As I mentioned in my previous post, I have excitingly relocated to the South West of England to the picturesque county of Wiltshire! Although I live in a pretty remote part of Wessex known as the Nadder Valley, I am not far from the historic city of Salisbury and the creative hub of Bristol.
Officially my office is in Ringwood, Hampshire, but for now, like many of us, I am currently working remotely from my home studio in Wiltshire and I must admit I’m thoroughly enjoying it! After many years of self employment working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, I am pretty adept at working alone from my home office! I’m not going to lie and say it’s always been easy, but I try to keep focused as to when I should be working and when I shouldn’t be getting distracted by other things like TV or housework!
I have an advantage that I have an actual studio space at home, where I can shut the door. This allows me privacy and total concentration on my work (and it also keeps the heat in!) I appreciate that not everyone has experienced working from home as much as I have and probably not in as such extreme circumstances as a worldwide pandemic! So with this in mind I thought I’d share a few tips on how to make working from home more manageable:
- Try and stick to a routine as best you can. I use a large diary ( you wont be surprised to hear being a print designer, it is an ‘actual diary’ and nothing as fancy as a google calendar, as useful as it is!) My diary allows me to clearly list what I feel I need to prioritise for the day and for that week.
- Radio is a great companion if you are a sole trader like me. Having a bit of background chatter makes you feel less of a ‘billy no mates’ and reminds me of being back in the art department in various publishing houses! Radio 6 is my go to station, and it appears that most of the listeners like me are illustrators and graphic designers! If the radio is too much of a distraction, I use Spotify and track down one of my favourite artists, or if I really DO need to concentrate they have a genre called ‘focus’ that I use occasionally.
- Have regular desk breaks – use this time to get yourself a drink, or even have a little daydream out of the window, this allows your eyes to adjust from looking at a monitor all day. ( I am fortunate to have swans and egrets to admire on the lake in front of our house or I might spot a few kites gliding across the hills!) I also try and have a walk for at least half an hour to an hour every day, to stretch my legs, take a few deep breathes and there are some great country walks to be had in Wiltshire!
- On the subject of breaks, if like me you suffer from back pain or any other type of pain that is aggravated by being desk bound, I try and allow myself 10 – 20 mins of pilates or stretches. I have a yoga mat near by and I find a foam roller very useful to roll out all the knots in my back!
- If you are able to, try and put your mobile phone on silent and I turn off my notifications (especially for social media, as we all know social media seems to be a black hole that sucks us in! ) Once I feel I am ready to down tools, I can then read any emails or messages I have received.
- Finally I would say it’s the little things that can make a big difference. Such as getting the temperature right in your working area or putting on your favourite snuggly cardi if that helps or just silly things like having some really lovely stationery or your favourite mug that no one else is allowed to use! These things can really make you feel a bit more comfortable and more importantly motivated!
So I hope these suggestions may be useful and I shall be referring to this list to remind myself to get off instagram when I should actually be working! Good luck and now get back to work! ;0)