Working from home had been one of my pipe dreams from the age of about 16. You know, one of those things you say as an introverted teen with no friends and no self-confidence. But it wasn’t until my final year of University that I thought this was something I could genuinely do if I put my mind to it. I’ve been self-employed on and off for almost five years now and my current stint is hanging in at around 11 months, so I thought it’d be an apt time to share some of my tips for working from home.
More than ever before, young women – you and I – are grabbing life by the balls and taking the reins for ourselves. Whether that’s through traditional careers or through the wonderful medium of blogging, it’s fair to say that working from home is more normal than ever before. My freelance business is in copywriting. I’m a freelance online writer that curates, creates and edits content for a number of international clients, working on anything from collection launches to entire campaigns, product descriptions to press releases, and everything in between. Alongside that, I run and operate Honey + Chai from my at-home studio.
My Top Tips
Create clear work and leisure spaces. Something that I must stress is the importance of creating a divide between your work and leisure spaces. It’s tempting to work from the comfort of your bed, in your pyjamas, but it’s a nasty habit to get into. Personally, I have a shared office space downstairs with my Mum that entails a desk, plenty of light, my stock rail and packing station. Dividing your spaces up means it’ll be easier to switch off after work.
Make a weekly routine. Sort of. The beauty of working from home is that you’re kinda free to do whatever you wish. I’m especially grateful for my routine in that I get to walk my dog daily and spend time with loved ones at my discretion, but that’s not without its setbacks. As a general rule, Mondays see me at my desk by 8am to respond to emails from the weekend. As I work through these, I pencil down a to-do list for the day/week and assess the sort of workload I’m looking at. I’ll then head out with Milo for an hour or so before powering through with client work. I always break for lunch at 12.30pm/1pm and get back to my desk for 2pm. Afternoons are a little more relaxed: often a little client work coupled with menial tasks like filing and chasing invoices, fulfilling orders, adhoc things here and there. I then finish work at around 6pm on a Monday. If I’m completely honest, my working week only really consists of 4 days.
Go outdoors. Don’t feel guilty about going outside and running errands. True, it’s not something you could do at a traditional 9-5 but that’s what working from home is all about! Ain’t much better than an empty Post Office queue at 3pm 😉 Working from home can send you a little stir-crazy sometimes with the lack of human contact and so heading out can do you the world of good.
Keep your Girl Gang close. The other thing about working from home is that it can get lonely. As an introvert, I didn’t even realise that I was lonely until I began to schedule in coffee dates a few afternoons a month! Start up a little support group, a network, of like-minded people or fellow freelancers and use them to bounce ideas off of or to hang out with on quieter days. I find that working for myself means I’m more headstrong than ever and it can be quite the task to convince myself to change my ways or try anew! Plus, with no appraisal system, it’s good to have a cheerleader/kind critic to chat to once in a while!
Keep a record of your receipts. Now this one’s not strictly for everybody working from home, but freelancers! Keep a jolly good record of your receipts. My current system is to use an index card box or make 12 dividers to pop in a pretty box and keep it on your desk in high visibility. Alongside that, keep a receipt stand – one where you can pierce receipts to create a stack. Simply pop your receipts in its’ respective month’s divider and you have a simple way to reference your business expenses. I work on my account books weekly (or fortnightly!) so once things have been filed, I pierce it to separate it from the unfiled ones.
Variety is the spice of life. The fact of the matter is that many freelancers will not hold down a typical day-to-day routine. And that can be hard. Like I mentioned before, it’s great to hone in on a semblance of an everyday schedule (this way, clients and customers can get a better hold of you!) but don’t fret about having your fingers in many pies. I love the multi-faceted nature of my business: sometimes I can get into a writing flow for 5 hours, other times I’m running from laptop to studio to the Post Office and back again. Variety will really keep your mind ticking and the creative juices flowing.
Cut down on the guilt factor. Hand in hand with that, quit feeling guilty! I struggle to explain exactly what it is that I do but, realistically, I need to stop guilt-tripping myself into trying to make my job sound traditional. Whilst in many ways I hold a bog-standard office job down in that I reply to emails, report to a contact for each client and still have to fight Microsoft Excel daily, the truth is I absolutely love being able to embark on buying sessions for my shop, sectioning time away to shoot photographs for my blog or for clients, researching and writing about new launches. Sometimes it takes me an hour to work for a ‘full day’ and sometimes I’m at my desk for fourteen hours. That’s fine too. I quit my 9-5 to pursue this world, so why am I often afraid to share exactly what I do?