|Photo Credit: Rosemarie Mansfield|
First things first, you need to set aside a space in your home that is for working and for
working only. I suggest away from the TV is an excellent place to start! Keep any distractions such as housework, the TV etc completely out of sight so you’re not temped to float from one thing to another. By having a separate space you’ll find it easier to separate “work" from "home” which will help you get in the right frame of mind.
As you are your own boss it’s up to you to set your own schedule. You have the luxury of
flexibility here that 9-5ers simply don’t have, so take advantage of this. I work around my
children’s timetable: they have to be taken and collected from school at specific times then
there’s clubs etc to consider, their meal times, their bedtime... For me, the best time to
really crack on with work is while they’re at school or when they are asleep.
By dividing my day up this way, I’m setting myself clear boundaries as to when I’m working,
when I’m ‘mum’ and when I’m ‘me’. The hours I get with my kids from the time they get
home until the time they go to bed are all about them, and I relish it. Their childhood will
whizz by and you don’t want to look back in years to come and wish you’d had more spent
less time checking your emails and more time with them.
Delegation is a very important skill to master and absolutely essential. As a mother, and a
woman, you are blessed with the automatic talent of multi-tasking, however this doesn’t
mean you have to do everything yourself. Your partner is (probably) not a mind-reader so
unless you say that you need his help with the day to day running of your lives, you might
not get it.
Yes, he may have been at work all day but so have you, so dividing up the daily chores is only fair. Play to each other’s strengths when deciding who does what and then stick to it. The jobs will all be done in half the time and you’ll both be able to relax afterwards.
I cannot stress enough how important being organised is. There are times when it can seem
your ‘To Do’ list is endless and it feels like there are simply not enough hours in the day to
get everything done... But by being really clear as to what gets done, when and by who,
you’ll tend to find it’s much less overwhelming than you first thought.
The trick is to use your time wisely and try to always stay one step ahead. For example,
doing absolutely everything I physically can to be ready for the next morning before I go to
bed each night makes getting the kids ready for school much less stressful.
Although working at home doesn’t exactly call for you to power dress in a sharp suit and
heels, I’d still strongly suggest that getting washed and dressed before starting work is a
must. It might sound ideal working all day in your pyjamas and fluffy slippers but the truth of
the matter is, if you’re dressed for sleep you won’t be in the right frame of mind for working
at your full potential. You’re far more likely to just want to curl up for a nap!
Every evening I compile a manageable ‘To Do’ list for the following day. By manageable I
mean realistic yet optimistic. I tend to have a ‘long term’ list that includes everything - big
and small - that needs to be done and then a ‘daily’ list where I write down what I think I can
achieve that day, or if I have a specific deadline to meet (it’s no secret – I love lists). Another
great list-related tip is to mark everything on it with either an ‘A’ (essential), ‘B’ (important
but not urgent) or ‘C’ (has to be done at some point, but no immediate rush). This really
helps you prioritise and reduce procrastinating.
Keep your workspace clean and clutter-free. At the end of each day leave your desk as you
would like to find it the following morning. This means filing away everything and finding
homes for all the miscellaneous stuff that can quickly build up. By getting into this good
habit as quickly as possible, even when you really aren’t in the mood to, you’ll thank yourself
in the long run.
Make it clear to everyone in your household, including yourself, that when you’re working
you’re working. Anything non-urgent should be saved until you’ve finished for the day. The
same applies the other way round of course, so when you’ve finished for the day don’t be
tempted to just do ‘a little bit more’. If you do have a sudden flash of inspiration just write it
on a post-it note so it’s not forgotten but don’t be tempted to start working again if you’ve
finished for the day.
Being a working from home mum you need to learn how to say ‘no’. Outsiders might
question what you do all day and think you’re the ideal person to ask when they need a
babysitter or someone to run an errand for them, but the reality is you need to be strict with
yourself about how you use your time. Just because you don’t physically have a manager breathing down your neck all day doesn’t mean you don’t need to work. If you want your business to be a success and be able to continue to enjoy the comfort and convenience of working from home then you need to respect your working hours and learn to politely make it clear you are not available at these times.
When someone asks you what you do for a living never say whatever it is you do and then
add “...but I work from home”. There is no “but” about it. Working from home is just as
challenging, if not more so, than working in any other environment. Chances are you have
chosen to work from home as you feel it’s the best thing all round for the most important
thing in your life – your family. Overall, you’ll need to work harder and more effectively thanyou’ve ever had to before but the rewards will more than compensate.