Disclaimer before I go further with this intro, this is mostly stuff I wish I read when I was leaving college and starting my career in comics working from home. I know some of these tips don't work for everyone but I hold the belief that every piece of advice is worth listening to--implementing is another story, but that's a different topic for another day.
Going back to working from home, I'll start with bit of a background: I've been working from home since I was on my way out of University in 2015. My internship was even done at home. At first, I didn't really have a schedule that I stuck to, and I often waited until the last minute to get things done before their deadline. Each week, I would promise myself to work better, but that didn't happen for a while. After almost three years, my bad habits caught up to me and I burnt out, hard. I was starting to dislike my job to the point where I was jealous of people with day jobs. They were able to go home and not be concerned with work for the rest of the day. I also remember telling people--quite frequently--that I would give my left leg for a week off. "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" quickly turned into "Do what you love and you never stop working."
When I burnt out, I took a long, hard look at my career. I was working the job of my dreams. How could I possibly hate it? Am I in the wrong field? That was my worst fear: that I worked so hard on this thing I thought I loved, only to hate it. I thought about every opportunity that I turned down in order to pursue my field, and worried I made the wrong choice each time.
Thankfully, I had the resources (namely, the emotional and financial support of my significant other--so I acknowledge that I'm in a relatively privileged position) to take a few steps back and figure out what I needed to do to make my job a joy again. It took me roughly a year and a half to get to where I am today. I have a routine that allows me have equilibrium with work and rest.
Here are the three main ideas that made me love my job again, all of which I'll make a separate post in the upcoming weeks (and will link as they are posted in the next upcoming Fridays).
- A joyful work space
- Clocking in and clocking out
- Dedicated work hours for productivity and improvement
To quickly summarize these, I firmly believe you cannot work well unless your space, using Marie Kondo's terminology, 'sparks joy'. If the idea of sitting down at your desk fills you with dread, it's possible something about your space could be improved. Improving your physical space improves your work.
Office workers clock in and clock out. That shouldn't change just because you work from home. It is important to have a routine to start work, but it's even more important to stop work--both regarding the end of the work day and weekends. It is so easy both procrastinate starting work and get so caught up in it, you don't stop. After a certain amount of time is over, work for the day must end. This is especially difficult if your job is your dream job--the work is so much fun you almost don't want to stop. Stopping is not only important for your mental and physical health, it's also important to step away from your work.
Organizing what you do each day is also important, and the most recent discovery of mine regarding my career. Time dedicated to "career maintenance/improvement" is just as important as the time you put into your main gig.
By now, you can probably see why I'm splitting this subject into multiple posts, so this concludes the topic for this week.