So you’ve made the decision to start working from home. Congratulations!
If you’re a mom, working from home comes with a lot of benefits. Chief among these is the opportunity to kiss daycare and the daily grind goodbye so that you can stay home with your kids.
This is a huge advantage, but it’s also no surprise working from home comes with its own set of challenges.
It can be quite tricky trying to get work done with a pile of dirty dishes staring you in the face or a child who’s practicing piano in the background.
Focus, organization, and determination are key things you’ll need if you want this working from home thing to actually work.
If you’re ready to take the plunge but aren’t sure how to work from home successfully, here are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success.
1 – Create an Established Workspace
The allure of the laptop is that you can set up shop just about anywhere, but that isn’t always optimal for productivity. While I do find value in the occasional escape to the nearest coffee shop, the reality is that I don’t get my best work done there.
At home, I have my own desk in a spare bedroom that we’ve converted into an office, and this is where I’m most productive.
I’m lucky enough to have this space now, but it hasn’t always been this way. At one time I was living in an 800 square-foot apartment with three small kids. My work then was done at the kitchen table.
Read More: 7 Tips for Creating the Perfect Home Office
No matter where you work, it’s essential to give yourself a designated space that’s free of clutter and distractions, so you can focus on the task at hand.
2 – Dress for Success
I admit that I don’t always follow this rule, but boy can I tell a real difference when I do.
If you’re working from home, it can be really tempting to stay in the sweats all day. It can also be debilitating. Something happens to our psyche when we actually get dressed like we’re ready to work.
This doesn’t mean you have to reach for the power suit, but it does mean you should prepare to be presentable.
For me, this means resisting the temptation to stay in my jammies while I wrangle my kids. Instead, I’ll start with a shower, some makeup, and the type of clothes I’d wear if I were heading out in public.
If you find yourself in a slump or can’t quite get the creative juices flowing, try dressing like you’re heading into the office for a day of work.
3 – Get an Early Start
There are only so many hours in the day. If you’re a work at home mom, there’s a good chance that those hours are already very busy. If you don’t get up and get going, its highly likely that you won’t get anything done.
While there are some moms who do very well getting the bulk of their work done in the late hours after the kids are in bed, this isn’t the norm. Getting started early in the day and tackling the biggest thing on your to-do list is a tried-and-true method for work from home success.
4 – Minimize Distractions
I know this is hard for moms – trust me, I know.
It’s true that there may be nothing you can do about the toddler who needs a cuddle or someone who needs to be picked up at school. However, there are distractions you do have control over.
You know what I’m talking about here. Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. The television or newsfeed.
Your time is precious. So is your work. Spend your work-at-home time doing only your work, and nothing else. Don’t waste those minutes worrying about what to make for dinner or checking the local news.
Minimize as many distractions as you can and you’ll be far more productive in the long run.
5 – Make a Schedule
It can seem like a dream to ditch the daily schedule, but if you want to get work done from home it helps to give yourself some kind of guidelines. This creates consistency in your day and ensures you actually have time to do your work.
This doesn’t have to look like a conventional schedule. You may find you work best in the evening after the kids are in bed or during those precious few naptime hours. Things could ebb and flow depending on the seasons or ages of your kids. Still, having a bit of a routine is always a good thing.
I’ve found that sitting down at the beginning of the week with my calendar in hand helps plan when I’ll be able to squeeze work in during each day.
Remember that this can change as you go along and nothing is set in stone. However, getting in the habit of putting “work time” in your planner helps establish this as a must in your busy life.
6 – Give Yourself a Break
Overworking yourself can actually be one of the biggest pitfalls in working from home. It’s tempting to spend every free minute you have fine-tuning your new business. Be careful that you don’t do this at the expense of your rest and relaxation.
Know when it’s time to unplug. Just as you give yourself scheduled work time, make sure that when it’s time to step away you close the laptop, shut the office door, and don’t look back.
It’s easy for us mamas to burn out. Never underestimate the importance of recharging those batteries.
7 – Make Sure You Have Dedicated Work Time
Cramming in some work while the kids are watching a movie or playing outside is fine some of the time (I do it often). But if you’re going to be a successful and sane work at home mom, you need to carve out some time for yourself when the kids won’t be needing you.
In many cases, this means making dedicated work time when Dad can watch them, or you can pay a babysitter to come. If your kids are all in school, make sure you utilize these school hours for your work.
Finding a time that you can give to your work 100 percent is important not only for the success of your business but it also helps you be a better mother.
Working from home is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it will require a little time and effort for you to figure out what makes you the most productive.
Once you have some structure and routines in place, you might just find that working from home is one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
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