You’re a grown-ass woman. You are a capable human being with a long to-do list and the motivation to get it all done without a boss-figure physically looming over you… just ten more minutes in bed and you’ll be right on it. Right on it after you spend a few hours checking out what’s on sale at modcloth and which of your high school friends is getting married weirdly early and what Mindy Kaling has to say on twitter this morning and maybe have a shower but definitely don’t get dressed. In fact, skip the shower, get that hair up in a bun and curl up on the couch like some kind of 21st century Miss Havisham with a good wifi connection. Then recoil in horror when the doorbell rings because you realise someone is going to see you like this and be not-unfoundedly worried for your mental health. Anyway, 5pm, time to clock off!
I know that’s not really how people who work from home operate. Most people, anyways. Lots and lots of people work from home full- or part-time these days—I am one of them, and to be honest this week’s guide is partially my regular column and partially me putting down a list of working-from-home guidelines so that I have something to hold myself to, so apologies in advance if some of these are weirdly specific.
Know your ideal work conditions
Do you need lots of natural light or a specific productivity playlist or an espresso machine constantly at the ready? Whatever you need to do—get dressed like a real person, start the day with a big breakfast, make an incredibly precise to-do list—to get going is what you should do. Just because you don’t have the routine of going into an office doesn’t mean you can’t have a getting ready for work routine at home. Make a coffee, check some emails and head to your workspace to get cracking. Speaking of…
Work space vs. Play space
I don’t do work from the couch because that is where I go when I am “done” work to relax and let Jamie Oliver teach me how to cook. Something I struggle with is not working from my bed, but it’s probably the worst ever idea. I know it seems like the easy thing to do to drag your laptop into your little bundle of blankets and start typing away, but you’re going to produce sub-par work and also ruin your sleep space. You do not want to associate your night time rest and sex location with that deadline you have coming up, nahmean? You wouldn’t have sex in your office (regularly). Even just having a specific, cleared-out corner of your kitchen table can help get your mind into work mode.
One day at a time
Set smaller deadlines and goals for accomplishments each day. That way you know what you need to do and can finish when you’re done, even if the overall job itself is far from finished. Tomorrow you can do more! Working from home shouldn’t mean never escaping your job.
Swanning around your apartment in an elegant vintage kimono that you got on a super amazing sale is not the same as accomplishing anything, how are you ever going to be a writer at this rate you need to start taking your life more seriously Monica I mean it.
I said some of these tips might be a little specific, but obviously I do not mean this one. I don’t know you and you don’t know me so this is just one of a number of options to increase your and my productivity, and it could certainly apply to anyone. A tip to whoever out there is struggling with this issue: don’t spend too long indulging in Game of Thrones medieval princess fantasies because of your new robe and also be careful with your long, glamourous sleeves as they are probably a real tea-hazard. Probably. Not that I would know. Believe in yourself, whoever you are!
Have an escape and use it when you need to
Right now mine is the gym (I know, right?), but in less motivated times it has been a coffee date with a friend, a long solo walk with a playlist of songs exclusively about unrequited love, or a phonecall to my mama. People working in offices or schools or prisons or whatever take breaks for lunch/snacks/to clear their heads/etc., and you can too. Don’t feel bad about putting aside the task you’re working on for a half hour, it will still be there when you come back.
Like, be a grown up about time management
You can’t watch porn/play video games/Skype with your bestie all day long. You can play around with your schedule a little bit, and you have the freedom of doing it alllll in your underwear if you want to (you want to.), but you know when you need to buckle down and put together something great, so just do it already. If you start working an hour later than you planned, you should work an hour later than you had intended to, even if that means being late for after work drinks with reggos who work 9-5.
Keep in contact w/ the outside world
Just because you can work in your pyjamas doesn’t mean you can sleep through emails/calls from whoever it is you report to, whether clients or a boss of some kind. Also check in with friends or family who work more regular jobs, to avoid feeling like a lonely cave-dweller trapped at the bottom of the sea while the world floats by above.
Ahhhh, and now it’s 5pm. Time to file this baby and slip out of my house kimono into my going-out kimono! … I mean, I don’t own a kimono and I’m doing fine. See all y’all freelancers and small business owners and whatever on gchat, the official chat service of 21st century sea-cave dwellers.
Follow Monica on twitter: @monicaheisey
Read more of Monica’s Grown-Ass Woman guides on appearing wealthy, dealing with rude-os, being sick, getting other people’s parents to like you, getting shit done, your face, sneak-cercise saying no, twitter, talking about your body anxieties, hangover maintenance, vintage clothes, how to have a long-distance relationship, sounding smart at cocktail parties, and packing to disappear.