Learning to Work at Home Successfully

Working at home is both a blessing, and a curse, depending on what time of day you talk to me. It’s great that I can get up before dawn and begin pounding away at the keyboard. It’s not so great when the rest of the house gets up as well. Working in the middle of the kitchen makes it even more hectic.

It has now been 5 months of full-time WAHM status for me. Every thing is still not balanced. I need to mop the floor, but I need to meet several deadlines even worse. It seems that every time I get caught up, something happens and I’m racing to catch up once again.

The schedule is getting better. I didn’t have to stay up all night during this past week. I went to my son’s basketball games with out worrying about the stories I was leaving behind. But I haven’t been shopping in two weeks, and the pantry is starting to show wear.

There are a few things I’ve learned over the last few months that will help me in my struggle to balance the life of a work at home mom – writing, cleaning, cooking, errands, and kids . . . and at some point the hubby as well ;).

1. Delegate responsibility. Even though my husband doesn’t do the laundry the way I do, I have to trust him to do it. The same goes for the kids. They may not clean the bathroom as well as I would, but it is clean (or cleaner than it was when they started anyway).

2. Work as a team. If you see something needs to be done then just do it then. It will probably only take a couple of minutes and any complaining you would do about it to the responsible party is going to take that much time anyway.

3. Take time for family. No matter how many deadlines are looming ahead, take time to eat as a family and even time to play as a family. One of the main benefits for working at home is that you do get to be with family, so take advantage of it.

4. Spread out the deadlines. Even if everyone wants things done on the first of the month, spread out the deadlines on your work sheet. There is a little procrastinator in us all, and if everything is due at the same time you will never be able to get done every thing that you have been putting off.

5. Learn how to say no. As your jobs continue to increase, learn to say no to the ones that aren’t the best pay, the best fit for you abilities, or the ones that you actually want to do.

6. Do a little of each job each day. Spending one or two hours on each upcoming project will lay the foundation for meeting (or beating) all of your deadlines.

7. Work when you can. If you have to go sit at practice with the kids, then take your laptop along. Get in a few minutes of work while you are there.

8. Enlist your spouse. Let your partner know what kind of time you need – not just the number of hours, but whether the house needs to be completely quite or just sort of peaceful.

9. Set some rules. Make a sign that says “Working – Do not Disturb,” one that says “Please Wait Your Turn” and one that says “My Door is Open.” Use the signs, along with some basic rules and guidelines, to help your family understand your work mode and your mommy mode.

10. Be flexible. Working at home usually requires much more flexibility in when, where and how you work than just going into the office. Learn to go with the flow, but always stay focused on the goals ahead.

Learning how to work from home is a trail and error process, at least where I’m living. Fortunately, most of the people I have worked with to date have understood the process and been flexible themselves. As I close in on the half year mark, I know that I am beginning to get a grip. I look forward to the day when I have my schedule all worked out – including the house, the family, the work, AND the personal writings.

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