How to switch off when you work at home

how-to-switch-off

My office is in my home, right next to my bedroom actually. It makes my commute ridiculously easy, but it has its disadvantages to boot. Like, “Oh, I’ll just nip into the office and do XYZ before bed” or “I’ll stop working in a minute…”. When I’m not working in my office I can sometimes be found cradling my laptop on the sofa, catching up on a few easy tasks while watching TV.

It’s pretty hard to switch off when you work from home, when work is right there all the time. Luckily I mostly enjoy what I do, so it doesn’t feel too much like work for me, but Adam has to shout at me sometimes so that I take a break. Especially when it comes to bank holidays!

I’ve realised that there’re a few things that help get me out of work mode, though.

  • Having an iPad for checking out blogs, using pinterest, reading magazine etc. has helped me stop working in the evenings. It’s a lot harder/slower for me to work on my iPad, so I tend to just use it for more relaxing activities. It still lets me check in on things though which brings me to…
  • Being able to check in on emails just-in-case. I realised during this past week, whilst up in Scotland with very little phone signal, no wifi and no 3G, that I find it a lot easier to relax if I can occasionally (a couple of times an hour, maybe less) check my email. Otherwise I spend the time worrying that there might be an urgent email in my inbox!
  • Shutting the door to my office really helps, it creates that physical work/life boundary that’s pretty important. It works both ways, too, I think it triggers something in my brain so when I’m in my office I switch in to work mode much easier.
  • Not responding to clients during non-work times. It’s hard to do, especially if it’s just a couple of lines of an email that needs sending, but I’m very strict with myself on this. At weekends, and between 6pm-8am, I will not respond to any work related emails. Okay, so I might draft them up ready, or use gmail’s boomerang to send them so they arrive the next day, but I don’t engage in email threads when I’m not working. It’s a slippery slope!
  • On that note, I’ve found it worth discussing with my clients just when I will be available, especially for those who are out of the UK and in a different time zone. I worked with a client a few months ago who expected me to be answering her emails at 10pm. Woah, nelly! I’m practically asleep! That relationship didn’t last long…
  • Go out, leave the house, leave the laptop. Go for a pint, go for a walk, go to the gym, go to the cinema! Basically, preventing myself working by doing something fun and away from the office.

Believe me, I know exactly how hard it is to switch off when you run your own business. It’s your livelihood  and it’s all on you. The guilt that comes with that is stifling, but hell, if you don’t take a break then you’re going to burn out and the business is ruined!

I’m pretty sure that one of the main reasons people start their own businesses is to gain more freedom with their schedule, don’t fall into the trap of not enjoying that freedom.

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Pampering on a budget

pampering

When I decided to quit my day job I had to make sacrifices where pampering was concerned. I’ve learnt that you don’t need to break the bank to feel pampered!

Hair

One thing I realised early on was that buying in bulk can save you SO much money!

I always try and use a quality shampoo and conditioner, that means salon quality (actual salon quality, not that tresemme shit). Unfortunately salon quality comes at a price, but shop around and you can find some amazing savings.

Before I moved on to mane’n’tail shampoo, I was using Tigi tweens which you can find at bargainous prices over on the old Ebay. Mane’n’tail is my new favourite budget buy, and I’ve picked it up for a reasonable price on Amazon and Ebay. When you buy both of these in their larger sizes you’ll find they work out around the same price as a decent ‘everyday’ shampoo/conditioner, but the quality is much better.

Face

I no longer trust anyone else with my eyebrows. Nope.

I started waxing and tinting my own brows when I quit my day job, and doing quite a good job of it! I didn’t have to spend £10+ a month on getting someone else to do them in a salon, and I had complete control. A few months ago I went to a benefit brow bar where they BUTCHERED my beloved thick brows, I looked like a shocked Liverpudlian. Woe.

Take care of your own brows using the veet facial hair waxing kit (this lasts forever), a pair of tweezerman tweezers for the stragglers and eyelure dye kit for tinting (about 12 applications here).

Body

Making your own sugar scrub is awesome, seriously… so pamper-some. In an old bathroom container of some kind, or even just a tupperware,  combine brown sugar with olive oil and stir together. Use it in the shower to scrub the day away, it’s such a treat! You can even add essential oils and scents, many available on ebay. Swap out the brown sugar for seasalt if you feel like it, too.

Mind

One sure fire way of feeling pampered is to treat yourself, and that doesn’t need to cost any more than a couple of quid. For me, that means a bunch of flowers (£2 from the super market), an ikea cinnamon and apple candle, and reading my book in a quiet room for a few hours. Deliciously cheap luxury!

(image source)

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Why Perseverance is EVERYTHING

I’m trying really hard to keep up with my ‘blog every day in May’ challenge, but I sort of forgot to queue up posts for this week while I’m up in Scotland with very limited internet! We’re staying in a log cabin where I can barely get 3G, let alone wifi. This post was due to be posted on Wednesday, but I’ve shifted it to Thursday instead and will combine the weekend posts on Sunday. 

The theme for today’s Blog Every Day in May post is ‘Life is a Lesson’. I post a lot about the things I’ve learnt through running a business, hoping that by sharing my experiences it might help other people a bit.

One of the most important posts I’ve ever written is about how to deal with failure, and on the back of that I want to reiterate how persevering is the most important lesson you can ever learn.

perseverance

If you persevere, wade through the shit, and work your arse off… you’ll succeed. And if you go through all that and still haven’t got there, keep going. You. Will. Succeed.

Whereas if you come up against a wall and figure “I’ve failed”, then yes, you’ve failed.

Jump over the fucking wall. Hell, scramble over it and fall on the ground at the other side.

Keep on track and aim straight at your goals. You’ll get there someday.

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Super good for you ramen

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Photo from my instagram, where all good food goes to gloat.

One of my favourite mid-week lunches is my super easy, amazingly tastey, so fucking good for you udon noodle soup. Working from home means I get to enjoy this all the time, and I’m pretty much okay with that.

The beauty of this soup is in its simplicity. I make it in around 20 minutes, and never weigh anything out. It’s gone few a few variations in the past few years, but I think I’ve got it perfected now.

You’ll need:

1 litre of so of stock made with a stock cube (vegetable, and I never measure it out) + a splash of light soy sauce
1 fresh red chili
1 block of frozen grated ginger, or about a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
Healthy squeeze of ready grated lemongrass (comes in a tube), if you don’t have this then just omit it
1 grated clove of garlic
1 star anise (this is important, it adds a whole new dimension to the soup)
2-3 Green cabbage leaves
2-3 chunks of frozen spinach
Small handful of frozen sweetcorn/peas/whatever other frozen vegetables you have.
1 pack of udon noodles (I use Sharwoods straight to wok udon noodles)
Massive handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 chopped spring onion (scallion)

The method is sooooo simple. Sooooooooooooo simple.

Add your stock to a pan and heat it up, add a splash of soy sauce and the chili, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, star anise. Simmer it for a few minutes until it’s bubbling away nicely. In the mean time, rinse your cabbage leaves and roll them up like a cigar. Slice the cigar cabbage up so that you get long noodle like strands. Add this to the stock with the frozen spinach. Keep it simmering for a few minutes. Add your sweetcorn and udon noodles. Simmer it until the sweetcorn’s cooked. Remove from the heat, add your fresh coriander and top with the chopped up spring onion.

Eat. Enjoy. Fight crime.

To feel even more amazing: eat this after working out. You’ll be the smuggest bastard in town.

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Go Greener

go-greener

We’re sort of lucky where we live in that we have a green recycling bin to put out cardboard and various other recyclable rubbish, we used to have a glass bin that was collected each month too… but the council scrapped that. We try and recycle as much as possible: take re-usable bags to the super market, keep our thermostat down, use energy saving lightbulbs… but there are SO many other things we could be doing.

In an effort to be greener, these are some of the things I’m going to try to do…

  • Take shorter showers – I’m terrible for long showers.
  • Get a water butt for the garden to collect rain water.
  • Take less short trips in the car. I’m totally guilty of taking walkable journeys in the car, all for the sake of saving time.
  • Eat more locally grown/reared produce.
  • Eat more seasonal produce.
  • Check that all unused electronics are turned off at the plug. Lamps, chargers etc. I’ve heard that even if they’re not being used, if the plug is switched on then some energy is being wasted…
  • On that note, charge my phone during the day rather than leaving it plugged in over night.

I think one of the best motivations is that most of the things listed above will also save money, win-win! Do you have any other tips for how to be greener?

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