I work from home and it’s absolutely amazing. As a hardcore introvert who needs a lot of uninterrupted quiet time to focus on various projects, it’s a dream come true. But there are times when it feels like living in an endless time loop. When days and weeks begin to blur together, it’s easy for the creative side of the brain to feel sludgy and stagnant.
You might think those are the times to just “go out”. Hang out with friends, run wild and free out on the town, or at least do some therapy shopping until the creative mood strikes once again… but that’s not usually an option for me. If I want an escape for a few hours, need to take time off to refresh, or find a little variety to spice up my life, I need to find it within my own home. And believe me, there are plenty of ways to find that without leaving the house.
1: Change How You Work
There’s a fine line between healthy routine and a good old fashioned rut. If doing the same things over and over, day after day is bumming you out, there are some simple ways to flip the script and still be productive.
Mixing Business with Pleasure. I can catch up on sitcoms or listen to an audiobook while I work on low-focus tasks, in fact, sometimes this is what helps me stay focused on days when I’d much rather nap. Bookmark your favorite channels, streamers, casters, and teachers. There’s so much content out there to enjoy that don’t necessarily need your full attention.
Workplace Enlightenment. I’ll transform a stressful workday into a personal spa day – all from the comfort of my own desk. Try lighting a candle, putting on a face mask, queuing up a lowkey playlist, soaking your feet, wearing fuzzy pajamas, breaking out that emergency chocolate bar. Setting a different mood can make a huge improvement on what might otherwise be a crummy, stressful day. I’d love to see someone try that in a traditional office!
Musical Chairs. If I’m having trouble staying focused, I’ll alternate butt-in-chair tasks with housework. This might seem counterproductive, but in doing short bursts, I can end up getting twice as much done.
Check my emails → mop the kitchen floor
Write a paragraph for next week’s blog post → change over the laundry
Send samples to a client → take a walk around the block
To sustainably work from home, you can’t just be worried about the “work” part of the equation. Consider the “home” part, too. Everything you do to maintain your home is a vital part of being able to work productively. Never underestimate the power of a well-stocked fridge and clean socks.
2: Take Breaks
If there’s one thing we work from home creatives are probably most guilty of, it’s that we never stop working. It’s hard to feel okay about stepping away for a little Me Time when the workspace is your living space. The awkwardness doubles if what you do for work is also what you like to do for fun. Oh, and you don’t really have “plans” like normal people, so what’s actually stopping you from working for those extra 8 hours since that’s what feels like the most valuable use of your time?
It might be hard to justify taking a break, but as your one and only employee, it’s extremely important that you do. You might never work a perfect 9 to 5 schedule, but setting up some boundaries will keep you from becoming overworked and isolated. Remember, you work from home! You have those delicious flexible hours, so use them to do something for yourself.
Ideas for your next break:
- take a long nap
- make something you love for dinner
- rearrange the furniture or hang some artwork up
- throw yourself a movie night
- work on your hobbies or learn something new
- join an online group or find a weekly challenge
3: Don’t Isolate Yourself
Working from home does not automatically equal being alone at home with nothing but a laptop for company, living in stained pajamas, and avoiding sunlight like a creature from urban myth. It’s evolved alongside tools, tech, and resources for a variety of lifestyles and living situations.
In my case, I’m the boss and my only employee. If anything’s going to happen, it’s on me to get it done. There’s nobody to delegate boring busywork to, nobody checking in to keep me on task, nobody to ask for help if the printer gets jammed. Yep, it’s heavenly! I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
That being said, connecting with people is important, even for borderline hermits like myself. Laughing with friends, being able to talk shop, and exercising your vocal chords isn’t just great for your wellbeing as a human, it’s a chance to find new sources of inspiration. Make a friend, share your wisdom, do some people-watching, learn something new, receive some much-needed encouragement and support. It’s all good stuff. And you don’t need to go out to find it.
I stay connected by:
- following and interacting with fellow creatives on social media
- playing D&D a couple times a month through a Discord server
- volunteering with an online writing conference
- hanging out with my family
- using NaNoWriMo’s groups feature to write with friends
- sending postcards to loved ones in the good old-fashioned mailbox
- blogging about things I enjoy or think would be helpful
If you’re working from home and struggling to stay creative, I encourage you to flip your schedule upside down, think outside of the box, or try something downright unusual. The benefits of being able to work from home are ours to enjoy, so be flexible, find ways to have fun, and feel free to give yourself a raise if that helps. I’m sure you deserve it.
Do you work from home? What are your tips and tricks for staying creative?