The following is a post from Nancy Parker. Nancy writes at eNannySource about health, parenting and child care tips. Interested in blogging for us? Email here.
When an opportunity such as working from home for decent money comes around, what dad wouldn't jump on the proposition? Although many of you will fantasize about what it would be like to work from home, do you really have a plan if the opportunity arises? I thought I did at first, but there is much more to working from home as a parent of six than many realize.
As a freelance professional, I am paid per job and not per hour. If I am not productive, there is no paycheck. Working from home creates more diversions throughout your day that can deter you from being efficient. Sure, you get to spend far more time with your children; but is it beneficial if you can't keep the lights on or food on the table? Here are some ways that I've found to keep the tops spinning while spending the quality time with my kids that drives me to work from home.
- Schedules: You probably left corporate employment in the hopes to walk away from schedules. However, organizing your day to better suite your family and financial needs is imperative. As a freelancer, you may not have a choice in the matter and your workload needs to be completed in order to keep the bills paid. Luckily, you are able to build your schedule to how your day progresses and not be tied to specific hours.
- Realistic Goals: In order to keep a positive attitude when you are working from home, set realistic goals you can accomplish for your finances. Although it may be fun to speculate what you could make monetarily, keep your goals grounded. Set a realistic amount of money you need to make each week in order to get the bills paid, and then try to surpass that goal the following week.
- Time Management: Utilize the time you have by yourself wisely. It may be fun to blast YouTube videos when you're home alone, but it's eating into your production time. Once the tasks are completed for your clients or employer, then you can have all the time you need or want.
- Reduce Distractions: You know yourself better than anyone and know what can keep you from meeting your goals. Here is where your willpower will be tested. If you are a gamer and you work from home on your computer, the urge to play a game for "just a few minutes" could wind up eating half of your day. Your children are depending on you to keep the cash flow coming. Is beating that last level more important than your child's needs?
- Professional Appearance: One method that has helped me gain focus on tasks is keeping my work area tidy and professional. If I would be embarrassed for a client to see my desk-space, then it's time to clean it up. You would be amazed at how well keeping a professional appearance in your work area can improve your outlook on everything.
If you're not ready for it, working from home can hurt your household finances. You need to set aside the glorification of being able to set your own hours and work in your pajamas and devise a strategy that can keep you productive. It's very easy to procrastinate while working from home, but you need to keep focus on what matters in your life and complete what needs to be done. There will be plenty of time to play if you do.
What's one tip you would give a dad trying to work from home?
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Before children, I was a morning person. I used to conquer mornings. Back in college, I woke up with unrushed reading time. Remember unrushed reading time?! Once kids happen, unrushed mornings end.
Are you like me? I don’t plan any me-time at home before leaving work in hopes of getting a 45-second-jump on my neighbor. If I can cut my neighbor off at the toll road, I’m sure to get past the Capital Beltway before the traffic congestion really starts.
But my life is about to change. I found Laura Vanderkam’s article in Fast Company. I am now motivated more than ever to be a morning person because it seems mornings are when successful people get things done.
Actually, mornings for parents may be the only time to get anything done. Be careful about reading this article by Vanderkam. After you read, you can’t complain you don’t have enough “me time.” The short answer is -- wake up earlier! If you’re game for waking up earlier, keep reading this post for motivation and how to amp up your morning routine.
Parents, follow these steps from Vanderkam and you’ll get more done in the morning, before the kids wake up:
Step 1. Track Your Morning
Laura points out that you’re more likely to spend your time better when you know how you’re spending it. Write down what you’re doing as often as you can. Use Laura’s spreadsheet (yes, she has a time management spreadsheet!) or write things down.
Try this for a week. See how you're spending your time. So, you’re too tired and can’t wake up earlier, but you're only tired because you stayed up that extra few minutes watching The Colbert Report. Laura’s genius idea? DVR The Colbert Report and watch it at 5:30am while running on the treadmill. Whoa, I never thought about that. Mind, blown. Next step…
Step 2. Picture Your Perfect Morning
Once you see how you’re spending your mornings, take time to dream about your perfect morning. Would it start with a run? Actually eating real food for breakfast? Think about exactly how you would like to spend your morning and then move to step 3.
Step 3. Map Out Your Dream Morning
Actually write down what you want your new morning to look like and how you’re going to make it happen. Heck, write down the exact time while you’re at it. What time are you going to wake up? Yes, Laura goes here: write down the time you should go to bed. You know how much sleep you need. Ouch, okay, you’re almost to the morning of your dreams. Continue to step 4.
Step 4. Make the Dream Happen
If you want your dream morning, you’ll need discipline. Laura has some great ideas on how to make this happen:
- Take baby steps: Start with getting in bed just a few minutes earlier. And don’t try to create EVERYTHING in your dream morning at one time. Work on one thing at a time. Actually waking up earlier is probably the best place to start.
- Reward yourself. You have your goals and you’ve created baby steps. Be sure to celebrate small victories. This will keep you motivated.
Step 5. Remember, Your Dream Morning is a Process
Okay, so you have kids. Life will happen in your house. Remember this whole deal is a process. Processes CAN change and be revamped. The best part about this is the idea that you can feel like your mornings are yours, not just death marches to your job! I know no one reading this has ever felt like his or her mornings are death marches. But you know what I’m saying.
You may never know how much you can get done or your full potential until you have time to stop and think for yourself. Remember to come back and tell us how things are going, what you’re working on, and what’s not working. Just remember, if you hate or love this idea and want to read more, the idea was Laura’s.
Dads, whether you want to conquer your mornings or not, try our series of 7 Habits of a 24/7 Dad for great ideas on becoming a better dad.
Now, what are you going to do with your perfect morning?
photo credit: Wade Brooks