11.12.2014

working from home - a learning curve


What a weird world we live in. Jobs are no longer things like "farmer," "seamstress," and "banker." (Although those jobs still exist).

Now people have job titles like web designer, dog walker, blogger, and independent consultant.

There are about a zillion and one ways to cobble together a living from the comfort of you own home. There are about a fillion more ways to piece together 86 part time jobs as your own employer. It's kind of awesome. 

Some people call these "side hustles." Others call it: "my husband is a teacher and I'm staying home with the kids so we have no money so I better figure out a way to change that." It's an official term.

Anyway, that's me now! I'm working from home! It's one of the most exciting, stressful, confusing ways I've ever decided to make money. 

I'm still a rookie. I've only been doing it for six months. I'm learning as I go. I am still trying to figure out the best schedule for Pippa and me. Working from home is one thing. Working from home but also being a stay at home parent is another thing altogether! Inspired by Molly's thoughts on working from home, here are mine:

>> plan your day...kind of  on the advice of a more experienced mom and friend, I try to write out the top things that need to get done the next day. I think Zig Ziglar was also a proponent of this strategy. I used to do this on notecards. Now I just write it on a giant mirror I use as a white board. With kids, you can do your best to stick to a schedule, but they often have minds of their own. The list keeps me from being overwhelmed with "to-do's" when Pippa goes down for her nap. 


>> get non-work stuff done when your child is awake  I used to panic, trying to get work, blog, devotions, chores, and exercise all done during one hour and a half nap. I realized that was impossible, so I decided to do computer-based work when Pippa is sleeping. Now I have her "help" me with chores and exercise with me. It's not a perfect solution (she did scratch me in the face in the middle of a "serene" yoga session), but it works for now. 

>> do your work in your "office"  before we moved we had absolutely no extra space to put a desk. In our new place, we have a loft area that works both as a playroom and an office. I have my very own desk, vision board, and fitness orb that is also my desk chair. When I bring my laptop to the sofa, MUCH less work gets done. More surfing the net happens. It's not productive. When I stay in my desk area, I have my vision board, my mirror/white board, and my calendar to keep me focused. Plus, Pippa can play in her kitchen if I have any loose ends to tie up after her nap. 

>> work in mini blitzes  I can only stay focused on one job for so long before I feel burnt out. I strive for about 45 minutes of good, solid work before I take a break to read a blog, get a cup of coffee, or throw in a load of laundry. I don't really have other people to motivate me and hold me accountable, so I have to find little tricks to keep me working. Which leads me to my next point...

>> be a boss  specifically, your own boss. If I don't hold myself accountable, no one will. If I decide not to do income-producing activity, there is no income. I have to give myself goals with deadlines. I have to write down my goals and read them aloud daily to stay motivated. I have to stay organized. I have to be focused on my "why" (which is why my vision board is right above my laptop). If I don't treat myself as a professional, then this is just a hobby, not a job. I must continue my personal and professional development without prompting from anyone else. Luckily in my job I get to earn as I learn.

 >> socialize  working from home, and being a stay-at-home parent can be lonely if you let it. I have to force myself to get out of the house each day to interact with other people. (The library has become my best friend - free and full of other parents and kids). I also have an amazing group of women around the country working toward the same goals. We have a message thread going to help motivate and support one another. 

>> be flexible  no explanation needed. 

Any other tips from experienced work-from-home veterans?

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