Living this Life

Staying Sane and Productive When you Work from Home

My top 5 tips for handmade business owners to keep from going crazy-town-banana-pants when working from home.

Working from home has a lot of benefits; no one tells you when to get dressed, where to be or what to do. On the flip side of that, no one is holding you accountable for getting dressed before noon, leaving the house, or getting your work done. I love that I can be at home even when my daughter is sick, has a snow day or vacation and still get some work accomplished. I love that as a mom, I can be there for her no matter what without heavy sighs over the phone from a boss because I can’t get a sitter. I also love the fact that I am in control of how I spend my time and what I work on. I think those are some of the top reasons many people are drawn to an entrepreneurial life. And for us creative types, not being told what to do and having ultimate creative freedom is plenty to keep us indoors.

But here are the facts: if you’re not working, you’re not earning any money either. As creatives it’s very easy to get swallowed up by our emotional side and ignore work when we feel “uninspired”. It’s also easy to fall down the rabbit hole of our own minds when we spend too much time in one place and by ourselves. And when you stay at home to do your work, it is really easy to fall into bad habits that could ultimately lead to a funk that leaves you in a depression, your creativity shattered and your business in the dust.

So as a single parent on an artist’s budget here are some things that I do to keep myself from going stir crazy and focused while working from home.

Tip #1 Get Dressed

No you don’t have to put on a suit and tie or spend an hour and a half on your hair and makeup if you have no plans to meet with customers or leave the house for supplies or food, but lounging in your pj’s all day is a great way to ooze yourself into a lazy day. Hanging out in your slept-in clothes makes it way too easy for the morning hours to slip into the afternoon, then evening and before you know it, you’ve Netflix binged Nailed It and gotten no work done.

Get dressed, brush your teeth and your hair and be ready for your day. Depending on how you work your business- for example if you do a lot of custom orders, you also want to be at least semi-ready to head out the door if a potential client reaches out for a meeting. At the very least make yourself presentable for yourself. I know I feel better when the dark “mommy” circles under my eyes are lovingly concealed when I glimpse myself in the bathroom mirror. Show up for you! You are worth it.

Tip # 2 Leave The House

I drive my daughter to school and pick her up every day. A friend asked me the other day why I don’t just let her ride the bus. Initially I thought I do it out of habit because until last year we lived five minutes away from the school and it was less time consuming to drive her than to get up earlier and stick her on the bus for a ride that would take 20 minutes. For a moment I considered letting her ride the bus from now on. Then I realized that this offered me a sort of built in opportunity to haul myself out of pj’s and into workout clothes in the mornings, and to get out of the house at least twice a day. On a side note: As my kiddo gets older I also realize that the 15 minute car ride offers a distraction free time for us to have some of our more inspiring conversations. And I’m clinging to every 15 minute convo I can get before she hits 12!

So if you don’t have kids, or they do ride the bus, there are plenty of other ways to leave your art cave and venture into the real world. I realize that many artists and creative types tend to be introverted at least on some level. Even those of us who enjoy socializing tend to get our fill pretty quickly. But it’s still a good idea to get out into the world for a change of scenery sometimes. I also realize the fact that working from home means actually working from home. But there are plenty of things you can do away from your studio space or work table that allow you some freedom to explore and enjoy the outside world too, without feeling bombarded by the masses.

Nowadays even artists and crafters need a presence of some sort on social media as well as a website to sell their lovelies. Take your laptop, tablet or phone to a coffee shop, a library or even to a park and work on your online networking and posting there. Sometimes it can be very conducive to your creativity to just take a notebook or sketchbook to one of these places and doodle some new ideas, or brainstorm a list of new ideas for your work and your business. Getting out of your everyday space and having only a notebook and pen in front of you can sometimes really invite some new perspective and inspiration to enter your world!

Tip #3 Get Moving

If you absolutely hate the idea of going to a gym and sweating with a bunch of other sweaty people you don’t know, then don’t do that. I’m not talking about getting ripped or skinny or prepping for a marathon, but I know for a fact that we are designed to move. Humans were not designed to sit for hours upon hours without getting up now and then to get the blood flowing. Depending on what your creative work requires, you may find yourself hunched over a drafting table for 6-8 hours a day, or craning your neck and upper body in weird positions to assemble tiny bits and pieces. I’m about to sound like some 1950’s mom, but think about your posture. I would love to have the posture of an 80 year old retired ballerina when I hit that age, so I make it a point to straighten up every so often.

Find some sort of movement that jives with you. If you like to dance, turn on the music and dance through your favorite song. (This is a total perk of working home alone!) Take a walk around your block, do some yoga, take 10 minutes every couple of hours to stretch, whatever appeals to you, but get moving.

Besides the positive physical impacts of movement like strength and flexibility, your work will benefit as well. Getting your blood pumping and your circulation flowing, means that you are also boosting your energy and your brain power. Regular intervals of movement will also keep you a bit grounded and prevent atrophy and feelings of lethargy, as well as prevent anxiety and nervous energy from building up, which can ultimately lead you down that rabbit hole of blahs. So move a little and get the serotonin flowing.

Tip #4 Love Your Space

You are spending a lot of time in this home/work space so really take a bit of time to make it yours. Organization is important yes, but that’s a blog for another day. Right now I’m talking more about making your space a place that you love. This means that you feel comfortable and joyful every time you walk into a room. Having an inspirational home that makes you feel content will allow the creative flow more room too.

Don’t spend money you don’t have on fancy furniture or decorations, but sometimes just rearranging what you have can change the flow of a space and make it fresh. Also consider what you have hanging out in your spaces that might not really need to be around any more. De-cluttering is an amazing way to brighten up a room and give you a sense of calm. I highly recommend the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up, by Marie Kondo. It really changed my perspective on a lot of stuff that was taking up room in my life, which for me also means, taking up extra room in my work space.

Decorate the walls, put up curtains, change the covers on the couch pillows, get some low maintenance house plants, whatever floats your boat. You are a creative person so let your home reflect you and make it feel good to you to be there.

Tip #5 Have Fun!

Life is not all about work, even when you are passionate about what you do. I love my time working on projects and coming up with new ideas. I even love the more worki-ish parts like ordering business cards, recording totals and learning about SEO’s for my Etsy site. But even so, I realize that breaks are needed to regroup and be my most productive when I get back to it.

This doesn’t have to mean expensive vacations or days at the spa, because when you are a creative entrepreneur funds can be a bit of a challenge sometimes, especially at the beginning. Just do some things that bring you joy that are not business related. Have a cheap taco Tuesday lunch or cup of coffee with a friend, stroll through a local park or garden, play legos with your kids, paint your nails, take a nap, read a book- you get the idea.

When you give yourself a little time to unwind you will come back to your work more refreshed and more clear minded to create something spectacular.

I hope these tips help and I would love to know what you do as a creative entrepreneur to keep a sense of balance in your life. Share your tips in the comments, or let me know which of these is your favorite.

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