Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Work From Home Tips


Hello friends! Happy Tuesday, I hope you are all having a great week so far.  I know there are so many of us trying to adjust to our new normal which also means learning to work from home...with kids.   Even though I have worked from home at some capacity over the last 8 years, this is something that is continuously evolving for me.  I am excited to share with you a few things that have worked for me over the last several years.
  have certainly had my fair share of exciting victories along with some very ugly major fails trying to balance my family's needs with my business needs.  I hope that by sharing a few of my favorite tips will help you run a more successful at home business or get through that never ending corporate workload.  Balancing a busy family with a home based business is one of the biggest challenges I have ever had to take on, but with a lot of perseverance, planning and hard work, you too can achieve success and live a life you love.
  • Wake up before the kids.  I love getting up early in the morning, this is my ME time: it's quiet and my phone isn't chiming with endless alerts.  My house is cozy and I get so much done.  This is also my time to sit down and plan out my to do list for the day without interruption.
  • Get a good planner and use it.  In order to remember all of my business commitments, children's activities, school schedules and Jeff's work schedule, I needed a good planner to keep us organized.  Every Sunday I set aside an hour to go over my planner for the week, review what we have planned and schedule business activities around my family's schedule.  I also created a command center with a white board calendar system in our kitchen so we always had our family's schedule in front of us.  My husband loves to glance at our command center calendar every morning to see what we have going on as a family once he comes home from work.  It helps to keep us all organized and on schedule.
  • Keep an organized to do list.  Every morning I prioritize my to do list and write in my planner the top 5 things I would like to get done that day.  I focus on those 5 things throughout the day and if I end up checking them all off of my to do list, then it has been a productive day.  Anything else after that is considered gravy.  Don't try to take on the world and approach each day with a huge to do list.  You will be left feeling frustrated and disappointed.  Set reasonable expectations for yourself always putting the primary focus on your family.  Their needs come first.  If you don't end up finishing those 5 things, give yourself some grace and move them to the top of the to do list the next day.  One of the hardest things for me as a work from home Mom was that I always wanted to knock out everything on my to do list all in one day.  With the distractions of having 2 kiddos at home, it just wasn't possible.  By focusing on only 5 things, you will end the day feeling a sense of accomplishment and like you didn't ignore your family's needs in the process.
  • Create a functional work space.   One of my most favorite rooms in our home is my office.  I have completely made this space my own by painting the walls my favorite spa blue color and have everything organized to my liking.  I am truly the happiest and most productive working at my desk because I know it is the one thing in our home that is mine.  I also love to start my day off with a clean desk, be sure to keep your work space clean and decluttered.  Each morning I file away necessary paperwork and put items back in their proper place before tacking my to do list.  If you don't have a designated room in your house that functions as a home office, find a corner of your home that you can declare as your designated work space.  
  • Set business hours and stick to them.  One of the hardest things I have had to do when working from home was to know when to "clock out" and to finally end my work day.  I would work all day long if I allowed myself.  I am a natural people pleaser and would find myself answering work related questions at all hours of the night.  By setting specific business hours and communicating them, you have now set the expectation that you will not be responding to questions until the next business day.
  • Get dressed every day as if you were going into an office. As a former Corporate Accountant, I used to LOVE dressing up every day.  Ann Taylor and I were total BFF's.  My favorite quote as a career girl was "dress for the job you want, not the job you have".  Once I became a stay at home mom, I slowly turned into that yoga pants wearing Mom and barely ever got dressed or did my make up.  It just wasn't a priority and some things just had to be sacrificed in order to get everything done.  I slowly found that when I did make an extra effort in my appearance, I would also make an extra effort in my business.  I became more confident in what I was doing because I felt better about myself.  Now with Facebook Live and Instagram Stories playing such an important part in our work from home businesses, I make it an effort almost every day to do my hair and make up incase the opportunity presents itself to hop on Facebook Live or create a small video.
  • Designate a power evening one night a week.  I allow myself to stay up late (2-3 hours) one night a week to knock out a few items on my to do list that I can't seem to get done during the day.  I also save the tasks such as filming YouTube videos, writing newsletters or blog posts that require full concentration and without the constant interruptions from the kids.   I found that I would accomplish more in one power evening than it would take me in a week due to the constant daily interruptions from my family.  I would have to drink an extra cup of coffee the next day, however,  it was worth it knowing how much I had accomplished the night before.
  • Turn your home office into a Post Office. Back when my kiddos were little, I dreaded the task of taking them to the Post Office.  Standing in that long line and keeping my kids focused was like herding cats into a box.  My son would stand next to me for about two minutes and then run off while my daughter struck up a conversation with the woman five people in front of us.  I was literally out of breath and red with embarrassment by the time we got back into the car!  I then discovered an amazing gadget called a Postage Scale and never have to go to the Post Office again.  It's like having a Post Office right inside your home!  The mailman and I are now BFF's, he knows to expect a lot of packages from me.  And if you have too many to mail out, leave him a little note in your mailbox asking him to pick up the remaining packages from your front porch.  This has truly been a game changer for me.
Here is what you need to transform your Work At Home Office into a Post Office:

1. Dymo Postage Scale.
2. Avery Internet Shipping Labels.
3. Pay Pal Ship Now Account.
4. Scotch Bubble Mailers.
5. Catalog Envelopes

Using the Postage Scale is so easy!  Here is what you do:

1. Pull together your package to be mailed and weigh it using your Postage Scale.

2. Go to the PayPal link.  If it does not automatically bring you to the 'Ship Now' portal, you will have to key http://www.paypal.com/shipnow to get you there.

3. In the Address Information section, fill out your customers address and your email so you have a record of your shipment and purchase.  

4. In the Shipment Information section, there will be two drop downs you will need to select from.  I always choose First Class Mail Parcel 2-5 Days and Package/Thick Envelope.  You can certainly change these options depending on what you are shipping, however, this is what I use most of the time.

5. Fill out the weight of your package, the second boxes is the ounces which is what you will mostly use.

6. Click on Continue.  It will bring up a screen with your postage rate.  Then click on Print Label.  Another Pop-Up window will show asking you if you want to print a sample label.  I printed a sample label with my first couple of packages as I was getting used to the process and to see how my printer worked with this system.

7. Print your label!  I have to cut mine out of the Avery label sheet.  Peel and stick. 

8. Do a happy dance to your mailbox knowing that you do not have to drag the kids to the Post Office.


I can practically hear all of the Mama's rejoicing as they read this.  Have you discovered a work from home tip during this uncertain time that has changed your life?  Please share in the comments below, I can not wait to hear more amazing business tips!
      Have a great day!
    XOXO
    Karen

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