Scheduling Strategies for Freelance / Work from Home Beginners

I saw what had to be the stupidest conversation on Twitter yesterday. It talked about how people in other cultures don’t understand why Americans who are self-employed tend to stick to a more traditional schedule of 9 to 5…and how those people make fun of that. They’ve forgotten a couple of key components of scheduling strategies that remain the same regardless of where you live in the world: Continue reading

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If You Want to Be More Successful, Follow These 3 Valuable Tips

success

Okay, so…first, before I start on a tangent, I’d like to say one thing. Money isn’t the only measure of success. Of course, money is a necessity if you don’t want to be homeless and if you like fancy things like indoor plumbing (water) and electricity. I dunno about y’all, but I also like to eat. So, when I talk about success, I certainly mean making enough money to cover the bills. Past that? Well, define success on your own terms.  Continue reading

Practicality: My Personal Philosophy

I am a practicality junkie in life and in business. I hate it when things are made more complicated than they need to be. People often miss the beauty (and the serenity) that embracing the practical brings. We live in a complex world. There are apps, websites, and books that teach us 1001 methodologies to do pretty much anything. And then there are the “gurus” of said methodologies who believe that only their method will bring you peace and prosperity. Of course, then you have their converts. For the most part, I’m a very live and let live sort of person. If you love to complicate things (in your own life and not in the lives of others), do your thing. Continue reading

Mastering a Work from Home Routine without Breaking a Sweat

Okay – so you might sweat a little. Working from home and taking care of the home at the same time can take time and work. And sweat. I’m a mom. I work from home. I can tell you from experience that a routine is crucial.

If you work outside of the home, you have a routine. You have things you do to get ready to leave. You have things you do at work. You probably take lunch at a certain time. You come home and probably have more things you do before you go to bed.

If you’re a homemaker, you probably have at least a little bit of a routine. I know it can be hard when the kids are extremely little (but it is also doable). You get up around a certain time. You have certain things you do in the morning. You have certain things you do in the afternoon. You have certain things you do in the evening.

Working from Home Requires a Routine

There’s this prevailing thought about working from home that is, at best, moderately misleading. That thought is how working from home is like a fairy tale. You’re around your sweet little darlings (if they aren’t school age). You can take them to playgroups. You can attend every practice. You’ll have this squeaky clean house. And somehow, you’ll also have this blissful, stress-free work environment. Everything will be happy, happy, happy.

And it’s just not true. If you want peace for your work environment, you have to create a routine to have it. The thing about working from home, and I’ve said this over and over again here and on the podcast, it’s always bring your kid to work day. Even if you’re sick. Even if they’re sick. And if you don’t work on client projects, you’re losing money. If you’re working on client projects, you could feel guilt that you’re not spending time with your children or doing things around the house.

The only way you can have the best of both worlds is to create a routine. And, yes, I know…many of you will have to learn the hard way.

 

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“Death Note”

Creating a Routine…the Easy Way

So, I spent all last week sick. I was sick on my birthday. I was sick on my anniversary. I was sick all the way through yesterday. I spent a week sick…and working. Without a specific routine (that I reintroduced to my life) that I used when my older boys were little, my house would look like a fucking disaster. I dunno about you, while I can function in a bit of disorganization (I am often referred to as an organized messy – I may have different piles, but I know what’s in them). I prefer “a place for everything and everything in its place,” but I am realistic.

So, how did I create my routine the easy way? Well, as I said, I went back to one that I customized for myself around 15 years ago. The good news for you is that it’s available online. Free. There’s also an app and a free licensing key for the app.

Now, some of you may know about this site…and you may have just thought it couldn’t work for you, but try it for a week. You’ll see improvement. You don’t even have to get everything done every day (I do try to complete everything on my list). I don’t use a paper to-do list for it anymore since app came out. For those of you who don’t know, just try it. FlyLady.net. Yes, really. The app, available for both Android and Apple, is called FlyHelper. Download the app and install it. Then, download and run the licensing key. Yes, it’s legal. The app creator put the licensing key out for free themselves.

You’ll have a morning routine, an afternoon routine, and an evening routine. Your home is broken into areas known as Zones. Each week, you put most of your focus on that area of the house. You also spend between 2 – 15 minutes each day decluttering and putting things away. You also spend an hour each week doing the necessities: vacuuming (I prefer to vacuum more than once a week), dusting, mopping, and the likes. You can use the app to edit your to-do list or change up your routine (add or remove things). Each Zone even tells you what you should do each week to clean that zone.

Uhh…I would say avoid the email list. At all costs. You’ll get inundated with reminders. Just stick with the app or visit her website every day. If you prefer paper, there’s a walk through on how to set-up a paper routine.

The Key? Follow-Through

Something else I’ve mentioned a million times. It doesn’t matter if it’s success in business or success around the home…you must follow-through. And that’s where people fuck up. You must put in the effort. Every day. You must. Don’t think of it as, “I work from home so everyone else should pitch in.” Yeah, they should. They live there, too. I won’t hit you over the head with my opinion on this…because I’ve lived with someone who was a total twat and felt entitled to sit around and do nothing…but who made that choice?

Think about it this way: these are all things you’d have to do if you were single. Unless you hire a maid (and more power to you if you wanna do that – it’s an ultimate goal of mine).

Because a system like FLY Lady breaks things down into smaller chunks, it is MUCH easier to get your family involved because you can tell them exactly what you need done. And you’re leading by example.

Again, though, it won’t work if you don’t follow through every day.

Work It Around Your Schedule

I usually get up around 5:30 or 6 am and work a little. When the littlest wakes up for school, I make his breakfast and start my morning routine. Then, I work. It usually takes me until 2 or 3 to finish my work. Then, depending on the time, I will either do the afternoon routine plus a few things on the Zone list or I will go pick up the little one from school. What you’ll notice about the evening routine is that it’s designed around picking up the kitchen and taking care of yourself. So, the evening routine is simple.

The whole thing is simple…and there’s power in simplicity because it makes it easier to work it around your life. So, try it for a week (her website says try it for 30 days and she even gives you baby steps). You’ll notice that you feel more in control over your life.

 

 

From Zero to Hero: Stepping Up the Work from Home Game

zero to hero

Working from home isn’t easy. It’s not always easy to get started…and once you’ve gotten your feet wet, it’s not always easy to keep up your momentum. I’d wager a guess that at some point, all of us who work from home have questioned why we do it and why we are at least momentarily envious of our friends who earn a living in a more traditional environment.

Even if you’re getting everything done in a day, it’s still easy to feel like a total zero. Here’s how to step up your work from home game and go from feeling like a zero to a total hero.

Examine Your Schedule

When you work from home, you get the “opportunity” to set your own schedule (most of the time – I know some people contract with places like call centers and end up with set hours…and that’s okay, too). The thing is, the schedule that works for you during the school year may be a giant no during the summer or on school breaks. Planning to work while your baby naps is all well and good until you realize just how freaking tired you are or the little darling gives up naps. Your day is not designed by Ron Popeil. When you work from home, there is no set it and forget it. It’s more like set it, use it, tweak it, and change it if and when necessary. Schedule your most mind-power consuming tasks for when you have the most energy and focus. I don’t care if that is 5 am before anyone else wakes up (bonus: you’re done with all your work by like…noon) or 11:32 pm. When you work on the most energy consuming work tasks first, the rest of the time you work will make you feel a million times more productive.

So, make it a habit to examine your schedule and change it when necessary.

Stop Being a Conformist

It can be just as easy to fall into the habit of comparing yourself, your work habits, and your entire life to other work from home enthusiasts. You don’t have to work like they do. You don’t have to have the same decision making process. While it is good to network with others and glean what you can use, don’t ever think that you’re doing it “wrong.” If your house isn’t burning down, the kids don’t have you hog tied and living on the roof during a lightening storm, and your clients are happy, you’re fine. Sure, try new ideas if you want…but don’t do it because you think you’re wrong or because there is a certain why you must work from home. No. Working from home is individualized. It is your business.

Take Some Time to Enjoy Working from Home

Doing the dishes doesn’t count…unless maybe you’re planning an awesome dinner party or just looove to clean. Take some time every day to enjoy the fact that you work from home. Sometimes, I take a hot bath in the middle of the day. Why? Because I fucking can, that’s why. Sometimes I go and sit at the lake and work while Red Bull fishes. Why? Because I fucking can, that’s why. I’d love to say sometimes I take a nap in the middle of the day…but I don’t because I am a chronic insomniac who can’t even sleep during the day…and on the off chance I do, I’m likely quite sick. Every day during the summer, Baby Bull and I wander toward our neighborhood park. There’s a splash pad there. We stay for close to an hour (he sunburns easily even with sunscreen). We go whenever we want. Why? Because I fucking can, that’s why.

So, go to the library. Go on a walk. Take the children somewhere fun. Go stand on your head in the corner. I don’t care what you do as long as it is legal and moral. You will never feel like a work from hero until you learn to enjoy your life.

Be Consistent Even on Shitty Days

Some days, life is just a big steaming pile of dog shit. The kids and the dogs are vomiting on the carpet. Your sweet little pumpkin decides to grab a permanent marker and draw you a picture….on the wall. Clients change their plans at the last minute. Your hypochondriac mother won’t leave you alone and you decide to take up drinking. Some days just suck. While there is an occasional day where you should just take a break and throw in the towel, it is extremely important to be consistent even on shitty days. The needs of your clients don’t go away because your day sucks. Your electric company still charges you. You still need money to pay your bills.

Persevering through shitty days does you two favors. First, it reminds you that you have a purpose. Total strangers still need you. Second, it teaches you and your spawn a valuable lesson. Life doesn’t stop. When things get hard, we do not quit. Sure, we may re-assess and need a new plan, but we do not quit. It teaches YOU that you are capable and strong. You may feel like a zero that day, but in a few days when you look back, you’ll feel like a total fucking hero because you rocked that day like no other.

T Is for Time Management

Zeros have the same 24 hours in a day as total heroes. The difference is in how that time is managed. I know that tomorrow will suck for me because it will be busy. So, one thing I am doing today to prepare for tomorrow is to handle some of tomorrow’s work. That will be one less thing for me to do.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Learn to manage your time. Plan things. You don’t have to have a start and stop time for things. I don’t. I do know roughly how much time I will need to devote to each client on any given day. And I work in my fun time.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Seriously. No is perfect. I know it can be hard to give yourself a break. I struggle with it, too. “I could do more. I should do more. I must do more.” Yet, our self-worth shouldn’t ever be totally tied up in our work. You are not a slave. You are a person. You are a person with needs. You are a person with responsibilities outside of work…and that make you a hero.

Comment below how you make your work from home experience better (and click Confessional to tell us your anonymous secrets.)