Organisation probably isn’t at the top of your list when you decide to work from home. For many years, it wasn’t mine either. I simply threw myself into it, and hoped it would work. I knew I wanted to earn money working from home so that I could be ‘hands on’ with the kids, but I didn’t have a clue where or how to start.
Armed with marketing and copywriting skills honed at my investment bank employer, I sat my bot down on a dining room chair, perched the laptop on a corner of the dining room table and set to the task of introducing my new virtual support “business” to local small businesses, friends, colleagues and anyone else polite enough to listen.
But working in the corner of the dining room hasn’t been conducive to a productive work environment at all. Over the years, I’ve had to cope with the Telly Tubbies, the Tweenies, Upsy-Daisy in her Night Garden and Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse Gang ruining my train of thought throughout the day.
Evenings haven’t been much better. My husband ‘needs’ to listen to the news on the hour every hour while he’s at work, so guess who gets his take on the most recent update as soon as he walks in through the front door.
Add to this, the general footfall of people popping in and out as they tend to in our neck of the woods (“just thought I’d pass by to say hello, seeing as you’re a full-time mum now”). Me perched in full view of everyone just seemed to scream “I’M HERE IF YOU NEED ME. I’M ONLY TINKERING AWAY.”
Of course, no-one other than my delighted clients (wink) took me seriously.
- Firstly, I’ve learned to stop beating myself up about productivity. I am a freelancer myself and have clients that I need to look after. Obviously, their work comes first, but even then, I’ve learned not to over-promise (“I’ll definitely get that to you by close of play today”) in case I under-deliver!
- I make sure I give myself plenty of wriggle room to allow for inevitable interruptions – which incidentally, is one good reason why as a Freelancer or Contractor, it’s best to charge for the project and not by the hour.
- More importantly, I’ve learned that work and home life just don’t ‘work’ – at least not for me. I have found that it is absolutely vital to draw a clear line between the two – whether that line is a physical boundary such as a home office door where you shut yourself away when you need to, or clear times when you start/stop.
- I now focus my working ‘day’ during the day when the kids are at school/nursery and then catch up when they are in bed. For me, it’s impossible to try to do anything when they’re around.
- And when I start to fret that I haven’t done as much as I wanted to, I remind myself of the reason why I decided to work from home in the first place – to be more hands on with the kids. They come first!
What about your home-working life? Have you got it down to a T yet?
This article first appeared on Monica Costa’s blog LondonMumsMagazine