I started working from home several years ago. At first, it was a disaster. I felt like a failure since I never accomplished much. My house was destroyed and dinners weren’t made. Along the way, I figured out a balance, a bit of strategy. I’m not perfect and I still have bad days, but my good days outnumber the wrecked ones. Hopefully, these six tips for working from home that I’ve picked up will work for you too.
1. Find your optimal work time.
This is a trial and error must-do, but perhaps the most important one. Mine? Early morning, which goes against what I’ve always believed about my character: burning the midnight oil, putting on another pot of coffee, keeping the owls company, and all other trite expressions about staying up late. I really believed that was my optimal work time. But? It’s not.
Once I admitted that getting up early bought me the best work time, I started going to bed and rising early (ish). Rest defragments my brain and I write and create best before the house awakes.
2. Don’t work all day.
You may believe that the money will roll in and that you will write a new blog post and create a new product every day by parking your butt in front of the computer. You won’t; think about burnout and your health. The human body needs a respite from work. Take a break, rest your eyes, move your body.
3. Maintain a schedule.
Every person I know who stays home has other responsibilities – laundry, dishes, meals, shopping, children – often the reasons many people choose to work from home. These things need attention, but when to do them?
When I straightened out my work at home schedule, I devoted the most time to creating a schedule. What works is if I have two possible schedules: a schedule for when I get up before my entire household and a schedule for when I get up with the kids. I made plenty of errors and had days where I accomplished little. My best advice: figure out a schedule, even a loose one.
I had to be realistic with a schedule. I want to get up early every day, but without sleep I’m a grouch. If I get up before everyone else, I work. This is the best scenario but more times than not, I get up with the kids. In that situation, I make them breakfast while doing the dishwasher, starting laundry, and prepping dinner. Since I won’t park them in front of the tv for the day, they get an activity – Play-Doh, supplemental school activities, or reading. If the older kids don’t have a school day, I get a solid hour of work done and then spend time with them. I’ll work again later, probably after lunch.
This wasn’t the situation when I had tiny babies and it isn’t always today. Kids aren’t predictable (we knew that, I believe). Giving them a specific activity so I can work helps. I have zero qualms about my kids seeing me work and entertaining themselves for a bit. I considered that when I made this schedule.
4. Plan ahead.
Whatever your large goals, you probably have smaller goals that will work up to the larger ones. For example, I organize my months by blog posts. I have at least two moths worth of posts mapped out. This allows me to complete research and buy products ahead of time. For TpT, I have a running list. Staying organized helps me stay sane as I work from home.
Take twenty minutes and brainstorm products and blog posts you want for the next month. You will feel accomplished and spend less time figuring out what to do when it is work time – you will already know.
5. Don’t be overly rigid.
I stopped working full-time outside the home primarily to be with my children more. not only do their activities and needs shape much of my schedule, but I also have to be prepared for sicknesses and extra study sessions.
I’m sure many of you have a similar situation: you’re bummed that you may not get your to-do list finished, but you’re have you have the flexibility. Here is my tip about rigidity when working from home:
Don’t get bummed if your schedule gets thrown off – this happens in an office too. Your basement will flood. You will need to help a friend. Your day will fall apart. Tomorrow will be better. If your bad days outnumber your good days, reevaluate your schedule.
6. (Because I’m a big-ol-hypocrite) Figure out what works for you.
These tips work for me, but if staying up until 4:00 am and sleeping in the next day works gets you the most work done – good. Everyone’s situation is different. Every person functions differently.
As work on TpT has progressed, I see more sellers commenting about working from home. I hope these tips help in a small way as you find what works for you. I’d love to hear about your schedules and insights: what helps you when you work from home?