Learn a thing or two from two busy self-employed parents.
Working from home is easy and challenging at the same time. It’s moments of calm amongst moments of chaos. Working hard and hardly working. It’s just how it is. I’ve been working from home for about four years now, and this is what I’ve learned.
Separating work life from home life
For me personally, it is really difficult to separate my work life from home life because I run two businesses and look after our daughter Emma. I feel guilty a lot of the time, along with stress and unrivaled amounts of pressure, but I know it won’t always be like this.
Another problem on my end is that our studio is full to the brim, so work has leaked into our tiny living room/kitchen/dining room/temporary studio, so it is hard to physically separate work from home.
One thing I remember to do is take breaks on the lighter workdays.
These kinds of breaks include taking Emma for lunch and then taking her to the park to play for an hour or taking her to a kids club for a couple of hours on a Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. This alleviates some of the guilt of not being able to give Emma much playtime during the week. It also gives us a chance to refresh.
We also try to have the odd couple time at least once a month, whether that’s the cinema or a concert or weekend trip and family time a couple of times a month visiting my mum and other family members with Emma. For now, this is the only way I can separate my work life from my home life, but it might be different for you.
If you can dedicate a space for your work, then this is a great place to start.
It can be a whole room, or simply just a table with a laptop on it. It all depends on your business and what you’re doing. Some people find it easier to sit in a coffee shop for a few hours to work, something about the atmosphere and great coffee, I suppose, it’s all up to you.
Whatever you decide to do, just remember to take breaks. You deserve a break. Whether you’ve made significant progress, a little progress, or you’ve simply hit a wall. Take a break, hit the refresh button, and jump back on it.
How to avoid distractions
I’m not going to lie to you. I find it hella hard not to get distracted now and then. How can I not? I work with my husband and live with a toddler. If I could erase Emma from my work hours (hello childcare, why are you so expensive?) and magic Monica Geller into my home to give it an epic cleaning, then I’d quite easily blast through work without a problem.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the pleasure of either of these things. So I sit and get distracted watching Emma chase the cat and try to put socks on his head.
Luckily, there are some things we can do to avoid some distractions –
- Unless you are working on social media marketing or something relatable, then simply sign out and shut them off. Having these pages lurking in the background will easily steal your time. C’mon, we all know how Pinterest works. You spend a quick ten minutes searching for inspiration to find yourself looking up, and two weeks have passed! The best thing to do is completely ignore the idea of going on social media during work hours and put that phone away too!
- Don’t start your working day without a plan. There is nothing worse than sitting down to start something and realizing you don’t have a clue where to start. Cue 30 minutes of figuring out what to do and then another 30 minutes procrastinating before you do it. If you have a list, then you will be able to see what you need to achieve at a glance. You will also be able to keep an eye on your progress. I find lists so helpful, whether it’s in my trusty notebook or on a google doc.
- If you work from home, you will know that it’s very rarely straight forward. You have the responsibility of ‘work duties’ along with home responsibilities. Your baby needs her butt changed. You’re on it. The family wants lunch. You better do that too. Missed the last episode of The Walking Dead, maybe you can put it on in the background. One thing I know for sure is that you can set your work hours, but you have to be willing to compromise. Ok, I’m joking about catching up on tv, but if mother duties come calling, then what can you do?
- Be strict with your 9 – 5 or 10 – 6 or whatever times you set, but understand that you will spend some of that time dealing with responsibilities, and you need to be ok with that. You can always make the time if you feel guilty. If you are lucky enough to have family close by who can help out with your little one, then seriously take the help.
I know we’ve just looked at distractions when working from home, but there is a benefit to working from home too.
Working from home allows you to save money rather than renting space to work. Sure, you can rent small office space, you’ll get to kit it out with what you need, and it will feel like you’re legit working. You get to commute there in the morning, you get to nip out to buy your lunch, and you can put in those solid hours, no distractions!
I’ve honestly been through this thought process and thought that having a workspace away from home would somehow make me more professional and proficient. So why didn’t I? Because it would be a waste of money at this point. Why rent out space when we had a disused spare room we could transform into a studio? Or why commute to work when I could just roll out of bed at 8.45? Why buy lunch when I’ve got it in my fridge? Why spend money, when I could simply save it?
Can a schedule work for you?
So we’ve briefly mentioned lists and being prepared for your workday, but let’s look at the bigger picture. If you haven’t considered creating a schedule for work, then let me tell you why this could be a good idea. A schedule, even just a basic one, is a great way of roughly planning out your week or even month ahead with the idea of flexibility.
When I work on a schedule, I keep it simple to start with. I tend to print off a blank calendar for the month (you can easily do this with the mac calendar) and start by looking at my lists of content to create, any holidays coming up, and any sponsored work and start dotting them in. Then, over a work brunch, we will put together a fuller and more specific schedule to work with. You can find a quick breakdown of creating a content schedule here.
So there we have it. My experience of working from home and some tips and ideas on how to manage it. Do you work from home and have any tips or advice to add? Let us know. We would love to hear from you!