done. I’m not an early riser and I hate to get up too early in the morning. I learned to deal with it through these years and I’ve always been quite a night owl to be honest! I could work up to 4 or 5 am without any trouble at all. However nowadays, not only I can’t do it, I don’t want to do it. I want to have a more common schedule, that will end before dinner time. Then I just close the door and leave work behind me. I go to the living-room, to the kitchen, make us some dinner, we get to talk about our day, or either go out for dinner, we just chill and watch a movie together… and of course, whenever I’m on vacations, that room is always closed.
* Get yourself ready to work, dress up! Working from home shouldn’t mean to work on your pj’s… ever! Get dressed to work like if you were about to leave the house, the only difference is that you won’t be losing any time on your commute. I think my day will always be more productive if I’m dressed up for work!
* Take care of what you eat! Working from home shouldn’t mean having a pack of cookies right next to your computer, nor having lunch in front of it. I try to be very strict when it comes to food, I try to make healthy choices, without being extreme. I always try to have water next to me, so that I can drink as the day goes by, and all my meals take place in the kitchen, far from the computer where I’m working and I try to make an actual break.
* Focus on your work, less on the house. Working from home can be challenging, because all those things that need to be done around the house are just there, almost staring at us! Even if we have a separate room to work, there si always something that will remind us that laundry needs to be done, groceries need to be taken care of, the kitchen might be a mess… What I try to do is to concentrate those chores on this moments I’m taking a break or in the beginning or the end of the day.
For example, when I walk Kobe in the morning, sometimes I also go to get some fruit, vegetables and bread, on a small market a few streets away from my home. I try to get some laundry done and clean up the dishes during my lunch hour, and the more general grocery shopping are left to be done at the end of the day. And the truth is that these things don’t need to be done every single day!
* Go outside! I have Kobe to help me on that, but for those who have no dogs, and cats don’t actually need to go outside, or no pets whatsoever, find yourselves a routine that make you go outside every day. For example, why not go out for a cup of coffee after having your breakfast? Being in front of the computer several hours a day is not exactly the most amazing thing for our body and our mind. So going out to get some fresh air, see other people, stretch your legs and go for a walk can only be a good thing!
* Make a change in your workspace for the day if needed. I work in a separate room that works only as my office. However, sometimes I want to see something else from the window, get more sunlight, so I grab my laptop and work from the kitchen table (this gorgeous one right here!). Our kitchen has larger windows and I have more plants there as well, so it feels different! And also sometimes I go to a beautiful cafe to work for a few hours.
So this is my way of working from home and how I organize myself. I’m really happy working from home and I don’t see myself right now, changing all the routines, maybe in the future, but not now. I believe that working from home is not for everyone, but for those who are willing to give it a try or don’t have any other option, maybe these suggestions make some sense and help you out!