10 Tips for Working from Home (with a Baby)

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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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6 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Whether you’re tired of shoveling snow or sick of dealing with the shorter, darker days of winter, this time of year can get you down.  Regardless of whether or not the groundhog saw his shadow, it looks like we’re in for another month or two of wet, yucky weather so we might as well make the best of it.  Here are some of my favorite ways to beat the winter blues without spending a dime or leaving home!

 

Do Some Reading

Stop making lists of all the great books you plan to read this summer and start one today! If you’ve got an Amazon account there are countless books available for free every day.  Not sure what to read? Check out the best-sellers list or find something that can help you in your career.  (I read a recent article said that the most successful business people read an average of four marketing/business related books per year.) If you’re looking for a romance or action packed novel, remember most movies were originally books so pick your favorite and get a new perspective.

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Have a Netflix Marathon

If you’ve never binge-watched a TV series, you don’t know what you’re missing.  Snow days are perfect for Netflix TV marathons. Simply get comfortable, make some snacks and settle in.  Start with a classic series like Friends or How I Met Your Mother, or catch up on the latest season of your favorite show.  Netflix has numerous seasons available so you can watch a TV series from start to finish, or get sucked into one of their original series like the award winning drama, Orange is the New Black.

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Build a Fort

This one is great when school gets cancelled and the kids are home for the day, but you don’t have to have kids to build a totally awesome pillow fort! Stuck at home with just your hubby? Get creative and relive your childhood days seeing who can make the best fort using only blankets, pillows and the furniture in the room. Does your fort have TV access? Host your Netflix TV marathon from your fort and it’s sure to win!

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Bake a Pie

You don’t have to be Betty Crocker to whip up a delicious pie to beat the winter blues.  Take stock of the fruit in your home – maybe you have some apples or peaches that are on the brink of going bad, or maybe you have a bunch of bananas that no one has eaten.  Instead of letting them go to waste, find a recipe for that type of fruit pie or muffins. (Bananas are perfect for muffins!) With just a few additional ingredients like flour, sugar, and heavy cream, you’ll have a delicious pie in no time.  Trust me, if I can make one of these recipes, you can too! Click here for some easy Pinterest recipes to get you started!

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Start Your Spring Cleaning

You don’t have to go all out, but a little bit of cleaning here and there can save you from needing a major “deep cleaning” down the road.  If you’re stuck inside for the day, make an effort to reduce clutter and start a Goodwill or Salvation Army bag to fill with items that can be donated.  Make another bag for trash.  Don’t be a pack-rat… If you don’t use it, donate it. If it’s broken, put it in the garbage. Start with your closets to free up storage space, then move to rooms like the kitchen and bathroom.

If you have kids, do a secret playroom clean up! Use the donation bag and garbage bag method but add a third bag or storage bin for toys that you know your kids like, but haven’t played with in a while.  Chances are, they won’t notice they’re missing and in a few months you can get them back out and they’ll be like new! “Rotate” toys like this every few months to eliminate clutter and save money.

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Take a Bath

When the roads are icy and activities get cancelled, take advantage of the unexpected free time and give yourself some “me-time.” Draw yourself a nice hot bath and give yourself at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted relaxation.  Light some candles, add some bubble bath or Epsom salts and turn your phone off.  Treat your skin to an exfoliating scrub or try this DIY mud mask.

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However you choose to spend your snow-days, remember to take some time to enjoy the little things!

– Rachel