work from home mom

Time Management: 5 Tips for Working from Home

DenaFebruary 20, 2020

work from home mom

work from home mom

Hello, friends! In my last few posts I talked about the rain and the cold, but pleased to report that the sun is shining and the air is warm today. It feels like an early glimpse at spring and it is such a deeply welcome reprieve. The groundhog predicted an early spring this year and, by the looks of it, maybe he was right. The sweet family of finches that nests on my front porch each spring and summer has already returned and built their first nest. Normally this doesn’t happen until March, so if these birds know something that I don’t know, I’ll take it with gratitude.

Today I am popping into continue my series on Time Management and Productivity. This time I want to talk about working from home which is something that I have been doing for 7 years now (!) since Roman was born back in 2013. I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic lately because Marina starts kindergarten in September and I will be faced with a huge decision–to continue working for myself or to return to the workforce as I knew it before motherhood.

work from home mom
work from home mom

It is a big decision that I am not taking lightly. I’ve been carefully considering my options and even doing a bit of research about the job market in my fields of experience. It is incredible how many job listing resources there are out there today from larger, broad career platforms like LinkedIn to smaller niche platforms like Rigjobs. It is definitely going to be a re-learning experience for me, whichever direction I move in, and I am truly excited about what comes next for me. In the meantime, I am still working from home for the time being and looking forward to sharing a bit with you today about how that works for me.

In these 7 years working from home, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve had a lot of failures, struggles and trials; but I’ve also had a handful of beautiful successes and victories. Today I’ll share the 5 most important tips for working from home from my experience.

1. Look the part.

One of the perks of working from home is that technically, you can stay in your pajamas all day. Now don’t get me wrong, there are definitely days when I do this, but on the majority of days, I do take the time to get cleaned up and dressed. There are many reasons to do this.

First, there is simply the “feel good” factor. I feel more inspired and ready to go when I am dressed and washed. Even if it’s just my typical “mom-iform” of jeans with a t-shirt, it makes me feel more ready to go.

Next, there is the errands factor. Most days I have to run out to school drop off/pick up or to the bank or to pick up groceries and being at least a little put together feels better than running out in pj’s.

Then there is the creative factor. My work often requires me to get behind the camera (videos, social media, product posts). So being dressed for that and not having to think about it makes my life easier.

And finally, there is the family factor. Everyone else in my house gets dressed and washed up–my kids, for school and my love, for work. I feel really awful when they come home dressed and I’m still a mess in pajamas. Looking good and feeling good is a boost to my confidence and mood.

work from home mom
work from home mom

2. Designate a space.

Having a clean, organized space dedicated to work is critical for me. When my space is clean and my work supplies/files are organized my productivity is through the roof as compared to what it’s like when I’m working in a mess. Recently, I completely reorganized and fengshui’d my work space and I have honestly never felt better while working.

It’s easy to allow work stuff and home stuff to co-mingle when you’re working from home, but keeping these physical things separated is so important. It is important to treat your work and your business as seriously as you would if you were working among colleagues or in an office.

The energy that you put into your work space will be reflected in the work that you produce. So if clean, thoughtful, organized work is your goal, then your work space should reflect that as well. It is also necessary to have good air exchange and freshness when working from home, especially on hot days. Check out this guide from the unclutterer to choose a portable box fan with a cooling effect for your needs.​

work from home mom

3. Eliminate distractions.

There are two types of distractions that I battle with. First, there are the actual distractions, such as television, social media, external noises, and house guests. To eliminate these distractions I just need to be mindful and strict. As much as I would love to schedule lunch dates with friends 5 days a week, I know that my prime work time at the moment is from 12:45 to 2:45 pm while the boys are still in school and the girls are at preschool for a couple of hours. So I simply do my best to keep dates and appointments during work hours to a minimum. In terms of television and social media, I just need to stay away. Most days I schedule in a lunch break for myself so I might scroll or watch something then, but other than that, I avoid these things that will steal my productivity.

The second types of distractions are emotional distractions and these have to do with a pressing feeling of responsibility. Much of this revolves around house work. When working from home, I feel obligated to keep the house clean, tackle chores, etc. I have to push myself to remember that my work is just as important as anyone else’s work and just because I am home does not mean I can be playing Martha Stewart 24/7. I am not a stay-at-home mom, I am a work-from-home mom. There is a difference and it is really important for me to honor that for myself, and create boundaries that ensure that others follow suit.

I love this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estés that further illustrates my point: “I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”

4. Define work time.

I try to live by the motto: Work hard. Play hard. When you work from home, adopting this frame of mind is even more important than ever. Working hard, creating inspiring content, and producing your best work are all wonderful things. At the same time, being able to turn all of that off and be fully present in the other parts of your life, is equally as important. It’s easy for one thing to spill into another when you are both living in and working in your home.

It’s incredibly important to set defined times for work, house work, family time, and relaxation. There will be times when deadlines and heavy worklaods will require you to put in extra hours, but it’s critical to use the overtime habit only when necessary, and not make it a regular habit. Family time, self-care, and relaxation are all important. So defining your working hours and then sticking to them will go a long way toward ensuring that all of the areas of your life are getting the attention that they deserve.

work from home mom
work from home mom

5. Establish a routine.

In the same vein as defining work hours, establishing a routine is critical. There is so much research that proves that streamlining processes and decisions leads to increased productivity. You can waste hours each day sitting around, wondering, “What should I do now?” “What should I wear?” “When should I eat lunch?” “What should I have for lunch?” Or you can establish a routine, mark things down in a calendar, work from lists, and maintain consistent productivity throughout your work days and beyond.

I am still refining my ideal daytime routine but it looks something like this: 6:00 am wake up // 6:15 am drink tea // 6:30 am stretch and meditate // 7:00 am breakfast for kids and school readying // 8:20 am boys out the door // 9:00 to 11:30 am work // 11:30 to 12:30 girls lunch time, school readying, off to school // 12:45 to 2:30 pm work // 2:30 pm straighten up // 3:00 pm school pick up // 3:30 pm after school snacks and dinner prep.

The more you can streamline, the better. From clothing choices, to meal planning, to organized to-do lists. The more you organize, the easier life becomes. In my experience, the extra work it takes to organize and set those routines pays for itself one hundred times over.

I hope that these tips were helpful, friends. If you work from home and have any tips to share, please share them in the comments. And, if you have requests for topics for my future posts about time management and productivity, let me know. xo

Comments (1)

  • Emily

    January 21, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    These are great tips! I work from home full time but find the distractions to be a huge challenge! Whenever I am sitting down to work, I feel like I should have the laundry going, or have already done the dishes. Setting a routine is so important! Thanks for sharing these insights!

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