a creatives guide to working from home.

by Benjamin Gibson

I didn’t work from home every day during the before times. To some degree though, I always did tend to spend a couple of days a week, that start innocently enough, at my home office (dinner table) working away on my laptop and before I know it, it’s already 5 o’clock, the next morning. I spent many years working from home as a freelancer, it’s certainly not an easy thing. So, since we’re all spending a lot more time at home, working or not, I thought I would share some insights on how to stay sane and stay focused while we’re all at home.

I’m going to be super real with you right now. I’m writing this in my pajamas. I almost always write blog posts in my pajamas because I usually write blog posts first thing in the morning or later at night before bed. This is a result of over 10 years of working from home – at least partially. These times in the mornings and sometimes at night are the two times I a lot myself for writing on our blog. Sometimes I don’t get to it, sometimes there are proposals to write or revisions to make or new edits to cut, but when I do find the time to post, it’s always one of these two times. The best piece of advice I could give to anyone who’s prospectively considering working from home is, and will always be, manage your time, militantly.

Since we all woke up this week in a terrible Walking Dead prequel, I thought I would share some advice I’ve learned over the years on the subject of working from home. Those of you who know me and have worked with me know that I not only enjoy working from home, in some cases, I find it more productive than being at the office or in the studio. That said, working from home can be distracting, isolating, and even a little depressing – all of which can lead to a lack of productivity and inspiration. Fret not, these feelings are normal. Here are some tips I hope you’ll find helpful when trying to maintain your sanity while working from home.

1. you are not alone

This is not advice per se, more of an observation I’d like you to keep in mind. Keep it in mind always actually, you’re not alone, we’re all in this together. Whatever kind of day you’re having, if you woke up late or have a faster-than-expected approaching deadline, there is still someone else out there that has it just as bad, or if not worse. If you feel alone, remember to stay-connected. 

2. stay connected

When working from home, take a few minutes and check your social network of choice. This, of course, does not mean you should spend all day on social media, no one should, but it does help us feel more connected to other people. If you’re spending more time than usual in isolation, pick up a casual conversation on Facebook for a bit; or chime in on a sub-Reddit and see where it goes. If you’re feeling particularly disconnected, try the phone feature on your phone. You can access this feature fairly easily by yelling at Seri for 2 to 3 minutes. This is also a good opportunity to connect with your teammates and keep up with those ‘water-cooler’ conversations, I hear so much about. 

3. talk to an ai

This one is a bit of a time-burglar, so-to-speak. Still fun if you’re feeling disconnected though. Cleverbot came online in 1997 and has had over 65 million conversations with real people. One of the earliest and most successful experiments in long-term machine learning, Cleverbot has ‘learned’ from studying it’s conversations on how to better… converse! Invented by designer Rollo Carpenter, Cleverbot achieved a 59% success rating in a Turing test in 2011. It feels like it listens.

4. get the good coffee

Take breaks. I’m guilty of rarely doing this, but I secretly do. Every time I drink a cup of coffee I slip into my little universe for a few blissful moments. You’re at home, there is no need to subject yourself to drinking less than satisfactory coffee – or tea for that matter – all day. If you have to work from home then you might as well make sure you’re comfortable, both mentally and physically. Take time for yourself and re-group if you need it. Also, have the premium version of everything you need to get through your daily work routine. There’s a reason why Starbucks is worth North of $80 Billion.

5. manage your time and make lists

This one is probably the most important, as you might have guessed because I mentioned it right at the beginning of the article. Manage your time and keep a list! All these tidbits rest on this as a matter of necessity. Working from home can be a mixed blessing at best, but if you manage your time and stay focused, once you’re done with your work… you’re done for the day! When you make a list, keep it reasonable – you’re not Superman – and cross stuff off as you get it done. There is nothing more satisfying in my opinion than crossing something off a list, nothing that I’m going to talk about on this blog at least