Today is an unusual day for me. I’m working from home.
As many of you know, I’m not a full-time always-work-from-home freelance designer. I have a full time job too. (Don’t hate me, remember?)
But today, I’m working from home. All day.
It’s bringing back some memories of when I first started freelancing and I spent the entire day working from home.
And being home with my wonderful wife and adorable baby boy reminded me of a question posted as a comment earlier this year. Tristan writes:
I’d … really like more tips from other freelancers who are parents! The work life balance and such.
Today, as I try to keep my 18-month-old boy’s fingers from pressing “publish” on this post before it’s finished, I want to talk a little about balancing home life with work life–especially balancing work time with spending quality time with the ones you love.
As you read, please add any tips you have from your own experiences too, since my only “experience” is only 18-months old. Leave a comment to add to the list.
Please keep in mind as you read, that whether I talk about kids, spouses, or significant others, it doesn’t matter. What really matters is balancing your home-work lifestyle. The object of this post is to help you balance the amount of time you spend designing and working compared to the time you spend with the people you love.
So here we go…
8 tips for freelancing from home without ignoring your kids
1. Set strict hours. It can be easy to get sucked into work. I’ve done it. I’m sure you’ve done it. Likewise, it can be easy to get sucked into spending time with your kids and family. If you plan to freelance from home for an extended period of time, set strict hours and stick to them. At least until you get the hang of what it takes to work from home and be profitable.
2. Find a dedicated workspace. Distractions are the number one productivity-killer no matter where you work from. So if your distractions (like mine) come in the shape of an adorable toddler who just wants to play, you may need to lock yourself in a dedicated workspace for a few hours each day.
Finding a dedicated work space can also help you stay focused get more done in less time–leaving more time to spend with your family.
3. Take time out every once and a while. While you should have strict work hours, it’s ok to take a time out every once and a while (perhaps I have let the pendulum swing a little too far today since my son has interrupted me for playtime at least three times since I started this blog post).
Taking a few minutes every now and then will make working from home worth it.
4. Moderate both sides. Working all day isn’t healthy. And playing all day (arguably) isn’t either. Moderate the amount of time you spend every day working and spending time with your kids.
A healthy work-home balance is exactly that: a balance.
Take time to find the right balance.
5. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. As long as you’re working from home, there will always be two opposing parties : your clients and your kids.
And you have to learn how to say “no” to each of them. Don’t be afraid to tell a client “no” if they ask you to work during a family event you’ve had planned for months.
And don’t be afraid to tell your loved ones you have a deadline to hit and you’re locking yourself if your office for a few hours. Everyone will understand.
6. Make every second count. While this cheesy piece of advice seems to scream “family time,” I’m also talking about making every second count when you’re working too.
Make every second count when you’re with your family or loved ones by giving them your all and taking work completely off your mind.
But when you’re working, give your clients your all and make every second of work count toward the profitability of your business.
7. Re-evaluate frequently. Take time now and again to re-evaluate your home-work experience. Is it still working out for you? For your family? For your clients? If it doesn’t seem to be working, maybe you need to rent an office space for a few hours each day to be more productive. Or maybe you need to work less hours to give your kids more attention.
Take time every 6 or 12 months to reevaluate your situation.
8. Embrace interruptions. Lastly, embrace interruptions.
Again, it goes both ways: it’s ok if your kid grabs your cell phone while you’re talking to a client. And it’s ok if a client calls while your hanging out with your family.
Decide which interruptions are appropriate and then learn to embrace them. They make life spontaneous and exciting.
Ok parents, chime in!
If you’re working from home and trying to balance your home life with your work life, chime in and let me know what other tips you have.
I’m sure Tristan would love as much advice from you as possible. Leave a comment on this post and let us know what you think!