It’s fair to say I struggled quite a bit with working from home in the early days of Bustle & Sew, so I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my top tips for creating an effective work/life balance – and lots of lovely products too!
1. Start your working day promptly
When you’re working by yourself, even when you’re doing something you love, it’s easy to become distracted and less productive. Setting yourself a schedule doesn’t only provide some structure to your day, it also helps you remain motivated. I know lots of people say they are happy to work in their pyjamas, but this simply isn’t right for me. I like to get up at the same time I did when I was working in an office, then sit down to work for a couple of hours before it’s time for Daisy’s walk.
2. Set your working hours and try to keep to them
Working at home means that the divide between your personal and working life can become blurred, so try to set yourself times to switch off. I am especially “guilty” of this as if I’m home then I’m extremely
likely to spend the evening stitching – but then I spent 25 years working in an office – looking forward to stitching time in the evenings so I think this is probably OK!
3. Create a dedicated working area
I sit and work at my table during the day when I’m on my laptop, but upstairs I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated workroom for all my sewing paraphernalia. Even if you don’t have very much room, it’s important to carve out some space that is just for your work. There are lots of suggestions online for compact home offices and other storage solutions – of if you’re completely stuck for space, then you could consider building a shed or studio in your garden perhaps – or if your business has outgrown your home, then it may be time to look for dedicated business premises.
4. Time management and productivity
It can be tempting to work at top speed to try and do as much as possible, especially if you’re fitting work around family commitments such as the school run. But this doesn’t necessarily lead to you getting the most done. It has been observed that the most productive workers typically work intently for around 52 minutes and then take a 17 minute break. These breaks don’t have to take any particular form – it can be as simple as staring out of the window! Your brain is like any other part of your body – it needs to rest from time to time to perform at its peak. But beware – being permanently distracted isn’t going to lead to your best work, which leads to my next tip…
5. Give yourself some space
Lots of people work from home to fit their business/work around their family commitments. But often other family members don’t understand that your work is important, and though it’s great that you’re able to be around when they need you, you do have to be productive in your working time. This can be especially hard to for others to understand when your business has developed from a hobby – that what once might have been “mum’s little bits of cross-stitch” has developed into a real business, generating income that benefits the whole family.
6. Don’t let yourself become isolated
This may seem contradictory after reading the above, but for some working at home means you may not be having facetime with others on a daily basis and to avoid becoming isolated you need to put in the extra effort to stay connected with the wider world. For me, it may be a cliché, but I have found walking the dogs is a great way to get out of the house, take some healthy exercise, and meet lots of interesting people. Emails and social media are good for “chatting” to others, but for me at least nothing can really replace that actual face to face contact. If you don’t have dogs to walk, then consider joining a club – perhaps a book club, taking up a team sporting activity or volunteering – these are all good ways to get out and meet people if you’re beginning to feel isolated.
7. Celebrate your achievements
When you’re working at home, staying motivated can be hard, especially when there are so many distractions (social media, laundry, garden etc) around. One really good way to maintain your enthusiasm for work is to spend a moment or two each day acknowledging your achievements rather than becoming bogged down in your “still to do” list. Reminding yourself what you’ve accomplished in a day is a great way to maintain a virtuous cycle going forwards.
We hope you find this useful – if you’ve got any other tips for working from home please leave them in the comments below. We’d love to know!
*Article written by Helen and originally appeared in Bustle & Sew Magazine
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