Being able to make money from home, while still being able to be there for your children can be a blessing. However, it isn’t always easy. Let me let you in on a little secret, the house won’t always be immaculate, dinner might not be homecooked and Inst-worthy, and you probably won’t be rocking it like Martha Stewart…some might, but I am not in that small majority. If you are, girl, I envy you. Keep doing your thing. However, if you are in need of a little direction, like me…here are 11 tips to stay sane while working from home.
11 Tips to Stay Sane While Working From Home
1. Set realistic goals and create a support system.
I remember when I first started working from home and I thought I could do it all. I mean, that was the reason I made the decision to work from home so that I could be mom, wife, and make money for the family. However, I soon realized that was not going to be the case. You have to be realistic about what you can get done in a day, week, month, etc…
Discuss with your spouse about what is expected from each other. This way you can each pitch in to help the other. This is also an important conversation to have with others in your support group, like family members, friends, or other work from home parents if you know of any.
Please remember to ask for assistance. It is ok to admit when you need a little help. Even if you can’t get someone to watch your child on a daily basis because I know for my family the whole idea of me working from home was to save money on daycare, but maybe you can pay someone or have a family member watch your children for a couple of hours once or twice a week. Then you can use this time to accomplish as much of your high priority projects as possible.
2. Create a schedule (for you and the kids).
Time management starts with a good schedule. If it is possible, try to set your work hours ahead of time so that you and your spouse are aware of what each day or week will look like. Try to work smarter, not harder is my motto for working at home. Plus by setting my work hours, it helps me to make sure that I am not working too many hours and spending not enough hours with my family.
By setting a schedule for yourself and your kids, it helps get your kids to feel at ease for what each day is going to entail. If they are used to you taking conference calls while they eat their breakfast and watch cartoons in the morning, you will most likely have fewer interruptions.
3. Wake up earlier.
Waking up early is not my idea of a good time, I am a night owl. However, it is nice to have a little uninterrupted time in the mornings. You can use this time to get some work done or use it for a little alone time to mentally prepare yourself for the day. Sometimes I use this time to meet important deadlines and other mornings I like to use this time to drink my coffee and have a little quiet time.
4. Create rituals and transitions.
Recently, I have decided to follow this tip more strictly. Honestly, I had just been working with my laptop on my couch in whatever clothes (or PJs) that I happened to have on. In one of my Facebook groups, a fellow blogger shared one of her tips for working from home and it really resonated with me.
She talked about the importance of rituals and transitions. Every morning, she picks up a latte from her local coffee shop after she drops her children off at school. This little ritual helps her mental transition from mom life to work life. Your ritual could be a cup of tea, getting dressed in something more than just leggings and tennis shoes, or sitting down to your designated work area. The trick is to find whatever works for you to help you mentally flip from mom time to work time.
On a side note, it does help to get dressed every day. Getting dressed every day helps to tell your mind it is work time. Also since moving my laptop from the couch to my desk that I put in the living room has really helped my mindset. Having the desk in the living room is still central to where I need to be as a mom. I am able to cook since I am close to the kitchen and I am able to listen to my kids play in the living room with me or in our playroom. However, I still have my own little space that makes me feel “important.”
5. Be flexible and multi-task when you can.
As important as it is to have a schedule like I mentioned earlier, parenting and being a stay-at-home parent is unpredictable. So keep with your schedule as best as you can, but be flexible. If your child vomits on the living room floor or decides napping is not important anymore you just have to roll with it.
Yes, there is work to be done. However, remember that you are working from home. Personally, for me, I like to remind myself why I made the decision to work from home. I chose this for the flexibility and so that I could be home with my kids. So don’t beat yourself up too much if you have to take a little extra time from your day to tend to your sick kiddo or take a trip to the park to allow your kids some time to burn off some energy.
Moms are pros when it comes to multi-tasking and it is key to being productive when working from home. However, the key is to multi-task correctly. If you aren’t comfortable in the evenings you will look back over your day and find a bunch of halfway completed tasks. Just make sure that if you are going to multi-task you don’t overextend yourself and make sure that you complete a couple of projects before moving on to more.
6. Keep a running daily to-do list.
I like to keep a running to-do list that I can add to daily. Actually, I keep two running to-do lists. One list is for work and one list is for personal. I also find it helpful to prioritize my list. Color code or put the important tasks at the top of the list and work your way through the colors or down the list.
Some tasks that I complete each day are easy to get sucked into. For example social media and email. One way to combat this is by setting timers. You could set a timer for 30 minutes of email time in the mornings and in the evenings. I understand that some emails are time-sensitive, but you know which emails are pressing so answer those when you need to but set a timeline for the other emails that aren’t as time-sensitive. I have also found that scheduling your social media is a HUGE time saver.
7. Utilize naptime.
If you are lucky enough to still have nappers in your home then you need to utilize that. Use naptime to complete projects that require your full attention. This might also be a good time to schedule interviews, phone calls, etc…
8. Set boundaries.
Boundaries are huge when you work from home. I have learned that if I don’t give myself time to put my full attention on each then I don’t feel like I have accomplished anything. However, if I give myself time to fully commit to working or being a mom then I feel much more productive by the end of the day.
9. Plan for interruptions.
Interruptions will happen. You just can’t avoid them when you work at home and you still have kids at home with you during the day. You can help by having contingency plans. If you are on a work call, mute your end of the conversation until you need to speak. If this doesn’t give you enough time to quiet a screaming child then end the call and reschedule if possible. Communicate with your clients and the people you work with. You might be surprised how many are understanding of your situation. This leads me to my next tip.
10. Be honest and communicate with your clients.
Be honest and communicate with your clients. It is extremely important to let your clients know that you are working from home. This way it isn’t a complete shock if you have a child bust into your office when you are in the middle of a conference call. I think you will be surprised at how many people have no problem with you working from home and the possibility of kid interruptions.
For example, recently I had to apologize to a client for not getting one thing down on my to-do list for her. It wasn’t a major deadline. I just like to accomplish a few things daily for my clients and it just didn’t happen the other day. Her response meant the world to me.
“I wanted to remind you that your family always comes first, in my book. Remember this is why you work from home so you can be mommy first! Always remember your WHY!”
Yes! So important to remember your why. This is some of the best advice I have been given about working from home.
11. Let your kids help.
It also helps if you can give your kids a task. I do some branding/advertisement work on Instagram. I always try to include my boys when I work on projects like this. It makes it way more fun and it gives them a sense of accomplishment, keeps them busy while you are getting work done, and gives you time to work on your to-do list while getting to spend time with your children.
In closing, know yourself and your family. I hate to admit that there isn’t a magical guide that works for everyone that works from home because the fact is that all families are different. Families have different styles, strengths, and weaknesses. So it is up to you to try out these tips, find what works for you, and tweak what needs to be tweaked to fit into your family. However, in the words of my very smart client, “remember your why.”
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah 40:31
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