Time to confess, because I work from home and self-employed for the past 12 years, sometimes I get lonely. I thought it would be helpful to anyone who is thinking of working for themselves and some pros and cons of working at home. I think the biggest battle is that there are times when being alone is super productive and not having to worry about distractions, but then not having the advantage of surrounding yourself with people for company and conversation to bounce ideas off. Both great scenarios but at the end of the day being self-employed is about knowing how you choose to work and what works best for you.
Gone are the 9-5 working hours. I can start and finish my day when I like.
Avoiding the daily commute and peak hour traffic.
I can work in trackies or pyjamas all day (Not recommended)
Choice to create my perfect workspace that suits me.
No employees, no employer, no office politics and small talk with co-workers.
Being your own boss.
There are times it can get lonely.
Being a creative I don’t get to bounce ideas off, get advice or interact with people for work.
There is nowhere to escape work since I am already at work.
When you have spare time when most likely no one else does, because they are at work.
Some days you are at home all day and don’t have face time contact with people.
Make the choice. Don’t work alone.
If working alone is not for you, my first suggestion would be to look into a co-working space. They are usually reasonably cheap to hire a desk or a space which are amongst other creatives. That way you can collaborate, discuss and brainstorm ideas and potentially use each others services and skills. Although in my early stages of being a Graphic Designer I did a short term role replacement at a studio which really cemented the idea that I wanted to work for myself and also work from home. I learnt early on that it wasn’t for me and knew that my own creative work required more than working at a desk and also that at times I work at odd hours and tend to make a lot of “productive chaos” that I couldn’t leave for the world to see. Also being in a studio I found I was forced into a lot of small talk (which I hate) and constant interruptions would get me out of my ‘work zone’.
If you choose to work alone, here are some tips I’ve put into practice myself over the years.
Have a morning routine.
Its taken me a long time to get into a routine that suits me. I admit I am not a morning person, so my day starts a little slower unless I have a deadline, shoot or meeting. But I always do a good morning skincare routine which I feel wakes me up, eat breakfast and get dressed before tackling emails and beginning my day. But your day could look very different, maybe you get up super early and work out or get up later, go out and grab a coffee. Creating a routine ritual is important to get you energised and motivated.
Don’t isolate yourself.
Sometimes you have to make a concerted effort to get out of the house. Whether its scheduling a coffee meeting instead of back and forth emails, picking up some supplies, running some errands when you hit an unproductive slump. I find when I have gone out even just to grab some lunch or a coffee I come back to the office in a better and more productive head space. Also getting out for a walk or heading to the shops means that you get to interact with people which can only be a good thing! It's important to have a work/home balance and I always find a way each day to get out of the house – for me its every day at 5:45pm, work stops and I head to the gym without fail.
Take a break.
Some days are easier than others, but when you are alone it is easy to get caught up in your work and ‘forget’ to take a break. Usually when I start loosing concentration, or feeling a little stuck I will get away from my office, make some lunch (which is usually pre-prepared) and zone out. Watch a couple of YouTube videos, read, or something that is a distraction from work.
Listen while you work.
Whilst I love listening to music (quite loud) when I’m in the studio most likely in a world of chaos sometimes it's about listening to some background noise whilst you work. When I'm in the office editing or doing something a little more mundane I love listening to podcasts. The feeling of listening to a conversation or being talked to kind of replaces the chit chat of co-workers. Plus I love to learn about peoples stories or advice which is also why putting a YouTube vlog up in the corner of my screen (as to not get distracted) is an insight into someone else’s day who is also most likely working alone as well.
Use social media.
A difficult one to battle. One, because it can undoubtedly become a distraction (put a time limit on it) and two, we all know there is a lot of ‘gloss’ and highlights when its comes to what people post on social media and it is easy to compare yourself to what you may see as a ‘mundane’ life. But social media is also a great tool to connect with people throughout the day. Get inspired or motivated to work by seeing what people are up to or what they are posting can get you thinking more creatively. Although I've never been known to use Instagram Stories (talking to camera) as a way of connecting with people but it is great to watch and listen to break up your day.
Hope some of this advice helps any of you who already work from home or are planning on a little side hustle. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below if you have any other tips if you are like me and can get a little lonely in the office sometimes.