November 13, 2012

How I make working from home work

I've had various people ask if it's hard to stay disciplined while working from home. As long as I treat it as a job, it's not hard. On the other hand, graphic design is a deadline driven business and I am very good at hitting my deadlines. If I were a writer or fine artist and it was all up to me when 'it' happened, I don't think getting work done would be as easy.

Here's what makes it work for me:

1. I have a separate room.
Yes, it's shared with Jrex, but his stuff is tucked away behind me so I don't have to look at it. In 'my' part of the room, in addition to the custom desk I made myself, my huge monitor, laptop stand, scanner, bookshelfs and balance ball for a seat, there's a daybed. Not only does the daybed give us extra guest space, it's where I go to brainstorm and sketch. In order to generate creative ideas, I need to turn away from the computer with a stack of yummy (ultra smooth & thick) paper, a smooth pen, good music and time to sketch and just let my right brain loose to play. The computer tends to require left-brained mode (logic, order, language) and is therefore less conducive to true creativity.

2. I go into that room by 9:30 AM and leave by 4:30 or 5 PM.
It takes much less time to get work done when I don't have anyone to chat with as I go to and from the bathroom or kitchen. I also don't usually do laundry or clean the house while I'm 'at work'.

3. I dress for work.
Contrary to popular myth, I'm not working in my pajamas (or bunny slippers). If I don't take myself seriously, why should anyone else? Now, I DO tend to wear hats a lot and I don't usually bother with makeup, but I get 'ready' to 'go' to work

4. Unless required, the computer stays off during the evenings and weekends.
It's too easy to let work and home life blend together. Shutting down the computer signals that I can relax; it gives me a clear 'your time is your own' feeling (well, my time is Brex's time, really, but it's still a happy feeling to hit 'shut down' and walk away). The downside is that without the computer, it's hard to keep up with others' blogs, or play Scrabble on Facebook. All of that happens during 'office' hours or via my phone. When work is busy, I don't have time for any 'extras'. (November is obviously slow so far!)

5. The baby goes to daycare.
Having had him home during the workday while Mom K was here, I don't think a nanny would have worked. It's too distracting and he's too smart. If he knows I'm here, he wants to find me and be with me.

Ways that working from home has been a wonderful gift as a working Mom:

I don't have to tell my boss I'm working from home when the baby is sick. (Well, unless he barfs during staff meeting.) If we were still in California, I would have had to work from home over 20 days this year. As it was, I was able to juggle work and baby nap times most of the time.

It IS easier to take a nap.
When the kiddo has a rough night and my work is slow, I turn up the volume for email notifications and fall onto the daybed for a nap.

When I have to, I CAN get stuff done around the house.
As I said, I don't usually do this. I try to give the time for which I'm paid to my employer, but when we have a ridiculous mound of laundry, it's amazing to be able to get some of that done during the day. Or when decorating for a baby's birthday party (a purely hypothetical example!)...

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Your setup sounds ideal. The not-having-to-call-in thing is huge! I envy you. However, I've found that I have a hard time staying focused when I work from home, and I think I would miss interacting with other people.