Do you work at home, or are you planning to? Having your home become your workplace can be challenging in some ways. It's easy to fall victim to loneliness, distractions, and the lure of the nearby fridge.
But working at home also offers huge advantages that your office-bound friends can only dream about. One wise solopreneur I met when I was just starting out told me that we who are self-employed must give ourselves our own perks, because no one else will. (Here are some other ways you can be happier as a solopreneur.)
If you want to make the work-at-home life work for you, it's smart to give yourself as many perks as you can. And you don't need to apologize for any of them. Here are some of my favorite perks that I and other solopreneurs I know give ourselves:
1. Reclaim your mornings.
For me, that means not setting an alarm so that I can wake up naturally and well-rested. Since I'm married to a musician who frequently plays out on weekday evenings, I often wind up staying up late. After years of feeling inferior because I'm not the kind of person who wants to--or can--get up at six in the morning, I'm over it. To give myself this particular perk, I try to avoid scheduling meetings and conference calls before 10 a.m.
If you happen to be one of those people who likes to rise at the crack of dawn, then give yourself a different perk. Take that time for an early morning exercise routine, such as going for a walk or a run. Or use it for writing or other work that benefits from few interruptions. Make sure to take extra time for yourself later in the day instead. (Here are some other things to do early in the morning that will make you happier for the rest of the day.)
2. Wear what you like.
The cliche is that those of us who work at home do so in their pajamas. In truth, it's not smart to work in your pajamas since you never know when a delivery might arrive that you need to sign for, or a neighbor might knock on the door.
Beyond that, your clothes should be whatever makes you feel comfortable and able to focus on work. For me, that often equates to loose pants, t-shirts, and a sweatshirt or fleece. Another solopreneur I know likes to dress in a suit and tie before he sits down to work in his home office--that's what makes him feel comfortable and productive. Both solutions are equally right. And it's no one's concern what you choose to dress in but yours.
3. Stand up!
One of the best perks about working at home is the ability to experiment with different workspace configurations. Take full advantage of this perk. If, like me, you've been reading lately about the health dangers of sitting at a desk, remember that working at home is the perfect opportunity to experiment with standing or treadmill walking as you work.
I've been experimenting myself for the past several months, switching back and forth between sitting at my desk using a desktop PC, and standing at the other side of my desk using a laptop set on top of a cardboard box. Whatever the other benefits, I can already report that nagging back pain on long workdays has mostly gone away.
4. Drink lots of water.
Keeping well hydrated is beneficial for both health and stress, and working at home gives you a great opportunity to drink those eight recommended glasses a day. One easy way to do this is to have a large carafe or other container of water at your desk--you can even fill it with the recommended eight glasses and then make sure to finish it over the course of the day.
5. Rock out.
What's your favorite music? Unless you're on the phone, you can have it blaring while working at home. I find this is particularly handy during the standing-desk portion of my day--I can sway along to the music and even do a few dance steps while waiting for web pages to load. Music truly makes the workday feel shorter.
6. Take a midday walk.
A walk is a great way to spend a break in the middle of the day. Since you're working at home, it's easy to wear comfortable walking shoes, and you're likelier to have neighborhood streets, trails, or a nearby high school where you can stretch your legs. As an added bonus, working at home means you can take your canine companion along for your walk, if you have one.
7. Take play breaks with your kids.
If you have small children, it will be tough to work at home without someone else--day care, a spouse or family member, or a baby-sitter--to help look after them. But you can take advantage of your home-working status to enjoy some of the best parts of being a parent. Visit with your kids to share a snack, a conversation, or a game during your work breaks. Extra points if you play outside, giving yourself some fresh air and exercise as well. (Here's more on how to incorporate kids into the workplace.)
8. Vary your working locale.
Just because you don't have an office to go to doesn't mean you're confined to your home. There's scientific evidence that working in a bustling place such as a coffee shop can boost your creativity. So get out there! Pack up your laptop or tablet and head to your favorite cafe to work for an hour or two when you find yourself getting stale. If you can walk there, you'll be grabbing yourself some exercise at the same time.