Top Tips For Working From Home

I’ve been working from home for 4 years now, grabbing snippets of work time when ever and where ever I can. With a laptop perched on my lap, I’d multitask most evenings with the TV on in the background or wake up and switch on while in bed. It suited my needs at first, with a baby and no set free time it was always a case of getting on with things as soon as the opportunity arose or putting those endless moments breastfeeding a baby to good use.

Recently though, I’ve been a lot more constructive with my time. Work has picked up and my youngest going to preschool has meant I’ve got set hours in the day to crack on. This was the perfect opportunity to reassess how I work and get the most out of my child free day. It’s so easy, when your home is your office, to never have an off switch and the nature of my job means I can get a little done on my phone while waiting in a que or walking the dog, but I also needed moments to just get on with tight deadlines or scheduling work so I could go away. These are the main switches I’ve made to make sure working from home has worked for me.

Create a defined workspace

I tried this once before by arranging my dressing table into a multiuse area but it was so difficult to keep organised that I found it easier sitting at the dining table. The main problem with working this way is you have to keep clearing it away and would waste precious moments looking for my diary and notebook just to get started.

By investing in a small desk from Kit Out My Office, which I should proudly gloat, I put together all by my self while entertaining a toddler and not swearing. I’ve rearranged my dining room to create a small office area and have noticed a massive difference in the amount I can achieve, as well as being much more organised in general.

Fresh flowers help it blend in to my dining room and not look so officey, a ‘keep positive’ quote as well as essential oil room diffuser calm my stresses (I’ve currently have Meditation by Oleo Natural Bodycare sitting pride of place ) While there’s space for my Pirongs organiser, super stylish Kate Spade notebook as well as my BusyB paperwork folder  which are all to pretty to hide away!

I chose a desk with a small drawer in my dinning room colour scheme  to keep all my clutter away and one place so I don’t have to keep getting up to find things, wasting precious time.

top tips for working from home

Lock The Front Door & let friends or family know your work times

When everyone knows you’re always around, it’s easy to be the go-to person they can pop round to see whenever. I love having guests and chatting over a coffee but when I have deadlines to meet, it can be hard giving your guests your undivided attention while you’ve got the nagging worry you’ll be in for late night and you can hear emails pinging away on your phone.

So I have had to start to be quite firm and let people know I’m working and not available. It’s much easier to be upfront than come across rude as you’re trying to maintain a conversation while your minds elsewhere, unless you’re having a really good gossip, I’ve always got time for that!

Use a timer app

And finally, as I have a few different clients for my freelance work which all require different amounts of time, I use the timer app Yast, (other apps are available!) which makes sure I’m diligent with my working time, don’t over or under work. You can assign each client separately and it just becomes second nature to start the timer every time I switch clients.

It’s very easy to get carried away on a campaign and find you’re doing way more than expected so I check in at the end of each day to balance my time and plan the following day accordingly.

For me, maintaining a good work / life balance has been key to making sure I enjoy my job and that my  working is time is as productive as possible equaling less stress or that feeling that your never away from my desk!

Disclaimer 

This is a collaborative post 

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Did I Tell You About The Time I studied With Digital Mums?

Digital Mums? What’s she banging on about now? Read on and I’ll tell you about the time I retrained as a social media manager with a course especially aimed as mums looking to study around family and work.

It all began one late summer evening……….

So there I was wondering how I was going to take my social media skills to a new level step on yet another switch on the career path. Despite spending most of my thirties studying for an Open University degree and finding a dream job I got itchy fingers and something didn’t feel right. A new baby meant when I went returned to work I’d be juggling jobs, childcare and mum guilt, I just couldn’t see it all panning out right and beside, blogging was fast becoming an even better dream job which I could do it around naps and in the evening.

Along with blogging came a little knowledge about social media, it goes part the parcel and the more I blogged the more I learnt, but it’s a fast paced world and I had a thirst for knowledge. I needed to find out more, really get my head around it then along came Digital Mums with a cup full of that knowledge and some. Blogging’s great but it’s not a steady income, retraining as a social media manager would fill that steady income gap I needed, and as a single mum to three kids, I needed that steady income more than ever.

I signed up, took the interview and the rest is history.

if you're looking to make your business more environmentally friendly then why not consider running a paperless office? Starting with my own small

‘Cause history is what’s already happened, right? 6 intense months of history in the making, studying as a social media manager on the Digital mums community manager course, my history in the making.

I’m not going to lie to you, it was tough.

Not only did I have personal stuff bobbing along in the back ground. I was now chief in charge of EVERYTHING at home. By day I was mum, doing mum stuff, house stuff, keeping fit stuff so I didn’t get ill, (getting ill just isn’t an option) and by night I was Ali the Digital Mum student and Mum in a Nutshell the blogger.

For 6 months there’s been a long stream of burning the candles at both ends and panic rants to my mum.

Along with the reading, (all on-line luckily, I have a dodgy knack of putting anything paper in the log burner, homework included) I had a weekly Google Hangout with my Social Sisters tutor group, definitely the highlight of the course. Online learning can be pretty lonely when it’s just you and a laptop, but with those ladies it all felt real and when the going got tough, we spurned each other on.

Then came the campaign, and that was when life got exciting.

Suddenly it all became real and everything I learnt put into practice as I grabbed social media by the horns and rode that bad boy through a full on round of social media-ing the pants out of east Devon. I tweeted, grammed and Facebooked within an inch of social media’s life. My phone glued to my hand as I tried to kick my targets into touch. It was hardcore live learning and I loved it!

Sure, there were moments when I was spinning so many plates, I contemplated whether I’d bitten off more that I could chew, but this was a social media course aimed at mums, created my mums who knew exactly what their students (who were mums) would be juggling.

The struggle was real but knowing I was riding it out with women all in the same boat as me took the edge off. I wasn’t the only one working, studying and mum-ing at the same time and when you see everyone else managing it you realise it’s not such a struggle after all, it’s simply a case of being box clever with your time.

And I did it….still here to tell the tale of ‘the time I became a Digital Mum’ ready to set out on an exciting career managing social media from the comfort of my kitchen table/sofa/bed/

The commute doesn’t get more perfect and my co workers a dream.

I managed to juggle family life and working while studying to become a social media manager completing a Digital Mum course

If you’re a small business looking for a social media manager please do get in touch or pop over to my website for more information (click here)

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The Time I Tried A Digital Detox

I’ll put my hands up to once being in the camp of social media hater. I knew I should  join the masses, but I hated the idea of the intrusion. Why should I be sharing my new happy, little life with people I didn’t particularly know very well anymore?

It just didn’t sit too well.

Don’t get me wrong, there were many old friends who I loved catching up with, poking, liking, private messaging old times.  But there were also the ones who could barely muster a glance, let alone a smile or courtesy “hello” in public yet here they were, having complete access to the ins-and-outs of the nitty gritty, I or anyone who tagged me, decided to share.

They’d know where I’d been on holiday and whatever mood I was in without even having to waste breathing space in my general direction. And that was wrong, in my eyes, wrong.

Call me picky, but I just didn’t see how having a bulging Facebook friends list was going to make my life any better. And don’t even get me started on Twitter. All I knew was that someone had insulted Stephen Fry (his tweets were boring, apparently) so he’d taken umbrage and left.

But surely if Stephen Fry couldn’t hack the Twitter pace, there was no way simple old, not very exciting me, was going to risk it!

Yet here I am with my handles and profile photos, living the social media life as all that changed as I slowly  realised I could hold the virtual reins in the social media stratosphere. That for my blog and soon my business to succeed I needed to venture in with both eyes open and embrace this ever evolving world.

A world where pretty soon I wouldn’t even need to stroll down to the newsagent to buy a magazine, as I could find out all about the latest must-have products  at the touch of a finger tip, Pretty soon, my recreational and research reading was all online.

Even soap operas took a step out of my evening’s entertainment, I had my own reality show here, online. A morbid urge to pry and indulge the gossip all there, for my viewing pleasure.Friend or celeb, I could hear it all, whenever, and however I pleased.

And despite being in what could-have been a very lonely position on maternity leave as I left friends and colleagues behind, it was quite the opposite. Instead I  had access to a community of like-minded people, day and night.

This digital world wasn’t shaping up to badly after all.

I was hooked as my world would become more and more digital. I’d socialize, bank, work, take photos, share photos, research, plan, watch and shop all from the comfort of my friend, my companion, my iPhone.

And that’s when it hit me, my life was being played out in silence, over a screen. I’d become so absorbed in this lifestyle which I’d once tried to resist, that I was missing the real life. I’d watch fireworks through a lens instead of just enjoying them, my quest for preserving that feeling for ever was lost and the reality was I’d never really been part of that feeling in the first place.

So I took a digital detox.

A 4 days, 4 nights, no iPhone, no laptop, no social media digital detox.

The first day was easy. I was hitting the ground running while stressed to hilt. Any moments free, where I would normally reach for my phone were pushed aside.

I needed a break, I must have a break, I will have a break.

I played games with my son, kept myself busy and reminded myself that all would not be lost if I didn’t Instagram that really cute photo. hash tag or no hash tag. I will not pick up that phone.

the time I took a digital detox, a complete break from social media and the laptop. see how I got on here;

Day two came and went, I’d completely de-stressed. I even sat and watched the trees blowing in the wind. (not done that without the urge to reach for my phone and photograph it in a long time) in tranquility, I gathered my thoughts and noticed how much slower my mind now seemed.

For the first time in years I wasn’t racing round in my head with a list of to-dos. It felt nice. And oddly I had no interest in seeing what everyone else in Facebook world was up to.

It felt really, really nice. Liberating almost.

By day three I was there; The calm, digital free world I’d planned for. My fingers had lost their familiar ache and I had no desire to share anything with anyone, ever again. I’d gathered my thoughts and calmed my mind. I’d rebooted ‘me’.

Then I lapsed. One momentary, lapse. A photo which, ironically, represented the freedom and unplugged moment I was living, and I shared it. I wanted everyone to know I was still here, not forgotten, just chilled. Why I needed to  share escapes me, more boredom than anything I suspect. My calm mind was now boring me and I needed connecting. Or distracting, that’s what I needed, distracting.

So I wrote, with a real pen and paper, I wrote. I’m a writer, a blogger, by trade. It’s where I dump my thoughts to make space for the new ones and so I needed to transfer the calm, gentle thoughts I now had floating in my head somewhere. Instinctively I reached for my phone, just like I do any other time I have a moment free.

87 Facebook and 20+ Twitter notifications, 112 emails.

And I caved. not spectacularly, more a slippery slope. Those numbers glaring at me, beckoning me into see what lay beneath.

And that was the end of my digital detox. 2 days, 2 nights and a smidge of a morning. But in that short space of time I had time to think, time to breath and time to appreciate the world around me,

As it was, in high-definition.

In real-time.

what happened when I took a digital detox

 

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15 Years On & I’m Back Watching Teletubbies

I’m going to share a little tip with you, a little thing I’ve picked up over the years and something which many parents so but some will not admit. Intrigued?

Many, many years ago, 16 to be precise, I cradled my newborn baby in my arms and had an idea of the mum I was going to be. I’d seen a few people already raise babies and toddlers the couple of years previous to this pinnacle moment and I had formed an ‘opinion’ I was firm in my belief in what I was and wasn’t going to do.

One of which was to use the TV as a baby sitter. No, not me, I was NEVER going to sit my toddler in front of a screen and watch drivel which I got on a did other things. Not ever, ever, cross my heart and hope to die. I would spend all day playing, crafting and magical fairies would fly around me cleaning my house, answering the phone, keeping on top of family finances and landscaping my garden.

And then I woke up.

 

Seriously, what was I thinking? Pretty soon, a chance lazy morning and I flicked over to CBeebies when the Teletubbies were on. My son, my 18 month old lively and inquisitive son was mesmerised so we sat down and watched it together. I soon realised that there seriously is no harm in letting them find a favourite TV programme and those fairies would never turn up.

Watching Teletubbies soon became my saviour in calming my lively boy down, he rarely sat still for anything else, and bought me 15 or so minutes to get ready in the morning or do the daily household chores. I started to plan my day around it, 8.50am if my memory serves me right?

my son loves the Teletubbies, just like his oldest brother did too, I'm not sure what it is about those 4 crazy characters but it sure does lure the kids in!

Then the strangest thing happened.

15 years later and I was back in the same position again only this time my toddler was even livelier and I was a now a work from home mum of three with a super busy lifestyle. I needed something which would calm my crazy toddler so I reached for the iPad, downloaded BBC iplayer and searched out the familiar bright coloured TV characters once again.

Tinky Winky, Dipsy, LaLa, Po. It was time, time to meet again, your services were required. Operation Toddler was ready for the off.

I’m not sure if it’s genetic and I am a little convinced its got hypnotic messages but my boy who showed no interest in anything for longer than a minute or so was transfixed. The new style show meant I wasn’t tearing my hair out at watching repeat performances and more than anything, more than any other positive which came out of allowing the Teletubbies back into my life,

was the smile which beams from my cheeky toddlers face when it starts.

While the rest of the house breathes a huge sigh of relief for 10 minutes.

 

Disclaimer

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity

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