advice on working from home?


Today I thought I’d turn the tables a bit and get some advice from you. As you know, I moved three weeks ago and in the process moved my studio into a second bedroom. When Erwin and I contemplated this move, he was apprehensive about me working from home. He was afraid I was going to go stir crazy being in one place all the time, especially during the dark and frigid Chicago winters.

So far I have loved working from home and found it convenient. But in the long term, especially as the weather gets worse, I might find some frustrations.

Do you have any advice for working from home? How do you stay sane being in one place most of the time? How do you keep a strong sense of separation (or do you?). Any advice for a work-at-home rookie?

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. pve

    The best advice to you in working from home, is to give yourself a schedule and make appointments with yourself, just like a reservation or a Doctor’s appointment. A schedule gives discipline and structure. You will soon develop the best hours for you, it might be early morning or late evening. Stick to a schedule and keep track of your hours. Working from home is the best, just make sure you make time to have fun at home too…perhaps the word work is a four letter word…I prefer to call it “love” because I am doing what I love. Organize your area just as you would if you were working in an office with others or if you were meeting with a special client.

  2. anne

    I used to have a small home office. My advice is to make sure the space is separate from everything else going on, set a schedule, and above all get dressed. Taking breaks is fine, but only to do productive things (unpack dishwasher, post office, etc.) then get back to it!

    Oh, and get a gigantic monitor. The laptop-monitor two-screen setup helps immensely.

  3. Julie

    I agree with the comment above – I need to schedule work time otherwise all the distractions of being home (laundry, cooking, cleaning) seem to take over. I’d love to hear other ideas/comments.

  4. Lee

    The absolute number one thing to do is get showered and dressed and put on shoes. Really, it sounds silly, but dress like you’re going to work. It’s so easy to just get at it with a cup of coffee, pajamas and slippers. Slowly you find it’s early afternoon and you’re still not really out of bed! THAT is a slippery slope you don’t want to go down, it’s so hard to break the comfort (aka lazy) habit. I agree with all the above: make appointments, make a schedule, live with lists, be productive. I also make lunch when I’m preparing breakfast and just put it in the fridge to eat later.

    Good luck!

  5. Amy

    I have been working from home for about a year now, part of the week. I have found that having a routine helps. Getting dressed and making good coffee first thing is important. I work from home because I have a baby girl who I didn’t want in full-time daycare, so I make sure to have a good routine for her as well. For some people it may be more productive to block out a “work day” but for me, I work better if I have 20 or 30 minute breaks throughout the day to change over laundry, start dinner, vacuum the living room. It makes a huge difference in my sanity. Also, if I can’t focus because of the giant pile of laundry that needs to be done, it is better for me to just do the laundry. I will be more productive in the long run. Good luck! I love working from home…

  6. Heather

    Like Lee said above, make sure you get up and get dressed everyday. Create a routine for home like you would if you were in an office, otherwise things tend to become lax and unproductive. Good luck, it looks like you are on the right track!

  7. betsy and iya

    I’m terrified of working from home; I can barely keep it together in my away-from-home studio. BUT it seems like you are an incredibly organized woman and as voiced by some others here, it seems that if you can make a solid schedule and stick to it, you’ll be golden. Oh, yes, getting dressed everyday—again, something I have an issue with in having an outside studio. I have a feeling you’re going to rock it. And your home-studio looks BEAUTIFUL!


  8. Jess

    @ PVE: Thanks! I think structure will be good. And I like the reminder to have fun at home too. So far I’ve done a good job at closing the door to the studio (or bedroom during the day) when the workday is over. And I can’t wait to decorate the studio with the help of Kelly and Olive.

    @ Anne: I will keep the monitor thing in mind for the future. I also like the reminder to keep getting dressed (I’m doing good so far).

    @ Julie: I have found that too! Instead of just eating lunch and going back to work, I have from time to time started to unload the dishwasher, etc. Which is nice, but I’m not sure if I should keep that for later.

    @ Lee: Such a good point about the shoes! I have found that the slippers are the only things that I think about keeping on while working. But some comfortable flats will do just as good and add to that feeling of “work” vs. “home.” And the lunch idea is brilliant – I never thought of that. Thanks!

    @ Amy: Great advice, I hope I love working from home too :).

    @ Heather, thanks for the vote of confidence. I think I’ll be fine with a few adjustments, too.

    @ Betsy and iya: Thanks, I learned a lot of good habits working at my old studio which I’m trying to keep the same now that I’m in the apartment. Case in point: Right now I am at Caribou getting some work done to keep my focus.

  9. Coffee breaks! Get out of the house and meet up with people! Schedule this weekly, I’m soooo serious.

    I’ve been working from home for the past 4 years, and what drives me up the wall is that I MISS PEOPLE. I’m lonely! There’s no office chat around me, and I long for it now.

    So I meet friends for coffee and chat, and then get back to work, nicely socialized and (usually) over-caffeinated.

  10. I have worked from home for about a year now, and find that I get easily distracted. To depart from my distractions, I like to make a list of things that I must accomplish in that day – which seems to work and get the ball rolling. Between certain tasks, I give myself breaks to blog, twitter, look through a magazine, watch part of a movie, etc. I find it easy to get caught up in the internet and surfing for 10 minutes can turn into an hour before I know it!

    Also, sometimes I will treat myself to something sweet, and rather than going through the drive through, will park, get out, and take my time. Even stop in at a few of my favorite places. I know for myself, that I need breaks to keep my mind fresh and myself from feeling sluggish. I hope this helps! ūüôā


    “Tight, Light & Right”:
    > Stick to a schedule, or monitor your time; be efficient.
    > Eat out, or at least away from your desk; don’t make a mess.
    > dress for your version of success; expect the delivery guy.
    > Compartmentalize in your mind and at your desk; don’t spread out.
    > When you’re done for the day, pack it up and walk away.

  12. Dana Cordova

    I don’t officially work from home as I have a day job, but I do do my moonlighting biz out of my home office/dinning room–and it does pose many challenges. I think the thing that has worked best for me is that I have to set time limits for myself. Only work until say x time and then that’s it. You walk away, turn the computer off, spend time with family, read a magazine, ect. You have to create the mental space even if you’re in one space!

  13. blair

    I have never worked at home but always wanted to–sorry not to have any advice but I did want to say that your home office is beautiful!!!

  14. Julie

    I have worked from home for over 10 years now and I find that having great freedom works for me. I have discovered the best creative hours for myself and check it out… I DO work in my pj’s often! I say try all of the above ideas and see what works the best for you. No two people are the same no two working style are the same… btw I am a bit of a rebel;)

  15. Lisa

    OY. Working from home. The biggest piece of advice others have given me (which has been widely suggested above) is to get dressed for the morning and create a sense of structure that you would otherwise have in the workplace. My biggest problem (also commented upon) is the lack of social interaction throughout the day…the noise. Make sure you do plan a few lunch breaks with friends here or there and listen to the television or radio. Casual conversations and outside influences from “the job” are underrated when it comes to both inspiration and motivation.

  16. pve

    came back to see all these fab comments… yes to getting dressed so that you are ready for the day. shoes make me feel dressed.

  17. Jess

    @ Amanda: Great idea! Do you make plans with people that also work from home or people in offices?

    @ Sarah: I like the recognition that you don’t have a commute, and you can schedule in extra breaks with this in mind. I just started using my color pencils and coloring pages again, I can consider this my “commute treat.”

    @ Teri Rees Wang: What great points so cleverly stated! I like the get dressed for the delivery guy part.

    @ Dana: I like the idea of a cut off time.

    @ Blair: I am glad you like the studio so far, it’s going to be great.

    @ Julie: Nice! I am glad to hear that there are many different ways to structure and work effectively.

    @ Lisa: I can see what you mean. Sometimes I feel like Erwin has a better sense of balance in his life because he has so many other interactions throughout the day than I do.

    @ PVE: Thanks for the shoe comment, that is my new thing to work on :). Right now I’m breaking in some new fall boots that also double as rainboots.

  18. Denise

    I’ve worked from home for ~7 years now. I agree with everyone’s advice so far.

    The one thing I would add is that sometimes it is just IMPOSSIBLE to focus, concentrate and get what you need to do done.

    In these cases, I usually TRY HARD for a reasonable amount of time and then – if your job allows you any flexibility and I still can’t focus – I allow myself to let it go and do something fun/different for a while.

    You’ll have to trade a little of your evening or weekend time to do so (i.e., if you “exit” work for 2 hours, you’ll either work late or work on the weekend)…but you’ll feel so much worse if you not only get NOTHING done all day, but also haven’t had a good day.

    Good luck!

  19. Jess-

    I just so happen to have other friends who are either out of work right now (“trailing spouses”- a common occurance in the expat world), or have shift work, such as at a hotel (where they start at 7 am and get off at 3 pm for instance). Or I catch them after work for a coffee or cocktail, or during work for their lunch break.

    The good thing is that you will be so flexible that you can work around other people, and in so doing make it beneficial to yourself. If that makes sense.

  20. Down and Out Chic

    as much as i’d love to give you advice, i don’t have any b/c i work from home at night (after working at an office during the day) so i suppose that doesn’t count?!!
    just wanted to pop in and say hello and wish you luck!

  21. rebecca

    Jess, this is late, but i wanted to give you my .02 cents too!=)

    Everyone has given you great advice. I’ll give you my quickie list:
    – run first thing. Gets me energized and ready to go. That way, i’m already showered and ready to get dressed

    – coffee! Fresh coffee each and every morning.

    – a client to-do list which is my overall list of to-do’s and a day by day list to help focus on more immediate goals.

    – make breaks and take them! just as you would at an out of home office.

    – be social! networking lunches, coffee with friends, etc. Just to get out of the office a couple of times a week.

    You have such drive and diligence, i’m sure you will do great!
    Hope that helps,

Leave a Reply