15 Things I've Learned Working From Home 14+ Years

Here's a few tips and tricks to make working from home as a mom just a little easier!
Author:
Publish date:
Image placeholder title

I've been a work from home mama for FOURTEEN YEARS now. That feels weird to say out loud . . . or at least in words.

In that space of time I think I've learned a thing or two. Here's my best tips and tricks for work from home mamas!​

1. ​​Get A Good Chair

When you work from home, you don't necessarily want a cubicle and a roller chair in your house. I finally had to give up and buy the high backed, memory foam, ergonomically correct chair of my dreams (and decorating nightmares). I spend a lot of time at my computer and I need a chair to take care of my body.

2. Your Schedule Is Seasonal

With every change of season my schedule needs adjustment. When school gets out, when school starts, winter break, spring break, sick days, and early days.

I started my business when my two oldest were 2 months old and 22 months old. I've been through naptime power hour, getting up extra early, staying up extra late, the pre-school routine, the kindergarten routine, and now all 3 of my kids are in all day school (an amazing thing for a work from home schedule and a heart wrenching transition for the mother in me that loves having small people running around my house).

There is constant change in life and constant change in your work schedule to accommodate. But that's why we do this. Every time school gets out for the summer I get anxiety {paired with excitement}. I know that my schedule is going to get turned on it's head and that it's going to take some time to get in a new rhythm. I look forward to letting my kids sleep in, summer activities, and beautiful weather. I also know it's going to be a big circus to get everything done that I need to.

Flexibility. A work from home schedule requires it.

3. STOP When You're Being Unproductive

Sometimes I'm stuck. Staring at my computer screen or pointlessly clicking through social media or stats. I know I have work to do but it's just not happening. I've learned that I need to stop and walk away.

The great thing about working from home is that I can get up and go on a walk, switch some laundry, take a power nap, SHIFT. I've had to train myself to recognize when I'm not being productive. Time is precious and I need to manage it carefully .

4. You Have To Take Care Of YOU

If you are not healthy, if your brain is not healthy, your ability to do good work and handle this juggle will suffer. Here are 7 Things I Take Every Day to keep myself feeling the way that I need to so that I can function the way that I want to.

I often take business calls on a 3 mile walk.

You don't have an office pool for new year's resolutions or a health care plan with extra benefits. So you need to create your own. My new work health program is a gym membership. Because the fringe benefits of working for ME are huge! ;)

5. Remember: Your Kids Will Be Fine

No matter the work status, mothers will always question whether they are doing enough, whether they did the right thing, whether their personal choices will have a net positive or negative impact on their children.

I've worried a lot about this. Will my children remember me with my head in a screen or as a woman who made things happen? Will they remember the time I spent with them? For them? Revolving around them like the solar system?

I had a sublimely validating moment on our last family vacation. We went to Hawaii over Spring break and my 9-year-old said "I wonder if I'll go to Hawaii with my kids when I grow up" and then she stopped and looked at me and said "Hey, if my mom can pull it off, so can I."

They see how hard you work. They see the good things you do. You've got this! {And so do they}!

6. Ask For What You Need

My sister-in-laws have often asked me how I get my husband to help out so much. Part of it is that he is a genuinely thoughtful and helpful person. The other part of it is that I'm not afraid to ask for what I need. I'm not counting on him to read my mind {nor should he have to}.

7. Recognize Your Power Days

Mondays are my power day. My brain is ready to go and I feel like I can bust out 3 days worth of work in that one day. Tuesdays are not my power day. Those days are best to schedule phone calls or in person meetings. Friday's are best wrapped up by about 2:00 at which point I've got to shift my full focus to the little people who've gotten out of school early.

8. Make Checklists

One of my favorite reads: The Checklist Manifesto

I love checklists because they keep me focused -- and I'm not going to lie -- I'm one of those people that loves crossing something off of a list.

Look at how your spend your day. Look at your basic business processes. Look at that tasks on your plate. Break them down into checklists. Have you made the process too complicated? Are you getting stuck? Wasting time? Is there a better way to do it?

Checklists will not only give you the rush of checking something off of a list, but they'll also help you analyze your own processes. Having solid checklists for the work you do also makes it easy to pass tasks off to employees and ensures that things are consistent.

9. Spend Time On The Things That Pay You

This one is especially important for you business owning mamas. Quit spending time on things that don't tie back to some sort of revenue. I know, I know, some things are necessary and don't drive revenue. But more of your time should be spent on the things that pay you than on the things that don't.

Sounds obvious - but it's amazing how we can find 100 things to do that don't actually pay us back.

10. You Don't Have Time for Crazy People

One of the perks of working from home should be that you get to pick the people that you see on a daily basis (usually). Guard your time and yourself from the people who distract from your objectives because they are dragging a whole lot of drama along with them. No one has time for that.

11. Hang Out With Other Smart People

Just like the old phrase "you are what you eat" well . . . you are.

Surround yourself with the people you aspire to be like, who have a thing or two to teach you, people you can reciprocate those valuable business lessons with. Like attracts like. You'll all rise with the tide.

Mental Health Bonus: You'll have other women to relate to. Not every woman works. Not every woman who works - works from home. Find your flock!

12. Analyze Your Routine

Take a day, and write down every single thing you do and ask yourself why you did it. You might learn a thing or two. They might be big lightbulbs that change your world, or that might be small tweaks and adjustments that you just didn't take time to think about before. I did this just a couple of weeks ago.

6:15 - Wake Up 7th Grader

Lightbulb - Um. Yeah. It's time he gets an alarm clock

Sound stupidly simple right? But I've always woken him up for school. His room is right next to mine. I get up around that time anyway. However, by having him get an alarm clock, I might buy myself 15 more minute of sleep. If I oversleep, he's still got something nudging him out of bed. He's getting older, and it's good for him to get himself out of bed.

It might be 15 minute chunks like this that you discover just aren't effective, or it might be big realizations and shifts. Tracking every action of your day is a great way to give yourself feedback a couple of times a year.

13. Hold A Weekly Planning Meeting With Your Family

Most Sunday nights you'll find my family gathered up on our bed reviewing the schedule for the upcoming week. We go through each person in our family and every day of the week to make sure we know what's going on with everyone. My husband and I are both there so we can divide and conquer where necessary.

It's also fun (usually). The kids look forward to it. It gives them a chance to be heard and to mentally prepare for their weeks as well. Everyone gets along for the most part during these meetings.

Bonus Tip! Make sure you're using shared calendars with your spouse. We use iCalendar and my husband is subscribed to everything. It helps keep us on the same page.

14. Get Help!

You can't do everything. Whether it's once a week / month / quarter, get some help with things around your house.

This one can be easier said than done. Some people hang on to their household chores because they feel have to do it all. For others it's a budget issue.

If you can't afford regular help when it comes to household chores, set aside some cash to hire out your very least favorite chores even just once a quarter. In the mean time, in the name of giving yourself a break (and good parenting) make sure all of the other members of your household are pulling their weight in the "keep the house clean" department.

15. Take A "Sabbath"

You don't have to be religious. You need a day of rest. Maybe it's tech sabbath one day a week where you tuck your technology away for 24 hours, or maybe it's simply a day where you are committed NOT TO WORK.

Fill your day with the things that recharge you, your soul, and your family. It might be full of naps and cookies, or hikes and movies, just be sure you all get that break.

Do you work from home? What have you learned? Please share in the comments!

More on TodaysMama.com

The Bully Too Close To Home

Working Moms Guide To Summer

I'm Done Counting

5 Hacks To Make Life (And Work) More Productive

Related

Jean Chatzky Bio 120

Work From Home Tips

Today Show contributor and blogger, Jean Chatzky, offers tips on how to find the right work-from-home job for you.