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Smart Strategies to Survive Working at Home

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People who don’t work from home seem to think it’s a dream job. C’mon, what’s so hard about working from home? You don’t have to dress in business attire, drive anywhere, pack a lunch, you can take breaks when you want… it’s perfect! Well, people who do work from home will tell you that it’s not always so great.

I’ve been a work-from-home mom for a few years now, telecommuting the majority of the time from my regular job as an HR specialist. Just recently though, I’ve made the shift to 100% work-at-home mom in my role as a proofreadervirtual assistant, and blogger.

Learn how to combat the challenges that exist when you are a busy work-at-home mom with many distractions. Also pick up tips about tackling your to-do list.So all in all, I’ve lived this life of earning an income while doing the mom thing simultaneously. Mom Boss is hard, y’all! And I’d be lying if I said I did not miss the office at times. There are days when I long to just be in my cubicle completely focused on my work without the pitter patter (at times, stomping) of little feet down the hall.

As I’ve come to know, there are many obstacles to working at home.

Interruptions

Yes, this one may seem obvious. The interruptions! Man, oh, man the interruptions! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been knee deep in concentration on a project only to hear “Got to pee, pee!” from my three-year-old. Naturally, I can’t ask him to hold it because then I’d be handling another task — clean up.

And it’s not just responding to bathroom breaks from my toddler when nature calls, but it’s making sure that I’m making breakfast and lunch, cleaning up, giving them fluids…essentially it’s like being their waitress/cook while trying to work.

I’ve found some relief to this by realizing that I may only have 30 minutes to dedicate to the task at hand, and I will have to press pause and come back to it later. It’s learning to adapt to change when things don’t go according to plan.

Usually, I handle the smaller tasks and wait till my husband comes home so I can isolate myself in my dedicated home office without interruptions, then I bust out the effort to handle the big tasks.

And that’s another point to maintaining your sanity away from distractions, have a child-free, no-distractions space!

Plopping your work at the kitchen table wishing for no distractions only works if you’ve got a genie. Those kids love you, and they will come a running wanting your attention, and you’ll cave and want to gobble up that cuteness!

Related read:

Lack of Discipline

When you’re in an office setting and work walking distance to your boss, there’s more of an urgency to get your work done and not goof off. Also, working close in proximity to your coworkers motivates you also to get your work done.

When you work from home, the atmosphere is more relaxed. It’s harder to get your work done. Tasks may get pushed to the side for the moment; deadlines may get postponed. All in all, if you don’t have self-discipline, laziness rears its ugly head.

Also, we get tempted by all that’s around us: the children, the new Netflix show everyone is talking about, the ice cream in the freezer that’s calling our name, etc.

To overcome all of this, do the work when you’re most productive. I find that I do my best work during what I call the “sweet time” from 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. This is when I feel most energetic and productive. The kids have just had breakfast, and they’re playing with their toys (or on their iPads — don’t judge ;-)) and I can easily churn out my best work and check off those to-dos. Now, I still get my work done throughout the day, but there’s no other time frame as great as the “sweet time.”

I also find that it helps me to be more productive when I write down tasks I need to complete the night before. I use my favorite planner to tackle all these to-dos and also use my phone for the occasional reminder. 

Not Being Able to “Clock-Out.”

Having your place where you make a living be where you eat, sleep, and basically, live makes turning off work-mode extremely difficult — sometimes non-existent.

I will usually work through the entire day because as I’ve mentioned above, interruptions run rampant in my household, and if I just quit working at 5:00 p.m., I’d be so behind the next day and the next day…

I’ve responded to work issues in my contractor role at 1:00 in the morning just because I can’t quit — yes, I am somewhat of a workaholic.

I’m still working on this and doing my best just to say, “Okay, Maia, it’s really quitting time.” The screaming kids and annoyed look from my husband are also an indicator. I find that turning off my notifications on all my devices helps too.

Weight Gain

In the time where I’ve made the shift to work completely at home, the weight just sort of crept up on me. One day, I found that even my fat clothes were extremely tight and uncomfortable. Now anyone who is not their ideal weight will tell you that we all have a comfortable fatness. We can wear certain clothes to hide it and be a little okay that we’re not a size two. Well, I had surpassed my fat clothes to where I was worried I would have to live in sweatpants in the summer in 80-degree weather.

Being home all day, sitting down a lot, and having the fridge and snacks be less than 20 feet away have caused me to be at my heaviest weight.

It occurred to me that being in an office setting where I had to go to the next room to retrieve print jobs, go up and down the steps multiple times a day, walking around to talk to coworkers or going to lunch made a difference with keeping my weight at a comfortable level.

In my attempts to be healthier, I’ve made great use of my FitBit. It gives me a great picture of my fitness goals.  

I started working out again — slowly, of course. I’m even planning on how to fit jogging into my routine. Food-wise, I am not denying myself anything but am using portion control and making smarter choices. Also, I’m drinking a lot more water every day — over 40 ounces each day. This compared to the cup of water I’d drink daily then opt for soda or fruit juices.

Dream Job

All in all, working from home can be a challenge, but if you set yourself up for success and are willing to adapt, it’s not bad at all —  it’s actually wonderful! I know how lucky I am to be able to watch my children grow and spend every waking moment with them, not pay for childcare, run errands whenever I choose, schedule appointments without requesting time off, and still earn an income.

As with anything in life, it’s not about perfection, but finding that healthy balance. And that’s what I strive to achieve every day.

What are some things you do to get more done each day? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Comments

  1. Carol H. says

    I try and set realistic goals each day about the amount of work I can get done. As you mentioned, making a list helps. It serves as a good tool to keep me on task and not get distracted and wander from task to task starting one after another before finishing anything. I love the satisfaction of crossing off a completed task from the list!

    • Maia Xiong says

      Thanks for sharing, Carol! Love the setting-realistic-goals mention. When we take on too much and don’t accomplish enough, we get down on ourselves. I love crossing off tasks too! 🙂

  2. Julie B. says

    I’ve found that having “office hours” like you said, helps a lot. Unfortunately I don’t have a dedicated office and it’s been a struggle trying to blog with mY kids home this summer. But I’ll miss that time with them when school starts soon. Great article.

    • Maia Xiong says

      Thanks, Julie! Yes, office hours are so helpful! I definitely feel ya on those struggles. Back to school is such a bittersweet time.

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