Working from home can be an acquired taste. Some people absolutely hate it. Others grit their teeth and do it but would much rather be in a busy workplace. Whereas some people thrive on the challenge of living alone and working from home.
I’m happy to say that I mostly fall into the third category. Most of the time, I absolutely love working from home, and I prefer it to working in a busy office. This may come as a bit of a surprise to anybody who has read my previous two blogs. After all, not only do I live alone, but I am also neurodivergent, which means my brain can struggle with tricky situations.
The truth is that the issues of living alone and working alone are not entirely separate. And as such, I try to use elements of my home working life that will help me thrive while living alone. Confused? I will try to explain. Starting with five things I love about working from home:
1 The ability to take small breaks
I have ADHD. This means that my concentration span is somewhat less than lengthy. 15 minutes represents a solid spell of work for me. After this, I need a small break. This may involve popping to the loo or making a drink, but my brain goes stale, and I get anxious if I do not have these small breaks.
Clearly, these frequent short breaks would likely be impractical if I worked in an office or did another employed role. But when working from home, I have the freedom to take breaks when I need them and manage my time in a way that keeps my brain fresh.
2 Managing my working day
I love planning, which applies to almost all aspects of my life. By putting a plan in place for my working day, I am far more likely to complete my tasks.
So before my working day begins, I open my Google calendar and meticulously fill out my diary. I rarely have meetings, so I can plan my day to best suit my working style. That means organising my work into blocks of 30-45 minutes. If I have 3 or more tasks to complete, I’ll rotate them to keep my brain ticking over.
3 Making the most of downtime
Aside from my small breaks, I always make sure I have a proper lunch break during the day. Obviously, this is when I eat, but I try to prepare food the night before so I still have plenty of time during my break. That gives me a good window to exercise and look after my wellbeing.
Specifically, this means doing a 5-10 minute meditation and a short workout. If the weather is acceptable, I’ll go for a run, if it isn’t, I’ll do a home workout.
While I’d love to say that I lived a Dwayne Johnson-esque existence and spent my downtime working out like I was training for an ultra marathon, the truth is that sometimes I want to watch an episode of something I like on Netflix. On those days, I listen to my brain and do exactly that. I try not to put too much pressure on myself.
4 I can be myself
Most of the online advice you read on working from home tells you to treat working at home in the same way as you’d do working from an office. That means getting properly dressed and ready for work, plus having a specific home working area.
That is great advice, and it is a suggestion I often follow. However, there are times when I feel a lot more comfortable NOT getting dressed properly. I feel more comfortable just slinging some casual house clothes on and working in them.
I also sometimes enjoy sitting on the couch to work or even in bed. I wouldn’t do this all the time, as I’d probably end up with a bad back and a load of missed deadlines. But when I feel that I can still work well, I like to mix up my work location in my home. Psychologically, it stops me from feeling stale, plus it sometimes suits my mood and can actually improve my work output.
5 I choose when it’s the end of the working day
That sounds like I love to slack off and have an early finish. And while that is true on some days, it is equally true to say that sometimes I do the exact opposite. If I’m in a good flow, then I will happily work well into the evening hours.
Basically, I choose when I finish. If I’ve got a pressing engagement in the late afternoon, I can elect to finish early. If I have a free evening, I may opt to work until it’s time for bed.
So there you go, five personal perks of working at home. Now I’ll try to explain how they relate to my living alone experience…
How working alone can help you live alone
The overriding theme around the flexibility of home working is the freedom it allows. I enjoy a lot of freedom in my working life, and living alone also presents a similar kind of freedom; therefore, it is important to take advantage of this.
When living alone, it can be easy to sit around bored and feel stuck in a rut, with frustration regularly getting the better of you. If I’m having a ‘dull’ Sunday afternoon (other dull days and times do occur), I’ll try various ways to ‘get myself going’ in the same way that my regular work breaks motivate me and stimulate my brain. Even seemingly inane activities like having a shower, taking the bins out or making myself a coffee can get me out of that rut and motivate me to do something else.
I also try to plan my ‘living alone’ time in the same way that I plan my working day. Evenings and weekends with nothing going on can be disheartening. So I try to fill up my diary, even if it is with small activities like short walks, exercise videos, or reading a book. By setting aside specific times for these activities, I suddenly have a much more ‘packed’ diary, which can do wonders for my wellbeing. Is this merely a psychological trick to fool my brain? Undoubtedly, but it works for me, so I’m not going to complain!
The big question is, what should these activities be? Ideally, I try to commit to activities that stimulate my brain and will get me moving. In the same way that I try to utilise my lunch breaks during work productively, I also want my living alone activities to be productive. So workouts, walks, and meditations are common activities in my diary. But equally, there are times when the best thing for my brain to do is simply switch off and for me to do something that requires zero effort.
There is an abundance of great advice concerning living alone. And whilst most of it (especially here) is excellent, never forget that you are an individual with your own preferences around working from home. Getting properly dressed for work is, for some, a great idea, but I don’t always do it because I know I will feel better if I don’t. I like to have the option.
I know that sometimes having a lazy day isn’t the best choice for everyone, but occasionally it’s what I need. In short, try not to feel guilty when you feel you’re not being as productive as you can be. Just accept your feelings and decide to start again when you’re in the right frame of mind.
Of course, what I’ve talked about here explains what works for me while I live alone and work from home. You can see I work to my flow and do the things I need to do to protect my wellbeing. You may feel differently, but hopefully, some of what I say resonates, and you will feel better about your own working-from-home routine.
What works for you while living alone and working from home? Share your tips and routines in the Comments below.
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