How to work on your own

Andrew Graystone has some tips for people who work solo. 

medianet-ers are a mixed bunch.  Some work in teams – producing programmes, running companies and building networks.  But others work alone, often from home or in a solitary office.  For those who spend most of the day on their own there are special pressures.  Solo working takes a lot of discipline. It doesn’t suit everyone.  But it can have its rewards.Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts for those who work mostly by themselves.



If you are going to spend all day working by yourself you need to be very clear about your aims and objectives.  You’ll need to plan your work – not just launch in and do whatever comes to hand.  The ten minutes you spend at the start of the day writing down your plan for the day will be the most productive ten minutes of your day.  Set yourself targets – both long-term targets (what do I want to achieve this month?) and short-term targets (what do I need to get done today?)  Be really specific.  What emails do you need to send?  What calls do you need to make?  What chapters do you need to read by the end of the working day?  Then order them, so you know what you are going to do first.  That way you won’t drift through the day.  If you don’t get everything on your list completed, don’t worry.  Focus on the things you HAVE done and tick them off with a flourish!

…Keep in touch with others

You may feel like you are on a desert island, but the rest of the world is still out there!  Plan into your day the phone calls you would like to make or the people you need to talk to.  You might even be able to encourage someone with a call or email.  Why not browse your medianet contacts and see if there’s someone who you could call or email?  Does your church offer regular fellowship group or Bible study?  Maybe you should join.  If not, is there someone you could link up with as a prayer partner to share a regular coffee or at least a phone call?

…Plan your breaks

What time will you stop for coffee?  How long is lunch break?  Don’t drift in and out of work, but plan your breaks as carefully as you plan your work.  And make sure that your breaks include some exercise.  Walk to the post box or even just round the block.

…Have a set place to work

Some home-workers choose to work on the kitchen table.  But if possible I recommend that you don’t mix household and work-place.  Have a set place that you associate with work…and a chair that is your work chair.  That way you will associate the place with the discipline of work.  Don’t let paperwork spill out all over the house.  You need the rest of your pad to be a refuge.  If you have a particular task to achieve, consider going to a local library or college to get the job done.

…Maintain a relationship with God

You are never alone.  But when you are working by yourself it’s all the more important to maintain a dialogue with God.  There are lots of “triggers” you could use to take your mind back to God.  Pictures or quotations on the wall in front of you, or a suitable Bible verse on your screen-saver can draw you back to God.  Maybe choose a Bible verse each day to meditate on, or subscribe to a daily email such as WordLive.


…Be distracted

Jeremy Kyle or Loose Women provide automatic company for the lonely worker.  They also waste thousands of hours that could be better spent.  It’s easy to get distracted by Facebook or Twitter.  To avoid the temptation, why not log off your internet connection when you’re not using it for a particular task?  Collect your emails a couple of times a day…and don’t feel that you have to deal with them instantly.

…Comfort eat

If you work in a team, other people often provide the encouragement that gets you through the day.  If you’re on your own you may miss that affirmation.  Food can be good company for the lonely.  But grazing is a bad habit.  If you’re not careful you may treat yourself to a biscuit to cheer you up every time things go badly…and a bar of chocolate to celebrate every time something goes well!  Take time to eat at meal-times…but beware using food as a reward or a consolation.

…Work all the hours God sends

Work is important…but so is rest.  God’s plan is for the two to be separate.  So unless there is an exceptional reason to do otherwise, do your work in the morning and afternoon, and not the evening or the night.  And if it’s at all possible, make sure that you have a clear day off each week when you are not working at all.  Most of all, plan in your holiday time well ahead.  That can be difficult for casual or freelance workers, but if it’s not in the diary, the chances are it will never happen at all.

I hope these practical tips are helpful to you.