Thursday, 11 January 2018

5 Tips for working from home

Happy new year!

A wise investment of M&J's that I relish in is our office space downtown. It gives us the ability as freelancers to actually ‘go to work’ like the 9-to-5'ers do.

M&J was officially back to work on January 2nd.

My dog walker was not back from her holiday until the 8th.

As such, I requested that we work remotely so I could stay home with my pup for the first week of 2018. Of course M was supportive of this because well, she’s M.

Working remotely can be extremely conducive to facilitating personal life changes such as dealing with new kittens or a new puppy (both of which happened for us respectively this past year).

However, although I love my home it is not my preferred work space. If the hours stretch on too long at the ol’ homestead I can easily find myself with a ‘mean case of the reds’ like in Breakfast at Tiffany's...

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?

Paul Varjak: The mean reds. You mean like the blues?

Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat, and maybe it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid, and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

Jax: Yes. Yes I do Holly.

Okay, so that last line wasn’t part of the film.


In order to prevent the ‘mean reds’ here are a few tips I have found to be helpful for working where you hang your hat....

1. Start with grabbing a coffee out. 

Either meet someone early before your ‘work hours’ begin or else bring your mug to your favorite cafe and invest in a reason for a little fresh air and human interaction to start the day.

This could also be supplemented with brewing your own caffeine and going for a simple walk around the block with a friend etc. Point is to get outside first, before opening your email/script/novel etc.

*Bonus points for words spoken to other human beings, even if those words are just, "I’ll have an (insert cafe beverage of choice), please" and then, "Thank you".

2. Try the 20 / 10 rule.

20 mins of focused work, broken up by 10 mins of break time/anything else of interest.

When I feel scattered, overwhelmed or even blocked as a writer this works really well to keep my momentum going. The full fancy version of it is The Pomodoro Technique but I just do my own version of setting a timer for 20 mins and then again for 10.

This can work at the office too but I find it particularly helpful at home where I can get lost staring at a pile of dishes in the sink that are taunting me. If I set a timer and know I am going to handle those bad boys for 10 mins after this 20 mins block of work, I can focus.

*Bonus points for leaning towards physical activities or ones that at least get you up out of your chair for the 10 mins. It really feels refreshing when you go back to your main task after a little bit of movement.

3. Use scent to your advantage.

A jar of incense sticks and a pack of matches sits on my desk at all times.

I find that with the right scent, I can relax into my work on tense days and/or find new pep on sluggish ones, (citrus scents do wonders for the latter).

4. Get fresh air in.

Open those windows!

It’s better to wear an extra sweater and have fresh air filling your lungs than the alternative. Stale air in our homes, especially during the winter months can be detrimental to our health (so says Mike Holmes).

Even 15-20 mins can be beneficial and sharpen your focus.

5. Wear supportive footwear.

This is a big one. I have an old back injury from my dance days and it can flare up if I spend an entire day in socks on an unsprung hardwood floor. When I work at home, I wear my geeky runners with pride. Add in some orthotics and you have a recipe for longevity my friend.

There you have it! Those are a few of my tips for working from home when you are someone who prefers to work outside of it and/or you need to avoid a case of the 'mean reds'!

A very happy new year to you dear readers and wherever you are working this 2018,  M&J wish you a productive, creatively fulfilling 365 days.

- J

*J, Oh yes to all of these, one additional suggestion is to wear clothes you would wear to the office and once your day is done go for another walk and get into snuggly-wear. The best workdays are the ones when I see J for real, not just through the screen :) - M

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Maira Gall