It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about freelancing or working in general, and the reason for that is because it’s been a so busy that when it came time to write something for my own little corner of the Internet, I wanted to keep it fun and light about the boys.
But I love writing about freelancing and helping other women succeed and reaching their own career and family goals. Sometimes freelancing leaves you feeling isolated, so I know for myself reading others’ experiences definitely makes me feel like I’m less on an island.
When I first moved to Columbus, I was looking forward to working on a freelance basis and having some ownership over my schedule. However, once I started getting more clients and more work, I saw that if I wanted those freelance clients to come back, I couldn’t necessarily stick to a strict working schedule and I’d have to find ways to be flexible. I also was really, truly enjoying what I was doing, felt like I was achieving a healthy balance and I was loving the time I was spending with my boys, so I decided to adopt more of a “work/life blend” which is what one of my employers often referenced.
To illustrate that, here is a normal “day in the life.”
5 am: Wake-up, blog, pay bills, read email
5:30-6:30: Work on an assignment – get as much done as I can!
6:30: Beau is usually up by now. Get him up, clean the kitchen, prep meals for the day.
7:00: Get in the shower and get ready
7:30-8:00: Shep is up, get him up and bring both boys downstairs to play and eat breakfast while I finish responding to emails, writing my to-do list for the day, etc.
8-9 am: Boys play in the playroom or we go to a nearby park.
Note at this point: Depending on the work I’m doing, one or two days a week I have a babysitter come over to watch the boys for a few hours and I head up to a Starbucks or other quiet place to work. It’s too hard for me to concentrate with the boys running around the house. They are LOUD! On days we don’t have a sitter, I usually take them out and about somewhere for a fun activity.
12-1: If I didn’t have a sitter and I need to get another hour of work in or I need to take a work call, I have sometimes used the gym daycare for a short period of time, which has been a lifesaver.
1:30-4: Boys go down for a nap. Before I do anything else, I set a timer for 10 minutes and clean. Whatever I get done in that time is done. Whatever is not can wait. Then I get to work. Yes they both usually sleep this whole time! It is my godsend. I prioritize my work during this time based on my deadlines. I also usually work on the strategy intensive projects first.
4-5: Boys are up, we play, I prepare dinner.
5-6: Depending on Clint’s schedule, I may take the boys outside to play or for a short walk if we didn’t in the morning while dinner cooks.
6: Family dinnertime – my favorite time of the day!
6-8: Here is another window of possible work time if needed. If I have a deadline or a big project, Clint will take the boys while I work in the office.
7:30-8: Boys take a bath, read stories and down for bed.
8-10: I rarely work at this time. My mind needs to shut off! Once we’ve cleaned the kitchen (I HATE cleaning the kitchen after dinner!) Clint and I relax and watch Netflix or whatever show we are into at that time. If I feel really ambitious this is when my laundry gets done.
Depending on the week, I can squeeze anywhere from 4 to 7 hours of work into the day in the windows I show here. And while it may seem a little chaotic for some, I find those work periods to be invigorating.
Here are 4 simple tips I’ve found that help me when I’m trying to squeeze it all in:
- Avoid working around the kids: I’m not saying that because I think it’s bad for kids to watch you work – actually I think the opposite. The problem is that my kids are 3 and 1 and quite distracting. It is tempting sometimes to go off in a corner in the playroom to work, or turn on the TV so I can get just a little more done. But anytime I’ve done this I have felt like I’m cheating them or I’m not doing good enough work because I have to break up a fight every 2 minutes. By utilizing the windows of time I have to work and knowing the boys have something fun going on, I feel like we’re all winning.
- Let the little stuff go: I always do that little window of 10 minutes of cleaning because a home that is not a disaster helps me focus when I do need to work there. A messy house is a distraction to me. So, I find that I can usually get it to a place where it’s tidy within 10 minutes, without sucking up too much of my valuable naptime work time. What doesn’t matter to me is laundry. Some days I’m rocking it, other days there are lots of unfolded piles in a corner. I know eventually I get to it.
- Collaborate with other freelancers: In Columbus there have been lots of new co-working spots that have popped up like The Hive, The Beehive and others. Some even offer on-site childcare. What I love about this concept is that it allows other bloggers, freelancers and business owners to find comraderie when before you were only able to communicate via email or LinkedIn. There is something very energizing about being able to discuss challenges, wins and ideas face-to-face.
- Find ways everyday to disconnect. Once a week isn’t enough for me. Whether it’s in the morning or at night, I won’t work in both of those windows. I usually have 1-2 hours of simply relaxing. My guilty pleasures are the Skinny Cow Salted Caramel Ice Cream bars or Edy’s Ice Cream and Bravo – and I’m done. Thankfully Clint doesn’t normally protest a good reality show, so we can spend that time together. Whether you love a good glass of red or a bubble bath, make the time for what matters to you. It always pays off and overworking yourself will backfire (it has for me!)
Last thing I want to say – so many of my friends ask me how I squeeze it all in, and here it is. I’m not trying to show off how busy I am or make it look glamorous. Many days it’s very messy, very exhausting and sometimes overwhelming. But everyday I do feel good about this balance. I feel accomplished, and I feel invigorated to do it again the next day. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be waking up at 5 am. Moral of the story is what you’ve always heard — do what you love and it never feels like work.
What helps you stay on track with home and work when you are managing a work-from-home business?
On to the linkup!