Having the ability to work from home is what most working mothers seek. Whether you have a flexible forward thinking employer that can see the benefits of home working or you are self-employed it certainly makes life a lot easier if you have young children or school pickups to think about.
It enables you to keep your income and your career moving forward if you can fit work around your life and family. However, working from home can have its own set of problems and limitations.
The types of work and careers that require working remotely and from home may be different for many mums but the underlying issues of setting work-life boundaries are the same for the majority. Keeping your two worlds separate is hard work so here are our top tips on how to be organised when you work from home!
Have a commute
When you work from home you lose your commute to work which although great for time back, is actually quite often, where people organise their thoughts, think about their work and plan their day. But you can still do this by having a mental commute. If for example, you take the children to school or nursery this can become your commute. The morning dog walk can also become your commute. On your ‘commute’ think of the top 3 things that you need to achieve that day.
Create clear work-life boundaries so schedule time that you are going to finish for the day and don’t let that laptop lid linger on open. For many mums, it’s school and nursery hours that determine their working pattern. But it’s also very easy to just think I’ll finish that off in the evening….
Ideally you’d have a separate office room with a door! But if this isn’t possible then a corner of a room that’s your own dedicated workspace works just as well. This can become your zone, it also defines where your home life and work life start and end. Mentally it helps define the boundaries and also helps to organise your workspace. Much better than the kitchen table…
Try to keep your workspace tidy, un-distracting and your own!
Take your breaks
Schedule your break times and times that you will have a break from your desk, you are not 100% productive all of the time, it’s important to have those rituals that you have in the office to look forward to so coffee at 11. Lunch at 1 etc. Just because you are working from home shouldn’t mean you have to work relentlessly! Use these times when you are having a break to put a quick wash on and do the jobs that you still need to do that help your house function!
Plan your meals
Plan your evening meal in the morning so that you are not up against in when the children are suddenly back from school and hungry.
Think about call times
Schedule your conference calls and any work or video calls for during the day when the children are at school or if they are at home with you then make sure you have something for them to do that is going to take their attention away from you.
Manage expectations of friends that might pop over, your children and your own expectations! Be realistic as to what you can achieve if you have a child at home with you. Have a specific time that you go and meet people out of the house away from your desk.
Plan your childcare and leave enough time
Organise your childcare well in advance so that you know you have cover and you are not just winging it every day. You know how it feels when you have left something until the last minute because you work well under pressure and then the inevitable happens someone is poorly. So if you know you have a big deadline make sure you allow enough time for any disasters!
Maximise your productivity
Maximise your work day by becoming an early riser, even if you don’t feel like tackling any work-related tasks early in the morning you could do any house jobs that need doing and might distract you later in the day.
Work to your energy levels. If you have to be creative in your work and you know that certain times of the day you are more creative then schedule your work around your creative peaks and the same for general energy.
Compartmentalise and batch tasks that you have to do so plan a morning where you do all tasks the same so if you need to do a whole load of invoicing then batch these all together for one morning not only does this make you more efficient it’s helping to organise your workload in advance.
Communicate with your team
If you work remotely as part of a team then make sure you communicate with your team your working hours so that you are not expected to be online and connected all the time.
Think about how you work with your remote team there are lots of new ways to work more efficiently as a remote team now. So it might be good to look at some new apps like Slack and Trello to help organise your work.
End of the day
Think about ending your workday with a routine or ritual. It might be that you close down your laptop and put an out of office on so that you don’t feel compelled to go back in and check emails. Plan the next day the night before so it’s not a surprise to you.
Don’t forget though as your children get older it does get easier but most importantly know what job done looks like at the end of the day and don’t be afraid to switch off!