Wait, working from home isn't Netflix binging all the afternoon, chilling on the couch with a laptop + playing games with the kids all day? Say whaaatt?
I mean there is some chilling on the couch with the kids these past few weeks, but in all reality, working from home isn't everything I've ever dreamed about. I used to think that when you owned your own business and worked from home, you could pretty much do what you wanted, but I am here to tell you that certainly isn't the case.
Working from home is balancing schedules, many interruptions, and it sometimes feels like you put in waaaay more hours than that 9-5 job..... sometimes you do. You work when others sleep, learn to put systems into place, and figure out what works best for you along the way.
With the curveball we've been thrown the past few weeks, I've realized the things that need to be done right now + systems have been put in place to keep me on track and I believe they will help you as well.
As I've been thrown into this home school world along with trying to work from home, I knew I needed systems that could easily be maintained through summer break as well as when the kids head back to school this fall.
WORK FROM HOME SYSTEMS YOU NEED IN YOUR LIFE TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY:
01. Set a schedule for everything.
When life threw us a curveball a few weeks ago, I instantly knew that I couldn't keep flying by the seat of my pants on a daily basis and it was time to get my crap in gear. I had sort of been on a schedule, but for months prior had this nagging feeling to get it on paper. I didn't listen and then crap hit the fan + I had to.
I was suddenly thrown into the work from home home school life and I knew if I didn't act quick, I would fail.
Don't make the same mistake I did. Sit down and decide what works for your schedule, when will you take breaks? Did you know that your brain can really only focus intently for about 50 minutes before it needs a breather?
Plan bouts of about 50 minutes that you can work and then get up, fill up your water + grab a snack. If you have kids at home, be sure to check on them too! You need to get out of your chair and move your body each time you take a break. This gets the blood flowing and your body returns back into a state of motion.
02. Get yourself ready.
Even if you don't go all in with the getting dressed part. At least getting ready by putting on some makeup and combing through your hair or throwing it in a cute clip will make you look done up + ready to conquer your day!
It doesn't have to be much, but just enough to make you feel good about life because then you will be much more productive mentally.
03. Define a "work space."
Decide where you are going to work. If you don't have the luxury of having a separate home office, this can be a space in the master, the kitchen, or a den. Before I had my home office, I spent an hour and a half at Starbucks twice each week while my girls were at gymnastics. I also spent some time in my car... (that's a story for another day)!
Regardless, if you are dedicated to being able to complete the work that needs to be done, you will find a way. Having a space that you work in time after time helps your brain to be able to get into "work mode" every time you enter.... or sit if it's a certain side of the couch like it is for me sometimes!
04. Decide your top three musts for the day.
Do you have a long list of to-dos that you made the night before? What needs to be done TODAY or sooner rather than later? You need to decide your top three items that need to get done and put them at the top of your list.
Once you have those listed, write out the other items that aren't as urgent, but would be nice to complete if time allows. Remember, a little bit each day leads up to big results. Don't focus on the final project you need to complete, but instead of each little item that needs to be done daily to get there.
05. Get your phone out of your way!
Literally, out of your space and out of sight. This has been a huge problem for me. I would find myself with my phone sitting on my desk, someone would text and I would find myself playing the stop and go game until I'd get distracted with social media. Twenty minutes later I'd realize what was happening and get back to work until the next text came in.
I had to put a system in to place for myself and set boundaries. I also had to let the kids in on it so they could help me stick to my plans. My phone is no longer allowed in my office at all and if my kids find me on it at my desk, they are supposed to ask me what I am doing.
The other day my nine year old asked me what I was doing when she saw me on it and I literally threw... yes threw it out of my office! She picked it up and took it back to its designated home on the kitchen counter. Set some rules and let others in on your plan. It works wonders!
One other thing I have done with it is set a timer every time I hop on to post and interact on social media. This keeps me focused when I know a clock is ticking and I need to utilize my time wisely while remaining engaged.
06. Give your kids a to-do list
If you have older kids, allow them to help you with housework that you wish could get done more often, but don't always have time for. My kids are now old enough to help fold the laundry and put their own clothes away. I cannot tell you how much stress this took off of me.
Let them wipe counters, sweep, and mop. To me, this is something that I might enjoy if it was done better, but done is better than perfect when you are short on time + it keeps them busy and gives you that extra 30 minutes you need to complete that project.
If you have younger kids, send them out back for a scavenger hunt or print off a new picture for them to color and pretend to be a teacher for a minute. Set a timer and tell them they need to color until it beeps + reveal their masterpiece once their time is up! It works wonders when we make these things a game.
07. Trade with your partner
Don't have the luxury of having your spouse at home all the time because they work a 9-5? This is me and one thing my husband has been great at is taking the youngest two for a few hours after work when he runs the dogs or he will take them all for a morning hike one weekend day.
This allows them to get some one-to-one time with their dad and gives me a few uninterrupted hours to tackle those little tasks that have been put on the back burner. Again, I know when the clock is ticking and I get myself laser-focused to get those things done because once they get home, quiet time is over friends!
It's like that saying about the fastest you ever clean your house is when someone calls to say they're on their way or something like that. Do you know what I'm talking about?!
08. Check your email later
If you are anything like me, you love to check your email first thing in the morning, and afternoon, and again in the afternoon, and in the evening just in case. This used to be me until I realized how unproductive it actually was.
If you have a lot of emails to answer it can take a lot of time, but it isn't always productive. Most questions aren't urgent and if they are, a phone call is better suited.
I try to check my emails once later in the day. By this time those that wanted to email you about booking a session or have filled out your contact form will be in your box and you can email them all back at once + be done until the next day. This frees up so much time and keeps things simple + your time spent where it needs to be.
09. Be patient
Perhaps one of the most important thing to remember is to be patient; with the process, with yourself, and with others. Don't think that all of these things need to be implemented at once. It takes about six weeks to develop a new habit and if you try to do it all at once, you will probably feel so overwhelmed.
The way that I implemented these was one week at a time and as life evolved. Our kids have activities, life throws curveballs, and well, kids are kids! Start with the easy things such as setting boundaries for your phone. Pay attention to times during the day that your kids tend to play together outside or entertain themselves with a book. Could you squeeze some work time in then?
Be mindful as you put these systems into place and fit them where they work for you and will continue to work even when life gets busier + make adjustments as needed.
I know once gymnastics starts again, I will be able to hit up Starbucks twice a week and I'll adjust my schedule accordingly. I don't know what it is about the environment, but boy can I work fast and furiously while feeling so at ease!
This isn't an end all, this is baby steps, so friend, do your best! Be more intentional with your time and start adding structure to your life a little at a time. Before you know it you will be rocking this work from home thing and getting stuff done... even when life throws you a curveball.
You're gonna rock it!