Working from Home like a BOSSMOM!
I’ve been working from home for 7 years now and for me it’s always been a natural fit. There are, however, a number of misconceptions about working from home – and how to do so effectively. Many employers are experimenting with employees working remotely on either a part- or full-time basis. As an entrepreneur, working from home makes more sense than renting out office space (especially when you’re starting out).
Navigating the new frontier of working remotely can be tricky if you aren’t familiar with it. Let’s go over some pros and cons, a few myths and misnomers and finish off with a few strategies and tips for making the most of your remote work experience.
Motivation & Distractions
The question I get asked most often about working from home usually sounds something like this: “How to you stay motivated? I’d just end up watching TV all day.” The answer is simple, really. Money to pay my bills motivates me and there’s also that incentive of not getting fired and making sure I get my work done on time so that I in turn, don’t get fired.
For some, the ability to work remotely removes distractions otherwise encountered in the workplace. There’s no need to hunker down in your cubicle with ear buds hoping that those around you don’t constantly pop by with a “quick-but-not-actually-quick question” while you’re trying to compile documentation or hit a deadline. For others, the tasks at home seem to be more demanding or distracting and so they’re less productive than they would be in a traditional office.
As yourself what makes you the most productive? Try and create that kind of work environment for yourself.
Figure out what distracts you making you unproductive. Is it dishes in the sink? Try to clean the kitchen before bed so you wake up to a tidy kitchen and a clear head to dive into work in the morning. Also consider that there’s nothing you could do about those dishes from an office downtown…so does it really matter?
Identify the hours where you’re most productive, creative and “in the zone” and try to work within them.
Routines & Self-Care
Another question I get asked is this: “Do you get up at a certain time or do you just sleep until whenever and then work when you feel like it?” Really? Yes, really. Sigh. Routines are just as helpful when working remotely as they are for getting you out the door to commute to an office every morning.
The great thing about working from home though, especially if you own your own business, is that you get to decide what this looks like. Maybe you want to get up at 8 and hit the gym for an hour and then work from 10 to 6. Perhaps making your own schedule finally makes it possible to hit that 11am spin class you’ve been eyeing.
For me, working in my PJs until noon suits me just fine. For others, they need to shower and get dressed first thing in the morning to get their day started. It’s about finding what works for you! Just be sure not to neglect personal hygiene, health or wellness here. Just because you aren’t interacting face-to-face with other humans doesn’t mean you should stop brushing your teeth.
The best advice here is to figure out what you want to accomplish each day and how you want to arrange it into your schedule. Pretty simple, right?
The Socialization Factor: Pro or Con?
Socialization is tricky for me when it comes to listing it as a pro or con of working remotely. On one hand I feel I can be more productive without someone spontaneously inviting me on a trip to Starbucks. On the other, why is no one inviting me to go to Starbucks?!
Some people tell me (without me asking) that they could “never work from home” because they’d “miss seeing people too much”. I don’t think that’s the case with working remotely at all. For one, unless you do something very specific and individual, you’re likely communicating over email or direct message with clients or colleagues. You might take phone calls or Skype meetings or you might have to meet with clients at their offices. You really just get more choice over who you spend those social minutes with.
Schedule Social Time! Make a point to meet a girlfriend or fellow work-from-homer for a coffee or a lunch date. There are also some great networking lunches out there!
Feeling extra lonely? Why not check out a local collaborative work space or even bring your laptop to your favourite coffee shop just to feel the buzz of the come-and-go around you.
The Magic of Multi-Tasking!
The ability to multi-task is both a pro and con when it comes to working remotely. Here are some of the ways I make the most of my time while working at home:
Laundry: Laundry is my favorite thing to multi-task during the work day. You put a load in the washer, you go do some work. You move the load to the dryer, you go do some work. Dryer’s done, take a few mins for some folding (maybe quieting your mind during this time) and then return to work.
Logistically Scheduled Outings: Often I need to leave the house to meet with clients. Based on the location of those meetings, I’ll plan a few errands to run for the outing. Maybe the meeting is near my dry cleaner or dog groomer. Sometimes my meeting isn’t near anything relevant, but I need to pick up a few things from the grocery store on my way home for dinner that night. It adds an extra 15 minutes to my outing, but saves a separate trip out of the house.
Dog Walking: I love that I’m able to be at home with my pup all day, especially as this gives me the opportunity to take her for a quick walk over my lunch break. It gives me an opportunity to get some fresh air and clear my head, or to catch up on those industry Podcasts! Taking my dog for a walk after work is also great – it forces me to get out of the office! Note: a scheduled fitness class can do the same thing!
Boundaries: Personal & Professional
Boundaries can be difficult in any situation but take it from me, setting boundaries with yourself and others early can help you to be more successful in working from home. For some it’s minimizing distractions to be able to get work done whereas for others it’s about being able to walk away from the work at the end of the day. Let’s break this down:
Personal Boundaries & Finding Work-Life Balance
I find the ability to compartmentalize my work and personal life very difficult. I assume this is the case for most entrepreneurs. You’re out there trying to hustle, you want to put in as much time and effort as you possibly can to make your dream come to life, often without realizing the toll your long hours could be taking on your personal and family life.
TIPS: Allowing yourself a separation between work and life is important.
Try to leave the office by a specified time each day – both physically and mentally!
Turn off notifications and try to avoid answering emails after hours. If thoughts of “I can’t forget about XYZ” come up after hours, compile a list in your notes in your smart phone. I keep a running “punch list” in there so that when I return to my desk, I can tackle those items (but not before then!).
Don’t let distractions at home impede on time you’ve set aside to work. Would you let these distractions creep into your day job at the widget factory?
Professional Boundaries & Overcoming Generational Differences
Something I’ve encountered over the years is a lack of acceptance over working remotely or from home. Older generations fear working from home will not equate to enough “face time with the boss” resulting in poor optics in the workplace from colleagues and superiors. I find this to also be the case with flexible work hours. Many believe that if you’re not punching in from 8 to 5 you appear lazy, too comfortable or relaxed, even unmotivated.
As an employee working remotely, there seems to be an implicit understanding from friends and family that you are “working during work hours” and they tend to respect that. As an entrepreneur, I have found this to be less so. I’ve heard all too often “You work from home so you have more time for XYZ” to which I politely respond with “Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day – we just choose to use them differently.”
Working from home full-time, especially in the case of entrepreneurship, is often misread as “you don’t have a real job” and/or “you have all of this free time during the day!” What is really important here is that you respect your own time so that others will respect it, too. If you treat working from home the way you would treat working in a traditional office and then some, establishing professional boundaries shouldn’t be an issue for you.
TIPS (For Entrepreneurs):
Try saying “I’m sorry, I can’t. I have to work.” In the same manner you would if you were punching a clock for someone else.
Let friends and family know your work hours. Would they disturb you at the widget factory?
Roll your eyes and ignore them. They don’t see the way the workplace is changing, they don’t understand your hustle, and they likely don’t realize that you put in more hours a week than they do.
Big Picture Tips for Remote Work Success:
Establish a routine. Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it.
Identify when you are most and least productive.
Schedule social time (coffee meetings, lunches) during the week.
Leave “the office” at a reasonable time each day. Work-Life Balance is important.
Set boundaries with yourself and others.
Don’t sit in your desk chair for hours and hours. Get up and stretch!
Make time for exercise or a mid-day walk.
Be sure to take a lunch break.
Make the most of your ability to multi-task!
I’m Carlee and I’m the founder and Editor-In-Chief at Styled to Sparkle. I’m a writer, entrepreneur, sommelier, expert traveler, wife and dog mom.
I love shopping, trying new beauty products, styling my home and traveling to interesting places. I enjoy wine and spirits, great food and travel that includes all of these things! My love of wine is why I chose to complete my WSET Level 2 Sommelier Certification.
I strongly believe in “classic style for the modern real girl” for all facets of life. My love of classic simplicity is reflected in my personal style, fashion and beauty choices, interior design decisions and how I travel. Trends come and go, but elegance is forever. “Always classic, seldom trendy” is a rule that I live by.
I decided to add a YouTube Channel to my blog because I find that especially when it comes to travelling somewhere new, it’s nice to have an idea of what it will look like – and sometimes a photo isn’t enough. I’m always looking for new travel destinations and places to feature, so please reach out and let me know what I can see in your city!
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