My dad likes to send me articles to read every once in a while. The other day, he sent me this one, about the "ugly truths" of working from home. He asked me if any of this resonated with my experience, and... well, it really doesn't. I think it's possible that some people are not a good match, temperamentally, for working from home. What's more likely, I think, is that sometimes we don't know how to set ourselves up for success when working from home. If you're looking into a remote or freelance gig for the first time and have the opportunity to work out of your home, consider the following tips that I've accrued over the years.
Have a dedicated home office space and minimize distractions within it.
This is, I think, the most important lesson I've learned about working from home. Not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated room to house a "home office," but all you really need is a space that is set apart for work. For a while, I used the kitchen table as this space. Then, I got a desk to house a big monitor and some other "office-y" peripherals. The main thing here is to get away from the bed, the couch, and the TV. Those comfier environments are just too comfy for a good day's work.
Set an alarm and wake up on a regular schedule. Pick a time every day to stop working.
To be completely transparent, I have only recently started doing this, but it's definitely a power user tip for productivity when working from home. It's especially useful if you live with a partner or roommates who have "normal" jobs, as you can get into the rhythm of a 9-5 but with the flexibility and coziness that comes from working at home. If given the chance, I'd sleep until noon every day and work until midnight, but most of my clients don't operate on that schedule, so it's good to have boundaries around "working hours" that translate to the world outside of the home.
Give yourself days off, but plan for them.
Even with a conscious effort to keep a regular schedule, work-from-home folks can find themselves drifting into a work-saturated work/life balance. "Just a few more minutes" to wrap up that project can easily turn into hours when you work where you live. If you're a freelancer, though, one of the perks of the life is "flexibility" in your working hours, so be sure to take advantage of that flexibility every once in a while. Schedule yourself a day off maybe once or twice a month if you can afford to do so. Give yourself time to rest and recharge. Go outside. Take yourself to lunch. Binge that Netflix show that you've been wanting to watch.
Don't forget to eat lunch. This one is kind of a "note to self," but hey-- your brain needs food, and sometimes caffeine, to function at peak efficiency. Don't skip lunch, and take a short break when you feel your mind start to wander.
Be intentional about socializing.
I've never had much trouble with this one, but many work-from-home folks do. Be sure to use the flexibility in your schedule to see your friends and family in your non-working hours. I've found that not having to commute to an office every day has provided me with more time to socialize than I ever had before, but if you need extra motivation to see the outside world, schedule yourself a social activity. Join a bowling league. Go to trivia night. Make new best friends in a DnD campaign. Get out there, partner.