At eight months pregnant (and 40 years old), I had come the the understanding that I was a strong individual, but not strong enough or brave enough to leave my new baby at home. I was going to do anything – and risk anything - to be at home with her. I quit my job and started a company from my home. The last 18 years have been tumultuous as I have worn many hats, while those around me only would know me in a singular way. To the mom's at school I 'looked' like a stay-at-home as I picked my kid up daily. To my corporate clientele I 'looked' like I was sitting in a big mirrored tower taking calls from a beautiful office. To my kiddo, she just knew that mom worked all the time and that when I had a big call, she was to be as quiet as a mouse (she also received quite a few bribes for silence at just the right time).
I used to hide the fact that I had a virtual office, but within the last four or so years, it became more 'okay' for me to gently share my location with my rock-solid clients. So here we are during this insane time to be alive, and it looks like everyone is catching up with me (sigh).
There are some rules of the road that have helped me earn a living from my home and I am happy to share them with you. Hopefully they might help you work smarter and eliminate some of the guilt and potential stress that comes from working from home as well.
- It's okay to make a batch of cookies. Let yourself live. Take a break to do something that is therapeutic for you and that you love. I make a big batch of cookie dough and quietly go back and forth making batches between calls. Truth be told, I sometimes have lovely work conversations (that are forward thinking and strategic) with an oven mitt on my hand.
- You don't have to be tethered to a specific place at all times, but when something of importance is occurring it is best to have your special place. I can work from any corner of my home, as I carry my computer and phone around. However, if I have a call in which it is the moment of truth (maybe I am asking for an order), I am sitting at my dining room table, ready to type, taking notes. This business-like position is guaranteed to keep me 100% on my game.
- Create a space for your Zoom/Virtual calls with video. Check your lighting, examine what is behind you on the wall and create a perfect plan. I like to let a little of 'me' show, so I place myself in front of my daughter's artwork and a beautiful fuchsia orchid my sweet friend gave to me. You may wish to look like a total pro and have a bookshelf and awards. Check your lighting as you set up, so you don't have to address this on each video call.
- Day and evening: I contact clients during the day as that is the only time to connect, but I may also choose to run an errand or meet a friend for lunch (I know we are saying put at this juncture, but there will be more freedom in the near future we hope!). If I choose to take part of a day for me, I write proposals, and take care of my blog, SEO work and invoicing during the evenings. This flex does not mean I work 24/7, it simply means that I choose when to give my time to my family, my friends, my company and in general is one of the top reasons to work from home.
My closet friends always say – how do you do it? How can you focus from home? Well, I need money to support my child. That is the greatest motivator to continue to be diligent about getting my work done and done well. My strategy is simple, do what is best for my clients during the day, do the 'background' work at night and drop everything to take care of my daughter. This plan has helped me create the balance I enjoy and the life I desire. Is it easy? Sometimes no. But what is?