working from home does not happen without it’s fair share of growing pains. in the midst of flu and cold season (end soon, please!) adjusting to 5 kids in very different age brackets and the constant juggle of coordinating 7 schedules it’s become painfully obvious to me that growing pains are happening and my work from home methods need an upgrade. before i start searching for new tips, tricks and habits i think it’s important to reflect on the things that have been effective over the last several years.
(top photo: griffin 12 mo., bottom photo: poppy, 6 wks.)
so i though i would share some things that work for me. hopefully they inspire or encourage you even if you don’t work from home because the struggle is real and no matter what your life/kids/work life looks like we’re all in it together!
focus on BETTER because things will never be perfect – there are bound to be frustrations in life especially when it comes to this work/life/family/home/everything-else set up because things just tend to overlap when you have a family. for me right now it’s poppy’s sleep schedule. as in she is still not sleeping through the night at 7 months. not even close. sometimes i daydream about how much more i’ll be able to get done when i finally get a full nights sleep but the truth is that a full nights sleep won’t magically allow me to breeze through my to do list. so instead i try to focus on being better about her bedtime routine and better at how i use the time i do have while she is sleeping. for you maybe your frustrated about how you ship out your products, your husbands work schedule or wanting a gym membership. instead of focusing on how perfect it will be when…, consider small things that can be done to make the situation a little bit better.
just start – remember those days in high school and college when a giant test or project was due the next day and instead of studying you found yourself cleaning your room all night? i get that same urge when a big design project or my to-list has me feeling totally overwhelmed. instead of giving in (because a clean house does nothing for my to do list) i have found that the best solution for overwhelm is to first pray and then start small (open a file, play with fonts, send that email, etc.). maybe your waiting for all the outer chaos (kids schedules, messy house, non-sleeping baby) to calm down before you start on what you really want to do (open an etsy shop, take a photography workshop //like this everyday one i’m teaming up with stacy to do with you!// , volunteer for a ministry at church…) but the truth is life with kids is busy and full and it always will be. (even when they are grown i think!) but the good news is that baby steps matter. they create momentum and that’s really all you need.
1. rule of thirds, 2. putting things on the calendar and 3. setting a timer – here’s the breakdown.
- i used to resist putting only three things on my to-do list each day thinking that surrendering to such a small number meant i wasn’t ambitious. thankfully i have learned that it’s possible to be realistic and ambitious. besides, adding 3 things to my usual responsibilities is a lot. here’s an example 1. write, edit and email blog post, 2. design and send proof to client, 3. upload fabric designs and order samples. for all the other projects and tasks that come up i keep a running list so they don’t distract me and i’m able to pick the next thing when my top 3 are done!
- it’s simple really. if it’s important then it belongs on a calendar. i usually reserve this for personal projects that are easy to postpone. it also adds a little accountability because if i add a three hour block to our family google calendar that says, “take and edit pictures for the design shop” my husband sees it and will ask me why i’m folding laundry instead of taking pictures (see “just start” above).
- i should probably use this one more (it would be perfect for writing blog posts!) but it really comes down to the idea that we use as much time as we have. the best example i can think of is running errands. i can easily take 2 hours in target when i only have 6 things on my shopping list or get the same 6 things in 30 minutes if that all the time i have in between preschool carpool and baseball practice. the same thing can often apply to work and creative projects.
own it…. i’m a stay at home mom that happens to work while my kids are sleeping or at school. it sounds so awkward and it was until i started taking myself seriously and owned what i am – a work from home mom. it also allowed everyone else in my life to take me, my office hours, projects and ideas seriously – except maybe the kids. mine still don’t really believe that i “work”, HA! one day when they have money in their college fund, they will thank me. maybe.
but first, pray… i mentioned it above but it’s worth saying again. quite simply, i am more and can do more when i’m doing it with God. when i make Him first and ask for His help and when i look to his word for wisdom. this is so easy to forget unless i start my day this way.
so i’m feeling like i could keep going – like forever – on this topic but really i would love to hear what works for you or what your hangups are? please share in the comments!
i also want to invite you to take a photography and design workshop with me and my photo savvy friend, stacy! we did our best to keep it affordable and useful for everyday life and/or for building a creative business. it’s a great place to “focus on better”, “just starting” and “owning it” and i would LOVE to see your there! head here for all the details. you will not be disappointed!
xo . rae