I met a dear friend for brunch a few weeks ago while I was in Phoenix. Over vanilla lattes, crisp bacon and brûléed grapefruit, we shared stories about the ups and downs of being a mom that works from home. We both own busy and demanding businesses, which is a great problem to have, of course. We talked about how great it is to be able to run our businesses, and raise our children, all under one roof. The flexibility is so convenient. We can still meet for playdates and join a MOPS group. We get to spend more time with our kids while they are young, and we don’t have to pay for full-time childcare.
However, along with all the blessings, there are some difficulties that come along with working from home. It can be tough, really tough, to balance everything. Uninterrupted time is very hard to find. And if I’m being honest, it is easy to work too much. With a job I absolutely love, my business is almost an extension of myself, so it can be hard to completely stop working when the work day is over. My brain doesn’t go into “home mode” when my day’s work is done, and I am guilty of handing over the iPad to my kids way too much so I can get just one more thing checked off my list.
My office is clean and peaceful, and a great place for me to escape and get lots of work done. I spend hours each day editing and emailing, photographing newborns and styling the next photoshoot. I am so passionate about my job, and am also so incredibly grateful for the flexibility it brings. However, my office is only about ten feet from my kitchen. So as you can imagine, it is very hard to “go home” at night and leave work “at the office.” 🙂
In the pursuit of balancing home life and my work life, I have a few goals for myself this year that I want to share with you. Would you, if you are also a mom working from home, consider doing this along with me? There are only four, and I think they will help immensly in balancing everything we do as busy working moms.
First, I will check my email only twice per day – once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. This one change has been HUGE for me and my business! It is insane to think about how much time I have spent checking my email during the day! When I plan scheduled times to check my email, I can concentrate on what I am doing without being distracted by client questions, preschool calendars, J. Crew sales, etc. This is taking some getting used-to, but it has been a major time-saver for me. I had to make sure to turn off all email notifications – on my phone and on my computer, so I can control when I want to check my email. This step alone is so freeing when you compare to how I usually do it — every ten minutes for the whole day (and night), or whenever I heard that ever-so-familiar iPhone ding!
Second, I will designate 2-3 hours for focused work per day. That means no Pinterest or checking Facebook during this time. Once again, turning off my computer’s notification settings, and not checking Pinterest or Instagram on my phone while I am working either. I am starring my to-do list with two or three tasks I want to complete in those 2-3 hours, and make sure I focus only on those things until they are done. I think I am a good multitasker, but in reality, I am just switching from task to task, which slows me down so I am less effective. The point of this is to maximize my effectiveness and minimize the time it take to get certain tasks done. Some days this will mean hiring a sitter, going to a coffee shop, or even working during nap time.
Third, I will take one day off per week, entirely. This has been a challenge since I started my photography business. Until recently, I have worked seven days a week. There was not a day that I didn’t return emails to my clients, take pictures, edit them, or post to social media. However, I know it is so important for me to turn my brain off and to rest. So I am going to commit one day per week to turn everything off entirely.
And last, after 5pm, I will shut-down my computer. No email, no social media, nothing. I want to relax. Turn on some music, drink a glass of wine, and cook dinner with my girls (they love to help me in the kitchen). I want to live in the moment. Wherever I am, I want to be all there. When I’m “at work,” I want to do focused work. When I am “at home,” I want to be at home, mentally as well as physically, with my children.
Hopefully a few of these tips will help you balance work and home life, all while working from home!