I wrote about the value in creating a routine while working from home last year, but it's important you are always re-evaluating to see what works for you right now. So as the nights begin to draw in over here in Canada, the shortened days can make it a little tricky to settle into a routine. And being a full-time freelancer for over two and a half years now, my "regular" routine has gone through a few changes. For all of you other creatives living that #freelancelife I wanted to share some of the activities and goals I try to work into my days that offer up the most productivity, while also keeping me sane! I'd love to hear some of yours too!
1. Morning walk with the hound first thing in the morning. Some days I'll load up an audiobook I've borrowed through the Ottawa Public Library, or (as is often the case) have a Spotify playlist loaded with the best Christmas tunes. Other days, I love to go out without any ear plugs, and listening to the sound of my neighbourhood. Luckily it's quite quiet so I can enjoy and embrace whatever the weather, knowing Kingsley and I are getting a nice dose of exercise and Vitamin D first thing in the morning. Plus, it makes it easier to concentrate without his incessant "when are we going for a walk??" whine from beside my desk.
2. Unroll my mat and get some yoga in. This one has gone through a few changes over the months. I used to have to do it first thing to feel like my day was starting off on the right foot. If I have a pass to a local studio, I'll work it into my day in whatever way suited. If I'm joining the always lovely Tina at Yoga Attic, I'll make her 9 am class to really connect with nature, like minded people and start my day off right! Or, when I had a pass to local Yogatown, I'd actually try and make the 12 o'clock flow class as a way to break up my day and give me a mini reset before the afternoon. What I'm digging right now? Post-walk yoga (Boho Beautiful is my go to link for all the vibes!) in the comfort of my home, surrounded by mellow tunes and my twinkling Christmas lights
I can enjoy and embrace whatever the weather, knowing Kingsley and I are getting a nice dose of exercise and Vitamin D first thing in the morning."
Enjoying an oat milk latte at one of my favourite local coffee shops
3. Indulge in excellent warm drinks. You know by now I'm a little addicted to coffee - decaf, half-caff, full dark and bold - like it all! I invested in a pretty nice espresso machine a couple of years ago and it has been an absolute life saver for me. After that morning yoga, I'll go make a second cup of coffee (first cup of the day is always big and black...nothing fancy!). But this second cup, I'll froth up some nice dairy free milk (new addiction is oat milk - it foams up way better than any other dairy free milk I've had) and make a fancy little latte. This is what I'll take to my office and get the ball rolling for the day. Post lunch? It's time for a hot cup of green tea with fresh lemon.
4. Lists, lists and more lists. On the podcast I host with my sister, Life As We Try It, we recently took some personality quizzes, and it was no surprise we both thrive on writing lists and ticking them off. When you're juggling various clients, while also working for yourself, it can be hard to keep track of everything. Lists help me stay on top of it all, while also giving me that little jolt of serotonin when I smugly tick off another item, no matter how small.
5. Get out and spend time with humans. While it is excellent to be able to work from the comfort of my home, sometimes you just need to be around other humans and the hum of the real world. I find I get invigorated in a different way when I'm sitting in a local coffee shop trying to get some work done. It's excellent for letting my creative side out a little bit. When I'm out, I get to bounce energy off of other people, gain inspiration from new surroundings and not get called into non-work related things (anything from "the dishes need to be done", to "there's nothing to snack on, let's bake some fresh cookies!" are all excellent distractors sometimes.
6. When working late, wine is always a good idea. When I was in the final push to finish my first novel, A Week at the Woods', I found a glass of red wine was very helpful in those final late night pushes! Never very much as this can often lead to a drastic decline in productivity, but whether I'm editing copy, writing, or working through a social media marketing plan, sometimes you just need a glass of wine at the end of a long day, and while living that #freelancelife we all know there is no 9-5!
I hope you have found these ideas helpful and would love to hear how you create a routine while working from home too!
Or clubs of any type really. The important thing is that we have clubs and communities where we can belong. And I'm talking old fashioned, face to face meet ups where you can see, feel, and emote with other humans. Social media has created this entirely other universe where we can connect, grow and yes, even create a community. And while this is great, hell, as a freelancer who works from home, if I didn't have my online community, some days I would feel incredibly lonely (cuddles with Kingsley aside).
But I read this incredibly interesting article from Buzzfeed News this week: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation. While it's a bit of a longer read than we millennials are used to these days (it's not a perfectly packaged video that fits into the 60 second time limit of Instagram? Or three paragraphs under a cute photo in your feed? Let's be honest, sometimes even those feel too long to sit through), it had sound bite after sound bite that I couldn't stop reading. It was all so real and true. And what's even more, I was just trying to vocalize similar feelings to friends and family recently.
I have a great recurring gig that pays my bills, feeds me, and allows me to put money away every month, with the freedom to take on clients here and there with interesting jobs or brands I want to align with too. I have time to do my own writing, like my novel, A Week at the Woods' or manage and work on this blog. I'm able to do all this from the comfort of my home. I don't battle traffic, or have to sit on a crowded train to get to work. If I wanted to, I could work in my underwear, leave my hair unwashed for days (seriously, how many days in a row is it socially acceptable to use dry shampoo? Asking for a friend!), and never leave my home.
But that's just not how I work for a number of reasons. But one is that I'm quite a social person - years of office life filled with travel and event networking mean it's just part of who I am. And two, the pressures of the online world, or the millennials who do it all, can get to you a lot more if you choose to go it alone. I've actually found that the more my online and home office life grows, the more lonely it can become. When I open Instagram, I'm rarely scrolling through friends feeds to like their cute photos, I'm trawling for content, or sharing likes and spreading brand awareness. I have six different Instagram accounts I run and manage. SIX. When I open IG, more often than not, it's a cause of anxiety. Facebook is just the same - I manage seven pages on FB. Do you know how many notifications I get in a day? For someone with borderline OCD, seeing constant notifications on my lock screen makes me want to run for the hills some days. But it also forms the bulk of my business and is something that I love doing and is what keeps me going. It's just a side effect of the world we live in.
It helps to remember that there is an entire world outside of online that was always there. Like when we were kids (yes Millenials...before we had cell phones, or at best, the Nokia 6310 with changeable face plate), and we could just pop over to a friend's house for a visit. We'd knock on their door and hang out, or as we got older and needed an escape from university or work stress, head over for a glass of wine or coffee for casual conversation, and more importantly, connection. This doesn't happen anymore. If you haven't texted me to tell me you're coming over, and I hear the doorbell ring, I ain't answering the door. And I know I'm not alone here!
I had some girlfriends over last weekend for book club. It was my birthday weekend and I was so happy to have these amazing friends of mine over to help celebrate, while it may not always be about books, it's what initially brought us together and let these friendships grow. And the way this club came about? When I first moved back to Ottawa, aside from a handful of very close friends I kept in touch with since moving away almost 10 years ago, I had to start meeting people all over again. Do you know how hard that is when you work from home?! So I joined Bumble BFF (hey, it helped me meet my boyfriend, why not some girlfriends?), met a bunch of fantastic ladies, and after a Bumble BFF double date with a few (totally adorable right?) we started a book club. And this, this regular connection with peers is what I was so missing.
When I first moved to London, I had a look online at meetup.com (before there was an app for that!) and found The Girly Book Club hosted by the lovely Erin Woodward (and BFF of a hometown friend of my sister's back in Canada!) Being able to connect in these ways makes us all feel a bit more human and bit more connected to the real world around us. So those days when we feel like we haven't been "offline" work at all, or the stress and anxiety of living and working in today's landscape of constant notification, it helps to have a safety net to catch us.
As we head into winter here in Canada, I'm wanting to get cozy and hibernate but I'm also wanting to try new things that keep me cultivating those real connections. Every year I try to select a few things that I know will push me out of my comfort zone but that also help to connect to new people, new things, new hobbies. And with that comes so much more than growth.
How about you? How do you stay sane in an online world? Do you have any clubs or hobbies you would recommend trying? I'd love to hear from you!