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Thursday
Jun192014

My new work at home schedule: Trying to make it all fit

I was sitting at my computer last the week, the very computer I am typing on right now, when my oldest son walked up to me. 

"Mama, do you want to play?" he asked. 

Ry is only 2.5 so it comes out more like pfwaaaayyy than play. 

I did want to play, but I was busy. Or was I? 

You see I had manufactured this busyness. I had decided that I needed to get XYZ done so that I could do ABC later. All while my son tugged on my sleeve. 

When I stepped back and looked at my schedule, I realized a lot of the stuff I was doing either didn't really need to be done, or could be shifted to another time. 

So I came up with a new work schedule that I think might work for me. The problem is the discipline it takes to implement a new schedule, policy or procedure. 

I know have two toddlers. They are literally running in opposite directions when they aren't chasing each other, pulling all the pots and pans out the cabinets and digging through the garbage. I am out numbered. I needed a plan. 

SO here it goes: 

1. When the babies are in full throttle, the computer stays OFF. I started this about two weeks ago, and I have to say that I feel calmer, happier and more focused. I am not pulled to my computer when I see the little email icon pop up. I am not as tempted to check social media accounts, mine or my client's. And I don't get sucked in to reading blog posts or perusing Pinterest. 

This works for me because I only work parttime (in my own business). And my clients know that. I am so fortunate because most of them are moms and all of them are women. 

2. I scheduled my work around down times. I know only take calls from clients during name. Need to reach me? Great, call between 2 pm and 4 pm. Which leads me too...

3. I don't take personal calls during nap time when I am working. Since I have now blocked those hours for communicating with clients, writing or editing I don't take personal calls them. Not because I am "on the clock" but because I can't be pulled away. I want to spend the time my kids are awake playing with them, not catching up on work. 

4. I am now super productive from 8-9 pm. I used to zone out during this time of the day. It was close to bed and I took this time to wind down. But I have forced myself to work after the kid's go to bed. This is usually when Jason is working on the budget, reading or wrapping up his own work. We still find time to talk, chat and joke, so we still connect throughout the week. I just put on my head phones and make myself do things on my to do list. 

5. I have taken advantage of scheduling software. As I wrote in this post, a lot of the work I do centers around social media. I post things for other people as part of my marketing services. I use services like HootSuite and Dynamic Tweets to get ahead. I have even been using them for my own social media accounts. 

SO that's it. Those are the things that have been working for me. 

How do you work from home? 



Friday
May102013

Three Ways I save Time "At Work" with schedules 

I've been working from home a little over a year now and I love it. My business is really growing and in some ways this blog is turning into a business too. It's all very exciting. 

But I have a toddler and I am going to have another baby very soon and I know that my life and the way I run my business will change. 

So I wanted to share with you five ways I save time at work. 

1. Schedule time to check my email. If I let myself I would be checking email every five minutes. I had to curb that because my time is precious and pretty valuable. It's a blessing to work from home, but I am a MOM FIRST and I don't want to take time away from my son because I was obsessively checking my email. 

I turned off the alert on my phone and I shut down the mail ap on my desk top. 

I check it on my phone in the morning when I am getting ready. Then again after breakfast, then around lunch, then again at around 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and right before dinner. I made a rule: I DO NOT CHECK MY EMAIL AFTER 8:30. I just don't. 

2. Schedule Social Media Posts. It felt like I was spending all my time on Facebook and Twitter. This was because social media management is a large part of what I do for my clients. If I let myself I could totally get sucked in for an hour or two. 

So I use a few tools to schedule social media updates. 

See that button right there? That allows you to schedule posts on Facebook. 

You can set a date and time for back posts or future posts. Cool right?

For Twitter I use a service called Dynamic Tweet. 

3. I have a lot of To Do lists. 

Yes, I need all of these things to keep me track. That's three differnt lists. A home to do list, a work to do list and a long term to do list. 

 

Monday
Feb112013

How to be a WAHM: A Few Resources 

So I have given you a lot of talk. Now let's put some actions to it. 

Here are a list of some really great resources to help you as you establish and grow your business. 

The Bootstrap VA: The Go-Getter’s Guide to Becoming a Virtual Assistant, Getting and Keeping Clients, and More! is a 154-page, organized brain dump of everything Lisa Morosky has learned and experienced (and what she wishes someone had told her) over her four years of building, growing, downsizing, and repositioning a business as a virtual assistant.

The eBook includes chapters on creating your business plan (click here to read this chapter FREE), setting up your business offline and online, getting clients, working with and keeping clients, alternative income streams for virtual assistants, and more. It also includes interviews with successful virtual assistants, interviews with clients who utilize a virtual assistant, resources at the end of most chapters, a 30-day reading guide and action plan, and access to The Bootstrap VA Facebook Group where readers can bounce ideas off of each other, ask Lisa questions, and get the support needed no matter where they are in the process of becoming and working as a virtual assistant.

Click here to visit The Bootstrap VA.

Tell Your Time: How To Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free by Amy Lynn Andrews outlines a straightforward, step-by-step approach to controlling your schedule and ensuring the important things don't fall through the cracks. It's short (why are time management books always so long?) and to the point. No fluff or filler.



Blog at Home Mom by Christin Slade is full of wonderful advice and encouragement for mothers who are either running blogs, looking to run blogs or who are writers at heart. 

Christin runs one of the most encouraging blogs out there. It is full of uplifting, spiritual advice that has motivated and inspired many to keep Christ at the center of their days and nights as mothers. 

Her weekly household maintenance schedule is particularly helpful. 

Her book is no less helpful. I was especially struck by the section where Christin talks about being intentional with your time. 

 

This post contains affiliate links. 

Saturday
Feb092013

How to be a WAHM: Managing a Business and a Baby

But I must admit with a toddler and new baby on the way I worry how I will manage my schedule in the future. 

So how do you manage your day as a WAHM

That seems to be the million dollar question. It varies from day to day, so the answer is to do your best. 

1. Work around your child's sleep/eat/play schedule. 

The number one thing I heard when starting my own work from home business was work after your babies go to bed. That's great advice, it really is. But when you have a new born, that doesn't work. 

So, I found that is best to schedule naps during your most productive part of the day (if you’re baby is a good napper). For example, I am really productive in the mornings so my son used to nap at 10:30. 

However, my son began napping later and later and eventually settled on a 12:30 nap time. That meant I had to make my most productive part of the day shift. 

2. Sort your to-do list so I can find what tasks can be done during different times during the day.

I sort my list into a few different categories: Before the baby wakes up, during nap time, during mealtimes, during playtime and after he goes to bed. I give tasks a priority.

Sometimes I might have to make a quick phone call. This would happen during a meal time when I can feed the baby while on the phone and then quickly return to focusing on him. 

During playtime it might mean that I need to jot an outline for an article or marketing campaign. This usually doesn’t take a lot of my time and I can get down to the business of being a playmate. 

2. Use technology to your advantage. 

When I left the newsroom I left my smart phone behind. I saw it as a very expensive distraction. But as I was running a business I realized a wireless device would help me as I followed my sweet baby from room to room keeping him happy while I kept my client’s happy.

I broke down and bought a refurbished tablet and later when it was time to renew my cell phone contract they gave me a free smart phone. My data plan only changed my monthly bill by whopping $3. 

If I have a minute when my child is distracted by a book or a toy, I plan a client's social media schedules or read through and answer emails. Then I tuck my device away where it will be safe from curious fingers and I return to blocks, or books or trucks or whatever adventure the toddler mind has planned for me. 

But a tip: Technology is meant to make your life easier. It is made to be controlled by you. Not the otherway around. 

3. Give yourself a day off. 

Working from home means it's easy to just do one more thing, which can quickly add up to hours and hours of extra work, usually free work. 

For me my time at home with my son is precious and I want to protect it as much as I can, meaning there are days I just don't work. Or blocks of time I don't work because we are doing special things together. Our morning snuggle time before nap is sacred. Our library time each week is a treasure. And our afternoon time playing on the floor in his room cannot be interrupted. Those are my rules. 

4. Show yourself some grace. 

 Be gentle with yourself. Remember how I said I was okay when certain things on my to do list didn’t get done? These are my priorities. My child is clean, fed and snuggled with and read to. Dinner is planned or ready. The house did not burn to the ground. No one went missing today. My hair is clean by the time Jason gets home from work. (Okay that last one is less of a priority than it probably should be.)

I have also come to love my quiet time before the day begins, before my son wakes up. I like to take my cup of coffee and my bible and sit on the couch and spend just a few minutes alone. I have found when I don’t have that time the day feels more cluttered. Remember, you can’t do this alone, you weren’t designed to. 

5. Set your future goals. 

I want to grow my business so that after my babies start school I can still be home with them after school, summers and holidays. I have no idea what that business will look like, but I am paving the way for five years down the road. 

I have a notebook that I use to jot down ideas and goals. I highly suggest doing this and keeping it in a secret place. Sometimes my goals are just sacred. 

Tomorrow- A Few Resources

Part 1: Starting Out

Part 2: Know you Can't Do it Alone

Part 3: Finding You Niche 

Part 4:  Staying focused. 

 

Friday
Feb082013

How to be a WAHM: Stay Focused

It's easy to become passionate about an idea, but it can quickly fizzle if you a.) don't stay focused or b.) get discouraged.  

Understand you have to start small:

It may take you several years to start to see a full-time income from a business. The average is five years. And it takes a lot of work. But if you love what you’re doing then the time and energy you put into it will be worth it in the end.

Don’t compare yourself and your businesses goals to that of another person.

 It will drive you insane. So if you know another mom whose businesses is running like gangbusters give her a pat on the back and keep chipping away. It’s not a race and it’s not a competition. 

Imagine you are an Olympic swimmer. Does it do you any good to look at anyone else while you are swimming? No. Stay in your lane, look at what’s in front of you and keep moving forward. Don’t get distracted by what is going on the other lanes. If you’re trying to work from home with small children you have enough on your plate without worrying about what everyone else is doing. 

Sometimes you will need to adapt:

I started out writing articles and press releases for my clients. But when they needed more services I learned to adapt. I started handling their email campaigns, business to business marketing and even editing their books for epublishing. What I didn’t know how to do I learned through online tutorials or from checking out books at the library. It was key for me to meet their needs and to constantly expand my portfolio. 

But it is also key for me to meet my child’s needs: It is paramount. So I might start the day with one plan. I have made a to-do list and I have scheduled everything out and it will completely change. Perhaps my son wakes up with an ear infection, doesn’t nap or there is a family crisis or even a client crisis. I might have to completely rework my day. There are things on my to-do list that will not get done. I have learned to be okay with this. 

Monday: Mangaging a Businesses and a Baby

Part 1: Starting Out

Part 2: Know you Can't Do it Alone

Part 3: Finding You Niche