working from home, tips for working from home, work-at-home mum, pros and cons of working from home

‘It’s great that you can work from home, because then you can do some housework, too.’ I’ve heard this only too often. It reflects a common perception people have that when you work from home you can also do chores, look after kids, exercise and get some rest all at the same time. Maybe, you’ve even tried to live up to these expectations just to find yourself overwhelmed, burned out and wondering what you’re doing wrong.

I’ve done it myself. For years I had a contract job that required a minimum of 10 hours a week. I also had two young kids, one of which was with me full time, so I spent my days worrying where I was going to find the time to complete my work. My kids weren’t getting my full attention and my work was taking a lot longer than it was necessary because I was exhausted.

It all changed when I took some time off work to be with my kids during school holidays. Even though my days were still full, I felt relaxed and I had the best time I’d had in a while. I realised the importance of focusing on one thing at a time and I implemented some changes which made working from home less stressful and more enjoyable.

Have scheduled work time

This is time dedicated to work only, with minimum interruptions and when someone else is looking after the kids. When you know your work time is scheduled, you don’t need to worry where those hours are going to come from and if the baby will wake up just as you’re getting fully immersed in your work project. It may not sound like a big deal, but it makes an enormous difference to your energy levels. Now all that energy spent worrying can go towards enjoying your life and getting your creative juices flowing.

Look after yourself

If you’re happy and well-rested, you’ll be more productive and you’ll get things done faster. It seems obvious, but it’s one of those things that’s very easy to overlook under the pressure of deadlines and parenting responsibilities. In addition to scheduled work time, schedule time just for you. It doesn’t have to be a big chunk of time (it would be nice, but not realistic for many of us), but you do need something, even if it’s just a walk, a yoga class or an early night in bed.

Get support

You’ll need support on a practical level, to make your schedule happen, especially if you have kids and you need to arrange care for them. You’ll also need emotional support. Working from home can be a lonely business. You don’t get the social interactions that come with going to work, so it’s up to you to include them in your life. Take some time to build and maintain your friendships. Join a network of people who do something similar to what you do, so that you can talk about work, share your experiences and exchange knowledge.

If you’ve gotten the impression that working from home is too hard and not worth the effort, I’d like to set that straight. As well as its challenges, working from home has its rewards. I love that I don’t have to get dressed up and travel in peak hour to the office. I love that I get to honour my introverted nature, focus on my work and avoid office politics. Most of all, I love the sense of freedom that comes with working from home.

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By Tatiana Apostolova