There are few things in life on which I would consider myself an expert. There’s parenting (I have four of them), wine (I drink a lot of it) and working from home (I’ve been doing it for years). Oh, and there’s shopping; I’m very, very good at shopping (not groceries. Can’t ever seem to get that one right). Working from home is one of the most difficult, most demanding and most stressful things you will ever do with your life. It’s also one of the most rewarding. It’s nice to be your own ‘boss’ and to create your own schedule. However, it’s not for everyone. If you are not disciplined, organized and structured; you will not succeed working from home. Many people assume that I spend my days sitting by the pool while the maid brings me mimosas and the nanny cares for my kids – I have none of the above. They also assume I am free to do whatever, whenever. They don’t think twice before volunteering me to do things for them since I’m “home all day.” They just don’t know. They don’t know that every minute you are not working costs you money. They don’t understand that you don’t get to leave the office at home, and that you have to work when you can. They don’t get it; and that’s okay.
Working from home is tough; and I know this. I’ve been doing it for more almost 7 years. I have four kids; my oldest will be 7 this year, my ‘middle’ is turning 4 in March, two days after my twins turn 1. I have a very helpful, 100% hands-on husband, but he’s gone before the kids wake up in the morning so getting them ready for school is one me. I have the twins home all day with me. I have to pick up and drop off two kids from school. They have extracurricular activities they’re involved in and so are we. We have very active social lives, a big house that needs caring for and I’m an anal retentive neat freak, obsessive compulsive organizer and I like to control everything (I’m really trying to work on that, by the way). Working from home with all this going on is difficult. I like to spend time with my kids and family, and it’s difficult to do that if I’m not productive. And that means being productive 24/7 with no time off. If you’re going to be productive working from home, you have to be fully conscious and aware of these life-saving tips. Otherwise, you will not succeed.
Have a Schedule
The only way to be productive and sane working from home is to have a schedule. It’s not as easy to ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ as you might imagine. I have to schedule my time working at home or I will go crazy with anxiety and overwhelming feelings of failure. I can’t just take the morning to do what I want, or sleep in or I don’t feel that I will ever get anything done. I have a schedule. I start working at 7:30 and get XYZ done before the kids go to school and then I get everything else finished between 10-2 when I have to go get the kids from school. And I like to try very hard to be done before I go get them so the rest of the day is for them.
Create a Space
I can’t work without a workspace. I have to have an office. It’s nice that I have a much larger home now so that I do have a private office. It’s a room in which no kids are allowed. It’s organized, I have a beautiful view, it’s clean and it’s peaceful. That keeps me productive. It helps me understand that when I’m in here, I’m in work mode.
Utilize Times of Quiet
Many people who work from home have kids, and that means you work sporadically as their schedule allows. Take advantage of quiet times. This means nap time and bedtime and whatever else time. Use it to work and not to do other things. Leave the other things to after they wake up or whenever else. Use naptime for work. You’d be amazed what you can accomplish with just a few hours of uninterrupted time on your own.
Keep a Clean House
If there is a load of laundry that needs doing, I can’t concentrate. The same goes for other things around the house. I make it a point to keep my house very clean, and I straighten up throughout the day. I’m efficient and I don’t leave things undone for later or tomorrow. There is no procrastinating when it comes to working from home. If you are distracted, you can’t get any work done. By eliminating the distractions, you get a lot more accomplished throughout the day.
Take a Break
You can’t work all day long without a break, even at home. Get up, go for a walk, get outside, go pick up lunch; do something. Go fold laundry; just walk away from the computer for a few minutes every so often so that you can get something else accomplished, like a few minutes to yourself in which you can just relax and unwind. Stop for a cup of coffee and a few minutes with your notes or your favorite book or your Bible or whatever it is you find calms you down and relaxes you.
Know Your Limits
There are days I get done working earlier than others and I think to myself that I’m going to do more. Then I do, and then I’m so overwhelmed at the end of the day I don’t enjoy the fact that I got ahead. Sometimes you just have to know your limits. Yes, it’s nice to be ahead in the morning, but it’s sometimes nicer to just have some time off to relax and unwind. And you have to know when to take a day off. We all need it from time to time. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t get a vacation or time off. In fact, I think I’m going to take my husband’s birthday off next week and let him bring me bring him breakfast in bed and spend the day doing what he wants to do. If you overwork yourself and stress yourself out, working from home is not enjoyable. Keep it enjoyable; keep it real. Know your limits. Be productive. You can do it; when you find your groove, it’s one of the best things that can ever happen to you.
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