Friday, January 13, 2012

Mommy 101: Working From Home (Part I)

The Mommy 101 posts are part of an occasional series in areas where we feel knowledgeable. Each mom brings her own set of life experiences to these posts and we hope that you can benefit from these tidbits. Read all of the posts in the Mommy 101 series here.

By Katie


Working from home is no trip to the beach, but "break time" can be
Love your job or hate it, you have probably thought about the possibility of working from home at one time or another. If your job does not lend itself to working from home, maybe you have researched "work from home" jobs. I work from home and have done it in some capacity for the past four years. I want to help others who are considering it to succeed.

Today I write about some simple things that you need to know when setting up a home office. Next Friday I will post a second part to this post that includes more specifics about the places that you can look for work to do from home and where I have had the most success.


Find Your Spot. The idea of working from your laptop on the couch may seem like a novel one, but that's not going to cut it if you really expect to get some work done. Do yourself a favor and set up a workspace. If you have a spot for a desk, great. If you have a dining room table that you do not use much or another place that can be your designated work space, use it. Do I sit on my couch or bed to do work? Yes, of course I do. I get more done when I'm in my work zone, though.


Make A Schedule. One of the perks of working from home is that you have flexibility. This is especially attractive if you are a parent who needs to work your childrens' schedules into your day. The problem with sooooo much flexibility is that it can feel like there is no separation of your work and home life. At a traditional job, you can generally "clock out" and be with your family until you return the next day. If you are in the middle of a working project at home, it can feel like your entire day from the time you wake up until the time your head hits the pillow was spent working. It is not realistic to schedule yourself an 8-4 shift every day that you work from home. I suggest scheduling an hour at a time with a quick break built in right after (see my next point).

Plan For Distraction. Plan for the distractions of home. If you have children in the house, plan for consistent interruptions. If your children are old enough, explain that you will help them with what they need in a few more minutes. Finish what you are working on and then take a break. If you find that you are thinking about all of the household tasks that you need to get done in the midst of work, keep a notebook handy and jot down those items as they come to you. Then when it's break time, pick up your list and start checking things off of it. Yes, working from home can be distracting but so can working in an office or other setting. How many times in an hour do you stop working to chat with a colleague, send an email or look up something personal online? If you are a teacher, you know just how tough it is to keep your lesson plan on track. Approach working from home with those things in mind. Minimize distractions but acknowledge that they happen and find ways to manage them.

Set Realistic Goals. I do not work a 40-hour week. I simply cannot with having three pre-elementary kids in the house. Would it be great (financially) to take on a workload of 40-hours plus each week? Of course. But that would be work that I would never finish and a lot of added stress on my family and myself. I look at my husband's schedule (okay, so I just have him recite it to me) and plan out my weeks accordingly. I take into account what days all three children will be at our home, and what days I will only have one (side note: I do not necessarily get more done with only one in the house; she is bored without her siblings and all up in my business all day). I wake up before the rest of my household, and lock myself in my room for awhile when my husband gets home. On his days off, I head to the library or a local coffee shop to get in a few focused hours without my laundry haunting me, telling me to come wash it. When people ask me if I make enough money working from home, my response is that I make as much money as is humanly possible given my home situation now. Is it as much as I made working 40 hours in downtown Chicago? Um, no. Not even close. Is it enough to forsake daycare costs for three little ones and take on freelance projects here? Yes. Absolutely.


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Check out our other posts on freelance writing:
 

Find Freelance Writing Work

Tax Breaks for Freelancers

What Exactly is Ghostwriting?

 

Finding Balance Between Home and Work
 

What I Learned My First Year as a Freelancer

5 Things You Thought You Knew about Freelance Writers 




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