Freelance homeworking: a survivor’s guide – fuel your mind

In Part 2 I talked about a virtual commute and what you can do to make your workspace at home work for you.

In this part I’ll be discussing what you can do to keep those energy levels strong for your daily schedule.

Eat well
One of the advantages of homeworking is that you have time to cook – or should I say, more time. When you work in an office you either have to prepare a packed lunch or go out to buy something; the homeworking equivalent is hitting your cooker or fridge at lunchtime to prepare something swift, simple and nutritious.

If I have a busy time ahead, I batch cook soups and stews so that I have something to reheat during the day. I also bake snacks such as banana bread, so I don’t find myself always reaching for chocolate during that classic afternoon energy dip (and I love chocolate – let’s face it, who doesn’t?).

The trick is to stock up

The trick is to stock up. Organise your store cupboard with plenty of basics, and get in a selection of produce which you can prepare quickly – so you never fall into the boring sandwich trap, or end up ordering in junk food because you’re too tired or pressured to cook.

Make sure a good proportion of it is fresh: salads or hot dishes such as noodle soups are incredibly fast to knock together, easily varied and energy-giving.

If you’re stuck for ideas, try the 101 Ideas cookbook series, or the type of cookbook that deals with easy, ‘fast and fresh’ recipes. You’ll never get bored, but you will eat well.

It’s very easy when you’re working at home to become so engrossed in what you’re doing that you forget to eat. When you work solo there are fewer distractions to break up your day and you work more intensively, so it’s all the more reason to ensure you’re taking good care of yourself.

I know it sounds obvious, but feeding your body is feeding your mind, so make sure you stop regularly to refuel.

Sleep it off
I mentioned last time the problems caused by blue light syndrome: the light emitting from computers and televisions which, when we’re exposed to it late at night, can affect our sleep patterns, causing insomnia or interrupted rest.

Some homeworkers have to work from their bedrooms either due to lack of space, or during the start-up phase before they’re able to afford somewhere else.

I completely understand the financial restrictions – I’ve been there too – but working in your bedroom is a really bad idea.

Associate bedrooms with rest, not work

Why? Because bedrooms are places that we need to associate with rest. Research has found that removing technology from our bedrooms improves our ability to sleep.

Similarly, keeping our bedroom as a place to recuperate from the day’s busy-ness, rather than a place to operate our business, has positive psychological effects. It sets a physical and mental boundary between work and rest.

The problem is that if we get into bed and find ourselves looking at our desks, we never ‘leave work’. I’m a firm believer that bedrooms should not be workspaces: everyone needs somewhere at home where they can go to chill out.

Organise your space
If you have to work out of your bedroom, try and find a way of packing away your work things or hiding them with a screen at the end of the day, so you can reclaim your personal space.

Another option is using a desk that folds back into a closed cupboard, so it looks just like an ordinary piece of furniture.

If working outside of your home is possible, there are plenty of options such as libraries, cafés or hotel bars and lobbies. Pretty much everywhere has free wifi these days; if not, you can connect to hotspots via your ISP, create one from your mobile phone, or use a mobile broadband account to get online.

Low-cost or free co-working spaces are available too (Jelly is a great example, available nationwide).

This way you can keep your personal space for yourself, and create a restful, restorative place to relax at the end of a hard working day.

Work savvy, and be well. Enjoy your worklife at home!

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