Working From Home: How to Make it Work

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This is the third installment in my series on working from home. You can read post 1 here and post 2 here.

When people find out that I work from home they often ask HOW I do it. Not how did I get started or what do I do but how do I actually work from home with a little boy running around, a micro-farm, tending house, cooking meals, and more. I’ll be honest, some days are better than others. My basic philosophy is to treat my work from home just like a job, no different than if I went into an office.

Daily Schedule

One thing that really keeps me on task is having a daily schedule. Many years ago I took a management class that was several days of training on the Franklin-Covey method. While I can’t remember everything about those lessons I learned about setting goals, writing those goals down, and then breaking those goals down into yearly, monthly and daily tasks. That’s when I learned the importance of having a schedule with to do lists. Even when I worked outside the home I made a daily to do list.

My daily schedule is a basic schedule with blocks of time outlined for different tasks. I have a different schedule for each day of the week. Most of the days are the same but one day a week I have set aside to go into town so that day is put together differently. Because of that day being different, the day before is also different (I have to do extra work on that day to prepare to be gone the next day). During the work week, I really try to only go to town on that one designated day. If I have to go on a second day I try to make if first thing in the morning or as late in the day as possible in order to optimize my work time.  I also have a loose schedule for the weekends. While I usually work for a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday the morning the rest of the day is reserved for doing things around here or for family activities. Except during tax season (that’s right now) I work the weekends too during this time do make sure everything is put together for my bookkeeping job. My kitchen timer is very helpful for keeping me on schedule. During my cleaning time I set the timer for 30 minutes and go to work.  My late morning kitchen time, I set it for 15 and do what needs to be done. I love my timer!

Here is a sample day from my daily schedule:

6-7: Check Calendar for any needed items, make to do list for the day. IWG social media, RFfLM social media, personal stuff. Do I need to do AFD stuff? If yes, do instead of IWG, RF
7-7:30- What’s for supper? Help with chores PRN|
7:30 – 8: Express clean (Joe makes breakfast)
8-10: W daily duties, social media
10-10:45- K daily duties
10:45 – 11: Crock pot? What’s for lunch?
11-12: RF post
12 – 12:30: MJ work
12:30 to 12:45: Purge
12:45 – 1:15 Lunch
1:15-1:45- School time
1:45 – 3:45 KA duties
3:45 – 4:15 Extra assignments from regular clients
4:15 – 5 W PM, Review tomorrow’s calendar, Catch up as needed
5 – 6 Temp jobs PRN
6 – 7 Open
7 Prepare supper
7:30 – 8 Supper
8 – 9 Girls clean kitchen, do personal things (pay bills, balance checkbook), catch up on stuff if needed.
9 – Bedtime

This schedule is not set in stone. Sometimes things will come up. One of my VA clients will need something ASAP or there will be some sort of other issue. But for the most part, I do use this as a guide. I have several spots built into the schedule that can be eliminated if need be. Purge is one. That is 15 minutes that I use to try to get rid of some of the junk around this joint. I set the timer for 15 minutes and then start on a drawer. 15 minutes isn’t very long but it is nice to be able to start clearing things out. Unfortunately, if my day has went bad that is the first thing that doesn’t get done. The time slots from 4:15 to 7 can also come in handy.

Take a look at this amazing daily schedule from homeschooling frugal mom Brandy. She does more laundry in one day than I do in a week! I love seeing how she gets so much done. Looking at other people’s schedules can help you get an idea how to put your own together. Keep in mind, the ideal schedule is the one that works for YOU.

To Do List

My To Do List determines what happens each day during my scheduled times.  Each morning I go into my To Do List and update it for the day. I’ve heard there are all sorts of neat applications and things to put together a to do list. Up until I broke my hand, I wrote out my list in a notebook each day.  Yes, that is very old school. With a broken hand writing is a challenge so I started typing up my list each day in a word document. This is actually working better for me than the paper list and I think I’ll stick with it even after my hand heals. Because I work for several people (and myself) I have my to do list divided out by each client.

Here is a sample of my to do list:

AFD
PRN
Balance credit cards
Payroll
1099’s
Otter

MJ
Yes 30 min

W
Daily Duties
Social
PM

K
Social
Pin new post
Newsletter

KA
Social
CS

Temp Job 1
Finish summary and do slide
CS NO

Temp Job 2
NO

IWG
Posts
Pinterest x 2 (one b&a, one opportunity)
Set up facebook online party

Real Food
Facebook
Post for tomorrow

Christopher
Copy letters

House
What’s for supper?
Clean out CJ sock drawer

Personal
Balance checkbook

 

Long Term Goals, Short Term Goals, Monthly Goals and Master Calendar

These are all determined in advance and the Daily Schedule and To Do List take these into account. One example of this is I need to renew my drivers license in October but I don’t have all of the documentation that the DMV now requires to renew it. So on my Monthly Goals for March I’ve listed that I need to order those documents, I then moved that onto my March Calendar. When I go in to check my calendar when I’m making my To Do List for the day, it will be on there for me to transfer over. I do not believe that I could make a daily schedule that worked well for me if I didn’t have goals set up. The example of the 15 minute purge on my daily schedule comes from our 2014 goals.

You Can Do Anything, But You Can’t Do Everything

A couple of weeks ago I went to Freedom 2014 conference for my wrap business. One of the speakers (the #1 earner with the company) used the phrase “You Can Do Anything, But You Can’t Do Everything”.

It is so true! Right now, at this season in our lives, we are focused on getting out of debt and being able to build our new homestead without going back into debt. That means that I’m working lots, Joe is working lots, and things are slightly crazy. There are many things that we don’t do right now because those things do not help us reach our long term goals. We are trying to bring in extra money and also be good stewards with the money we have. Our get out of debt goals have had a couple of set backs already (don’t even get me started on the medical bills that I have so far from my little hand injury) so we’ve needed to buckle down even more. We’ve also needed to reduce our projects that we planned to accomplish this year.

Because we can do anything, but we can’t do everything knowing what our goals are is very important. As mentioned, this year we are focusing on getting out of debt. Next year we will have some new/additional goals and one of those will be homeschooling.  I know that in order to do that properly I’ll have to lighten my work load so that will likely mean no temp jobs and restructuring the schedule.

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Teamwork

The number one thing that allows me to be successful working from home is teamwork. Joe helps with cooking, housework, animals, Christopher and more. He makes my life very easy by taking care of things he is good at so I don’t have to worry about them. I try to make things easy for him by taking care of things I am good at. The girls and Christopher also have to help out (much to their dismay some days). We talk with the children often about our goals and why we are doing the things we do now so we can have a different lifestyle later. The girls are pretty sure we are slightly loony but go along. It is still  hard for Lulu to understand why we are working so hard and not putting that money toward something like a fancy new car (with a fancy new car payment) or planning to build a fancy big house (also with a fancy big house payment). She’s yet to understand that living debt free buys something neither of those things can five us. Freedom. Anyway… I’m straying from the topic at hand which is Working From Home: How to Make it Work not Why We Are Working So Hard Right Now to Have Freedom Later.

I think it’s important to note that I’ve been working from home since a couple of months before Christopher was born. As a result, he is used to my needing time to work. He is very good at playing at my feet and giving me time.  That said, some days he still would rather I play with him than work. If you are new to working from home I suspect there will need to be an adjustment time for both you and your children. On one of my work from home times it took me several months to actually get to the ‘working’ part. I had closets to clean and rooms to paint. My bank account finally jolted me to the need for actual income earning activities. This time I started slow with just one 15 hour per week work from home position. That allowed me to ease into working from home and build a schedule that worked. It also allowed me the time to tend to my newborn son.  During that time that was what was needed.

 

Do you work from  home? How do you make it work?

Menu Week of January 12 Real Food for Less Money

Photo Credits:  Home Office

Shared at Simple Lives Thursday

Millie

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