I truly love working from home and can’t imagine going back to working a traditional job. What others don’t talk about though is the challenges that come with working from home. I’m sharing some of the things that I have done over the last few years to help me get things done, stay focused, and manage a demanding household.
**COVID UPDATE: We had written this blog post months ago and looking back at it now, we have to chuckle. Since Covid really hit the USA, schools have been canceled across the country, people have been laid off of their jobs, we are all self-isolating, and being productive in our business takes a huge amount of effort and frustration when it otherwise came naturally to us. Covid has brought on intense anxiety, fear of the unknown, and an incredible amount of patience that we didn’t know we had in us. Although Covid has been nothing but an awful situation for many, we are trying to find the light in it every day. Perhaps some of these tips will help you if you’re working from home for the first time or perhaps, if you’re like us, the following tips are now just giving us a bit of a chuckle- we hope you enjoy.
Tip 1. Set a Schedule
I have kids so I can only work while they are at school or napping. I have created a start time of 8:30 AM at the latest so if I don’t start at this time I consider myself running late for work! I set lunch a break and then I have a set time to leave “work” which is when I go to pick up the kids from school. As soon as the kids get home, it’s family time for me and I put the work away. It’s important for me to set these boundaries and make sure that I’m not getting sucked into the 24/7 work week which often happens when you own your own business.
COVID Update: What day of the week is it? Is it noon or midnight? Yes, we were one of those hopeful moms out there that started the homeschooling journey with rose colored glasses on. We set up a cute “school” area in our homes, had the sticker accountability charts, bought new supplies and was determined to stick to a schedule… that lasted exactly 4 days and now we need to check in with each other to find out what day of the week it is.
Tip 2. Have a Strategy
One of the things that I have been trying to do lately is to have a marketing strategy in place every quarter. This way, I am very clear on what needs to be done on what day. For example, this blog post, I knew that I had to write it months ago so it was easy for me to schedule the time to do it on the day that it needed to be done. It’s much easier to be productive when you know exactly what you need to do.
COVID Update: And this is why having a strategy in place is so important. Long before Covid was even a whisper, we had this blog post written and scheduled to go out. There is no way that we would have the time to write blog content now with both of our kids being home AND working on launching our podcast and coaching program so we are so happy that not only did we have a marketing strategy in place but that we had worked ahead of ourselves and had content prepared. Thankfully this is the only blog post that we needed to update.
Tip 3. Scheduling Calls or Meetings
When I set up client calls or meetings I like to schedule those for late morning or early afternoon. I find client calls take much longer than scheduled and they take away from task priorities. I like to start my work day by checking emails, working on my most important tasks first, then prepare for my call or meeting. I find that I am most present for meetings in the afternoon because I have already taken care of my top priority tasks so if the meeting goes longer than expected that’s okay! I set myself up for success and already accomplished what needed to get done at the beginning of the day.
COVID Update: The only meetings that we have now are Zoom meetings with the kids teacher and classmates and let me tell you, after those, We are done with meetings for the day. Listening to a 6-year-old tell all his classmates about his new hamster for the 50th time… let’s just say it requires a mass amount of patience.
Tip 4. Workspace
Set up a workspace that makes you feel comfortable and help you focus on your work. Creating a workspace or office will encourage you to be more productive and you will start to love your workday more. One thing that I have done is that I have turned my desk around so that it faces the window. The natural light has helped me to enjoy sitting at my desk for those long editing sessions.
COVID Update: Ok, this is a funny one. Workspace? We are lucky if we can check emails while sitting on the toilet with the kids either at our feet or banging on the door. We are happy if we can get work done from the laptop in the wee hours of the middle night or early in the morning when no one should really even be awake. Gotta do what you gotta do.
Tip 5. Accountability
When working from home there is no one there to watch over you to make you accountable. No one knows what time you start, finish, or even what you are wearing (hello, leggings all day every day!). Twyla and I will often set up work dates where we just sit on zoom together while each doing our own work. It holds us accountable and feels a bit like a virtual co-working space.
COVID Update: Twyla and I don’t have work dates anymore. We are lucky if we have a moment free to respond to each other’s text message. I work in the early mornings and Twyla works in the middle of the night and during nap time. I’m not even kidding, she stays up all night and gets almost no sleep trying to fit some work hours in. We do our best to hold each accountable and motivate each other when we can.
Tip 6. Practice Saying “NO”.
I think the biggest misconception from working from home is that people around you assume you work whenever you feel like it, you have so much flexibility to do anything you want and your house is always clean. In reality, my house still looks the same as it did when I worked in an office and my hours are pretty similar to when I worked in the office, too.
People will ask me to do all sorts of things while you work from home– they have the day off so let’s meet for coffee/lunch, can you watch my kids or can you pick/drop me off at the airport? Sometimes people will call midday to chat and I often need to remind them that even though I work from home I still have set working hours.
COVID Update: Well, we don’t have to worry about these kind of boundaries anymore. #STAYHOME.
I hope these tips help you get your hours in! It can be tricky when you’re first starting out in your career or working from home but by trying out my tips you’re at least trying something out that works! I would love to hear what you do at home to make sure your hours get in. Comment below and let me know!