Work It, Mom
A Survival Guide for Work at Home Moms
-Dory Devlin, Work It Mom
Oh, how I needed a day like yesterday. To put on some tights and boots, walk around the corner to the train station, and head in to the city to meet with some other bloggers and some smart women I work with very virtually the rest of the year. I’ve been working from home since my youngest was born 12 years ago and, for the most part, I have been fine with aloneness of it, only because that solitude comes to an abrupt end at 2:30 p.m. every day, when the kids come home and the day gets busier fast. I’ve learned I can work through all kinds of distractions, and countless stops and starts. I’ve added a puppy to the mix, so the feeling of being tethered to home by work and family has intensified in recent weeks. Hence, the skip in my step as I headed for the train, uttering a joyful buh-bye to my husband, who took the day off from work so I could go.
Days away from work-from-home central always require some extra planning, but it is all worth it. I come home energized, with more ideas than I had when I left, and with an entirely different perspective than just the day before. With more people joining the work-at-home ranks, many involuntarily as they (hopefully) juggle freelance assignments while searching for longer term work, I thought it was a good time to pass along a few survival tips when going to the office doesn’t require leaving home.
Meet colleagues in person whenever possible. Technology is an amazing thing. It’s what makes working from home full time possible. But online communication, despite the increasing ways to engage via the Web, can only go so far. Face-to-face meetings with colleagues illicit a deeper level of conversation, a faster flow of ideas, and a better connection that will make it easier to connect online when you’re back in your home office digs. Oh, and it feels good to reawaken the person who used to get dressed nicely every day to go to work. Workout clothes are comfy, and all, but wearing them for days on end can do funky things to your psyche.
Cowork. That may sound a lot like going into the office where the people you work with, even tangentially, work. But coworking typically doesn’t involve people you are working with directly. While coworking spaces are popping up for rent in some cities, you can grab a friend or two who are working from home, or looking for work, and head to a coffee shop with Wi-Fi and work together for a few hours. I’ve met a good friend at a local Panera recently. We plugged in next to a fireplace and worked and chatted and shared some ideas. We plan to do it more, but while the aforementioned puppy is still little, she’ll come to my house to cowork once a week.
Exercise. Yes, I know, you’re working. But it’s important to get up from the computer and stretch. I know it’s tempting to throw in a load of laundry when taking a break at home, and that’s a fine idea sometimes. But be careful not to let a quick around-the-house errand turn into an hour of housework. If you’ve got a spare hour, spend it getting some exercise to stay healthy and recharge your mind. I’m working on this.
Reach out. Set aside some time each week to reconnect with former and current coworkers and friends on social networks. Send a few emails to catch up and stay connected for those long stretches when getting out of the home office and connecting in person are not an option. I’m working ont this, too.
If you work from home, at least part of the time, what are your best survival tips for working from home without losing direction and valuable connections?