Seven years ago I left the corporate world of banking. I packed up my desk, my ergonomically designed office chair, lifted my laptop bag and walked out. Heavily pregnant. Fully expecting that within 9 months I would be walking back through those doors. Swiping my badge once more to enter through the turnstile.
Except I didn’t. Little did I know, as I skipped out into the sunshine ready and waiting to meet my first child, that events would happen and within six months not only would I not be returning to work but also leaving the country. First to Dubai. Now in Doha.
Despite my best efforts I haven’t returned to the corporate world in either city. In Dubai I came close, getting down to the final two TWICE for a banking job that I was desperately hoping for. Landing a job with a card processing company before finding out I was six weeks pregnant and it not progressing. Here in Doha I was midway through an application for a vacancy at the Embassy, before once again finding out I was pregnant.
It seemed the world was conspiring for me not to return.
Instead what I have done is start this blog. Laptop perched on my knees as my belly grew rounder with my middle child. Getting more involved in the community, seeing the potential. And finally, actually making an income from my blog.
From working at home. Around the children and their incessant needs and demands. I am able to drop them to school, pick them up, take them on sick days, be at assemblies, sports days, international day parades. I am able to be the one who drops everything when school calls.
But yet there are days where I really miss going into work. The camaraderie of an office. So there are a few things that I do in order to liven up my working from home.
Having an office day
Working from home can be pretty lonely. The vast empty sounds of nothing but the keyboard clacking. No one to bounce ideas off. No tea rounds to share or plates of biscuits appearing.
Which is why I introduced office day with a friend (aka Emma of Wanderlust and Wet Wipes) who also works from home. We set up shop together, laptops out, tea mugs and biscuits at the ready. Clacking of the keys together, the ability to speak out loud and have someone reply. There is a different comfort to be found in the companionable silence of two people working than being sat concentrating on your own.
It works wonders for morale, and motivation. Knowing someone is there working makes you do the small jobs that you tend to procrastinate on and put off.
They don’t need to be in the same industry as you either, they just need to be working from home and like a cup of tea on a break!
Changing your environment
Of course, life can get in the way. There are weeks where we can’t get together due to childcare, holidays, sick children. Yet I still have work that needs to be done.
Those weeks when sitting at our dining room table with a baby napping on me is the last thing I want to do. That’s when I give myself a change of pace, head to Starbucks, the National Library, get out there and do some work whilst people watching surreptitiously.
Again, it gives me more motivation, fuels my creativity and often gives me new ideas on what to write about.
Then there are the days it’s just me, the laptop and a whole load of work to do. I have no energy to get sit and write, I don’t want to be at the table.
That’s when I get my trainers on and walk outside for 20 minutes, listen to a podcast and completely forget that I have work to do.
Clearing my head puts me in a better frame of mind and walking means I am closer to achieving my step target each day.
Organise your time
Writing to do lists. Time blocking. Timers to show when you’ve done your allocated time on a particular task.
Working effectively in the time you set out.
And the big one, don’t let it merge too much with your non-working life. Working from home it is all too easy to pick up the laptop of an evening, to reply to an email whilst you are in the park. Before you know it you could spend all your time working on little bits. “Just one more”.
By setting hours and boundaries you become more effective. Knowing that once you put down your laptop you need to be done often means it will be done in one go.
this is a collaborative post