I work from home. Sometimes, I end up talking to myself. Working from home has its perks, sure, but it’s also got its down sides. For instance, getting out of bed at 8:45AM and starting work at 9AM is pretty sweet, especially when you don’t have to face the L train (or any other kind of train/bus/car) commute. But having no one to talk to all day can be kind of…well…boring. You’re more productive because there are fewer distractions like lunchtime birthday cupcakes or pointless meetings (oh, don’t pretend you’ve ever had a work meeting that resulted in anything productive), but still, it can be a struggle to make working from home interesting. Even without the gratuitous cupcakes, there isn’t much else left to do except make friends with the wall.
As someone who has been doing the work from home thing for a while now, I can tell you, while it can be rewarding (using what would be the end of day commute to do yoga instead), it can also get really tedious. You have to make your day interesting in order to make yourself motivated and inspired. Here are my tips for making your work from home life a little easier to bear, and a little less boring to be alone in:
1. Compete with yourself
I’m a competitive person by nature, so I treat myself as my own co-worker. I set myself deadlines. For instance, setting a time, to the minute, to finish a paragraph of writing. Having little competitions with yourself not only makes the day pass quicker, it gives you a sense of achievement when you win.
2. Gchat your co-workers/professional peers/friends
Gchatting can be a nice little reprieve from staring at your work. I’m not advocating chatting all day, obviously—you’ve still got work to do—but using Gchat rather than email for professional stuff can make your communication feel more immediate, and having someone respond in kind makes you feel less alone in your job. Meanwhile, exchanging jokes with friends in online chat is the workplace equivalent of joking across the desk.
3. Play music
Do you know how much music there is? PLAY IT. You don’t even need headphones, because you’re at home!
4. Create a beautiful work space
Spend time creating a space that you actually want to work in. Buy a sleek desk and a comfortable desk chair, and decorate. Put up inspirational pictures, fresh flowers, and any other ephemera that makes you feel like you’re in an inviting environment.
5. Work from different places
Sure you’ve got that lovely work space set up, but once a week go and work in a cafe, or at your kitchen table. Mix it up from time to time, if nothing but to make your days feel new and fresh.
6. Dress up in the morning
Pretend like you’re going somewhere. Put on a cute ensemble for work in the morning, even if no one is going to see you. It will make you feel more serious about yourself and ready to begin working. Also, who doesn’t like looking cute?
7. Put the TV on in the background
If you’re someone who can work through a minor distraction like having the TV on, or if your job involves knowledge of pop culture, pop the TV on to make you feel less alone. Even if you’re not watching or concentrating on it, the sound of voices in the background can be nice. Sometimes I put on bad reality shows because I don’t care about them and can’t get sucked in to watching, but I just like the low hum in the background.
8. Make nice meals
If you’re at home, take advantage of it. Make nice meals for yourself. You’ve got a full kitchen at your disposal, so use it. Instead of going out and picking up some takeout at lunch time, make yourself a delicious fresh salad, or whatever it is that you like to eat. It’s also a good way to save money.
9. Do weird beauty stuff
I give myself face masks and bleach my mustache while I’m working. Why not? NO ONE CAN SEE ME. It’s called multi-tasking, people.
10. Don’t wear pants
I know I said get dressed up earlier, but some days you just shouldn’t wear pants. It’s such a power move to take a work call in your undies.
11. Have somewhere to go at the end of the day
Try to get out at the end of the day. You don’t want to work in your apartment all day then sit in it all night. Go exercise, organize a get together with friends, go out for dinner or do to the movies. Do something to get you out of the house when you’ve finished working.