EPISODE 1: THE TRANSITION TO WORKING FROM HOME
You know those dreams you have that always sit on that cloud in the sky way far away with the big sign that says SOMEDAY? Yeah, working from home was that dream for me.
I have worked outside the home for-ever. I have always worked. I have never been home with my kids. Not because I chose to or loved my jobs or didn’t want to stay home. ALL I EVER WANTED WAS TO STAY HOME and be with my boys. But that’s not how life worked out with a self-employed spouse and bills to pay.
But after almost 18 years being an office girl, I FINALLY get to be a work at home babe! The easy thing to say here is that this opportunity fell into my lap. But that would be highly degrading to the work and effort I put in to get here. And a serious knock to myself. We should always applaud our own personal efforts and sacrifices. We don’t just land in places, we work hard and prove our worth. Know that.
My job is to manage the graphic design, marketing, and social media projects for a local company as an independent contractor. It replaced my salary at my insurance job so I don’t have to go searching for clients or new business, which is super duper handy. But the bigger question I get asked is how I’ve transitioned to the stay at home lifestyle. Let’s be honest, it’s been interesting and wonderful. So today I’m going to talk about how I have made the transition and 4 things that I hope will help you too!
No one is monitoring my day. You’d think that this freedom would come easily. I don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time. I don’t have to tell anyone I’m going to lunch. I don’t have to ask for the afternoon off. After 20+ years of this being my normal, it was hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I get to decide when I work and when I don’t. ANd allow myself permission to cycle laundry during the day and take a break to play a game with my kid. It may not be hard for others, but for me, I compared it to a mom who is DYING for some kid-free time because she’s got a million things she wants to do. But she gets an afternoon alone and wanders around the house like a lost puppy and can’t figure out how to spend her time. Can you relate or what?
The fact that no one is “seeing me work” makes me want to get tasks done and show my work because I feel like I have to prove that I’m not sitting around eating bon-bons all day. What I do find to be incredibly productive, is working alone. In an office setting, the distractions are everywhere. A co-worker’s phone call, or the boss pulling you away from your intense research, a phone call or email that becomes the number 1 priority. I have found it so helpful to work at home for the simple fact that I can string two thoughts together and complete something without getting sidetracked.
Create a routine but be flexible. I started out by drafting out my dream day. What are the things I didn’t have time for when I was working in an office? For me, those things were exercise, getting Marshall to and from school, and consistent housework. I made a timeline for how my day would ideally look with the extra time I had. The extra time was freed up by 1) not having to get myself ready everyday, packing breakfasts and lunches, and being confined to that space for 9 hours, 5 days a week and driving. And 2) by finding ways to be more productive with my time.
I started by making a daily schedule for myself. This is something I thrive on. I NEED routine, even if it’s driven by me and not a boss. I survive on structure. If this is you, create your day. Map it out and work within it. If my schedule said that I need to walk Charlie as soon as I get home from taking Marshall to school, that’s what I did. I paid attention to the things that worked in those times and what needed to be adjusted.
I also created a weekly schedule based on what goes on each day. Here is an example of my week right now:
Mondays are typically task heavy days because the beginning of the week is ripe with motivation. I try not to schedule in person meetings on this day but I will allow it if necessary because it is a day that I will typically put on makeup and do my hair. Marshall has Jiu Jitsu and it’s an excuse to not stay in leggings and a top knot all day. Sometimes I don’t so it’s not a hard rule that I get ready.
Tuesdays are my quiet days. Very task heavy again, but typically reserved for more head work, research or learning. Like if I need to make something new in illustrator, it’s gonna take some concentration. Absolutely no meetings, errands, chores, or getting ready. It’s also a workout day. After we walk, I do 30-45 minute pilates or HIIT workout.
Wednesday are heavy meeting days. We have team meetings on Wednesdays for my main client/company and anyone else who I’m working with, we chat or get together on Wednesdays. I put on makeup and get ready.
Thursdays are a meeting overflow day if that needs to be scheduled but it has to be later in the morning because it’s another workout day for me. I prefer no meetings because after the meeting heavy wednesday, the new projects and tasks are flowing and I need a good chunky workday.
Fridays are for catch up and updates and finishing the week strong. I start the day with a walk and then grocery shopping. Once I’m home and groceries are put away, I have a huge chunk of the day to wrap up my week!
Everything here is loose and if a client meeting needs to change, I’m flexible. But this is how I want my week to roll.
Find ways to connect with people. I knew I would miss my office girls and the little side conversations that happen during the day. It kept us tightly connected and now we have to spend more time catching up. But make that a priority with your office mates, or local girls. It’s super important to have people on your side and people who you can kick around ideas with. In the podcast Alli K does with her dad called “Breakfast with Sis”, they talk about having a “personal board of directors”. It’s a whole thing and I have found it to be life-giving to have girls I can rely on to kick me in the butt or lay with me in the dirt. LIFE. GIVING.
Stop working. It’s the hardest thing for me now that I’m at home. Before, I could turn off work when I hit those double doors. But now, work and play is all right here and they often spill into each other. Here are a few things that I do to help separate them:
Set working hours and abide by them. Don’t answer emails or texts outside of working hours. For you, it makes you feel like you aren’t accessible all day and can shut off work. For your family members, it creates expectations for when you can help with homework or when is a good time for you to check out their newest minecraft creation. And for your co-workers, it tells them that you respect your work life and your personal life.
If you use google chrome and google accounts in general, create a separate google account for your business/work life and then open a new browser window that is strictly for that work account. When chrome is up, your browser toolbar will allow you to toggle between them using the “people” selection. This way, when work is done, toggle to your personal browser and you won’t have work emails, or that learning tool or work related websites glaring at you when you’re surfing the web and binge-watching TV.
Make yourself a separate work area. If that’s not possible, create a way that you can transition away from work is when your day is done. Put your computer away or put the work-related notebooks on the shelf. For me, I have bins that I keep my crafty supplies in and they are portable. When the work day ends, or when the weekend comes, I slide those bins onto my desktop so I can get into a crafty work flow. At the end of Sunday night, those bins go back on the shelf so my desk is clean and has space for my laptop and notebooks.