Thursday, 1 August 2013

Working from Home: 12 Tried and Tested Stress-busters

My computer workspace up in my attic studio

The number of people working from home is on the up!

The internet has made that possible. And the economic crises of the past few years have made it an alternative to being employed or useful as a feasible means to bring in some extra income.

Add to that the rapidly increasing number of people who live alone, and we’ve got a whole army of people like me, who both work and live alone.

Working from home has so many obvious benefits that I would never want to work any other way. 

But there are drawbacks too. 

One is that sometimes, coping with the sheer volume of tasks alone can seem overwhelming; all the more so without anyone to remind you to stop for a cuppa or even to have a conversation that isn’t about work!

My painting table

So here are my 12 Tips for keeping your sanity!

1. Begin by making a time-line, with goals and dates by which you hope to accomplish them. This not only gives you a sense of satisfaction when you cross off what you’ve achieved. It also stops you setting yourself unrealistic amounts of work to do.

2. Once you’ve written your fairly detailed time-line, break it down into all its different task and make yourself a work schedule. This may take a few attempts as you gradually discover how long each task is likely to take. But once you’ve done it, you won’t seem to be working ‘all hours’!

3. Make sure you get enough sleep. That will provide you with a good, solid base from which to cope with whatever ups and downs your work throws at you.

4. As with #3, eat well. Eat small meals frequently. I find three main meals and two snack meals perfect for me – and make sure that at least a large proportion of what you eat is good for you – ie not junk food!

My attic studio - you can' just see the foot of my big old easel  to the left and the desk at the end is where I make collages.

5. Get as much fresh air and exercise as you can. If nothing else, try to fit in some walking whenever possible. I have a mini-bike that I pedal while I’m watching television in the evenings on days that I don’t go out. And I can feel it removing any tension or stress that has built up during the day. If things are really getting to you, try counting chimney pots while you’re out. (And come back here and tell us all how you felt afterwards!)

6. Keep a journal. ‘Research has shown’ that students who keep a journal are in better mental health than those who don’t. You don’t necessarily need to journal every day but it’s handy to have this outlet if you’re feeling under pressure. Write whatever comes into your head – totally uncensored!

7. Watch the birds: I was amazed to learn that there is a condition known as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’! Spending time in the country can do wonders for your spirits but it’s not always easy if time is short and you live in a built up area. But even if you can’t see any wildlife from your windows, it’s worth taking a few minutes out to watch the constantly changing sky.

My trusty old laptop downstairs in my dining room, where most of my uploading, social networking and blogpost-writing gets done
8. Talk to someone: not always easy! When you’re busy working so many hours alone, you really need someone to share the ups and downs with – but how likely is it that friends will be free to chat, just at the moment that you are able to take a break from your work? 

Many’s the time that I’ve decided to make time to catch up with friends, only to be greeted by one voice-mail message after another. That’s when social networking comes to the rescue! As long as you don’t get sucked into spending all your time on facebook when there’s work to be done, there’s a good chance you can find someone to chat with online and that can really help you to keep things in perspective.

9. Music – if the particular task facing you seems like endless drudgery - and some of them often do - the right music can help you whip through it in what seems like no time at all!

10. Chocolate – when all else fails, I eat dark chocolate. It actually has a lot of health benefits, including lifting the spirits. Again, like social networking, know when enough is enough!

11. Make sure you watch some comedy programmes on TV or DVD – or failing that, there are a lot of hilarious video clips to be found on YouTube. Laughter is a great de-stressor, one of the best!

12. More chocolate!

This is where the doodling that leads to the design process invariably takes place - while watching  TV!

How do you find working from home? 

Is it all positive or have you found some drawbacks?

You are most welcome to leave your comments, queries or solutions in the comments box below!

(very sorry about the captcha!)


Victoria Lynn Hall said...

Great tips, Judy! I especially like #12. :) I love working from home but my cats don't seem to get the concept some days. They think I am a stay at home cat Mom. :)

Judy Adamson said...

And I thought it was just friends who had to be trained to understand that being at home doesn't mean I'm not working! :D

Jayne said...

I would love to be able to work from home! My day job REALLY cramps my style and leaves me with too little time to work on things I enjoy, like art, gardening etc. etc.

I loved seeing inside your attic studio and I especially loved tip # 12!!

Michele said...

Some great tips here. I tend to get lost in trivia and answering emails. As for my addiction to checking Sky News, let's not mention that. I don't get lonely though, in fact I breath a sigh of relief when I am on my own!

Two tips I have read lately are to do several hours meaningful work (in my case painting/writing) before you check emails etc and to write down 5 main things you want to achieve by the end of the day. These have helped me a lot. Getting my daughter off to uni in September will help me a lot more!!

Judy Adamson said...

I've read the one about not checking your emails until you've done some work. That would never work for me! I wouldn't be able to concentrate for wondering what emails had arrived!

I think I need to take some of my own advice! I spent Sunday afternoon wired up to an ECG machine at our local A & E Dept! After 6 hours it turned out that there was nothing wrong with me at all and it must have been panic attacks I was having. Good to know I'm fit and healthy and it's not the work that's stressing me but the other things I never seem to have enough time for :D

Michele said...

Oh dear Judy, glad to hear you are ok. I had a similar experience years ago with panic attacks. Turned out to be caffiene, nothing more nothing less...

You are right I just have to check my emails even though I know it wouldn't hurt to wait until lunch. The difficulty comes because I need the computer on to work, and then it is just a click away...

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Janet Palaggi said...

Judy, thank you for all the great tips. Your work space is wonderful. It sure seems to be working for you, your talent is awesome!