This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ben Bridge Jeweler. All opinions are 100% mine.
I never set out to be a work-at-home mom. I fell into it.
People ask me how I do all of the things that I do. Truthfully, typing incredibly quickly helps tremendously with productivity. The majority of the time I, like many other work-at-home moms and dads, struggle to find balance (see the last tip). But, for the first time in years I feel like I have a better grip on things because I’ve embraced the below. Please share your tips, too, as we can all benefit from them.
Set Up a Healthy Work Space
It took a bout of carpal tunnel to showcase that my chair and desk height were totally wrong. Do some research to find an ergonomic set-up that makes extensive typing and/or sitting less hazardous to your health. I simply needed to adjust my seat higher so that my arms are not angled upward. Check various resources online for finding the correct typing posture.
Our new project, which is partially why there are no photos of my workspace here, is that my daughter and I are turning her play room (the tweens just don’t use it anymore) into a combined crafting/homework/office space. It’s a mess at the moment but I’m really looking forward to getting it done. It will be nice to share a space that is just ours. It’s also a little secluded so I’m less prone to interruption.
Create a Schedule
A shared family calendar is a lifesaver for busy households. This way, everyone is on the same page as to who is headed where and when.
Many successful work-at-home parents block time throughout the day to return phone calls, return emails, take personal time, etc. If this works for you, go for it. If you prefer a loose schedule (which is what works best for us), then that’s fine as long as you have a schedule. The most important thing is to take time to update the schedule so that during life’s craziness you don’t double book (been there).
When my daughter was young, I would plan the bulk of my work during her nap time and after she went to bed. Now, I work while she’s in school, sometimes when she’s home and first thing in the morning.
Get Out of the House
The problem with working from home is that you are not leaving work behind at the office. I can, in theory, always work. The internet is always live. Getting out of the house is my way of a forced break (my wrists need it). Over the last year, I’ve learned there is enormous value in face-to-face meetings so I try to schedule these every once in a while. Going to the gym for me is a chore (and I don’t go enough) but I think I’m actually more productive with a regular exercise routine. Or, simply go run errands.
Dress from Day to Night
I wore this same turquoise dress to a conference with a black sweater and black heels. I also walk my dog in it at the beach. I tend to buy clothes now that are versatile and can be dressed up or down based on how I accessorize them. I don’t want to spend time changing clothes should I have something to do later in the day. I love designer clothes but they’re often not practical weekday wear anymore. I accessorize a bit differently now to compensate for this.
Accessorize Well and Comfortably
What I mean is to wear jewelry that you do not feel or fidget with when it’s on, such as small, delicate pieces made from real metals and gemstones. As my business of helping people plan San Diego vacations grows, there are service providers that I need to experience for myself. I headed to La Jolla Shores beach with my daughter, husband, and dog to see what it’s like to use a local vacation photographer (more on this fabulous worldwide service later), who specializes in capturing vacation memories.
She beautifully photographed the jewelry I choose to wear from Ben Bridge Jeweler. I needed to wear pieces that would help me look and feel put-together while juggling my 80-pound, clumsy pitbull. He loves the beach and I’m not a natural in front of the camera. I’d rather be behind the camera.
(For those of you asking, this is where I bought my dress.)
Ben Bridge only purchases exceptional metals and gemstones, ethically sourced from their countries of origin. They also work with the most accomplished artisans to create exclusive collections only carries pieces from select brands, similarly recognized for their level of craftsmanship.
The Sapphire and Diamond Crossover Ring looks big but it is incredibly comfortable and I receive more compliments on it than my own engagement ring. And, I’m a daily wearer of the Diamond Bolo Bracelet and Diamond Bangle Bracelet which are both so lightweight that I rarely took them off on my London vacation. And, I’ve gotten way more mileage out of the Lisa Bridge Turquoise and Black Sapphire necklace than I thought. It goes with black, white, denim, blue and other outfits.
Involve Your Children
I go out of my way to tell my daughter what I’m up to and why now that she’s old enough to understand. I think she finds it somewhat interesting, though she doesn’t always admit it. The end result is that she’s more patient when I need a few minutes to hit a deadline before I help her with something that isn’t time sensitive, for example. I ask her which photos I should send out on Instagram sometimes. And, she comes with me to the beach when I need to do photo shoots. Over the last couple of years as she’s learned to type and use a camera, her response sometimes is, “Can I help?”
Make Use of Drive Time, Walking Time and Otherwise Down Time
I never understood the allure of podcasts until recently. They’ve been helpful for me to listen to them during times I’d be otherwise walking the dog, waiting for school pick-up or driving solo. I’ve been listening to social media podcasts (here is a great list by Hootsuite) so that I can keep up on professional development and what’s trending. There are also travel podcasts, general productivity podcasts, parenting podcasts and more.
One could also return calls while walking or experiencing down time. I’m not a fan of using drive time for calls for safety and ambient noise reasons.
I used to be a terrible delegator. But I can’t tell you how good it feels to be rid of tasks that others can do more efficiently and better than I can. Recently, I have been looking to outsource things to professionals I’ve started sending tough photo edits and other smaller one-off projects to freelancers on Fiverr or Upwork that can do them faster and better than I can. I’ve sought help with social media. If you can find the resources to efficiently and responsibly outsource, I can’t recommend it enough. (As I type this, my 10-year-old is scanning business cards with an iPhone app that reads and organizes the contact information, speaking of outsourcing.)
Have a Back-Up Plan
Literally. Set your computer to have an automatic backup in case of total failure (I use Backblaze). If you’re a website owner, make sure to have it automatically backed up, too. Back up your photos, too. Hard drives fail and so do flash cards. I don’t have a perfect solution for this so am taking recommendations!
Seriously, I’ve never met a work-at-home mom or any other working parent who has proclaimed complete balance and work life success. It is O.K. to want to hurl the computer through the window every so often. Take a deep breath, have a glass of wine, and/or step away. Some things can wait.
Photos of me taken by Natalie in San Diego for Flytographer.