Sounds almost too good to be true. The reality for many is that working from home is a blurry balancing act they never get quite right. Throw a couple of kids into the mix and you’ve got a whole new set of challenges.
Combine the rise of the mumpreneur with the fact that more businesses are accommodating staff requests to work from home, and you can see why home based positions are now one of the fastest growing sectors of employment.
Whether you’re looking for a family friendly employment alternative or just trying to squeeze a little more life into your work life balance, working from home can work if you put the right planning into place.
It’s a real job Many struggle to adapt to the lack of structure that working from home provides. It takes discipline so start with the basics by getting ready for work each morning as if you were going into the office. Schedule a lunch break for yourself along with regular start and finish times. It sounds simple, but just this small shift in mindset can work wonders.
Allocate yourself a designated working area If you’re lucky to have an office that you can close the door to, perfect. Many (including me) work from a kitchen table or similar. Good organisation is essential in this scenario. Ensure everything has its place and can be neatly stored away to protect you from overwhelm.
Limit Distractions In an office environment you’re being interrupted every 20 minutes with phone calls, trips to the photocopier or birthday cakes. Now you’re faced with deafening silence and no one to stop you from flaking on the couch to watch Ellen. Further, we spend most of our day on the computer with distraction only a mouse click away. That makes it important to have systems in place to stay focused.
www.rescuetime.com is a great place to start as it tracks your online activity in order to make you more accountable for your time. It’ll probably come as shock to find out how many hours you actually spend on Facebook or catching up on celebrity gossip.
Once you know how you spend your day, you can plan it accordingly. Schedule windows of time to return phone calls, check emails and even visit facebook! By focusing on one task at a time you will actually increase your productivity.
Avoid Isolation Every workplace has an office pest who pipes up every few minutes for a mindless chinwag. Now you’re at home you find yourself desperate for any kind of conversation – about the weather, Masterchef, anything!
Working from home can be isolating, particularly if you’re a solo operator and with only the kids or the cat for company. There’s a variety of groups out there for work from home parents to meet and network, many you can even bring your kids too.
Ask for Help A day or two of child-care a week could be just the breathing space you need to get things done. Outside of formal child-care, consider doing a toddler-swap with another Mum a couple of mornings a week. Ask friends, family and your partner for help if you need it. People who work from home, particularly mothers, often feel burdened with the responsibility to also keep up the domestic duties during the day. Have realistic expectations for what can be done.
Remember why you’re doing this Most of us have chosen to work from home to be able to spend more time with our children. Quality time doesn’t mean Toy Story on rotation so you can do some work. It may appear counter-productive, but sometimes the best thing you can do is to stop what you’re doing and give your children some undivided attention. Something like a trip to the park together will give you a quality chance to reconnect as well as being a much needed break for you.
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How do you make working from home work for you?