Not too long ago, we shared with you some of the ways that we fill our creative cups. Recently though, we’ve been reflecting on how we live our best WFH life. These topics may seem the same, but there is much more to it than you think. What fills my cup creatively doesn’t always provide me the best ongoing environment for working from home. And additionally, things that are good for working from home don’t always make a person feel more creative.
Here is another thing to consider, we know that working from home looks very different for everyone; some of us have the freedom to leave our homes to frequent our favorite coffee shop or library, while others have to hole up in a bedroom upstairs, typing as quietly as possible so their 16-month-old doesn’t hear them and want to come up and hang (Kelsey tells us this is a story of a friend she knows, definitely not her own 😉).
So, for the sake of wide relatability, here is how we will define it: Working from home means you are stuck in your house. You can’t leave. For whatever reason: you have to stay home with your kids, your car broke down, your smart house locked you inside, there is a zombie apocalypse outside, etc. How do you live your best WFH life from your actual home? Keep reading to learn what works best for some of our team members.
Before we begin, it’s important for you to know that in our best WFH life we are:
1. I work from home with a toddler, so time management and discipline are very important in order for me to do my best. I have a very set schedule, which includes a very early morning, where I can work uninterrupted before my daughter gets up. Then I have to set a more flexible schedule for the afternoon so that I can be prepared to work whenever naptime hits.
2. I have found that a clean and organized space is also important for me if I want to focus. If my space feels cluttered and messy, so does my brain, and then all I can think about is cleaning up.
3. A quiet environment is key if I want to be entirely focused and most productive. For me, quiet means complete silence or gentle music with a slower beat and gentle rhythm. Background TV, friends/family chattering, or loud and upbeat music make me feel distracted and honestly, a little scattered.
4. I need to get ready for the day and pretend I am leaving my house. Or else I feel like I’m just here to binge Harry Potter movies in my PJs. Some days, getting ready means a full blow dry, nicer clothes, and even some makeup. Other days it includes a face wash, hair back, and some of my favorite Athleisure wear. As long as I would feel comfortable leaving the house in this look, I feel motivated to work.
*Side note: I have a fairly small space, however, if I had more freedom, I’d have a dedicated office, but also spend time working from different rooms when I was feeling unproductive. Melissa Fleming of the UNHCR shared her WFH set up months ago, and I can’t stop thinking about how versatile it is. (I’m seriously considering asking for an ironing board for Christmas just so I can copy Melissa’s creative setup).
1. Lighting – My best WFH life depends on throwing open the curtains every morning and letting in as much sunlight as possible. I. need. natural. light. For cloudy or hazy days, I have a sunlight lamp to trick my brain into thinking it’s sunny. Being stuck inside all day doesn’t mean you can’t be in tune with the outside world!
2. Background noise – My favorite thing about working from home (as opposed to an office setting) is that I can have the TV on in the background. While some tasks require complete focus and no distractions (Writing this blog post, for example), others allow for some background noise. I have a few favorite sitcoms that I have on during the workday to replace the office chatter you might hear in a typical workplace setting.
3. Schedule – Staring at a computer screen all day makes it easy to lose track of time. I try to keep a few constants in my schedule each day when working from home. My Google Assistant lets me know when it’s time to eat lunch, stand up and stretch, have a glass of water, and start wrapping up work for the day. My lights change temperature throughout the day for subtle reminders that time is passing. When I finish my work for the day, I try to leave the house; usually I go for a walk or stop at the grocery store.
- Routine – When I first started working from home as a freelancer, I quickly learned that it was important to set boundaries for my routine. I had a hard time saying “no” to work and would often work at all hours, leaving me feeling burnt out and unable to enjoy myself at home. Routine can look different for everyone; it might mean setting hard 9 to 5 hours for yourself, or giving yourself time to eat lunch without staring at a computer.
- A dedicated space – I once read that you should not do work in your bedroom because you start to associate your bedroom as a workplace, making it harder to relax and sleep. Before I had enough space for a dedicated office, I would work at the kitchen table on my laptop. My bedroom and living room were both off-limit working spaces because those were my favorite places to relax!
- Snacks – One of my favorite things about my previous workplaces was the snacks. So I make sure to stock up on some good ones!
- List making: While we have a great project management system that sets priority for projects, it can sometimes feel overwhelming, so I like to create daily lists for myself:
-Client Priorities: Anything that has a deadline of today
-Brainstorming: I keep a running list of ideas so I can get to them later and don’t fill up brain space.
-Personal: WFH life makes work and home tasks mix at times-making myself a list helps to make sure that I know there are things I need to do but can do them at breaks.
I love to cross off items by the end of the day and I sometimes will dump the next day’s to-do into a list so I can stop thinking about it and “leave work.”
- Midday Resets: This can be a variety of things, the main component is being away from a screen. If I don’t make time for this I feel like I am behind a screen all day, for work and my own scrolling (I love a Frenchie REEL). Many days I just take time to feed my dogs, make lunch for myself and listen to a non-work-related podcast. Currently it’s What a day with guest appearances by Radio Headspace. If anything work related comes up, I do my best to write it down with pen and paper instead of picking up my phone or opening my laptop.
- Being Structured YET Flexible: I am someone that craves structure, but my brain and workflow isn’t always conducive, so I give myself options. For instance: I know when creativity hits, I need to harness that motivation and let it flow. When the well dries up-I know I have work that is more admin focused that I can tackle. I make my environment flexible as well. I work from my kitchen island, patio table and sometimes…the couch. When I am not being productive, I move locations and it helps me to reset and get back at it.
As we mentioned earlier, we know that some of our friends who work from home have the ability to work in other spaces: coffee shops, libraries, our family and friends’ houses, etc. but thanks for using your imagination to pretend with us for a moment. Because there are unique challenges to working from homeand being unable to head out the door for a brain refresh. And we really wanted to take some space to address those.
How do you live your best WFH life? We’d love to hear your tips too!
About the author:
Kelsey potter is a Content Coordinator at Stratos Creative.