This is one I wrote almost two years ago, but it felt pretty relevant to reshare and update right now.
I already worked mostly from home, but now with the added pressure of kids schooling right beside me, I thought I’d share my tips for staying on track.
Have clear boundaries
I’ve been working for myself from home for over 4 years now, and I know how hard it can be to try to set a defined time to work when you have little ones in tow. One thing that I have learnt? Trying to get emails and calls done while there are screaming kids around is REALLY hard!
I’ve come to realise that I need to be 100% in whatever I’m doing. I need to set boundaries around when I work and when I dedicate my time to the kids. To start, I worked around their nap times, early mornings and evenings. I made sure that the time I had set for work was used efficiently. Even if it was just an hour.
Then when the kids were home and awake my time was dedicated to them. Kids just won’t cooperate when your eyes are on a computer or phone, it’s not worth it!
If your kids are having a bad day, or things don’t go to plan, then know when to leave it and try again later! There is nothing worse than the frustration of trying to get work done while kids are yelling and screaming. Trust me, they will only get worse!
Have a defined working space
I know that working from home can be hard, especially if you don’t have a big study or area for a desk. Plus, if you’re doing any kind of design work, you may find you prefer using a large screen, which can take up quite a bit of room on its own!
You want to try to create an effective working space anywhere that creates minimal clutter and doesn’t take up too much space. Perhaps a laptop is a better option for you? Or a small hard drive that doesn’t take up too much space?
Treat it like a normal working day
Even though you are working from home, make sure you treat it just like you would if you were at an office. Set your alarm, have breakfast and have a set time you’ll sit down at the computer.
If you’re working in the middle of the day, make sure you break for lunch! If you’re working at night, then shy away from doing this in front of the TV or on the couch (I’m guilty of this). Keep to your defined working space and trust me, you’ll be a whole lot more productive!
Create your own policies and procedures
A great way to be more productive is to create some systems to help you stay on track!
The way I do this is by having scheduling apps to work out what I’m doing when I’m doing it and how long I should spend on it!
I write lists, and then I write some more lists. A great way to stay motivated is ticking items off your list and seeing the tasks go down 😉 Some people like to tackle the smaller tasks first, but I find that only means the big ones never get done.
I write my list and work from the bottom up, same with my emails. And no matter how big the task, I make sure I get it done!
Triage your workload
This is a HUGE one for mums! Let’s be honest, there are only so many hours in the day. One big lesson I have learnt since becoming a mum and working from home is that some things just don’t need action!
It sounds harsh but if it doesn’t benefit you, doesn’t move you forward, doesn’t make you money or require a reply – then I don’t do it!
I apply this same mentality to my emails, and I even have certain emails just automatically filtered into folders.
Make the robots do it
Speaking of that, make everything automated! I have all my banking and bills set up to pay, transfer and do what they need to do. This way I don’t spend time doing it!
My invoicing systems are set to auto remind and mark as paid when they come in. I use Freshbooks and its fab, Xero is also great but more than I need.
As I mentioned, I triage my emails and have a lot of rules set to just filter things to the right folder. I unsubscribe from mailing lists and newsletters I don’t need. And I have auto responses set in my Gmail for most things!
You’d be amazed at how much time you can get back if you put automation in place!
Don’t let your house distract you
I know it bloody hard as we seem to be hardwired to just get those little tasks done. I know I cannot work in a messy environment. But when you’re a mum there are always dishes to be washed or clothes to be hung out.
This is why a defined working space is so important. You just need to put yourself in that little bubble while you work. As I mentioned above, if you don’t have a study or area for a big desk then the Intel NUC is a great option for working from home.
Plus it’s portable. So if you’re at a library or a co-working space you can just take it with you. All you need is a screen to plug it into!
Get your rest
I know it can be super hard when you’ve got kids and limited time to work. But you just cannot sacrifice your sleep and rest to get it all done. The saying is true that you cannot pour from an empty cup. And everyone from your kids, family, house and yourself will suffer if you’re not at 100%.
Just remember that anything you get done over and above looking after your kids is more than your partner does in a full working day at the office 😉