I never in a million years thought I would actually be able to work from home. And when that dream became a reality, there was quite the adjustment period. I’d gone from working in an agency setting, in my own office (with a door!), and Adeline in daycare 5 full days a week, to working from my living room and keeping Adeline home with me 1-2 days a week. I knew it would be a tough balancing act, but I also knew it would be worth it. I’ve learned quite a few things about working from home over the past few months and have finally gotten into a solid groove I think. I get asked often how I like working from home, how I function on the days I keep Adeline home with me, and what it’s like, etc. So, I thought I’d share my tips and insights!
Get Ready For The Day
My first tip is to actually get ready for the day! Get your lazy butt out of those pajamas you’ve been wearing for five days, put on a cute-ish outfit, do your makeup (a little bit goes a long way!), and brush your hair. Getting ready for the day always makes me feel SO much more productive, and in the right state of mind to really focus on my day. Plus, if I’ve got any video meetings, it’s nice to sometimes not look like I just rolled out of bed. At least my top half!
Coffee, Lots of Coffee
If you’re used to working from an office, and you need a cup of coffee to survive, then buy some coffee you’re excited about at home, and brew you a cup every morning. I’m always excited for my first cup of coffee – it’s like the official start to my day.
Fresh Flowers And Set The Scene
Making your workspace an inviting space, no matter how small, is so important! Working from home can be really distracting at times, btu having a designated space to focus and do your work is key. I’m definitely guilty of ending up on the couch with Netflix on quietly in the background, but most days I try to sit at my desk or at the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee, my planner, and some fresh flowers. My most recent bouquet was from ProFlowers and out of their fall collection. There’s nothing more cheerful than adding a little color to your workspace! Especially when you feel like you’ve been staring at your messy house all day!
Take Advantage of Headphones
Even if you’re home alone, (like on the days when Adeline goes to daycare) I still like to use headphones sometimes to cancel out all the little noises. Things like dogs barking, the AC, the temptation to turn on the tv, are all much less distracting when you put on headphones, and turn on some music to concentrate to. Plus, if you’re doing a lot of video meetings or conference calls through your computer, headphones can be a lifesaver.
Find Your Organization…Early
I figured out very early on that I needed to figure out how I was going to keep myself organized. Working independently from others requires so much self-discipline! My main forms of organization are google calendar, and my color coordinated gmail. I would die without both! And my planner of course, but most of my day to day work tasks get jotten down on my computer, and more big picture things, and personal to-do’s end up in my planner. It is so important to figure out what works best for you, and figure that out as soon as possible so it’s not a nightmare trying to do it later!
Write Down Goals For The Day, Every Day
I have Stickies pulled up on my computer most days with a quick list of mental must do’s. Kind of like a brain dump. I flesh them out more in other places, but I like to consider this my goal list for the day. Every morning when I open my computer, the first thing I do is jot everything down that I know needs to get done before I forget.
Set Only One House Related Goal a Day and Do It
I think everyone thinks that because I work from home, I can also do chores all day and my house should always be clean. WRONG! Some days I’m sitting at my computer from 8:00 AM straight to noon. Other days I have a few minutes here and there when I can hop up and throw a load of laundry on, vacuum the living room, or do a quick sink full of dishes. Either way, every day I try to make sure I accomplish at least ONE house related goal to keep myself from not feeling too guilty about being home all day and “not getting anything done.” After all, I am working from home, and if I were in an office, I wouldn’t have the chance to do these things anyways.
Playpen + Cheerios + Sesame Street = Do What You Gotta Do
On the days when I do keep Adeline home with me, I try not to feel so bad about doing what it takes to manage it all. It’s often times pretty chaotic, but a delicate balance of the playpen (more recently just sectioning off our living room), cheerios/puffs, and Sesame Street, have been the magical equation. I only keep A home with me on days when my work load isn’t quite as hectic, I don’t have a lot of meetings, and I know I’ll have enough brain capacity and attention to do both mom duty and work duty. I’ve been blessed with a pretty good napper, so that helps too! You just do what you gotta do, and even if that means letting her consume half a bottle of puffs so she’s quiet while I’m on a call, I’m still getting to spend an extra day with her and that far outweighs the guilt I feel about the puffs and a little extra Elmo time! Ha!
Make Nap Times Your Best Mom Boss Times
Speaking of being blessed with a good napper (most days), making nap times your most productive times of the day will be a lifesaver. Don’t be tempted to turn on the TV and catch up on a show in the background, turn it off, and get stuff done! Lately, Adeline has been taking a two hour late morning nap, and at least an hour late afternoon nap. As soon as she goes down, I make sure I get as much done as I possibly can. Total mom boss mode.
Lose The Mom Guilt
Going back to the mom guilt thing, it can definitely make you feel guilty working ony our computer AND trying to pay attention to a needy 13 month (almost 14 month!) old. But just keeping in mind the big picture – that you’re working to help provide for your family, you’re showing your kid what hard work looks like, and you’re being a total boss babe by being an amazing kick butt mom at the same time.
Set Strict Hours
Just because you work from home, doesn’t mean you can’t have office hours! (Depending on the day’s needs of course!) Try to make sure when you’re husband gets home from work, or you pick up your kiddo from daycare/school, that you’re “clocking out”. You don’t want to start feeling like your home is ONLY your office!
Workout At Night To Sweat Off The Day
If you can, save a little gas in the tank to put in a good workout at the end of day. Or at the beginning of the day if you’re an early riser. I have really found that making myself go to the gym 3 nights a week after Adeline goes to bed, makes me feel SO much better after sitting on my butt all day on the couch or in a not so comfortable chair.
Embrace The Chaos
Lastly, embrace the chaos on the days when it’s you and baby. If getting a project done means letting Adeline pull all of the cups out of the cupboard, then so be it. Try not to panic when your living room looks like a hurricane swept through it and instead embrace it, focus on your work, and pick up before you go to bed.
What would you add to the list? How do you manage your day working from home with a little one? Would you even want to?