Let’s be honest, “a day in” usually means netflixing, a few too many trips to the kitchen, and the occasional facetime with your family or best friend. But when you’re working from home, “a day in” is a day of work.
Being at home all day can provide various distraction from work, but building healthy habits can help anyone feel comfortable and confident to be productive all day. This article contains 10 tips to make working from home work.
Create a designated workspace.
This one is so essential for good working habits. Whether it’s the coffee table, a spare bedroom, or the comfy corner of the couch, you need a space that alerts you that it is now time for work.
Ideally the place you sit down to work will not share time with other activities such as sleeping, leisure activities, etc., but sometimes you just have to make do. Either way, having a workspace of your own will help you feel like you are “going to work” in the morning when you sit down in your homemade workspace.
Plan your day.
Plan your day beforehand so that when you wake up, you can get straight to work. As a young illustrator I use to dread sitting down at my desk in the morning, knowing I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do that day besides “be an illustrator”. I was always worried I wasn’t spending my time wisely or I was forgetting to do something important.
I can tell you right now, it is better for your emotional, mental, and physical health if you plan each day THE NIGHT BEFORE. You will sleep better, wake up happier, and start your day more confidently. I speak from experience on this one.
Prioritise your tasks.
For many children’s book illustrators, having a few projects going at a time is just part of the job. But, having multiple projects on at the same time means more focused prioritising and time management.
What I’ve found helpful is to make sure you have attainable goals for each day. It’s exhausting to feel like you’ve not crossed anything off your to-do list after days of working on a project.
Break it down, give yourself tasks within the larger project so that at the end of each day you can see the progress you’ve made.
Set up boundaries for working hours.
I know it’s hard to know when to stop working, especially when Instagram is telling you the optimal time to post is 8pm on a Wednesday. It also may be difficult to discern between work and leisure, especially if you love what you do. But having boundaries will help guard you from feeling burnt out in the long run.
There is no healthy way to be connected 24/7- it is vital you decide when your cut off is.
In my career I’ve learned this lesson the hard way through various burn outs and relational problems. So, trust me, boundaries are good.
Get up and move around.
Studies show adults working in a sedentary job should make a point to get up and move around for at least 2 minutes every half hour. I could definitely use a bit of this- I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve sat down to start work on a project and then looked at the time and realised it had been 3 hours.
I can say that when I do get up, go for a quick walk, or simply stand by my desk for a couple minutes I feel so much better. I don’t think you can count moving around for 2 minutes your daily exercise, but it helps keep the blood flowing and the brain working!
Do not isolate.
Being alone is fine, feeling lonely isn’t as much.
It’s easy for children’s book illustrators to become completely consumed by the project they’re working on, especially if they’re under a tight deadline. But hear me when I say, feeling isolated and alone will not help you get work done, it will make you feel sad.
It is so important, no matter what you need to get done, that you allow yourself to see at least one person you care about every day. This will encourage you, not distract you.
Allow yourself a break.
In a blog where I’m mostly telling you to be disciplined and focus, I’m also going to tell you not to focus. A well-timed break can make or break your workday. It’s the difference between feeling burnt out and feeling appropriately busy.
A break gives you the space you need to grab a snack, check the notifications, and process how you’re feeling. I cannot tell you how many times a break from work has helped me avoid a total melt down between projects.
Nutrition is important.
Not only should you take breaks for mealtimes, you should try to eat things that will help your body function. Sugar and caffeine will give you a high, but eventually your body will crash, and you will either need to stop working, or re-load on sugar and caffeine (both of which are not ideal sources of energy).
Eat brain foods for snacks like nuts, fruits, and greens. It may sound elementary, but I promise these kinds of snacks DO make a difference. I know shoving five cookies down your throat may seem appealing in the moment, but will it in the long run? Food for thought…no pun intended.
The kitchen is not your workplace.
Unless you have nowhere else to work but the kitchen, this point is not for you. This point is mainly for those who have set up their home workspace in another room in the house, but their work time is split pretty evenly between the two rooms.
Walking into the kitchen and opening the fridge will not give you the creative revelation you are looking for. Not trying to shame anyone, but I felt something needed to be said.
Invest in your workspace.
If you’re going to be working from home most days, it’s important to be happy with the space your working in. Even if you feel like you can survive with a chair that hurts your back and a blank wall in front of you all day, I promise that putting time into your workspace will make you more excited to “go to work” in the morning. Get that fancy work chair, support that local artist with cool wall decor.
You’re worth it.
I have off days, and I don’t follow all these guidelines all the time. I think the most important thing we can do while working from home, besides building healthy habits, is to give grace to ourselves. Some days are absolutely amazing, and we are productive, but other days are slow and it’s hard to find the motivation to keep working. It’s okay to have both kinds of days. That’s why we build healthy habits- to increase the good days and decrease the not-so-good ones.
I hope you found this article interesting and helpful. If you have any questions or comments please reach out! I always love hearing from you and I do guarantee a response.