I love the idea of the Work-at-Home-Mom. It symbolizes being a parent first and shaping the world outside our home simultaneously. But I think the term is a little outdated. In today’s world most people work from their cell phone. No longer are we required to have a hardwired desk to get to the information we need. This location flexibility adds so much to the dimensions of family life and professional life. So however you term how you work outside the traditional office confines, here are 12 ways you can make your out of the box profession work for you.
1. Be certain you are passionate about your work. If you are struggling to find the emotional energy to get it done, it is time to reevaluate what it is you are doing. Do not waste the precious moments you have in life doing something that you do not value. This is not to say you must love every waking hour of work you must do, but if overall it feels rotten, do something else.
2. Set a values and priorities system. Evaluate EVERY decision on where you spend your time according to a set of outcomes you desire. If it is important to you for dinner time to be sacred, schedule it that way. The beauty of the flexible work system is to have your profession and family life interwoven in a seamless way. In order for that to happen, you must know what the framework will be before the demands come your way. To know your personal limitations allows you to schedule the work that is important to you and focus on items of importance.
3. Find a consistent space that is conducive to working. You may not need a full-time desk setup to work but it is nice to have a home base area for everything to be organized. Another factor to consider is the ages of children at home. If you have a 2-year-old, it may pay to have a wall mounted organizational system out of reach and an area on or near your working space for them to color and draw as well. With teens it may not be as important to include them in your area, but wouldn’t it be nice for them to be able to do their homework near while you are working. Therapists call that non-demanding time, and it is incredible for building relationships.
4. Organize, prioritize, leverage. Know what your week looks like before you start your week. Know what is the most important things on your list before you start your week. If you need something from someone else to get your parts done, be sure to give them the deadlines that fit in your schedule. Leverage any busy work out to others that is possible. For me, I leverage, editing and proofing to others. Or need a new whatever, check etsy, I am always amazed at the variety of products available that have assisted me.
5. Do the work that matters, not the busy work. Busy work kills productivity. Do not do it. If you have a pile of busy work to get done, like stuffing envelopes, get the family involved. You may work out of the office but there is no need to be a one man show.
6. Let technology help. Eliminate redundancy by getting technologies that sync together and keep you able to work at any time. When you can work anytime, anywhere, it is amazing where you can catch 10-15 minutes to ease it along.
7. Be prepared to be mobile. Friends would sometimes laugh at me that my diaper bag was more like a briefcase. Be sure to choose wisely in squeezing out time to get things done. Little ones nap and snack often. Older kids have activities that will take more of their time leaving you free time in the car. If you are ready to work in a lull of family time, you can have more family time when it counts. Even if you do not have kids, being able to pull out a tablet and make a note or plan on the fly is invaluable.
8. Streamline your home life. I cannot stress this enough. If you are working from home and running the household you better have that beast under control first. Not leaving the home for work 9-5 creates more of a mess than you think.
9. Get all of your family on board or be certain to acclimate them gently to your new needs. If you are truly working for income and not just looking for a paid hobby there is a responsibility you must bear. It is work, and it is time-consuming. You will likely not fit the 9-5 time frame for work so you better plan accordingly. And hustle. Being a Work-at-home-mom is not for the faint of heart.
10. Schedule yourself appropriately. Most of my workdays fall between bedtime and morning. Once or twice a week I work the 12am-4am schedule and then catch a nap courtesy of my husband. Most of my daytime work is on the phone or connecting the dots in my planner while I am preparing a meal or pushing a child on the swing. When I first heard of a mom doing this it felt like an impossible concept to me. It’s not, but rule #1 applies.
11. Know your personal and professional life outcomes. If you do not know what the end result should look like then you have no way of staying on track and keeping up your steam.
12. Get obsessed but do not be obsessed. When you are working, work like a beast. But when you are in family mode learn how to turn it off. Switching modes gets easier with time.
Where there is a will, there is a way. Make adjustments till it feels right.