Working from home and being my own boss was something I had always dreamed of. Having worked many, many years for other people, a sense of being hemmed in to rigid structures with little scope to use my creative side or achieve any sort of work/life balance filled me with dread. Sunday nights became my nemesis. They ate my joy as I knew Monday was on its way. I was most definitely not a Monday person.
When I eventually took the plunge to work full time at Mums NI I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Being self employed is one of the toughest yet simultaneously rewarding things I have ever decided to do. I’ve made mistakes along the way but quickly learned to rectify and move onward and upward.
In this blog I am going to share with you my top tips for working from home while keeping your sanity in check.
For me, my dedicated workspace is in the living room which doubles up as the children’s homework station. It basically consists of a small kitchen table with comfortable sturdy chairs and the laptop. The children use it during the evening for homework and tidy up afterwards leaving me a clear desk for the next day and vise-versa. Having a dedicated workspace makes it easier to get myself into work mode and helps me focus. When I’m at the desk I know it’s time for work. If I sat on the sofa, it would be far too comfy and I’d be on social media.
Planning my tasks the night before helps me achieve them. If I left it until the day of working, I’d spend a lot of time working out what needed to be done, which defeats the purpose. I always have a clear agenda of what I want to be working on and tick completed items off as I go along. If I don’t finish something by the end of the day, it goes to the top of the list for the next day. Planning is key.
I always make a point of having my breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks at the kitchen table, away from my dedicated workstation. Keeping my eating space and working space separate really gives me the focus I need. This breaks up the day and lets me stretch my legs a bit. It also gives me the opportunity to use my break times properly and I get to call family or friends for a bit of a catch up.
Yes, I could sit all day in my pyjamas and housecoat being super comfy, but I’d also be super slouchy and super not wanting to do any work. So after breakfast I get washed and dressed just like I would if I was going out of the house to a regular job. This mental association of being dressed for work makes me more productive.
Let’s face it. When we work from home we always think about doing the chores too. Afterall, they do need to be done. So I always make a point of putting my machines to work before I get to work. After my breakfast I put a wash in the washing machine and a load into the tumble dryer. By the time my first coffee break happens, the first load of laundry has been done. Doing this makes me feel a lot better than I would if I knew there were a pile of clothes waiting to be washed. If the machines are working, I’m happy.
Sometimes I just need out of the house to refocus and rebalance myself. On days like this, I like to visit my local Coffee Shop and set up shop there for even an hour or two. The change of scenery and human interaction is always welcomed. Working from home can become isolating, so make sure to get outside of your home. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a Coffee Shop cuppa and treat?
If I’m in full throws of working and can’t afford to be interrupted, I won’t answer my phone when it rings. I’ll phone back later when I’m less busy. However, there are occasions when friendly interruptions are most welcome and I take the opportunity to have a break and leave the workspace. I come back recharged and ready to tackle the workload again. So remember, not all interruptions will hold you back.
Working from home and being your own boss does bring with it a certain level of flexibility. I enjoy being able to pick the kids up from school, making dentist appointments when it suits me or just nipping out the shop to pick up a few groceries for the evening meal. If I also just fancied a little ride on my bike around the lakes, then I do it. I’ve nobody to answer to only myself. I know that any time I’ve used to do other things can be made up in the evening time when the kids go to bed. That’s the beauty of what I do. I work for me. I answer to me. And I love it. I truly appreciate the flexibility of working from home and find that the work/life balance it creates is perfect for my family.
So there you have it. This is what works for me while working at home and how I’m now a Monday person. If you have any other tips to add, let us know in the comments section.