Most days of the week I’m running around with my hair on fire, jumping from mothering to working to keeping our house running the way it should, to attempting to find enough quality time with my husband and more. It’s a crazy season, this one where we are raising little kids while I’m also building a business and trying to care for myself and those around me, investing in the community and church that I’m a part of, and finding time to just enjoy this season, too. I love being busy, having a lot on my plate, but if I don’t keep an eye on that delicate balance of work and rest and hustle and slowing down every so often, I find myself edgy, exhausted and wondering which way is up.
A few weeks ago, on a particularly difficult and tiring day, I thought to myself, “Why am I even bothering?” I mean, there are plenty of days when I think it might just be easier to be all in with this mothering gig full-time or all in with this work gig, rather than living in this sometimes frazzled in-between of working from home mom life. Of course, it was a momentary loss of perspective, because most of the time I feel so very blessed to be able to do both of these jobs in the amount and mix that I currently do, but it’s not always easy. In fact, I reason to believe that there really isn’t any perfect set-up during this season (or any season) of raising kids, but rather our perspective that matters most.
I think a particularly difficult part about working from home, sans co-workers, is that it’s incredibly flexible but can be equal parts isolating and easy to get off track when life gets busy. One of my favorite phrases to describe my work is “flexible but not optional” because, let’s face it, when you say you work from home there is a tendency by some to assume that means you can work as much or as little as you would like on any given week.
But the truth is the work still needs to get done, the freelance schedule still holds tight, the emails still come rolling in and require a timely response. So, in this season with little kids and frequent disruptions to the schedule, that means lots of early morning work sessions, nap time hustle, and the occasional evening call or catching up on email while Joe and I watch Netflix. And friends? It’s so very worth it to me. Perhaps not to everyone, but I am so thankful to be able to continue to pursue my dreams even when that doesn’t happen when or how I want it to happen.
It’s easy, in any circumstance, to see the negative, the road blocks the reasons to complain – in work, or motherhood, or other life circumstances – and I’m as prone to it as the next person. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how my attitude shapes my experience and perspective when those twists and turns in the road come.
Okay, okay, that’s great and all but what does that mean tangibly? Well, if you’re currently working a flexible but not optional job, or perhaps you’re dreaming about doing something like what I do, here are my best tips for staying the course when you have every reason not to:
1. Identify Your Power Hours
Power hours are the times of the day when you’re most focused and mentally sharp. For me, that’s 4:30 am or sometime around there. I can pound out about three times the amount of work between 4:30 and 5:30 am as I could in four hours in the afternoon. I lose most of my focus past mid-afternoon, and working in the evenings is rarely a good strategy for maximizing productivity in my world. Find your power hours and try to match your hours up with your work when possible to maximize output with the smallest time input.
2. Multi Task When Possible
Things like listening to a business development podcast or audio-book can be done while I fold laundry or make dinner or play with the girls. It doesn’t require my full attention, yet I’m able to invest in myself and my development while also investing in other areas of my home and family life.
3. Use Every Pocket of Time
Find the times in your day that tend to be wasted time and figure out a strategy for maximizing it, such as the school pick-up line, that 30 minutes your toddler likes to watch Paw Patrol in the afternoon, nap time, etc. Sometimes I throw everything out the window and just enjoy that hour of nap time, but most of the time I’m busting my booty to get as many things done as possible.
4. Communicate With Your Spouse
This one is HUGE. I could not do what I do without a supportive spouse who was all-in with my desire to grow a business from home. There are seasons, like November and December, when things tend to get crazier on all fronts. It’s my personal work “busy season” but having an open conversation with Joe during that time and talking through the logistics, including the fact that this was a temporarily hectic time for work, was helpful in us navigating that season together. We talk each week about our work schedules and what nights we have something outside of our normal commitments, like a work dinner, team call, etc. It helps to be on the same page from the start of the week so we aren’t rushing around and scrambling at the last minute.