As a ghostwriter and a stay at home mom I know just how important it is to get the balance right. I have been doing this now since 2004 and I have probably made all the mistakes that you can make. My husband once accused me of having an addiction to my laptop and I guess in a way he was right. It was this that really opened my eyes and made me look at the way I was working.
When you first start working from home and you actually start making money it is just too easy to become addicted. You spend every spare moment of your time working, checking emails, looking for new clients and basically neglecting your family. I know I did. My excuse would be that the kids were in bed or that my husband was playing with them. My laptop was turned on from the moment I woke right up until I went to bed. I was constantly sneaking a quick peek at emails and I didn’t even realize the damage I was doing to my family.
In 2007 when things were going really well for me I got a wakeup call. My husband had enough and he was ready to pack his bags and leave. He said I loved my laptop more than I loved him. I couldn’t believe it, had things really gotten this bad? Was I that addicted? I was spending all my time online and my home life was suffering. My children weren’t suffering, I was spending time with them but once my husband arrived home from work in the evenings I just let him take over. I forgot about how important our relationship was.
I got my wakeup call and I started to put things into perspective. I have three rules that I now use and I would like to share them with everyone.
1. Create a schedule
One of the best things I did was to create a schedule. I now know exactly when I will be working. I have a couple of hours scheduled in the mornings when my children are in school and if I need it I can take an hour in the evening too. I use my diary, a white board and a to-do-list. The white board is where I place my working hours. This is great because now all my family and friends know exactly when I am working. They don’t call or arrive unexpectedly.
My diary is where I record all the different projects I am working on and their deadlines. I schedule my writing work around these deadlines and when new clients come in they are added into my diary and my to-do-list is then adjusted to incorporate these.
I work out my to-do-list for the following day every night. I look at what has been completed that day and what is essential for the next day. I actually color code my to-do-list so that I know what has to be done that day and then the additional work that can be completed. I also have a list of my own personal things that I should complete once the client work has been taken care of. This seems to be working really well for me although I am looking at making a few little adjustments so that my own personal work gets a little bit more priority.
The main thing with a schedule is that when you set it, you need to stick to it.
2. Put Family First
The second tip that I want to share is that you should put your family first. They are the reason you are working from home in the first place. Children are so precious and let’s face it, they don’t stay young forever. Before you know it they will be teenagers and they won’t want to spend any time with you so you need to make the most of it while you can. I started to lose sight of this fact and making money became my priority. I am glad to say that I learned my lesson before it was too late and I am really grateful for this.
3. Take Time Out
Taking time out is something that everyone needs to do. When you work from 9 – 5 you get holidays and you take time out. When you work for yourself you need to do this too. I try to schedule a day off at least once a week or once every two weeks if possible. This may mean working hard for the remaining four days of the week but it is well worth it. I usually try to take Fridays off and I plan a special treat for my children when they come home from school. This could be anything from arts and crafts for the afternoon to baking cookies or a cake. They absolutely love it and I am enjoying this time too. It gives us all something to look forward to all week and there is such excitement when it comes to planning what we are going to do each Friday. This Friday I know my son wants me to make a robot with him and my daughter wants to design new finger puppets. I have no idea how we are going to do this but that really is half the fun. I let them come up with ideas on how to make things and just follow them. It’s all about becoming a child again yourself for a couple of hours and it is something that I would highly recommend to everyone.
There are some great Crafts for Kids ideas on Amazon that will give you some amazing ideas and of course you can always find crafting ideas online too.
I wasn’t planning on this post being so long but hopefully now that I have shared my story it will help others to realize the importance of getting the balance right. If you are going to work from home you need to make sure that you don’t make the mistakes that I made. You might not get the second chance that I did.
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