Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You

Women's Money Week 2012 Participant

This post is a part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about entrepreneurship and making money , see womensmoneyweek.com.

Working from home sounds like a great idea to many because it is a flexible job where one can be their own boss but it does require a lot of time, effort and self-discipline. I spend about 60-80 hours a week working from home between my business, my blog, and my part-time job, along with being a mom to two little boys which is my most important job of all. I wanted to share 6 tips on how I {try} to make it work in hopes that it will help some of you who are considering working from home.

Keep a to-do list and a calendar: Whether kept electronically or written down on paper and pen, keeping yourself scheduled and your tasks written down is probably the biggest thing that you can do to keep yourself sane and get anything accomplished. There are so many methods on how to keep a calendar and to-do list that you really just have to test different ones out and figure out what works for you. Personally, I like to use two different items. I have my planner where I keep all of my meetings, appointments, and events and also keep track of all my children’s school activities, therapies, and playdates. I then have a separate to-do notebook where I have one sheet for every two days to keep track of what needs to be done when. This is where I list phone calls I need to make, posts I need to write, emails I need to send, and the like.

Schedule your “work” time: Along the lines of the first tip, it’s important to schedule yourself and then stick to your schedule {as best you can with children and other last minute things that come up}. When you work from home it’s so easy to accept invitations from friends or lengthy phone calls but if you are scheduled to work you need to tell that person that you are working and find another time to go out to lunch or call your friend to chit-chat for an hour. When I make my schedule I don’t do it down to the minute, but instead have hour chunks of time that I focus on tasks. My suggestion is to try and switch tasks frequently so you are more productive and attentive to the task you are working on.

Create a space for working: When working from home it’s important to have a space dedicated to business. It could be a room, a small portion of a room, or even a desk in the closet. Whatever you can find to call your “office”. I have an upstairs loft that I work in most of the time but when my family is upstairs I will sometimes sneak down to the TV room to relax on the couch while I work. Having a space for working will help you keep organized and focused on your work and will keep you from getting sidetracked on the laundry, the dirty dishes, and the rest of the household chores.

Work when you can, where you can: I’d love to work Monday through Friday during the day and relax with my family at night and on the weekends but it’s just not possible during this time of my life. My schedule varies weekly and I work many weekends. I take advantage of naptime, bedtime, and Sinisa’s days off to work. I get work done in the car while I’m sitting in the preschool pickup line, at the pool while my son is having water therapy, and while my kids are eating lunch. You just have to be creative with your time and squeeze in emails and work whenever you can.

Realize you can’t do it all: There may come a time when you can’t do everything yourself and you may need to ask for help or let something go. It’s okay. You just have to decide what is important to you and what’s not as important and what you need to do as opposed to what you can pass on to someone else. For me, my family and friends and my blog/job are the most important and I decided that my “domestic” duties weren’t as important. Many of the household jobs could be done by someone else unlike my job as mother and blogger/business owner. I realize I can’t be the perfect homemaker and that’s okay with me. Sinisa likes to cook so most of the time he is the one who makes dinner. You can also hire people to help with the aspects of business you don’t know much about or don’t have time to do. Living Your Moment, a business I co-own, was created to help support mom business owners. We grow Twitter and Facebook accounts, run blog review campaigns, and provide many other services for business owners so they can focus on running their businesses.

Make time for yourself and your family: Amidst all the working, don’t forget to take care of yourself and spend time with your family. Do something for yourself every day whether it’s taking time to read a book, pamper yourself, or exercise. If you aren’t well, your business will suffer. Making time for your family is also important. Carve out time to spend with them each day. Cuddle with your little ones on the couch while watching a movie, play a game, or spend time in the kitchen making dinner together.

I hope I have given you some ideas on how to make working from home work for you. If you work from home and have other ideas of what works for you I would love for you to leave a comment below.

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Guest Post: Easing Separation

The following is a guest post by Jessica of I’m Not Your Everyday Average Mom!

I have recently started working out again. I figured after 18 months I can no longer say that I “just had” a baby and am carrying around baby weight. My husband wanted to get back into shape too from his “baby weight” and we decided that the best choice for our family was to join the local YMCA. They have a great work out facility, exercise classes for me, and a large adult pool plus a kiddy pool that is 10 degrees warmer than the adult pool. The kid’s pool stars off at 0 feet and slowly goes deeper so both of my kids can enjoy it without us holding them the whole time! Our kids’ favorite part of the YMCA is the gigantic water slide that we are allowed to take them down on. MY favorite part of the YMCA is the FREE childcare that is offered! They have an outdoor play area, an inside classroom area, and then a climber inside for kids to play on.

My son gets excited to go and play, but my daughter on the other hand develops superman like strength and clings onto me with a death grip. She then shakes her head back and forth and says “no, no, no, no!” I hate having to pry her off of me and hand her to the gal that works there, but I know in 5 minutes she will be laughing and running around with her brother and all of the other kids! It is just so heart wrenching to see her cry and get upset because I am leaving her there. It has gotten much better over the past 3 weeks and I feel like she is doing well because of a few things that I am doing.

I have had to remember what I learned in school about child development (I am a certified teacher birth-8th grade), and how to make transitions smoother for children.

Here are a few tips and things that I have been trying, and I find that they are working well!

  • Don’t sneak out…I know that it is hard not to, because you won’t have to see the melt down, but tell your child goodbye and that you will be back to pick them up soon! That way you are not disappearing, but telling your child what is going on.
  • Know the person’s name that is going to be looking after you child. I have been saying to my daughter “Look, it’s Amy! Remember her? She is going to play with you while mommy is in the gym!”
  • Let your child bring their blanket, stuffed animal, or other comfort item with them. I have been letting my daughter bring in her blanket. She usually ditches it within the first 10 min, but it helps her to have something of comfort when I leave.
  • Give them some extra cuddle and love time when you get back!

I know that things will get easier and she will soon LOVE to go and play! It is just going to take time!

What tips and tricks do you use when dropping off your child at a day care, or when leaving them with a sitter to make things easier?

To read more from Jessica visit her blog!
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Career Chaos: How to Raise a Family While Climbing the Corporate Ladder

The following is a guest post from Candi Wingate, President of Care4Hire.com.

It’s a struggle that many of us face: running a household while running off to work.  Sometimes the sheer volume of “stuff” that we have to accomplish – from leading a staff meeting to leading the Cub Scout troop – is just staggering.

Here are some tips to help you feel more in control:

  • Empower your children to be independent.  Let them choose their own healthy snacks, outfits and so forth.  You won’t be sweating the small stuff, and they’ll be delighted with the “power’ that you’ve given them.
  • Embrace your imperfections.  So you didn’t serve a home-cooked meal tonight.  Who cares?  Serve your frozen lasagna with a smile.
  • Focus on work while you’re at work and on home when you’re at home.  Don’t worry about your emails, to do lists and pending meetings while you’re spending time with your kids.  Likewise, don’t worry about your kids while you’re at work. You’ve left them in capable, loving care, so focus on your work and get it done so you can get home to them.
  • Force yourself to disconnect.  In today’s age of laptops, iPhones and Blackberries, you’re always accessible and “on the clock.”  Learn that it’s OK to shut down all of your electronics to play board games (or help with homework, or go for a walk) with your kids.
  • “Hire” your child as your assistant.  Occasionally, I need to work while I’m home with my kids.  They used to pout about it until I hired them to help me.  I give them special projects, like filling the paper tray on my printer, sharpening my pencils and even (supervised) paper shredding.  They also enjoy doing “paperwork” (coloring or workbooks) at their desks, while I work at mine.

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Care4hire.com is an online database for families and caregivers to search babysitters, housekeepers, tutors, elder/companion care, pet sitters and other miscellaneous service.   A free preview of available caregivers is available to families. Whether you need a caregiver for a few hours to a few days, you will find it at Care4hire.com. Once you are a registered member, you will be given immediate access to caregiver through email and phone.

Candi has offered to giveaway 1 Gift Certificate for a free membership ($34.99 retail value) to Care4hire.com; which gives you 1 month to login and contact caregivers. I recommend this service to others since before my children I was actually a nanny on this site. Please note that I have received no compensation in any form for doing this post. I just think that every mom occasionally needs some time to rediscover the woman she was before she had children and some quiet time or time out can help her do this :)

Also, remember this website not only offers caregivers for children but pet sitters, elder care, tutors, housekeepers, and more!

To enter the giveaway:

1) Mandatory entry– Leave a comment below with what you would do if you had a day to yourself.

Additional Entries (make sure to leave a separate comment below with each entry):

2) Become a friend of Care4Hire on Twitter

3) Become a friend of Alicia (Making Time For Mommy) on Twitter

4) Subscribe to the Care4Hire blog

5) Subscribe to the Making Time For Mommy blog

6) Tweet the following: “Free month of services at Care4Hire.com from @aliciamarie112 & @Care4Hire at http://www.makingtimeformommy.com #giveaway”

7) Become a fan of Care4Hire on Facebook

8) Become a fan of Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

This giveaway will end on March 4, 2010 at 11:59pm Central Time. The winner will be contacted via email so be sure to leave an email address.