Making work at home work (even with little ones)
I'm really excited to introduce you to Doña. We met while taking one of Meagan Francis' writing classes and have been online friends since. She is a super smart and talented mom who knows what it's like to juggle motherhood with writing while making it work. Doña was kind enough to share some tips with us on making it all work.
Are you struggling to balance your writing and your family? Your blog and your babies?
Trying to work at home when you have little ones certainly presents some special challenges. But with some straightforward planning and boundary-setting, you can manage running a business and running a family without damaging or neglecting either.
Have Dedicated Work Hours
We all need schedules. Babies need nap and bedtimes at regular times, and your brain needs to know when to turn off the parenting switches and turn on the working ones.
Find a schedule that fits your life (around school and activity schedules) and your rhythms (are you an early bird or a night owl?) and then do your best to stick to it. Things will come up and kids will get sick, so sometimes you may find yourself squeezing work into unusual times when your schedule gets shaken up or you have a deadline approaching.
Be willing to be flexible, but get back to a regular routine as soon as you can.
Take Yourself – And Your Time – Seriously
Train your family that when you are working you are unavailable to solve problems, lend an ear, or provide a taxi ride. If you treat your work hours seriously, it will help your family learn to respect them, too. Promise yourself you will focus during your work time and give yourself permission not to work outside of that. It will be easier for your kids -- and you, too! -- to know that when you shut the office door (even if the office is your bedroom) you are unavailable to be mom for a while.
From the outside it may look like successful work-at-home moms are managing to do it all, but the truth is they nearly always have help. That help may be a work-at-home partner, a babysitter, a cleaner or a mother’s helper. Identify which areas of your life can be best delegated to someone else and get comfortable asking for what you need.
Know Your Goals
The best way to get where you want to go is to know where you want to go. Brainstorm big goals for your business. How much do you want to make this year? How many clients or readers do you want to gain? Now break that into smaller goals to help you get there. How many clients must you gain each month to get to your annual goal? What kind of marketing is needed to snag them? How many guest posts should you write?
Break that list down further to what you can accomplish in a week, a day, an hour. When you are ready to work, pull out your lists and you will know exactly what you need to do next without spinning your wheels and wasting your precious time. Being clear about your goals will also make it easy to say no to tasks and time-eaters that will not help you achieve them.
Lose the Distractions
Research shows our brains cannot focus on multiple tasks at once. Multi-tasking just means doing more things, slower. When you have limited working hours, efficiency is critical. Strive for what Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, calls “single-tasking.” First, turn off all distractions like the internet, the phone’s ringer, and (if you can) turn over the baby monitor to someone else. Identify the next task you need to do toward your goals and do only that. When that is done, begin the next task.
You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you focus on one thing, and only one thing, at a time.
Doña Bumgarner traded in a career running huge projects at Apple with engineers who called her The Mom for a freelance writing business at home with the toddler who calls her Mama. She blogs at Aubergine and lives in Santa Cruz, CA.