July 6, 2016
Working From Home : Flexibility is Essential
I thought it would be fun to start a little series about working from home. I love working from home but I’m also realistic in what is and isn’t possible for me in different seasons of life while working from home.
How about a little backstory first: I have been blogging and running a business since 2009. I started doing all of this with 2 kids under 4 and now I have three kids 10 and under. During this time I spent part of it working for a large company from home. I also wrote a book and maintained a clean home. This isn’t because I am superwoman, it’s because I have figured out a couple systems that truly simplify working from home. Through intentionality I was able to refine my work practices, streamline how I work, and simplify life in our home.
If you work from home, want to work from home, or are balancing working outside of the home, you can benefit from a couple systems that will help you get more done in less time.
Here’s what I know to be true:
- change is inevitable – don’t get too comfortable and be willing to change when needed
- your job won’t be the same the day you started a year from now – don’t expect things to remain the same in your business
- you cannot and should not try to do ‘it all’
Set your priorities first:
- keep the main things the main things – God, family, friends…whatever your most importants are, don’t sacrifice them.
- work hours are important but, not that important. There will be times when you need to work more and less – it’s a constant balancing act if you work from home.
Flexibility is essential:
Now that you know a little bit about where I’m coming from when it comes to working from home, let’s talk about FLEXIBILITY. I’ve found that much like life, being flexible is the best way for me to get the most done. I have priorities set for my days, weeks, and months AND I have things scheduled out for at least a month in advance. Planning ahead, I also operate with flexibility in mind. For instance – when I was launching Clean Mama Home, I wanted everything to be in the shop for it to be ready October 1st, 2015. I had the site completed, and it was ready to go but the color swatch for my cloths wasn’t right. So I had to have the fibers re-dipped and send back and forth for approval until it was perfect. There wasn’t anything that I could do to speed this process up so instead of forcing something couldn’t be forced I tried to patiently wait for the process to play out. Looking back, everything worked out better than I anticipated and it was a great lesson for me in being flexible.
My top Flexibility tips:
- Use a catch-all day when working at home. Much like my homekeeping catch-all day (Friday), I approach working from home similarly and use Fridays as a catch-up day for work tasks as well. Choose a day or week or a day a month to catch up on any tasks that you weren’t able to complete. I use Fridays because it forces me to get as caught up as possible when going into the weekend and as someone that used to spend too much time working on weekends, it works for me.
- It’s okay to change course – if something isn’t working, don’t force it. If you sell products, write a blog, or make your own products, don’t be afraid to change direction if you notice that something has fallen flat. My first business venture back in 2004 was selling vintage postcards with hand-painted frames. I sold them in small gift shops around town but they were so time consuming to make. Instead of trying to paint more or paint faster, I decided to stop selling them. The time it took wasn’t work the income that I brought in.
- Work with your kids’ schedules not against them. One of the best things for me about working from home is that I’m always available for my kids. If someone is home sick, I don’t have to call in sick to work. I am able to put them on the bus and get them off the bus at the end of the day. I love that flexibility and I know that it’s a gift. If you are choosing to work from home and you have kids, don’t try to force your schedule into theirs. Every year it seems that I need to reevaluate when I can actually work from home and it revolves around their schedules. I used to do the most work during nap and rest times. Now that I don’t have nappers at home, I have to get up earlier and do the bulk of my work before daybreak. I work some evenings but if something comes up in an evening I don’t worry about what I didn’t get done.
- Don’t do it all and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do what you can with what you have where you are. Ask for help when you are able to – if you need a babysitter, a virtual assistant, a house cleaner, a meal service….. I think of working at home as a seasonal job – things change quickly and my needs as a business owner change as well. By refusing to over-schedule and take on more than I can handle I am able to remain in control of my business and the way that it is run.
- There will always be more on your to do list than you can manage and that’s okay. It’s okay to cross things off and decide to table things for later or just delete them entirely. Some of my best ideas have come from things that I wanted to do, didn’t do, and later they morphed into something else entirely. If that first idea had come to fruition, that better idea wouldn’t have come to me.
What do you think? Do you work from home? Share your top flexibility tip in the comments or if you have a topic you’d like me to cover in this series, let me know!