How to Survive a Work-From-Home Job

If you’re just getting to know me, then I want to tell you a little bit about my career journey–for over ten years, I was a go-go-go journalist, working my way up from small to large markets and from producer to executive producer and news director.
Honestly, it was a blast. The work was hard, the pay was low, and the hours were insane, but I truly loved it for many years. I felt important, and I felt like I was accomplishing something important.
I got my Masters from Syracuse (Go Orange!) and headed to my first job right away, at WBOC-TV in Salisbury, MD. From there I moved up to a producer position in Arizona, then switched over to radio and eventually made my way to a news director position in Minnesota. Along the way, I met my husband, interviewed celebrities, did movie reviews, and generally had an amazing time.
When my son was 7 months old, we moved back to San Diego. I was a candidate for a couple of jobs that didn’t work out, then took a spot at a local radio station. Finally, I decided to move into marketing and started working from home as a contractor for IBM.
The change was massive for a couple of reasons. I was now a work-from-home mom, in a brand-new career. Gone were the office interactions, the opportunities to build friendships with other adults . . . and I suddenly had to work around a baby, a dog, a cat, the laundry, the dishes… oh, and learn about an entirely new field. I was a little overwhelmed.
A friend of mine who had done the work-from-home thing for a couple of years gave me good advice, and I learned a lot from other telecommuting contractors. I compiled all of the advice and what I’ve learned in 3 years as a work-from-home mom into a handy little list:

1. Create a schedule, and stick to it

You might say “but my company already provides me with a schedule,” or “I have all the time in the world!” It might seem easier to let other folks dictate how you organize your life, but I promise, it won’t be true in the long run. You have to make sure you are giving your job the focus it deserves, and still make time for chores, cooking, paying bills, and whatever else needs to get done. I could work later in the day, but I choose to start early and end early (and work some evening hours) to get everything done.

2. Get dressed and out of those PJs

It is super tempting to stay in a nightie or sweatpants all day. Don’t–you never know when you may need to run an errand or go get your kid, but on a much more basic level, getting dressed changes your MINDSET. It moves you from sleep-time or breakfast time or child drop-off to WORK time. And we all need that subliminal reminder to get our butts into gear.

3. Do not work from your bedroom

If we all went off of Instagram imagery of work-from-home life, a regular day might look like us curled up under our softest blanket, coffee in hand, reading the paper with our laptop on our lap. First of all, laptops get really freaking hot, and that isn’t comfortable. Secondly, if you work where you sleep, the two will start to intertwine. You’ll be laying there in bed and worrying about all of the tasks remaining on your to-do list. Create an office space, and utilize it, even if it is just a folding chair and a plastic table.

4. Value yourself properly

Working from home is not easier than working in an office. Yes, some things may be more accessible, but you still matter and you are still a valued asset. If you are working for yourself, you’re carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders. Give yourself credit, and don’t talk down to yourself or let others talk down to you because you happen to operate from a home office. Just because you lack a commute doesn’t mean you’re not a Boss Babe.

5. Reset regularly

Get up once an hour. Eat lunch outside. Schedule work lunches at least twice a month with trusted friends and colleagues so that you can get some adult interaction. Steal away on a Friday afternoon for some ice cream or a walk. Stretch. Breathe. Loosen up those shoulders!
Even if you only work part-time, or as a freelancer, these tips can still help you to find balance in your work and home life. Your self care doesn’t become less important when you work from home, and the tasks you see all around you can become overwhelming if you don’t remember to stay organized and keep your expectations realistic. Do you have any other work from home tips? Tell me below!

Daphne Gaghagen

I am a wife and mother of a 4-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl, living in Chula Vista, California! My day job is working from home as a Social Business Manager for IBM. I also maintain my Instagram account, @mommyiloveyousobig. I love weightlifting, yoga, and trying out new recipes. I look forward to traveling the world and experiencing new things with my little family. I spend my free time at the gym, obsessing over Netflix shows, discovering new places and having a beer with the hubby or pals. I love making new mommy friends!
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