Working from Home and Keeping Your Sanity

When I had a scheduled job that I went to everyday Monday through Friday I would often say, “I can’t wait until I can just wake up and write, nothing else.” I couldn’t wait for those work from home days where I could just sit in my PJ’s and write or get dressed up just to go sit in a cafe and type like one of those hipster kids. I thought it was going to be sunny days, outfit of the day posts, free as a bird in the spring and summer. I thought the winter was going to be cozy and easy and relaxed, working from home, but I didn’t anticipate becoming a couch potato, nor was I prepared for the constant cabin fever outbreaks. I wasn’t prepared for the endless…or what felt like endless days since my schedule was completely flexible, and I wasn’t prepared to lose days of the week since Mondays felt like Tuesdays and Tuesdays felt like Fridays and Fridays felt like Wednesdays…you get the point. Don’t get me wrong, working from home has it’s pluses until you find yourself calling upon the Justice League to help you fight the laziness that’s holding you captive in bed. It’s easy to lose motivation, to not feel like doing anything at any given moment and it’s easy to find yourself on the brink of insanity in the walls of your home. So I had to think outside the box to come up with some things to keep me sane when working from home.

Create a creative space that’s conducive to creativity. 

Modern creative workspace on yellow wall.

How’s that for some dope alliteration? But I found that working from home was most unproductive for me when done in my bedroom. A bedroom is a place associated with rest and relaxation and I always found myself sprawled out on my bed lounging and aimlessly surfing the web more than I was being productive. So I went out and got a little table and a nice accent chair and decorated a nice space with colors and art to keep me motivated and away from my bed. It also gives me something to look forward to because I’m excited to sit in my colorful chair in my colorful corner. *sings* “in my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be…” Of course Brandy sung it better.

Get A Change of Scenery

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I spent the past week in Baltimore visiting and touring the city with my significant other, but work had to continue because deadlines were still approaching. Even though I was working on the same content, I felt a fresh sense of renewal doing it from another city in another state. I sat by the harbor jotting notes in my Moleskine while taking in the scenery of the harbor, I toured the inside of an art museum, I walked a college campus and I was also a couch potato in someone else’s house, but the point is changing locations even if it’s as small and simple as walking to the local cafe, coffee shop or library or sitting in a park can make all the difference in boosting creativity, motivation and certainly combating cabin fever.

Step Away from the CPU…and nobody gets hurt!

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No, but seriously in the words of OutKast, you got to get up, get out and get moving. Sometimes cabin fever comes when we refuse to unglue ourselves from our screens. You find yourself having a brain fart and writer’s block and you’re just stuck. The best way to remedy that is to close the laptop, put the computer on hibernate and go do something else for a bit. Finish a workout DVD, fold some laundry, catch up on a missed show episode, make you some lunch or better go and buy you some lunch, take a walk, call a friend, etc. Sometimes you just need a mental break.

Create a routine

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If you didn’t have a 9-5 schedule at an office job and you were told to work around the clock would you? No? So why do it at home? Even though you’re working from home and can do so whenever you please as long as deadlines are being met, that doesn’t mean you work all day. Create a routine and set a specific amount of time aside for work just like you would at a regular office job including lunch and bathroom breaks. When the work day is over, the work day is over.

Life’s Lemons | Cultivating a Spirit of Diligence

There’s a saying that goes when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, but there isn’t much talk about the process that goes into making the lemonade. There’s a cultivating process that begins and we all know that to cultivate means to prepare, develop, acquire and use. So you have this bucket of juicy and bitter lemons, but in order to make the perfect lemonade you need sugar, water, orange zest, mint and if you’re feeling adventurous…tequila…the silver kind (we’re all grown aren’t we?). You need to be able to balance each ingredient so that there isn’t more of something than the other because if there’s too much sugar than the lemonade acquires a syrupy texture. If there’s too much lemon it wouldn’t make for an enjoyable drink. It takes time and diligence and trial and error much like most good things that have developed in our lives.

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I’m writing a book, I’ve been working on this book for the last year. I’m tackling the genre of fiction which isn’t at all as easy as I thought it would be especially since it’s a full length novel (45,000 words +). Life gave me an idea so to speak, but the cultivating process of expanding this idea and putting it onto paper has been on that requires much diligence. It requires playing around with the twists and turns of developing a strong plot and objective. It’s about research. It’s about tapping into my imagination. It’s about finding the right amount of dialogue and third person narration. It’s about making sure things flow and reading, rereading and rereading everything from the beginning to make sure things are in order.

Some days I drop the manuscript and I don’t want to look at it for a few days. Some days I can write and write when other things aren’t getting in my way. Throughout this entire process, I’ve been learning how to be more diligent which means writing even when I don’t feel like it.

Cultivating Diligence

  • Think about your priorities. I quit my job to be a full-time writer, so dammit I’m gonna write! 
  • Make a goal list. What are some things that I want to accomplish as a writer this week? Month? Year? 
  • Remove distractions. Where do you spend most of your time brainstorming or writing? Are you a paper and pencil type of person? Do you prefer the quick flow of a computer? Do you always end up on Facebook, or other social media instead of writing?
  • Use time wisely. 
  • Devote yourself to the task at hand. (i.e today will be devoted to brainstorming, outlining and writing chapter three)
  • Be realistic. Can I really write 4,000 words in one day or should I narrow it down to something more doable?
  • Realize the value of your work. 

One of the hardest things to do is stay motivated when working on a long-term project that seems like it’s never going to end, but I’ll tell you one thing…looking at 50,630 words is a lot better than having zero and being able to cultivate this new spirit, it’s also trickled into other avenues of my life. It’s become present in my love life by being an amazing partner to an amazing man, it’s trickled into my spiritual life by picking up my bible more and learning how to apply what’s read to my life. Life (God) gave me the lemons (gifts, purpose, talents) he also gave me the strength to be diligent. Isn’t it wonderful how things come full circle?