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Working From Home: 10 Tips For Success

When I started a small part-time business 2 ½ years ago, I had no idea that it would grow to the full-time business is it today, allowing me to walk away from a corporate career I spent 15 years building! When I tell people I work from home and have replaced a corporate salary within 2 years, I usually get one of two responses – “I don’t know how you get anything done,” or “I wish could do that.”

I feel that many of my friends who are also moms like me think the flexibility of working from home sounds amazing, but they aren’t sure they have what it takes to be productive. I’ll admit that you can become easily distracted, but here are 10 tips I’ve learned along the way.

1. Establish a Schedule

I know for many moms this can seem difficult (especially if you have young children), but it’s a critical element to successfully working from home.

If you do not have a schedule and do not set your intentions for the day, you will waste more time trying to figure out what work to do versus actually getting work done. It doesn’t have to be an hour by hour schedule, but something that becomes routine.

For example, I like to use Mondays as my office day to make calls, send follow-up emails, write my social media posts for the week, and set appointments with current and potential clients – anything office related. Tuesdays through Thursdays, I usually schedule an hour of office/desk time but spend the majority of those days on appointments and networking with others. I like Fridays to be my day to tie up loose ends and tackle all of the tasks that I necessarily pushed off. I have a daily list – I know I have had a productive day when I see all the things crossed off of my list. Even if you only work 2 or 3 hours per day on whatever it is you do from home, it is important to have that time blocked off and know what you intend to accomplish during those hours.

You can accomplish a lot in 1 hour if it’s a focused, distraction-free hour; if you try to squeeze in 5-10 minutes here and there, you’ll likely find yourself stuck in the same spot for weeks.

2. Establish Boundaries

I truly believe this is where most moms struggle. I have a designated work-space in my home. When I am in my work-space during my work hours, I do not spend any of that time answering personal emails or personal calls (unless it’s my kids’ school or my husband, which are really the only exceptions). My kids are now 4 and 7, so we had a conversation in terms they understand; if Mommy is at her desk on the phone, it is not the time to interrupt. And I’m realistic when I’m planning my work schedule, so when my kids are home (day off of school or in the summer), I typically don’t spend more than an hour at a time at my desk. Instead, I’ll break up my work day explaining “it’s Mommy’s hour to work” and give them 2-3 choices of things they can pick to do during that hour. You may or may not agree with this method, but I believe children need to learn to entertain themselves for short periods of time (i.e. it helps them practice self-discipline). I have even caught them playing “office,” mimicking me making my calls, etc. On the flip-side, my kids know they will have my full attention during play-time.

By setting the boundaries and schedule, you won’t have to worry about the guilt of empty promises of “just give me 10 more minutes and we’ll play then…” Your family will appreciate the boundaries. They will learn to recognize when Mom is working and when she is available, rather than constantly interrupting because they’re competing for your attention.

3. Know When You Need childcare

Sure, I started my own business to have more time with my children, but there are times when you may have to put in more hours or attend a meeting and it simply wouldn’t be appropriate to bring your children along. If your children are not yet in school and you work from home, find a reliable form of childcare for the times it is needed, even if it means swapping playdates with a friend.

4. Get Out of Your House

This might be difficult for moms with small children, which is why I mentioned #3. I understand that one of the main reasons we choose to work from home is because we want more time with our children. But working from home can be a bit lonely. While a lot of connecting begins through social media, real relationships are still developed in person. Make attending local networking groups, trainings or events a part of your regular schedule. That’s where you can meet potential clients, colleagues and mentors to support you on your journey. I recently attended a LinkedIn class and not only did I meet great people, but I also chose an activity that would benefit me professionally.

5. Evaluate Your Activities and Priorities

I was a busy corporate mom before I started my own business and either way, when you add a new responsibility, you have to let go of something. No one is going to do this for you. You have to be the one to evaluate your current activities and obligations and decide where your time is best spent. I started by clearing out my DVR; I still like to binge-watch Fixer Upper every now and again, I love me some Chip and Joanna, but TV can be one of the biggest time wasters.

Be clear about your priorities in life and focus on them. Cut down on activities and obligations that don’t help with your priorities. (i.e. TV watching, magazine reading, social activities, mindless Internet surfing, etc.) Make every moment of your life count. Do only what helps you achieve your goals. Learn how to say no without guilt. I really wanted to serve on my daughter’s school’s parent teacher committee this past year but when I looked at the time and commitment, I realized I was still establishing myself as a business owner and balancing my time as a mother. I still contribute, just not by serving as a committee member.

6. Hold Family Meetings

Make sure your spouse understands your business, your goals and your priorities. My husband travels 50-70% of the time for work but he still likes to understand what I am working towards with regard not only to my schedule, but how our children will be cared for on my busy days, as well. We also involve our children at times. When I first started my business, our daughters understood that Mommy had to work really hard and a lot of hours so she could quit her job and be the one to take them to and from school. My husband and I explained that we needed their help, which included doing their chores without complaining, getting ready on time in the morning and understanding that Mommy would have to work late sometimes during what looked to be a very busy upcoming year. To increase their willingness to be helpful, we promised them Disneyland passes if they followed through. Let’s just say incentives work wonders with young children!

7. Get Your Rest

Remember when you had your first child and everyone said “Nap when the baby naps.” I hated hearing that! I used to think “but what about the laundry? I need a shower.” I soon realized an overly tired Mommy wasn’t good for my husband or the baby, so I napped. I am not saying to take naps, but if you are up working until midnight or 1:00 am to work on your business while the kids are sleeping – stop! Lack of sleep will catch up with you and won’t be good for anyone. Go back and read #2. It is possible to work while your kids are awake. Even powerhouse mompreneurs need their beauty rest!

8. Get and Keep Your Home Organized

An organized home will demand less time for upkeep, while a cluttered home will require constant work and suck your energy. Don’t even think of starting a home-based business or working from home until your house has been decluttered and organized and your household maintenance systems are in place. Set up daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and yearly routines for house cleaning. For example, I throw in a load of laundry every morning, it goes in the dryer when kids come home from school and is folded and put away before we go to bed at night. I wipe down the bathrooms Monday morning and wash all the bedding on Thursdays; it doesn’t matter what you do or when, but create your system and stick to it.

9. Dress for Success

I know your PJs are comfy and one of the perks working from home should be that you don’t have to get dressed up BUT, you still have to get dressed, even to work from home. I’m not sitting here in my power suit and heels, but you do need to get out of your PJs and slippers. I wear something comfortable and casual that I can wear outside the house. I even put on my basic makeup. My rule of thumb is – be presentable enough to meet a potential client. If you’re physically ready for anything, your mind will be as well. Believe it or not, this will make you more productive.

10. Let Go

Let go of the idea that you can do it all. Maybe this should have been #1. You can’t clean the house, do all the laundry, run the errands, pay attention to your husband, answer 100 emails per week, plan and prepare dinner every night, print pictures to mail to grandma, volunteer at school, bake cookies for the church bake sale and grow your business…all by yourself. Get over being perfect. If you have the luxury of doing so – hire someone to clean the house. It’s okay if you have to buy the cookies. Ask your spouse to help out a little bit around the house. Feel “OK” if you can’t do it all – remember why you started – to have more time with your family; they won’t mind if the cookies are store-bought. When you are 86, what will you look back and treasure the most? You’ll either look back and love the time you had with your family or wish you had made more time for family. Live in the moment so you can look back and actually remember these moments.

Fitness & Health Work Work-Life Balance

When Work Compromises Health: How to Draw the Line

It’s time we all admitted it: whether we like it or not, work is a major part of our lives. And more often than not, it finds its way into our personal lives—usually uninvited.

In today’s world, competition is on a global scale, and multi-tasking is the order of the day. With advancements in technology, everything is “now now now” and “go go go.” While you might brush off your work-centric lifestyle as simply being hardworking, this leakage of work into the rest of your life isn’t always a good thing.

These pressures in the workplace can overwhelm even the toughest among us and have a detrimental effect on our health and personal life. Balancing work and home life is a challenge for many, but add the title of mom to the equation and it’s a whole different ball game. Although us moms are the queens of multi-tasking and getting things done, stretching oneself too thin often comes at a cost—to our health.

If you find yourself having to constantly sacrifice your health, your family, and yourself for your career, something isn’t right. We all have different tolerance levels, but if you’re in an unhealthy work situation, you likely already know deep down (especially with that great mom instinct!) that lines need to be drawn and changes made regarding work.

The question many of us face is: What do you do when your job is literally draining the life out of you? How do you draw the line when your career leaves you no time for self-care (or anything else really) and is directly affecting your health and well-being? I’ve pulled together a few techniques to help you start putting yourself first.

Break Up Your Work

As super responsible moms and employees, we try to do it all with the limited amount of time allotted to us each day. As I mentioned in my post on self-care a couple weeks ago, it’s so easy to lose sight of yourself and your own needs as a working mom. Whether it’s at home or in the workplace, we’re constantly sacrificing our own well-being to meet the needs and demands of others.

That needs to stop, now! Make a conscious effort to break up your work day in healthy, productive ways that will make you feel better and give you more motivation overall. Try the following to prioritize your health at work:

Take that lunch break. Stop squeezing in your lunch between meetings or on your way to pick up the kids. Start by taking some time to sit down and enjoy a healthy meal, and let that be the only thing you do during this time. Don’t eat lunch and check emails. By taking some time out to nourish yourself without distractions, you’ll find you have more energy to finish your work and do something fun later.
Don’t overcommit. Prioritize your work for the day with two or three main items that you know you can reasonably complete during work hours. Before accepting responsibility for a new project, consider whether it means you’ll have to overextend yourself. Remember, stretching yourself too thin easily compromises your self-care.
Take a day off. Regularly. You have vacation days for a reason, right?! Your boss can survive without you, no matter what he or she may say.

Consider Alternatives to the Corporate Lifestyle

Being a working mom is no easy task. And we all know that being financially stable is an important part of our lives, especially when we have kids to provide for. But there is more than one way to achieve this, especially when your job comes between you and your health. Without your health, you aren’t much help to your company, your family, or yourself. Perhaps it’s time to consider an alternative?

Working from home, when done right, can be a great solution to achieving your financial goals and taking care of yourself and your family. Having the freedom to work on your own time—a time that works for your health and lifestyle—with no limits to your earning potential will give you peace of mind rather than added stress. And let’s be honest, stress and the corporate world often go hand in hand. Take the time to look into work-at-home options that will fit your needs.

It’s All About Setting Boundaries

“‘No’ is a complete sentence.” – Anne Lamott

How nice it would be to simply tell your boss “no” and leave it at that. But the point here is to set boundaries, both with others and with yourself. There’s a difference between compromise and sacrifice, so it’s important to identify what your boundaries or limits are, and communicate them clearly to your boss or coworkers from the beginning.

What makes you feel uncomfortable? When a colleague calls you with a work issue at 11pm and wakes you up from some hard-earned shut-eye? In this case, communicate to your team which hours you’re available for work-related calls (say 8am to 8pm at the latest!), instead of accepting calls at all hours. Continuing to give in to corporate demands and inadvertently be taken advantage of due to a lack of set boundaries only creates a domino effect in your life, negatively impacting your health and your personal life (or lack thereof!).

Get Back to Prioritizing You!

Work-life balance isn’t an unobtainable thing. It is very much a real possibility—and it’s important to achieve for your own sanity and health. By setting boundaries, breaking up your work, and even considering alternative career options, you’ll soon be placing your own health—and that of your family—first rather than always coming in last.

“The only real conflict you will ever have in your life won’t be with others, but with yourself.” – Shannon L Alder

Here at Moms Making Six Figures, we want to help you achieve that elusive work-life balance and start putting your health first. Contact us at (858) 837-1505 or www.momsmakingsixfigures.com to learn how you can work from home on your own terms.

Goals Productivity Work-Life Balance

Maximize your Busyness and Become More Productive!

Are You More Productive When You’re Busier?

Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in a day?

As working moms, our days are stacked with responsibilities—pick up and drop off the kids, make that work meeting, finish a work project by the deadline, cook dinner, and more. With all this stuff to do, we’re always too busy, and productivity tends to fall to the wayside. All our energy is focused on the day-to-day tasks just to get the bare minimum done.

Being “too busy” becomes a regular excuse—a crutch to avoid the hard tasks that might actually bring about positive change in our lives. We get caught up in an endless cycle of being busy, stressed, and exhausted as we just try to make it through the day.

No shame, moms. There’s nothing wrong with being busy (it’s kinda hard to avoid it with all the multi-tasking we do!). But if we shift our mentality from “busy” to “productive,” we can get a lot more done and be happier while doing it!

Busy People are More Productive

According to recent studies conducted by researchers from Columbia University and three other institutions, keeping busy helps keep people motivated, despite time limitations.

Think back to the last time you missed a deadline—not because you were too busy, but because you simply were too tired or lazy to do it. You probably felt pretty bad about it, but you didn’t necessarily make an effort to follow up on the task. According to research, the busier you are, the more likely you are to feel like you’re using your time effectively, even if you miss deadlines. And if you do miss deadlines, you’re more likely to return to those tasks sooner and actually get them done.

So, if you really want to tap into those mom superpowers (you know you have them!) and get more stuff done, you need to stay busy and productive. This doesn’t have to involve stress, though. All you have to do is change your mindset and get organized.

How to Be More Productive

1. Write a Daily To-Do List

This list is strictly for things that absolutely have to get done today. Do your best to write out the list the night before. And don’t make the mistake of adding more items. Forget about what you want or wish to do. Focus only on what must be done, but what will bring you closer to your goal.

Let’s say your goal is to leave your job and start a business from home. Something you could put on your list is, “research how to become a work-at-home-mom.” This is something that’s steering you towards your goals. You don’t need to write down “pick up the kids” since that’s something you were going to do anyway.

2. Work Smarter

Working harder is good, but if you want to be productive you have to work smarter. But how?

Up Your Time Management Game: Apart from writing a list, get rid of distractions. Switch off (or silence) your phone (okay, you still want to be available in case of an emergency, so settle on a reasonable amount of time to go without checking your phone and set an alarm reminder to check for urgent messages at each time interval). Disable your social media apps. And minimize multi-tasking! While multi-tasking can be unavoidable at times, focusing on one thing at a time will help you accomplish tasks more efficiently, which in turn will reduce stress.

Take Frequent Breaks: Working hard can be draining. Take time to refuel and refocus. Do fun stuff with the kids. Go for a walk around the block. Giving yourself a break will leave you feeling energized and motivated. Why keep plodding along for three hours when you could take a 5-minute break, return to the task at hand, and be done in one hour?

Be Flexible. Keeping a list and planning things out meticulously is great. But life happens, especially when you’re a mom. You’ll soon find that being rigid with your plans will not result in productivity. Be willing to modify your day if something unexpected arises, and don’t beat yourself up about it. Similarly, if you’re making great progress on a task and you can afford to invest another hour into it, don’t stop because you’ve hit your original time limit. Use that momentum to your advantage!

Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

Productivity is something we all aspire to, but it can sometimes feel daunting. When we set our minds to do something but fail to accomplish it, we often become demoralized and abandon the goal altogether. Don’t give up so easily!

As working moms and corporate women, we have a lot on our plate. Remember, you’re already doing a great job—don’t discredit yourself. Spend a little time getting focused, and soon the days of “I don’t have time” and “I’m too busy” will be behind you!

Finance Success Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance: Do Women Want the Same Thing as Men?

It’s no secret that men and women think differently than each other. Maybe it’s biology, maybe it’s our history of laboring at home while men work in a completely separate sphere. Although it’s probably some combination of the two, let’s be real—when it comes to gender, some things haven’t changed all that much. Even though women now make up more than half of the U.S. workforce, we continue to be responsible for 40% more housework (on average) and two times as much caregiving as men (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics)!

As most of us can attest, what this means is that work-life balance is often far more complicated for women than it is for men—after all, we have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders, from creating and raising little humans, to keeping the household from falling apart, to supporting our significant others, to providing financial security for our families. This complex and multi-faceted role that we play means that women simply have different mindsets when it comes to careers.

While it may seem like women and men largely want the same things for their family, such as healthy, happy children and a safe home, the details of what success really looks like tend to diverge widely between men and women.

We differ from men in several key ways in terms of how we conceive of our long-term goals and how we define achievement, both of which can greatly influence how we think about our own careers as parents, spouses, and employees.

1. Women Prefer Flexible Schedules

According to a recent report from the AAUW (American Association of University Women), women are far more likely than men to take time off from work after having children, whether temporarily or until their children are grown and out of the house. An estimated 17% of women work part-time following the birth of a first child, while 23% of women leave the workforce altogether for years, if not decades. In contrast, only 2% of men work part-time and 1% leave work following the birth of these same children.

While there’s a multitude of reasons for this difference between genders, as women we clearly choose to spend more one-on-one time with our children than our male counterparts. Some of this stems from practical factors, such as women tending to have almost double the length of parental leave and many women opting to breastfeed children without engaging in the potentially painful and disruptive process of pumping.

Yet, some of us simply choose to prioritize quality time with our children over seeking professional advancement. After all, when our little ones are so young and defenseless, it can be tough to leave them in the care of strangers—the “mommy guilt” alone can be crippling!

2. Women Are More Self-Directed

It’s been proven that men and women think very differently. This means that we tend to work in unique ways, many of which actually benefit the work-at-home mom. Women are far better at multitasking than men, meaning that we’re hard-wired with the ability to simultaneously manage multiple customer histories, inventories, emails, etc., all while making sure that the kids stay fed and (sometimes) clean.

This option is also extremely beneficial because, while women tend to be punished in positions that don’t offer flexible schedules, we excel in more accommodating work environments. As a result, women working in home industries with adjustable work hours tend to become more ambitious than in a corporate environment with a rigid schedule. With the reins in our hands, we’re are also happier and less stressed out, making us feel more fulfilled overall.

3. Women Have Stricter Definitions of Success

For women, success is all about work-life balance. While men tend to define success in terms of income, wealth, and possessions, women are far more likely to consider ourselves successful only if we are both financially stable and have meaningful relationships—we truly want it all. Sure, we may be realistic with our ambitions, recognizing that we might not be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies while working 20 hours a week, but we still want to provide for our families and have something tangible to show for ourselves outside of our role as mom.

When it comes to excelling at business, men and women see things very differently. Women tend to prioritize work-life balance—a more artful juggling of work and family make a woman feel more accomplished.

When push comes to shove, a woman is far more likely to leave even an extremely successful career in order to accommodate family needs.

That doesn’t mean that we’re not driven, however—many of the women who end up leaving fulfilling careers due to family circumstances still feel like they aren’t reaching their full potential. If these women had it their way, they would prefer a challenging and high-achieving position, if only it worked with their hectic schedules.

4. Believe It or Not, Women Can Have It All!

As women, we want to be both fulfilled in our jobs and our home lives, yet many of us forget that these two aspects of our loves don’t need to be in direct conflict with each other. By becoming a work-at-home mom, you can actually have it all by setting your own hours, spending quality time with your children, and providing financial stability for your families.

Many of our team members end up even more financially successful in home business than was ever possible in their more traditional corporate job. Contact our experts today and start your journey toward becoming your own boss and running a lucrative home business!