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!
Psst…my Everyday Work @ Home Kit is perfect for working at home!
I work part time from home and have a two year old and 8 week old. I really need to figure out how to organize and dedicate a space for work so I will stop losing things and forgetting things. When I worked outside of the home I had a dedicated office and plenty of resources. At home I have a rambunctious 2 year old climber and it is hard for me to have any kind of space he won’t get into. As a result I write notes down in the car and on scrap pieces of paper and often lose them. I think to myself ‘I will write this down later, I can remember it,’ then forget. I have a hard time planning and reviewing upcoming tasks because of this. Any suggestions? And then I do the same thing in my home keeping life. Its a daily struggle. Its as if I live in survival mode each day instead of purposing each day. Thanks for all of your help!
i think they call that pregnancy brain. it will get better. you will also work out your own solutions. start with enlisting that toddler’s ‘grown up’ ego; seriously and nicely ask him/her to help you with taking care of the new baby by trying to listen to you as do as you ask. the first job a child can learn is “obey mommy.” never fuss, but have child repeat what you ask of him, then what’s my job? obey mommy. all nicely. on the same team. big boy. i love you and calmness go a long way, even when they don’t do right. it takes time for little brains to learn, and even then they forget and need to be reminded. nicely. best of luck
Nancy Sasser Says
Kelly, you sound similar to me! When I was working in an office, I had little post-its stuck to my computer monitor as my “to-do” list. . . when I finished that task, I’d throw away the post-it. But working at home, I have a tiny corner of the living room, and I can’t even manage to keep the kids out of that space 😉
We have ONE calendar on the wall that everything is on, so that is the starting point for any appointments. As far as to-do, I am also struggling to keep the priorities at the forefront of my day! I love the flexibility of my business, and I only work a few hours a week, when I fit it into my life 🙂 That’s what I LOVE! My LIFE is #1 and my business fits in where it can 🙂 I am struggling to organize the follow-up aspect of my business, because I have a lot of notes for follow-up, and prefer to be able to look at it on paper instead of a spreadsheet or something like that.
I would just suggest to get a desk space, and make it yours. It doesn’t have to be big. . . just big enough for your laptop and any files or whatever supplies you need for your job/business.
Most of my business is on the phone, so I just need to be able to tell the kids when I’m working, they need to be playing quietly in the background (or the backYARD! 🙂 ).
Yours are younger, . . . do they nap at the same time? Take naptime one day and pull together everything you need and decide WHERE to make your “office” — I’d guess the middle of the living room, dining room, or kitchen will be your best bet, because then you can work while they are playing, and watch them at the same time, . . . if that works in your job/business.
Congrats on your new baby! As a mom of four, I can completely relate to the short term memory issues. It will get better, but just kids in general can be distracting just being kids and tracking multiple schedules. I have 2 tips. I use both all the time. Pieces of paper go missing easily. I quit using them, it was just too frustrating. I keep a notebook to jot notes in. It’s big enough to not get lost. My phone is typically on hand all the time. I use the notes app that is built in. If It’s an idea I want to work on, a project idea, etc, I will use the notebook, as I can add to it it, sketch it out, etc. if it’s a to do or to get, I use the phone notes, then just delete items as completed.
I have found over the years that keeping a Day Runner or something similar is very helpful. I can make different sections for work, home, kids, lists, etc. I can have my calendar and address book in there too. I was a military spouse for over 20 years, and this was very helpful. When it is time to move, everything is in the day runner. I also had a portable file that I kept essential papers in. It had tabs in it so I could keep it in a file drawer, and I could tuck in the tabs when I took it out for travel. My husband is retired now, but I keep the Day Runner updated with project lists, medication lists, shopping lists, reading lists, etc.
@Kelly if you have a smart phone try google keep for all your notes. It works wonders and it is free for Gmail users.
Thanks for this post! I’ve been redoing my home office space and trying to make things more efficient while the kiddos are home for the summer. Can’t wait to read the other posts in this series!
Thank you for this blog post! I enjoyed reading it! I am currently a full-time SAHM with our son who will be 2 1/2 next month, and I am due with our second baby next month. I would love to eventually work from home part-time as a sleep consultant with babysleepsite.com, but I don’t know when this will happen. For so long now, and it’s taking me longer because I am pregnant, I am still trying to get into a good cleaning routine. I want to get into your routine, but it hasn’t really happened yet. And I always have in the back of my mind that I need to have a good cleaning routine down before I start working from home. What do you think of that? Could you do a blog post on when you do your cleaning every day and what time of the day you do it? I feel like that would be my main hold-up. Thank you!
Patrica Unger Says
Thank you for this blog post! I started working from home so I can care for my elderly mother. I am a virtual assistant and work with authors and speakers. I do have a dedicated office and use your system to help me stay on top of life. Thank you Becky. I appreciate all of your advice and help.
Jasmine Eclipse Says
These are some really helpful tips and things to keep in mind! I started working full-time from home in February, and while it was a bit of an adjustment, I think I’m disciplined enough with my scheduling to keep on task. The hardest thing is not being around other people all day long, so I make the most out of my grocery store trips haha!
I’ve been working from home for a small tech company for the past 4 years and really enjoy the flexibility it provides. I can drop off & pick up my son from school and attend his school parties and functions. There are definitely certain people who can work from home and those that can’t. You have to be really good at managing your time. I find that keeping a daily list of what I need to get done for work each day really helps me stay on task and get things done.