Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Work From Home? How Do You Not Get Bored...

Since graduating college (debt-free I might add), I have been employed at jobs where I work from home most (if not all) of the week. Combine that with having a child and you get a stay at home/work at home mother of 1. What a mouthful!

A few weekends ago, we hosted a football party and I was asked, "how can I be home so much without getting bored?" I get this a lot. All the time actually. 

First, I will give you my perspective. I absolutely love this arrangement! I get to be home with my child but even before that, I was able to make running my household a priority. Before my child, I could get laundry done in the middle of the day between online meetings or during breaks from office work. I could take a random coffee break with a friend. Sure, the downside is I may be making up that time by completing office work at 8:30pm on a Monday night, but I love the flexibility!

I also want to mention that, despite what most people seem to think, I actually do get out of the house and/or socialize regularly during the day. Since my child's birth, we typically have been dedicated to 1 activity/week (swimming lessons, story time at the library, mommy and me classes). We also have frequent play dates. That doesn't even cover any of my work related meetings/phone calls/chats. Although we aren't outside of the house as much as I would be with a traditional full-time job, we stay very busy.

So, to answer the question I frequently get: 

How do I not get bored and/or go stir-crazy? 

Here are some of my secrets to give you an idea of how you can, too:

1. Plan
Although there is great flexibility in setting your own schedule, you should still set a schedule. The beauty in this type of job is that I can rotate that schedule as I see fit (I can't work today due to a sick kid, no problem, I will work tomorrow). If you don't set a schedule it can be hard to keep yourself accountable and too easy to never work.

2. Routine 
Try to find a "typical work time." Again, this goes with having a plan. We are routine by nature so try to fit in work time when it works best for you. Find what works for you and normalize that as your work time.

I typically work in the mornings because that's when I feel like I can focus the best and am the most productive.

3. Flexible Schedule
As I already mentioned, this is the most wonderful perk to the type of job I have. I can take that lunch date with a friend, no problem. Part of being flexible though can also mean planning to work a few evenings to make up that time! 

Don't put yourself in a position where you are locked into working certain hours, with this type of job you will work a variety of hours. You can't always rule out working nights, weekends, and maybe even (dare I say it) a holiday.

4. Relax
Life isn't about work, work, work. I struggle with this. With a work from home job, you must work relaxing into your daily routine. 

I typically get up earlier than my child to enjoy even a few minutes of alone time. I like to just sit, drink coffee, and breathe.

5. Close the Door
It gets too easy to fall into the trap of working every free second you have. I mean, that stack of paperwork eyeballs you from across the room. To make a work from home work, set boundaries for how much work you will do and close the door at the end of the day.

With closing the door behind you, that also means no more thinking about work until the next time you are in "your office." Period.

6. Track Your Hours
Whether you are paid by salary or hourly, document somewhere how much you are working. Then, evaluate if that is not enough/too much of your time. Your time is valuable and you should know how you are using it.

I have had both hourly and salaried positions. I track my hours regardless of pay because I tend to overwork. Tracking my hours helps me acknowledge when my work week MUST end. 

7. Organization
Keep your office area organized. We want to work smarter, not harder. Believe me, you will spend less time working if you know where everything is and put everything away. 

Working from home is a balancing game. Sometimes, I do really well and sometimes I struggle to make it all come together. But, hey, that's the beauty of life!

In any case, my best cheerleader keeps reminding me that it's all worth it!

How do you manage work/home life? I would love to hear from you!

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