August 2017. I’ve spontaneously left my reliable, safe Client Account Management job in a rapidly expanding tech firm. My new job? A marketing and web design consultant at a boutique agency. Having never done any hands-on web design. Working for my brother. What’s the worst that could happen?

Well I’m pleased to report that after the first year, nothing bad happened. In fact loads of good has happened, including a tiny bundle of four-pawed fun. But more of that in a later post…

Let’s go back to 2017 and those first few weeks adapting to a completely new way of working and learning loads of new technical stuff (no mean feat for a 33 year old!).

Part One – the day to day:

Leaving the routine and discipline of a 9-5 job in an office was daunting. I knew I’d miss the interaction with my colleagues, the comfort of a schedule, the clearly defined objectives and goals. But what I actually missed most was the tiny things – having someone to share a problem with and chat ideas through over a coffee. As it turned out, chatting my new HeyStrategy team on Slack came very naturally (I was a teenager during the MSN Messenger craze!) and being away from the constant bustle and chatter of an open plan office made me feel much calmer and a lot more productive.

Getting motivated to start work was tricky too. Not known for my morning energy, I warm up by mid-morning and am most effective in the afternoon. Needing to report for duty in an office by 8.30am in an office was an obvious motivator to get up and doing, but not expressly having to get up and go anywhere other than the next room was a bit of a challenge!

Here’s how I got started working from home:

Step one: get out the paintbrushes and smarten up our box room to create a lovely office that I wanted to spend time in and create a quiet, organised space to get things done.

Step two: steal my boyfriend’s routine and get up while he gets ready for work. Behave exactly as if preparing to leave the house – get dressed, brush hair, get snacks and drinks ready. Then when he leaves, make a coffee to take for the commute (up the stairs) and shut the office door behind you.

Step three: embrace the opportunity to take a break to go out for a walk at 10.30am (or any time) if you want to. Because we’re clocking our billable hours with Harvest, I can manage my schedule to fit around when I work best. If my mind drifts mid-morning and I’m not achieving anything, it’s in everyone’s best interest (particularly the clients!) if I stop the clock and start again later when I’m super-focussed and productive. This means I can often be found at my desk in the evenings but that’s when I do some of my best thinking.

Step four: draw the line between “home” and “work”. It’s hard to switch off when you’re on a roll with a project or your head is full of ideas. Create a clear boundary between work stopping and play starting. Decide what time you want to finish working and then schedule something like a call with a friend or heading out to pick up some food, pack up your desk and close the door of the office behind you. Try to turn off phone notifications if you can and remember that almost everything can wait until the morning.

With the ideal work environment set up, I was now ready to get stuck into the slightly more daunting aspect – learning how to design and update websites (spoiler: it’s loads easier than I thought and really fulfilling!)

Find out more next month in the next instalment!