I quit my part-time job and started working from home back in October. Since switching to NoLo full time, and operating 100% out of my home office, I’ve had to learn how to manage my day. It’s AH-mazing how much of your day can pass when you don’t have a plan. There were so many times that I would look at the clock and wonder where the day went.
I thought that having so much more time to devote to NoLo would result in so much more things getting done for NoLo. Wow was I wrong. You see, the thing is, when you have an unlimited amount of time to do something, you procrastinate more. At least I do. I found myself putting things off because I “had all day tomorrow to do them”. Or, I would find myself cleaning up around the house and folding clothes because I had all of this time at home that I hadn’t had before. Sound familiar?
The more this went on, the more I realized I needed to develop an office atmosphere at home. I needed rules and guidelines, just like at a “normal” job. It’s so easy to get in a rut when you only have yourself to be accountable for so I came up with the following policies to keep myself accountable!
Make a plan for the week. I have a Simplified Planner that I absolutely LOVE. At the beginning of the week I go over my schedule and get everything loosely planned out. The tasks I want to accomplish each day, as well as any meetings I have scheduled, are all written down and accounted for. The planner even has a space to keep track of what’s for dinner, which I love because I don’t find myself leaving the office early to go figure out what’s in the fridge.
Create a daily routine. I always check the weather and scroll through my emails when I first wake up. It gives me a glimpse into what I’m looking at walking into my office. When I’ve made it to my office, I answer emails first. Then I scroll through and respond to anything that I need to on our social media accounts. I also have parts of my day blocked for blogging and other tasks. Having a routine doesn’t leave me staring at my computer wondering what I should do next.
Create office hours. I personally have office hours Monday – Thursday from 10am – 5pm. These hours are not all spent at my desk, but I spend these hours working. I may have venue visits, collaborative vendor lunches or styled shoots that take me out of my office, but the tasks during these times are NoLo related. I do take short breaks throughout the day for lunch, fresh air and to cuddle with my pup!
Have a dress code. I am not allowed to wear pajamas or sweat pants in my office. Jeans- fine. Leggings- we all have our days. Pajamas- no sir. Getting dressed makes me feel like I have started my day. I find that I feel lazier and less productive if I don’t get out of the PJs.
Make room for non-business activities. My workday starts at 10am because I decided that I needed to step up my workout game. (I don’t enjoy working out and therefore hardly ever made time for it when I was working two jobs.) By starting my workday a little later than normal, I’m able to work out, eat breakfast and get ready without the easy out of repeatedly hitting my snooze button.
I also made time for cleaning and laundry by planning to do those items on Fridays. I don’t have normal work hours on Fridays because they are kind of a wild card. During wedding season Friday afternoons/ evenings are usually filled with rehearsals, or the occasional Friday wedding. I take this day to get laundry and cleaning out of the way so that I can enjoy the weekend with my husband. If I have a wedding, I’ll also take the day to get everything packed and together.
Give yourself vacation and sick days. As a business owner, I know it can be hard to let go, to give yourself a break, but it’s SO important. I don’t get sick often (knock on wood), but when I do, I relax. If I would have stayed home from my old job, I take a sick day. My home being my place of work doesn’t make me obligated to sit at my desk if I’m not feeling so hot. I also take actual vacations. You know, the kind where I’m not attached to my phone or checking emails. I give all of my clients a heads up, take care of last minute tasks, setup an auto-response and let go. My clients deserve the best version of me, and they aren’t going to get that if I never give myself time off.
The biggest lesson in all of this is to figure out what works for you, and give yourself some flexibility. I’d be lying if I told you I stick to my policies and schedule every single day. Some days just don’t go as planned. Things will pop up, you’ll sleep through your alarm or all of a sudden it will be 4 o’clock and you can’t list 2 things you’ve accomplished. True story. Owning your own business is a lot of work and working from home can be too, so cut yourself some slack. On those weird days, instead of getting frustrated and feeling like I let myself down, I’ll make myself a hot cup of tea, binge watch Netflix and remind myself that I’m only human.