Working from home is a blessing and one that not everyone can find the ability to do. But when you do find yourself working from home, in order to be successful, you will need your families support as well as some ground rules for when mom or dad is working. It’s especially difficult if the other spouse or other family members are home during odd times of day. This is the case for me with my significant others job as well as with homeschooling. They are in the way a lot more than I’d like, and I do find it difficult to concentrate and get work accomplished.
I take business calls out on my deck, I will often go sit in my car to talk to a client or brand and I will shut myself into the bathoom and turn the water on when I am trying to write and the TV is on. It’s a difficult situation, but there are a few things that I, and you, can do to combat it. These 10 Tips for Work at Home Moms and Dads to Stay More Focused and Productive are a great way to organize your day.
1. Set up a Routine
This doesn’t necessarily mean you work from this time to that time, though that would be helpful and probably more lucrative over time. However, as long as each time you begin your work cycle, you stick to the routine you have set forth, not only are you more likely to focus and stay distraction free, but your family is probably more apt to follow suit and ‘get the hint’.
2. Work Without Distraction
Turn off the telephone when you need to work without distraction. Ask family members to turn off the TV, stereo, etc. You need to turn off IM and email notifications too. I can’t shut down the Internet since a huge part of my business is there, but if you can, you should.
3. Prepare and Plan
Take a shower, get dressed, have a good breakfast. Make a to-do list or goal sheet. Get yourself prepared for the work day ahead and you will stay more productive.
4. Take Breaks
Do not do nothing but work. Every hour or so, you need to take a 15-30 minutes break to use the bathroom, grab a snack or drink or coffee refill, to talk to a friend for a few, meditate, pray or whatever it is you might like doing in that time period. Do not neglect your break time. It’s easy to get burnt out when you do.
5. Work When it is Best
Some people are morning people and some are night. Some require daylight for photography or nighttime for peace and quiet and a break from the toddler. Find what works best for you and keep that schedule at all costs. You will be far more productive if you are working when it is best for you.
6 Set up a Schedule
I try to input payments each Monday, I file my completed brand work on Fridays before I end for the day, I try to keep most of my brand appointments to certain days of the week so I have the other days to work on assignments and other projects. If I know it’s Monday, I know what things I need to get done and it keeps me focused, productive and organized.
7. Set Boundaries for family and friends.
Most of us struggle with friends and family understanding that we must work and just because we are home does not mean we are sitting around eating bon bon’s or available for errands, chores, etc. Once you set up your routine and/or scheduled work time, make sure your kids and spouse know that you are unavailable for playing, errands, chores, etc. during this time. Obviously this will be different if you have a young child that actually needs something. Most of my friends get that I work from home, but occasionally I do have to say no to that Starbucks invitation or a lengthy morning call over coffee, because I have work to get done.
8. Silence is Golden
One of the best purchases I ever made was a fairly inexpensive pair of sound canceling headphones. Not only can I listen to music if I want, I can cancel out the sounds of my house. Most usually the TV which makes me crazy when I am trying to work. It just makes it so hard to concentrate and I find my eyes wandering to the screen to see what is happening and before I know it, 10 minutes have passed and I’m no further than I was before.
9. Keep Financial Records Up to Date.
Spend time each week looking at your income in and your expenses going out. Evaluate what you need, what you can change or get rid of to save costs, and what you might want to make life more productive. I keep a spreadsheet of all payments that come in during a month. I also keep all receipts and one a week add them up and record them as an expense for the month. You will need to set up your own system so it works for you.
10. Set Client Times.
I have worked with people, brands and clients all across the world. Not everyone is on the same time zone and while it is tempting to make sacrifices for business, you don’t want to make this a habit. I worked with an individual on a project and he was on a different time zone. He expected me to be available at 2:00pm my time which was 11:00am his time. 2:00pm was when my children were coming home from school and my attention was needed elsewhere. Let your clients know your business hours for YOUR time zone. Let them figure out what they have to do to be able to communicate with you during your hours. No storefront is going to stay open longer just because a client can’t be there by closing. Think about that.
If you try to follow these tips, I assure you there will be an increase in productivity and focus. Take your business seriously and others will too.
Do you have any tips for working from home?