Deacon over at Well Kept Wallet had a great post not too long ago about how difficult it is, when you work at home, to balance getting your job done with getting the household tasks that sit, endlessly calling your name, done as well. For those not experienced with this type of a work setting, here’s kind of how it goes:
You get up in the morning, and head down to your office, or wherever your computer is, to start your day. After an hour or two, you need your coffee break, your pee break, or your sanity break – whichever it is – so you head into the kitchen. From over at the kitchen sink, you hear your name called:
Hello, it’s me, dirty dishes. Poke, poke, prod, prod. Aren’t I driving you nuts??? You know you hate watching me sit here, begging to be washed.
Then the garbage chimes in:
Whew! Gettin’ kinda crowded in here! Last night’s tacos aren’t sitting so well with this morning’s left over cereal. Could ya hook me up and get this stuff outta here?
Soon, the kids join you:
Mommy/daddy!!! I’m hungry! Wanna play a game? Make me some oatmeal! No, wait, I want muffins! Can I watch cartoons??
Whew! Now there’s an answer I can deal with!
You head over to the bedroom, ready to change out of your PJ’s. That’s when you find more friends, eager to talk.
The bed taunts:
You know, it really looks sloppy in here when I’m unmade.
The hamper chimes in:
HeLLO! Getting kind of full in here! Didn’t you want to wear your black pants to the party tonight? Gotta wash ’em before you can wear ’em. And, oh yeah, Johnny has no clean underwear.
At that point, the voices in your head have won the battle, and you’re ready to throw in the towel, grab a bag of Doritos and head on over to the TV to watch some old Survivor re-runs, overwhelmed by the to-do list.
Yes, this is the life of a stay-at-home or work-from-home individual. I’ve been doing it for 10 years now, and finally – FINALLY – I feel like I’ve learned a bit about how to deal with all of the tasks and distractions that can come your way when you spend your day working, in any capacity, from home.
1. Set a schedule that you can live with. I am NOT a schedule person. Much too much ADHD going on here to be organized, but I do what I can do. My day consists of running my house, homeschooling our four kids, and running my freelance biz. I know I’m a morning person, so, in order to be able to focus on the kids when they get up, I get up early – a good three hours before the kids – to focus on my freelance stuff. Then, when the kids get up, I’ve gotten a good bit of work done and I can focus on the kids and the house without feeling guilty that I’m neglecting my freelance biz.
Figure out which times are best for you to complete which tasks, and also figure out how and at what times of the day you function best, and set your schedule from there.
2. Prioritize. I always make a list of the priorities for my freelance biz, my homeschooling tasks, and my household tasks, in order of most important to least important. For instance, regarding freelance biz, I get the articles due off my plate ASAP, because that’s a reputation thing. Then I write or publish my posts and add them to Facebook. Then I visit and comment on other blogs. I have an alphabetical list of blogs that I print out each week and cross out as I’ve visited/commented on them. This helps me to remember the names of all of the great blogs out there, and makes sure I have time to support them, as this is important to me, and to my business as well. It’s always a good thing to encourage and support other bloggers/freelancers as much as possible. I make a goal of visiting and commenting on at least twenty blogs a day, and when I’m done, I’m done. Then it’s on to the home stuff like homeschooling and housework, where I also have lists and prioritize my have to get done/want to get done/will get done in my dreams, but I’ll write it down just in case chores.
3. Multitask. Always. Throw in a load of laundry before you start helping the kids with the schoolwork. Have the kids do the schoolwork they can handle by themselves while you help another kid with courses they need assistance with. Have the dishwasher running while you are working on the computer, and have one tab on the computer open for writing your own blog posts, while having three others open to leave comments on.
4. Get help. Whether it’s help from the kids, or hiring out for help, get help when the pressure is too much. If you make tons of money at your home-based business, hire a housekeeper to come in once a week to deep clean and/or do laundry for you. Homeschooled high schoolers are notoriously looking for work and are available during the day lots of times. Or, ask the kids if they’re old enough to help. And don’t be afraid to bring your kids to daycare or have someone come to your house to watch them if need be, part-time, or full-time. And if that’s not something you want to do, don’t be afraid to use evenings when your spouse is home, weekends, or whatever, to do your work for your business so that you can focus on the kids during the week.
The point is to find what works best for you and your family, and then do it, regardless of what anyone outside of your family might think.
Working from home and/or being a stay-at-home parent is a busy, busy job, as many people in the PF community can tell you. But with some creativity and work, you can be successful with all that you have to do.
What is your best tip for balancing work at home tasks with household/family tasks?