Since I left my full-time job at the start of June, I’ve been working freelance, which basically amounts to working from home. For most of this time I’ve not been working full time – I’ll do the work as and when it comes in, and take the rest of my time to travel and have fun.
But all that’s changed since I came to Sweden. I now work full-time as an in-house German-English translator – the twist being that I do it remotely. So every day at 9am I ‘go to work’ just like most people do… I just don’t go any further than my kitchen table. I still have to be at my desk from 9-6 and work in the same way as an in-house translator normally does.
Working from home has loads of advantages. I save time, money and hassle on commuting and buying lunch out, I have the flexibility to get some chores done during the day, and I don’t have to dress up, look smart or interact with colleagues on days where I don’t feel like it. Of course, the flipside is that I don’t get out of the house, I don’t see people day to day, and if I’m not careful I end up a bit like a scruffy hermit who lives under a blanket and eats lunch out of the saucepan.
So here are some of my strategies and tips to staying sane as a freelancer or working from home:
1 – Get dressed and ready as you would for work
I’m not saying I dress smartly to work alone at my computer, but I do try to get showered, put on a little makeup and dress half decently before I start work. The more you laze around in your PJs, the more gross and unprofessional you start feeling after a while. Trust me, I’ve tried it.
2 – Get outside sometimes
When you have a chance and if work permits, try to get away from your desk at some point and catch some fresh air and daylight and maybe have a walk or a short workout. This is especially important here in Sweden as there are only a few hours of daylight each day.
3 – Keep in touch with colleagues remotely
If you don’t see people day to day, you can lose touch completely. Try to stay networked by using Twitter, email, social media and Skype to chat with other freelancers or to keep in touch with your work. Also make a point of organising dates with friends to get you out of the house or have a chat now and then so you don’t become too socially isolated.
4 – Try to stay healthy
When you’re sitting in your sweatpants at home at the computer it’s easy to chow down on a load of snacks, neglect exercise (you’re too busy!) and slump on the sofa in a way that is probably going to turn you into an eventual hunchback. I’m especially guilty of the latter. Make an effort to sit at a real desk, take breaks and walk/stretch, and stick to a healthy diet. Keep water or tea at hand and sit as far away from the cupboards containing the snacks as possible!
5 – Change the work environment if you can
If you have the chance to work from a new location like a coffee shop, do so! Get out of the housebound rut now and then.
6 – Keep a nice workspace
Sit somewhere light and bright, get comfy with cushions or blankets, add music and keep a nice cuppa at hand. Keep your workspace clear and tidy, with all your materials near at hand.
7 – Take advantage of being at home to get chores done
If you have a break from work you can use it to wash up or hoover so that tasks don’t pile up and stress you out.
8 – Take breaks
I’m pretty bad at this. If I’m working on something important I tend to either forget to eat or eat whilst I work and lunchbreaks are a thing of the past. But freelancers are entitled to eat and look after themselves too. At least take the time to make a proper lunch and eat it without staring at your work at the same time. If you can get out of the house, even better. And if you work remotely, make a point of ‘switching off’ at the end of the day. When your working day is done, shut your emails and other programs that you use and step away from the desk. I often feel the pressure to be ‘at work’ all the time, as there’s no break between my workplace and my homelife, but I try to just stop at 6pm and not keep looking back in case something ‘important’ has come in.
How do you stay happy, healthy and (relatively!) sane whilst working from home?