Tuesday, January 28, 2014

5 Tips For Work-From-Home Moms!


Disclaimer: I am not an expert. My limited experience with working from home includes my "maternity leave," when I worked pretty much full time from home for six weeks, and then for a few months after that I worked from home one day a week. I've been doing some freelance work from home during Emmett's naps and in the evenings the last few weeks, but I've recently quit my part-time job and will be taking on more freelance work starting next week. I am writing this post mostly for myself, as away to focus my thoughts and as a guide to look back on when I start to feel the "balance" slipping. 

1. Make the most of your "work time."

For me, this means doing my best to be ready, focused and efficient when it's time to work.
Practical tips:
  • Be prepared. For me, this means spending a few minutes each night after Emmett goes to bed preparing for the next day.
  • Tune out outside noise/housework/tv/etc when you're working.
  • Knock out the most important work first thing, so that if/when you are interrupted, the key tasks have already been finished.
I've been able to get all of my freelance work done during Emmett's naptimes and in the evenings so far, but I am planning to take on more work in the coming weeks. In order to get it all done, I am going to have to learn to use naptimes wisely. I have to work really hard to have all of my work planned out and ready to go when Emmett goes down each day, so that I can jump right in and get to work.
A friend who works from home told me recently that she settles in with her work while her son sleeps, and then he inevitably wakes up just as she's getting into the groove. In order to avoid that, I need to work on knocking out as much work as I can right away each day so that when Emmett wakes up, I'm ready to put the work away and tend to him. Which leads me to the next tip:

2. Push work out of your mind when it's "mom time."

Practical tips:
  • Put away your work. For me, this means before I pick Emmett up from his nap.
  • Don't let work emails and issues that come up distract you from what's important- for me, this is time with Emmett.
  • Leave work things in a dedicated work space so that they don't show up in your sight-line all day to distract you.
This one is hard for me. I am learning how to let everything else go and just focus on Emmett when I'm with him. To really be present to him. This is tough for work-from-home moms because unless we create it, there isn't much separation between our work life and our home life. So, I need to figure out ways to keep my work separate, and to push it out of my mind until it's time to work again. Of course there will be times when I need to answer a quick email or prepare for an assignment while Emmett plays, but those times when he needs me, I hope to be totally focused on him.

3. Have an organized, dedicated work space, and make it a place that you love.

Practical tips:
  • Set up a desk that's just for work.
  • Organize the area from the start, and work each day to keep it organized.
  • Put up photos or prints that inspire you.
  • Get a few pretty accessories that you love to make the space fun and enjoyable.
This will help to create a little separation between work and the rest of your life. I often work from my bed while Emmett naps, which is nice, but I find myself winding down and getting sleepy just before Emmett wakes up. I'm hoping to set up a desk, and to make it a special place, just for work. I have my eye on a few cute desk accessories (I'm dreaming of things like this, and this, and this!, but Target has lots of cute accessories too), and plan to put up photos and prints of things that inspire me. At my job, I didn't have much freedom when it came to decorating my desk, so I'm looking forward to making my new work space a place that I love and enjoy.

4. Make time for fun!

Practical Tips:
  • Set up outings each week, and allow time for spontaneous walks or playtime outdoors.
  • Set up play dates each week (at least one!)
  • Keep a list of fun outings you want to do, and cross them off your list one by one.
One of the nice things about my freelance job, and working from home in general, is having the freedom to leave your work when you choose and to have a little fun during the workday. I will have Emmett with me most of the time (we plan to keep him in preschool/daycare a couple of mornings a week), so I want to have planned outings each week. I want to take spontaneous walks around the neighborhood (his favorite) for a little change of pace and to call up friends for play dates. There are things I've always wanted to do, like take Emmett to the aquarium or the zoo, that I hope to finally cross off our outings list.

 

5. Go easy on yourself!

Practical tips:
  • Remember, some days just won't go the way you want them to. Be okay with that.
  • On those days, instead of fighting to keep working, let go of work when necessary, and go back to it when things calm down.
  • Ask for help when you need it!
This is probably the most important tip, and the hardest one to follow! No matter what you do, there will be days when you feel like you're failing as a mom, and at your work. There will be days where there just is no such thing as balance, where your children need you and you can't get any work done. On days like this, just go easy on yourself.
I find myself fighting, trying to type just one more email while Emmett fusses and pulls on my legs. I need to remember to just let that stuff go, give in to the flow of the day, and let myself just be with Emmett. It's hard not to get stressed or anxious when there are things that need doing and you just can't get to them, but fighting to keep working just leaves me frustrated with myself and feeling like I'm not doing anything right. On days like this, it's important to go easy on yourself, ask for help if you can, or put work away until things calm down.

These are just a few little tips that I want to work into my own work-from-home life, but I'm sure there are so many more. I'd love to hear yours!

10 comments:

  1. Hi there! I just found your blog today, and am so glad that I did! :) I cannot wait to follow along! Your son is BEAUTIFUL! :) These tips are awesome! :)

    Breanna
    www.countingblessings-blog.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Breanna! This working from home thing is very new to me, so I need things like this to help me stay focused!
      I'm so glad you found me too! I can't wait to check out your blog! I just took a quick look and I'm already in love! Your little Jonah has the prettiest eyes. What a love!

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  2. Hey there Anna Kate! I've been working from home for over a year now, and some days I feel so lucky, and other days I feel like no one should have to work from home with a toddler boy:) My biggest tip is to create a new dedicated play area for Emmett. The older he gets, the more he will play on his own, and it is so nice when they become more independent! If you already have a dedicated play area, then rearrange it or add something "new" and exciting, and make it his own. I rearrange my son's every few months and he's really proud of his own space and he shows it off to our guests. Good luck!!
    Laurie
    www.betzdesignstudio.com

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    Replies
    1. Hi Laurie! That is SUCH a great idea! We have a few play areas throughout the house, but one main one. I will spend some time amping it up for him. :)
      And I know what you mean- whenever I've worked from home in the past, it's a roller coaster. Sometimes it's bliss, other times.. not so much. Thanks for the tip!!

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  3. Working from home as a mom is no easy task! Thank you for these great tips. I am inspired to create my dedicated work space!

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    Replies
    1. So glad! Hope it turns out just how you want it! ;)

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  4. Hi! :) I am a work from home mom too, and I totally agree with your points. A great reminder for me. Time to make my workspace organised and pretty!

    www.prudentmummy.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for saying that! I'm just a beginner, so it's reassuring to hear that I'm on the right track!

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  5. Great tips! Thanks for sharing. It's hard to work at home and keep on track.

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    Replies
    1. Teri, it is so hard! But so worth it. I am easily distracted so I just have to keep plugging away to make it work!

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