As you might’ve learned from this blog (or seen on my social media or heard me talk about in person- sorry!) I decided to leave the 9-to-5 world and start freelance writing full-time. After spending the three years after college working office jobs and spending almost two hours commuting in Chicago traffic daily, the transition to work-from-home Californian was eye-opening, to say the least.
I’m not going to get into the stuff I’ve learned specific to the freelance writing biz, because that could fill a small book (and frankly, you probably aren’t interested). Instead, I wanted to jot down the five biggest things I’ve discovered about working from home in general. Maybe they only apply to me, but maybe not!
1. Put on your pants. I don’t mean this literally, because I freaking hate wearing pants- give me a sundress or a skirt any day. All this means is– for the love of God, woman– change out of your pajamas! One of the most appealing things about working from home was the thought of lounging in my pink onesie or oversized Alabama football t-shirt all day. I tried this, and let me tell you… it was no good. It turns out that when I’m dressed like a lazy bum, I have the work ethic of a lazy bum. When I put on real clothes that I could (gasp!) actually leave the house in, I feel ready to tackle whatever projects I have that day.
2. Create a schedule and stick to it. My original plan of action was to wake up, work as hard as I could for as long as I could, and then stop. This didn’t work for me. Yeah, I got a lot of stuff done, but I didn’t feel quite as productive or as organized as I knew I could. I sort of bounced from task to task, not knowing how long I would dedicate to each thing or when I should find a stopping point. When 6:00 rolled around, I wasn’t certain if I had utilized my time in the very best way, or if I had devoted enough time to the different parts of my business. With the help of a wise, wise friend, I created a general schedule for my days and weeks, and committed to sticking to it. In case you’re wondering, I’m currently using time allotted for blog writing & maintenance.
3. Do something that sets you up to have a good day. For me, this is key. I always get my best writing done when I’m feeling upbeat and energized. Rolling out of bed just to plop down again on my couch just doesn’t do that. Instead, I had to figure out how I could consistently feel happy, motivated, and ready to make the most of my day. I’ve discovered two (vastly different) things that work for me.
- Logging some sweaty miles on the treadmill- Some people think runners are crazy, but I promise you, endorphins are a natural happy pill. Nothing makes me feel as good as running does, especially with some cheesy pop music playing in my ears. Running outside is also fantastic, but currently isn’t realistic in the Sacramento heat.
- Coffee, sunshine, and Ed Sheeran- This is a lot less intense than a workout, but it does the trick. My absolute favorite part of my new apartment is our sweet, sunny balcony. Some mornings, I pour a cup of coffee, put on some Ed Sheeran (aka the best musician of all time), and relax before getting to work. How could anyone have a bad day after doing that?
4. Eliminate distractions. Duh, right? When I need to get something done, I need to turn off the television, put my phone away, log off Facebook, and focus solely on the task at hand. Can you guess what happened when I got rid of all those distractions? I found new ones! I’m certainly a resourceful gal. Since I started working from home, I had to battle a whole new set of distractions. No, Caroline, you don’t need to take a bubble bath at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. You don’t need to go to the grocery store to grab a vegan pizza for dinner. The mail, the laundry, and the dishes will all still be there this evening (lucky you). Calm down, sit down, and get to work.
5. Get a dog. As my mom pointed out, this really goes against what I just stated in #4. To be quite honest, I don’t care. My furry co-worker Henry is easily the best part of my day, and I will happily let him distract me with his adorably crossed eyes.