Most days, I love being a blogger. I often call it my dream job.
But working from home has its share of complications, particularly when it comes to balancing work/family life.
It’s very easy to allow work time to creep into family time or vice versa when your family space is the same as your work space.
Over the last year, I allowed myself to set up my workspace right smack dab in the middle of our living room on the couch. While it’s lovely that this is an option for me, it’s also a really terrible productivity plan. I also use that same space for reading, hanging out with my kids, people-watching through our picture window, even occasionally putting my feet up and taking a nap. So over the course of the year, my work/family/personal time all sort of seemed to flow together without any real structure. At the end of the day, I often couldn’t tell you exactly what I had accomplished that day. I mentioned this to a friend of mine, who recommended I did some research into Tools to Boost Productivity, as this could be the first step to finding the balance between work and life, especially when working at home.
The crazy thing about this situation is that I have a lovely closet office space that my cousin, my husband and I DIY’ed together a few years ago. DIY’ing is in our blood – we’ve got a toolbox brimming with things that are just begging to be used on our next project. We’ve got nuts, bolts, washers, fastening guns; collated screws are ideal for some of the jobs we’ve got planned so it’s good we’ve got plenty of those.
My closet-turned-office space (also my new ukulele – a birthday gift that I fully intend to learn to play this year – not during my office hours though. Of course.).
This fun little nook stayed mostly vacant over the course of the past year. Poor thing.
Last month, one of my monthly missions was to try to set up a simpler schedule for my blogging hours. I knew that my productivity could increase if I had set hours that I worked each day rather than the haphazard daily schedule I’d been keeping.
In order to accomplish this task, I knew something had to change in my work environment. So my first step was to reclaim my closet office in order to have a location where I “report to work” every day. Yes, I may show up in my yoga pants, but let’s just keep that between you and me, shall we?
Then, my next step was to set up my office hours.
I am grateful to say that my 3 year old son still takes a nap each day (knock on all.the.wood.). So it made sense that I should structure my work hours around his nap. He also goes to pre-school three mornings a week, but I decided to keep that time open for running errands, visiting with friends, playing my ukulele or people-watching out my picture window. You just never know what important task a day might bring.
I gave myself pretty limited hours because I wanted to force myself to really focus during those times, I also decided to write down a guideline for each day as to what I hoped to accomplish. I am a bit of a free spirit, so giving myself too much structure usually backfires. However, I’m also a dreamer, so if left to myself, I would spend 9/10 of my week dreaming about the next Big Thing I hoped to accomplish and then the last 1/10 trying to accomplish it. It’s a struggle being my brain sometimes.
So I hung a chalkboard up in my office and I scratched out my office hours for the week and what I intend to do with them.
You guys. I am in LOVE with my new system. After almost 7 years of being a blogger, I feel like I have *finally* found my groove. Is it a fool-proof system? No. Do my hours occasionally still run into each other? Yep.
But my productivity is better than it’s been in years and at the end of a week, I feel a much greater sense of accomplishment than I can remember in a long time. This is not only due to the time I’ve set aside to work, but the time that I’ve set aside for NOT working. I love having an office space too. It’s amazing and as I mentioned before, it’s making me so productive! The only thing I don’t like about my office is how messy it can get. It’s so annoying! One of my friends who owns a business recommended that I check out FilecenterDMS.com to manage my documents so that I don’t have huge piles of paper all over the office! It’s something I’m definitely considering at the minute.
I also feel strongly that by actually physically writing down my office hours and posting them on my wall (and on the internet) for all to see, I’ve created an accountability that’s been missing from my work-by-myself-no-one-knows-but-me office environment. I’ve tried many time though the years to have set times each day that I would work, but never actually posted those hours anywhere. It’s totally out there for the world to see, so I have to stick with it now!
It’s likely that my schedule will need to be tweaked from time to time, but for now I love how my new system works for me!
How about you? Have you ever tried to establish office hours in your home? How does that work for you?