By Chloe Waugh
Working from home isn’t for everyone- but if are lucky enough to have set up your office from your home there are a few ways to make it work for you. Here are my top tips for creating that all-important, much desired and almost impossible work/life balance:
1. Make the most of your weekends
You have two days- and yes, I know, it isn’t enough! But I always make sure I get everything in order over the weekend to ensure that my Monday morning runs smoothly and my week is off to a great start. You know what they say- ‘A Sunday well spent brings a week of content’… and it is so true!
Saturdays are my fun and active days- we get up early and take the dog to the beach for a run, followed by a visit to our local farmers markets for breakfast and coffee. After that we either catch a Yoga class, or go surfing as a family. I find if you get out and about (out of the house) and do something fun and active, heading home afterwards for a clean up doesn’t feel too bad. I give the house a clean, do some washing and write a grocery list. I either hit the store afterwards or save it for Sunday, depending on our Saturday night dinner plans.
Sundays I get the groceries, wash the sheets and prepare a meal or two for the coming week. I make sure all the washing is folded and put away and I have a nice clean slate for the week ahead. Sometimes I have been known for writing a to-do list for the coming week of work so that I have a clear mind for a good night’s sleep. I cook a nourishing meal for the family that night and everyone is prepared and rested for Monday- Plus, I know that we have spent some quality time together before a busy week of school and work.
2. Get the exercise that you need to be the best version of you
I am a big believer in the powers of practicing self-love and getting plenty of exercise, which has pulled me out of feeling sluggish and depressed on more than a couple of occasions. Working for myself from home gives me the freedom to explore my own interests and passions, such as Yoga and Pilates, in my own time. Whilst my work comes first (after my family of course) I put my health and happiness as my top priority in order to be the best version of myself, not only for my family, but also for me.
When I am feeling healthy and happy, it is reflected in my work, and this is super important when developing creative content. So, in saying this, if I can catch a class at 9am after the school run, I do it. I can always make up for it after my son goes to bed or the next day, so I don’t make a big deal out of it. This gives me the adult interaction I crave and the time out of the house, so when I get back to the office (home) I am feeling pumped for the day ahead. This may not work for everyone, but I encourage you to make exercise a part of your daily routine- even if it is only getting out of the house for a walk down the street for coffee.
3. Write out your weekly goals every Monday
Sit down on a Monday morning (or Sunday evening) and write your list. Not just a to-do list, but a list of goals or specific tasks that you need to get done in your current work week.
Make them actionable, achievable, prioritised and relative to that week. Make sure you don’t get ahead of yourself with far-out goals for months down the track and big plans for the future. Stick to the five days that you have ahead of you and focus on what will be achieved that particular week.
This sets out a clear list of things that you absolutely need to get done that week, and leaves you with a checklist to tick off as you go.
4. Dedicate time to your children, and live in that moment
I have a school-aged child, so this may vary with your situation, but I think you can apply this anywhere.
Every afternoon after I pick Jasper up from school we have an afternoon snack together, talk about our day and I help him with his homework. This takes one hour- this is Jasper’s time. During this hour I do not answer emails, check Instagram, answer work-related phone calls etc.
I sit with my son, give him eye contact and really listen to what he says. After his homework and snack, then it is back to work for me- I am lucky in that Jasper is at a great age (eight years) so he can happily amuse himself with reading, toys and his gaming whilst I get another 2 hours in before I cook dinner. My partner and I talk to Jasper about this and he understands that I am working, and if he needs me he can talk to me, otherwise he leaves me to my work.
Then we regroup at dinnertime, do the shower/bedtime routine and if I am feeling up to it I get another two hours of work in (especially if I am doing the morning exercise class).
My fiancé is a pilot so he works away from home; I work my routine around his roster (my bible) but 70-80% of the time I am home on my own. But, when he is home, he does everything he can to help, which allows me to catch up on rest and work. We balance our lives out by making sure we both get enough in of what we love doing and we are both really happy with how it works and how supported we both feel. I make sure he gets a surf, he makes sure I get to Yoga.
I can understand how this arrangement would be a lot more difficult with a baby or toddler, but the same principals could be applied during meal and play times. It is all about prioritising what is done workwise while your child is in care and what you can squeeze in when you have your child at home with you. Ask for help when you need it, and understand that you can only do so much - putting too much pressure on yourself is only going to be detrimental in the long run, for you and your family.
5. Start each workday with intention and focus
OK - so you have exercised, cleaned and looked after your family- you are ready to take on your day!
Start each day with an intention; focus on what you need to do- write a list if it helps, then tick each task off as you go.
A rule that I have applied lately is to not turn on my computer until I have set an intention and I know exactly what task I am going to do and how long I am going to spend doing it. Try it- it has really worked for me (and I am the biggest procrastinator around).
When you are feeling a little fidgety or wandering off-track (hello Facebook notifications) you need a break. Boil the kettle, have a stretch or get some air. Come back to it after 5-10 minutes feeling refreshed and reset your intention. Believe it or not I repeat this process up to 5 times a day! My best work is done in spurts of around 45 minutes and then I need to break. Sometimes my break involves unpacking the dishwasher, or making Jasper’s bed and fixing up his room. Other times I catch up on a Podcast or video series I have filed away, sometimes I do this standing up in the kitchen to give my back a break and do some stretching.
Everyone is different, find out what works for you then use it to your advantage. It only takes 10 minutes to hang a load of washing out - could you do this on your break?
Chloe’ Waugh is a social media strategist, manager and coach who has gained a reputation as being efficient, creative and easy to work with. Chloe’s passion for social media really blossomed after the birth of her son 8 years ago, and it has naturally developed into her profession over time. She is now founder of Social Media Creative and has developed several different packages and resources to help others boom online. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.