I can't stress enough how much I love working for myself Seriously. It is amazing and stressful, and wonderful and hair pulling crazy...at least it was. You see. This is me. The girl with one black slipper. Where is the other slipper? At this time, I don't know. But I do know that my feet were cold, so I figured one slipper is better than none. And that is the story of my life as a work from home mom. At least is was until I made the decision to get organized.
1. Get a planner.
A planner can be your best friend.. While I was doing Pink Zebra part time, along with my full time job, I fit in Pink Zebra whenever I had time. Now that this is my bag. baby, I have to really utilize time management. I got myself a sweet planner. The bummer is that is isn't in yet, but I was able to print pages online while I wait.
This planner is the bee's knees. There is the monthly view that allows you that quick glance but the 15 min increments are crazy helpful. There is also a section for work goals and personal goals AND a place to brainstorm. I write down EVERYTHING in there. I allot myself time for phone calls, texting, social media and of course anything that occurs in my life. Some people keep two calendars, one for business and one for life. But come on, I can't keep track of two slippers, how will I keep track of two planners?
2. Make packets (schedule a day for busy work)
In a job like party planning (direct sales) a lot of my work is repetitive. Every party hostess gets a packet mailed to her (or him). Every new recruit I meet, gets a recruiting packet and every fundraiser I send out is the same. Before, I would rummage through all of my files each time something needed to be sent out and hurry to put a packet together. They weren't uniform. Now, I schedule one day a month to make packets. After I make all of my packets, I group them together on a shelf. When I need a packet, I grab the envelope, address the front, pull out my top page and add the recipients name and information. Anyone can walk into my office and get a packet, follow the directions and toss it in the mail for me. EZPZ
3. Keep them distracted
One of the toughest adjustments was keeping my kids at bay. In their mind, mommy working at home meant, playing when ever we want to, gourmet lunches, outings, and much much more. They assumed I was at their beckon call. HUH! We quickly had to squash that! See that lovely zebra below? That is Paisley, our mascot. I printed a picture of Paisley and while she is hanging on the wall, you will not starve during the 30 mins of phone calls, the dog doesn't need bathed and I don't need to spell out your new favorite show on Netflix when you have a plethora of other shows that you love that you can watch. I sometimes even schedule activities for the kids while I work. My 30 mins of phone calls may be a 30 min educational show for them. 15 mins of labeling for me may be 15 mins of blocks for them. Some parents go as far as putting together cute bags to use only when mommy/daddy are working. That didn't work in our house and this does. To each his own.
4. Your work area is your work area.
I am fortunate to have a large desk in my open office that is in my finished basement/gameroom. The great part is that I can be with my family while I am working. The horrible part is that I am with my family while I am working. You need to treat your desk as you would if you worked in an office building. My desk, at times, is a catch all. I will find bills stacked on a corner. Dishes and cups that never made it upstairs somehow find a home on my desk and every pen, pencil, maker, or crayon find their way to my area. That's the thing, IT'S MY AREA. People must respect the desk. Your kids wouldn't just walk into their classroom and through miscellaneous stuff onto their teacher's desk and you significant other wouldn't do the same to his/her boss' desk, so why are they messing with your stuff? Lack of communication. Let those you love know ho important it is to keep you desk just for your business.
My desk has motivational books in the corner. Some I have read, some I am trying to fit in. Those that I enjoy are: 7 Habits of HIghly Effective People, Be a Recruiting SuperStar, The Message, and The Power Of Focus. The other corner has a stackable file system. Top shelf for my labels, middle for papers to be files and bottom, banking. This helps keep clutter to a minimum. I am fortunate to have married someone way more organized than I am and he helps me keep it together and stay grounded. I also keep the unusual office supplies but have learned to keep what I use most at the front of the drawers. One of the most important things on my desk are my positive affirmations. They help me keep going when things look bleak and they remind me how awesome I am when I do well.
5. You are you.
This is a tough one for people to understand. Keep in mind that no two people are exactly the same so what works for one will not necessary work for another. Do I like to be organized, yes! Am I good at it? No, I have to work at organization and read up on it and learn what works best. Sometimes I try to implement everything I have read about and it becomes even more chaotic than having no system. I am not to the point where I need all of my baskets color coded with $300.00 shelving and matching everything. Honestly, I am in this to make money, not spend frivolously...yet.
The point is, figure out what is going to work for you and your family. Maybe you have unconventional hours, working after the kids are in bed, or while they are in school. Maybe you only work certain days of the week. What ever you do, stick with it and SCHEDULE your days. Talk with your family and let them know what you need. Working from home can be really tough when the people around you expect you to cook, clean and chauffeur, all while working from home. Talk to you significant other and divi up chores. Be sure to schedule those chores in your planner too!
Watch how often you answer the phone. My dad is good for this one. He will call me and ask me to do something. I will let him know that I am working and he will say, "But you work from home. Can't you do that later?" Then later becomes tomorrow, or the next day or never.
At our reunion this past year, I had the privilege of meeting Belinda Ellsworth (if you don't know her, google her). She talked about men being focused and women being muli taskers and the scenario she used was me to a T. She said how we make a list of things to do, sit down to do it and realize we need some coffee. We get up to make coffee and while it is brewing we realize that the dishes are in the sink so we empty the dishwasher, reload and get our coffee but see that the dish towels are on the floor so we run downstairs to put in a load of laundry but have to fold the stuff in the dryer first. Since we have to go back upstairs to start our work, we take the folded clothes up and put them away and see that our kid has stuff all over his floor so we hurry and do a quick pick up of junk, you know, to look presentable. We head to the table and see that our morning was almost a complete waste and have to leave shortly to pick up our kid from school. We leave a little early to hit the store before hand to get a few things for dinner. We pick up our kid, come home, make dinner. Hubby comes home and asks how our day was (since he saw the list before he left). You tell him all about everything you did today which turns out to be nothing that you had planned. Men on the other hand will make 15 trips to Home Depot in 1 day just to finish the 1 project that they are working on.
THIS IS WHY WE KEEP A PLANNER AND SCHEDULE.
This biggest thing for me was to stop worrying about what other people thought, especially if my house looked "lived in" when they came over. I give my house a good cleaning when I have time. Playing with my kids is more important that scrubbing my house. Working and making money so that I can give my family things, is more important that scrubbing my walls and woodwork. (Maybe my next cleaning I will find that other slipper.) Prioritize you life, make a plan and keep a schedule. Your business will explode and you will stay sane...most of the time.
After 7 years of teaching full time, I was able to quit teaching and work full time from home! I love that I can spend so much time with my family. No more missed life events, even the little ones. Pink Zebra has changed my life. Now, I help others create their own strong economy allowing them to work from home, pay off debt and follow their dreams.
Interested in learning more, please let us know or head to www.PZLynch.com