I’m writing to you from my home office as the KB3D team has all taken to our houses for the foreseeable future. We recognize that this might be a difficult adjustment for some people, as it requires considerable changes to all of our personal and professional lives. In an attempt to make this transition a little more comfortable, I’ve compiled a short list here of best practices that I discovered over my years as a freelance artist working from home.
The first time I attempted the perpetual home office, I lasted only a mere month before heading back to a studio because I missed the free coffee so much. The second time, I made it 6 months. But the third time, I was able to sustain working from home comfortably for 2 years, before KitBash3d grew to a size that required us to move out of Banks’ garage and into a real office (with a copy machine and everything).
Through much trial and error, I’ve learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work for me from my home office and we’re hoping these tips might be helpful for you too:
1. Working from home can feel like you’re living at work:
Sometimes, if you let it, working from home can begin to feel like you’re living at work. The computer is always within reach and it can be really tempting to kick off one more render, or add just a little more detail to that painting at all times throughout the day and night.
On the flip side, the xbox controller might stare at you from across the living room, while Ori and The Will of the Wisps tantalizingly whisper, "just a few more levels." While that sounds like the most fun thing in the world, a 3-day video game binge might leave you a little depressed making it that much harder to get back your momentum to work.
Regardless of which side is pulling you, it's important to find a balance between being productive and having leisure time. We all need both, and we need both in moderation.
2. Be intentional about your day:
It's so easy to watch days zip past or reach the end of the day and realize that you didn't make any progress. In life and in work, it's important to feel accomplished and fulfilled, because without this we can begin to feel stagnant or depressed.
To control this, I start my day by writing down all of the things I want to accomplish in a journal, so that I have a road map and can go about my day with purpose. Bonus points here if you also write 3 things you’re grateful for. Starting your day with gratitude goes a long way in maintaining a positive outlook.
3. Create a schedule, designate time for each mind set:
Routines are extremely important. Normally work or school creates structure for us to follow, but when we're working from home, it's up to us to create our own structure. I do this by sticking very closely to a schedule I've created for myself.
From 10am-7pm, I'm in work mode. During that time, I will just be focused on being productive, knowing that leisure time is coming after 7pm up until midnight, or for a couple hours in the morning from 6-10am.
Because of this, at 4pm, I'm not thinking about the xbox, and at 10pm, I'm not thinking about work, I've set clear boundaries and stay disciplined with them knowing that it's imperative to the long term sanity of working from home.
4. Keep your computer as far away from your bed as possible:
Not everyone has a ton of living space. In an ideal world, you would put your workstation in a separate room with the ability to close the door when you're done with your work day. If you're in a studio or 1-bedroom apartment, at least put the computer in the living room or kitchen, away from your bed.
You don't want work staring at you first thing when you wake up, or glaring at you as the last thing before you go to bed. You need to create some physical distance, and if your space is limited, at least create some visual distance. Putting up a foldable screen or covering your workstation with a blanket goes a long way.
5. Make your bed each morning
Beyond the psychological impacts of accomplishing a checklist item to start your day, making your bed is a great way to signify that rest time is over, that the option to climb back in to bed and sleep for another 30 minutes is no longer available, and it gives a visual sense of order to your living space.
6. Shower and get dressed as though you were going to an office
Yes, you have the option of staying in your pajamas all day long. Yes, no one will know if you don't take a shower today. But you will feel the psychological impacts of this after a certain amount of time. In order to feel healthy and productive for a long period of time, treat your morning as if you were leaving to go to the office. Take a shower, brush your teeth, put on a clean shirt, and treat your work time professionally. You will feel more productive, healthier, and more sane for it.
7. Take regular breaks during the day
4pm coffee break? Yeah, maybe you've been sipping on coffee all day, but it’s 4pm, and you've been starring a computer for 3 hours straight since lunch. Make sure you put time in your schedule where you can step away. It can be easy to lose track of time when you're in the comfort of your own home and in the zone, but putting little milestones and times to step away will help break up your day.
8. Add some movement to your day
Limiting your movement to bed, then desk, then couch, then bed is not good for your body. Physical stagnation can lead to mental and emotional stagnation. The pent up energy could lead to energy manifested in negative ways like frustration, anger, or sadness. But this can be easily avoided by just designating a little bit of time each day to move. Whether that's light yoga and stretching at the start or end of your day, or if it’s more intense calisthenics, pushups, pullups, etc. Make sure you move some energy every day.
9. Pick up the phone, call a friend or family member.
You might feel isolated during this time, and while there's social media and texting, hearing someone's voice, and talking about absolutely nothing can really help make you feel connected in a way that 280 characters can't.
Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you're alone, it just means you have to make a little more of an effort to connect with people. Make that a priority, and spend time each day talking to loved ones, or just goofing around with a friend.
There are also a lot of places you can interact with us and other artists. We strongly recommend our community Discord, where thousands of artists are sharing their knowledge, passions, and support. If you have things that you're struggling with, or things you've learned that help, please join the conversation!
Now more than ever, the world needs your creativity.
Lastly, use your extraordinary gifts! In dark times, we artists have the ability to brighten people’s days. We have the ability to connect with people emotionally. We have the ability to create things of beauty. Let’s create positive imagery. Now more than ever, the world needs your creativity!