I have been working from home now on and off across two different countries since 2006; before kids, with kids and now the kids are both at school. I was fortunate to work from home in Germany working for a corporate company that was based in London which I did for a year and then since 2014 working from home on my Kids Gifts and Toys blog and now working as a virtual assistant and small business consultant here at Many Hands Make.
It certainly isn’t the walk in the park that some people might think. It can be hard to stay motivated, focused and sane when you only have yourself for company. Even harder still when it is school holidays and you have to entertain the kids, AND try to get work done (I write this with my children shooting Nerf guns in my office!)
Below, I have shared with you some of my tips and tricks on how to adjust to being your own boss and working from home.
Get dressed as if you are heading into the office
I have been working from home now for over 3 years and initially I found myself dressed in loungewear (tracksuit pants and t-shirts) and even sleepwear that could pass as activewear if the postman turns up.
These days though I find to put myself in the right mindset that it helps if I dress as if I am going into an office, much like I used when I worked in the corporate world. The theory behind this? I am not sure if there is an exact science or theory around it but I find that if I am dressed well, with makeup and hair done I am more confident, focused and I get so much more work completed.
Don’t do the housework
Although you are working from home, it doesn’t mean you should do the cleaning, laundry or cooking or any other housework for that matter. My argument, if you were working in an office you wouldn’t be doing any housework there…
Some people might argue that this is one of the benefits from working at home and having worked from home both in Australia and abroad, I have trialled many different ways that work.
I find I can put the washing machine on either the night before or first thing in the morning and as long as I have it hung on the line before 9am, then that is ok. In my lunch break or afternoon tea I use that time to bring the washing in.
I am the same with the slow cooker, as long as the slow cooker is on before 9am then that is fine as it can cook away whilst you are working. I don’t like any housework eating into my work time as that is so precious.
And definitely no cleaning to be done, it breaks up your concentration too much and allows for too much procrastination.
Obviously, this is what I have found over the years works for me, you may have different routines incorporating housework that suit you. Better yet, you may have a cleaner!
If you can get into the habit of batch cooking up some meals on a weekend, it definitely saves you time making lunch. Or add a little more to your dinner so you have leftovers and can re-heat the next day.
Making lunch is probably the one thing that takes up the most time in my working day. I do try to make some lunch when I am making my children their lunch for school but to be honest, that happens about twice a month!
I quite regularly cook or make my lunch each day. As a vegequarian (I eat fish, eggs, dairy) I find the easiest, healthiest and quickest meal to cook is a scrambled egg or a vegetable filled omelette. I sometimes put in a wrap and add spinach as well. Other days it may be a sandwich or heating up soup or another meal I have batch cooked and defrosted.
But also remember you need to take regular breaks and so taking 25-30 mins out of your working day to make and eat lunch helps to re-energise you for the afternoon!
Music and Podcasts
As you are working from home and all on your own, I love to listen to music, especially if I am feeling a little flat or needing that extra energy to see me through the afternoon.
Sort yourself a playlist on Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud or YouTube. You can also find online playlists on the radio like iHeart or Last.fm.
Music will get you through the working day with a smile!
Another thing I am loving which I have only recently started to listen to ( slow starter here I know) are Podcasts. I find it a little more tricky to concentrate listening to them when I am working as they normally have so much gold but I listen to them through the day on my breaks.
Some of the ones I am loving are Mums with Hustle, The Brave Business, James Schramko Business & Life Conversations and TedTalks Business for mindset, biz advice and start up help.
I have meditated on and off for a number of years but never kept with it, never maintained any consistency. After reading The Miracle Morning at the start of the year, a book I highly recommend, I decided I needed to revisit meditation as part of his Life S.A.V.E.R.S routine. It happened to be at the same time as my best friend was finishing off her teacher trainer to become a Vedic Meditation practitioner…as I have come to realise, things happen for a reason and so with some gentle persuasion from my best friend, I embarked on a Vedic Meditation course under her tutelage.
Hands down, one of THE best things I have completed this year. It has given me clarity, purpose, focus and drive. My kids have noticed the change in my demeanour and like the ‘less shouty Mummy’.
If I don’t do my 2 x20 min meditations a day, giving that time to me, my purpose and allow me to be in the present; I notice that my work and family life is a little less balanced.
I wholeheartedly recommend it!
This is one element I have added to my working from home routine this year and one which I am LOVING! I decided with both children at school this year I had no excuses not to exercise.
I have found dropping the kids off to school and then going for a quick 20 min walk a great way to start my working day off. As it comes into the hotter, summer months in Australia, I will need to re-jig this to 6am starts to avoid the intense heat.
I have tried this way yet but you may even find going for a walk or run at lunch a great way to incorporate exercise. I find by going outside, being close to nature, getting those endorphins pumping helps to clear any creative blocks, or reduce down any feelings of overwhelm with the tasks at hand.
Networking and Co-working
One of the most challenging elements of working from home is the loneliness you can feel. I have considered getting a dog, just to have someone to talk to! I get to talk to clients regularly but I do miss the human interaction that you get from working in an office.
These days there are quite a few ways to connect so you don’t feel so isolated. You can take your laptop and head to your local café or library. You can rent a desk in a shared workspace or co-working space through sites like Spacely. These sites are great places to book meeting rooms especially if you have a client you wish to see, but you don’t want to meet at your home.
If you are in capital city there are lots of business groups you can join on Facebook and if you are an Australian Mum, join Mums & Co who have regular free coffee meet ups for business mums run by their local volunteer ambassadors. You just need to register on their website and they have them running monthly, lasting 1.5hrs at a time.
At the very minimum, if you are just starting out and needing some support and advice check out these fantastic Facebook groups, Australian Business Collaborative, Remarkable Business Mums, Mums with Hustle Biz Club and for Virtual Assistants, The VA Society Hub.
I hope this little guide helps you to grow and thrive in your business and remember if you need a help outsourcing your admin, just give me a shout.