10 Tips for Working from Home (with a Baby)

working from home

1. Create a schedule
When I first began working from home I had only a few clients and could get most of my writing done at the beginning of the week leaving me with a few “free” days for running errands etc. That is no longer the case so a schedule has become essential. My schedule doesn’t dictate what time of day I work on things, but it does tell me what needs to be done each day. Mondays – Pinterest, Tuesdays – Blogging, etc.

2. Make a to-do list
I keep a simple Excel sheet with a list of my clients, what needs to be done and when. I date everything when it comes to social media management so that I remember when I last worked on something and when those social media accounts will need to be worked on again. Being able to schedule posts ahead of time is a huge advantage but I try not to go more than two weeks out because a lot can change during that time and I always want posts to be relevant. For additional items like “Buy dog food” or “Pick up dry cleaning” I use the app Evernote. It’s FREE and a great way to remember things. It syncs between my phone and laptop so no matter what I’m working on I have access to my latest notes or reminders.

3. Plan ahead
I like to stay at least one week ahead when it comes to content creation – this way if something comes up it’s not the end of the world. When you work from home it feels like you have all the time in the world to complete tasks but at the end of the day with a fussy baby there are moments I find myself saying “What did I do today??” If you know your little one is acting fussier than usual, plan ahead and get an extra hour of work done when he or she goes to bed, so that if you lose time the next day it’s okay. I also make sure to keep Dr. appointments, meetings and anything else on the same calendar so that I can plan around things and be prepared.

4. Take advantage of nap time
This is a big one. I will make sure to save my most challenging work for nap time. I try to do things like vacuuming, folding laundry and household chores when baby is awake because it doesn’t matter if I’m interrupted a million times, but when it comes to writing, design or content planning – nap time it is!

5. Be willing to be flexible
I recently read the quote “Perfectionism is the enemy of Hustle.” I think this is perfect for remembering to stay flexible. When you have a baby toddling around nothing is ever going to be perfect and this has taken me a while to learn. I am seriously OCD when it comes to my home and keeping things tidy but at the end of the day that doesn’t get things done.

6. Schedule phone calls
When you have a baby the worst thing that can happen is an unexpected phone call during nap time or a door bell ring followed by incessant barking and chaos from your 100lb dog. (Maybe that’s just in our household haha) Regardless, nothing can mess up your day like an unexpected 30 minute conversation when you could have done a bunch of other more important things during that time. I ask all of my clients to email first and if they need to talk on the phone that’s fine but I schedule my calls in advance so 1. I can be prepared and 2. It doesn’t mess up nap time and 3. It doesn’t interfere with my other work.

7. Plan time to check and respond to emails.
Email can be a major time-sucker. Unless it’s urgent I don’t open it right away – this way it remains highlighted so I know I need to come back to it. I try to check and respond in the morning and again later in the day. As much as I want to be available to my clients, email can become a serious interruption to other work. I find I can write a better response when it’s not rushed and I’m not doing other things so setting a time for email checking and responding has proven valuable.

8. Designate a work space
I love that working from home means I can work wherever, but I like some stability so when I sit down I know, “okay, it’s work time.” We have an “office” but I hate it. It’s secluded and baby girl has no room to play. I have commandeered the breakfast bar in the kitchen as my work space instead – there’s ample space for me to spread out papers, drink my coffee and plenty of outlets for chargers. Plus I can put baby Kline in her walker or jumper and let her go to town, all within watching distance. Having a work space is great – even my dog knows when I’m sitting here I’m not to be bothered.

9. Limit distractions
Okay, we all have our lazy work from home days when we catch up on our favorite shows or watch the Today Show for an hour but when it comes down to it I cannot do my best work with the TV on. Even catchy music can get distracting for me so I limit myself to a few classical Pandora stations for some welcome background noise. I highly recommend “Piano Guys” radio to anyone that loves music – it’s all instrumental versions of your favorite songs so it’s fun but not distracting. I’ve also learned to successfully tune out Disney radio but sometimes when Frozen comes on I just have to belt out “Let it go!” for the world to hear. (baby girl thinks I’m a great singer!)

10. Enjoy your little ones while you can!
The best part of working from home is getting to spend time with your little one (s) so do it! They may be your biggest inspiration when it comes to your next creative assignment and when I’m stressed nothing is better than some quiet time nursing my baby girl. Don’t forget why you’re working from home to begin with. “Work” can always wait or you can catch up on something when the kids are in bed.

What are your top tips for working from home with kids? I’d love to hear them!

– Rachel

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What To Look For Before Hiring a Social Media or Web Design Company

Don't be afraid to take a closer look!

Don’t be afraid to take a closer look!

Lots of people claim to be web designers or social media experts nowadays, but before you decide on a company to create your website or handle your FB business page there’s a few things you should look for. Remember, a cheap but poorly designed website will cost you more in the long run than making a solid investment on a well designed, mobile friendly site upfront.

With website builders like DudaOne, Wix and Weebly, there’s no excuse for an outdated looking website these days. Make sure the person you’re working with is experienced, knowledgeable and has an eye for design. Last but not least, make sure your web designer or social media guru knows how to write. Many web designers use copy writers which is a sign they know what they’re good at… and what they’re not.

Here are the three key things to look for when hiring a virtual assistant or web design / social media company:

1. Check out their work – if you don’t like the websites they’ve designed already, they probably aren’t the best fit for your business.
2. Review their copy writing – typos and grammatical errors should be a red flag.
3. Ask for references – if the individual or company does good work they should be able to provide you with a list of happy customers to talk to.

If you don’t feel 100% confident in your web designer or “virtual assistant,” chances are you should go with your gut. Your FB business page is the voice of your company and your website is a reflection of your business so you don’t want to put anything out there that isn’t your best.

~Rachel

Letter to the Editor

Sometimes you just have to voice your opinion about things.  It’s important to pick and choose your battles, but when you know you have a valid point – do something and make a difference.  After weeks of dealing with noise complaints, destruction of property and disrespectful college students I decided to write this article to the Lancaster New Era.  My goal is to reach the right people who have the ability to effect change –  whether it’s the college, the local police or the students themselves.  The people here in town deserve better.  There’s an elderly woman who lives next door to me and she doesn’t have the courage to tell these kids to stay off of her property, but I’m tired of seeing her flower bed littered with red solo cups and beer cans.  It’s time someone speaks up.

Local Residents Deserve Better from F&M

Attention:  Editor, Lancaster New Era,

For most people in the city, back to school means kids on the playground again, crossing guards at the corner and laughter in the street as children walk to school in the mornings.  As a resident of West Frederick Street, however, back to school means belligerent F&M students cursing and carrying on in the street between 11pm and 4am every Friday and Saturday night; destruction of property as these students stumble back to campus late at night, overturning planters and tearing down tree branches; and the tell-tale trail of red solo cups and beer cans that lead from the College Hill Apartments back to F&M College.

As a former college student myself, I can understand the allure of the college party scene, but I can’t understand the despicable behavior I’ve observed as a Lancaster City homeowner.  I’ve seen students walk through the fresh cement outside of my home after stealing the orange cones barricading the area. I’ve seen students tossing solo cups and other garbage into my neighbor’s flower beds.  And I’ve been woken up countless times by students arguing and cursing in the street beneath my bedroom window.  It seems no matter how many noise complaints are made, the students at F&M face no consequence for their actions.

I don’t know if these students are too drunk to realize that West Frederick Street is a residential section of the city and not an extension of their college campus, or if they simply don’t care.  What I know is that the hard working individuals, the mothers of young children and the elderly couples living on my street deserve better from F&M College.  A noise complaint should be taken seriously and the call should be answered by the city police, not the college security team.  Students need to learn that when they are off campus they are responsible for their actions and underage drinking, public urination and destruction of property are punishable by law.

I would expect a college that holds its students to such high academic standards demand the same upstanding behavior outside of the classroom as well.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rachel Highley