Time for a guest post! I love hearing from other freelancers, especially when they share working from home tips I’ve never heard of before . Today, Fiona from The Beauty Shortlist shares hers (this post made me do an actual LOL. I never actually LOL.)

Those were the days. Swimming in five star hotel pools in Santorini… baking Glamour Puds with Eric Lanlard (that’s me on the sofa, Eric on TV)… and surfing without getting wet (for the just the right shade of tinted moisturiser).

Reality alert!  It’s called “working” from home. If you’re self-employed, Googling luxury escapes and baking (unless you’re Eric Lanlard) do not pay the bills.

I’m a workaholic. But when I first swapped a basement office for a makeshift desk-with-a-view at home, the demon in my day was Distraction. Distraction dangled undone laundry and Digestives in front of me and tempted me with cups of tea and magazines. Distraction found endless ways to lure me away from the laptop.

After two astoundingly unproductive weeks when I started working from home, it was high time to knock Distraction on the head.  So I read the Riot Act (to myself) and wrote out The Five Rules for Working from Home:

  1. Do the most important thing (that can be done today) first. Humans are ‘pain avoiders’. Beeline for the biscuit tin, run from the dentist. But get the important (aka difficult?) stuff out of the way and you’ve eased your burden already.
  2. Write a list and stick to it. Jot things down every evening/early morning. And it’s better to get three things done than have a longer list of not-quites or not dones (which makes you feel you’re not getting anywhere).
  3. Tame the email dragon.  Thank you simplicity coach Simon Tyler for this one.  Check emails only 2-3 times daily if you can. Deal with them in batches, avoid back-and-forth “loop” emailing. Be brutal. Unsubscribe from newsletters. Keep emails short and sweet (I’m still trying to master that one). Simon’s new book, The Simple Way, is out now on Amazon and I’ve just ordered it.
  4. Find your “sweet spots”.  Morning person? Yes/no/sometimes? Tailor your tasks to your energy rhythms. Flag at tea time? Do simpler stuff, a bit of admin, emails. Keep the harder tasks for the times of day when you have most energy if possible.
  5. Stick to a schedule. Creatives might disagree, but I keep office hours at home and stick to them (with a vengeance).  I may still be in my PJ’s at 8.30am on the occasional winter morning, or knock off early at four on a July Friday but I put in a pretty hefty day – every day. I now work longer hours than in that basement office and earn less, but the clincher is ‘no commute’.  And no slacking, no surfing, no dancing with Distraction. That’s for Friday nights.