I thought I would be sleeping in, taking the kids to the park, having coffee with friends and when I wanted to, I’d sit at my computer and be able to help out some amazing people.
While this is true for the most part, especially “helping amazing people” and, yes, it is great to bake on a Friday afternoon with my 2 year old, working from home does involve some rather unconventional work hours and many interruptions/distractions. Here are some things I’ve learnt over the last few years:
There will be Distractions
Ok, so I have two rather small children, so of course, I knew there would be distractions. What I wasn’t really prepared for was the cases of “I’ll just get that load of washing on” or “I’ll just pack the dishwasher” or the ever dreaded “I’ll just check Facebook”. Once I realised these distractions, I found that I am actually quite disciplined and if I make it routine, I’m much more productive.
Flexibility is a Blessing and a Curse
While it’s great that I can take the kids to the park in the middle of the day, I still need to be available to clients during usual business hours. Plus, the work still needs to get done. If I take 2 hours out of my usual work time to take the kids out of the house, then I need to work that 2 hours at a different time. Usually when the kids are asleep, which with a teething baby can sometimes be 2am.
Working with Children
That photo up there, yep, that is actually my sons hand on my keyboard. I’ve had phone calls interrupted by a hungry toddler, emails left sitting unsent while I attend to a crying baby, I’m even typing this while he squirms on my lap. Thankfully, a lot of my clients are Mums themselves that are running small businesses (how awesome is that!), so very understanding. But to alleviate some of these issues, I have put the toddler in Daycare a few days a week so I can get some more client-facing (albeit virtually) jobs done.
I’m actually more productive
This was something I wasn’t really expecting, but when you work from home, you can actually get a lot more done. I’m much more focused than than I was working in a traditional office environment (no daydreaming here!), plus I only have limited time until one of my children needs me, so I make sure I get as much done in that time as I can.
BUT…It can be really difficult to ‘log off’
In saying that, it can be really difficult to stop working. I’ve found that because my work is right there, I can be tempted to send a quick email or write a blog and before I know it, I’ve spent hours working. So, I implemented set work hours. I try not to work after 5pm or on weekends.
Cabin Fever is REAL
I’ve always been a home body, so I thought I’d love being at home everyday. Mostly, it’s ok, but I find that sometimes I just cannot stay inside for one more minute. Some days, I just need to get outside, other days, it’s the adult interaction I crave, so I make sure I still get out and about when I can. It can be out with the kids, a walk to the coffee shop or even a Networking event, but I MUST get out of the house every now and then.
Just because you CAN wear Pajamas all day, doesn’t mean you SHOULD
When I first started, I was just getting out of the newborn haze with my first child and I thought I would love being able to wear pajamas all day everyday, but what I didn’t anticipate was how ‘blah’ it would make me feel. Trust me – I am not wearing full make-up and a suit at my desk in the living room, but I’ve found just getting changed into some ‘real’ clothes can really help my motivation.
Have a Space just for Work
I’ve also made sure I have a dedicated space. Some people recommend a full office, so that you can turn on ‘work-mode’ when you enter the room, but my little corner of the living room serves the same purpose.
Working from home can be difficult. You have to be motivated, organised and dedicated, but if you can get these things right and, like me, you love your job, it can also be an amazing alternative to traditional employment.