More and more people are working from home, either freelancing or because their company offers it. And it’s kind of the dream – setting your own schedule, working in your pajamas, making a doctor’s appointment whenever you need to.
But as with all good things, there’s a downside. Working from home can take a toll on your mental health. People who work from home can feel lonely and isolated. And although many choose to work at home for a better work-life balance, being home all day can actually have an adverse effect on this. When your home and workplace are the same, it’s easier for boundaries to blur. And instead of supporting your mental health and quality of life, working from home can worsen it.
So how can you make working from home the dream it’s meant to be? Here are six tips to prioritize your mental health when you work from home.
1. Put a morning routine in place.
Get ready just like you would if you were going into the office. Since you don’t have a commute, use that extra time to fit in a morning workout. It will help you feel more alert and ready for the day. Shower, get dressed in something cute (even if it’s comfier than business attire), and do your makeup. My mantra in college was, “Dress well, test well.” And it’s true for my freelance work, too. When I prepare myself like I’m going to work, I do good work.
2. Get organized.
When you work from home, you’re in charge of you. You don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder or colleagues to remind you about deadlines. You set your own schedule and are the only one responsible for your projects.
To make sure that you’re prioritizing the right work at the right time, put an organization system in place. Use a system that works for you. If your phone is attached to your hand, utilize Google calendar or download a task organizing app. And if you’re the type who likes to write things down, look into a bullet journal or invest in a cute planner.
3. Switch up your location.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you always have to be at home. You have an entire world of work locations at your fingertips. Make a list of your favorite coffee shops where you can get stuff done. And libraries, restaurants, and even museums can be great work spots too. Changing your location can freshen your perspective and help you do more creative work.
4. Get yourself a freelancing buddy.
One of the best parts of having a physical workplace is the friends you make among your colleagues. Most people who work from home miss out on that. But there are definitely other freelancers in your community who could probably use some company too. If you don’t know anyone else who works from home, try reaching out on freelance-focused Facebook groups to find a buddy in your city. You can schedule weekly work dates to keep each other company as you take over the world.
5. Go outside.
It’s really easy to not leave the house all day when you work from home. And suddenly it’s 5:30, your roommate is walking through the door, and you’re still in your pajamas. This has happened to me more than once, and it’s when I feel the least healthy as a freelancer.
On days when you don’t have meetings out of the house or plans to work at a coffee shop, schedule in some time outside. Go for a 20-minute walk on your lunch break (which you’re definitely giving yourself, right?) and enjoy the freedom you’ve given yourself by choosing to work from home. Stepping outside will improve both your mental and physical health.
6. Set boundaries.
Like I said earlier, it’s easy for work and home to blur when you work out of your house or apartment. Many people end up working more hours because they don’t have the mental barrier of leaving work at the office. Avoid this by giving yourself a firm schedule, like working from 8 to 5 or only clocking 40 hours per week if you have a job with an unusual schedule, like photography or teaching yoga. If you’re working all the time, you won’t be able to fully enjoy your life and loved ones, which is probably one of the reasons you chose to work from home in the first place.
With these tips in place, working from home can be the dream you hoped it would be.