working from home
Yes, you are seeing this image correctly - i am at a coffee shop. Suffice it to say there are days when i just long for the opportunity to work outside the home. Say what?
Let's back up before you place any judgement as to why on earth i would want to work outside the home (sometimes).
I started The Pink Orange back in 2006. Yup, i've got 12 years under my belt so i'd like to think i know just a tad about balance. I had previously commuted to two different design jobs before starting my business so i get all the grind that goes along with.
At the launch of my business, I worked from home, part time. After a number of years and the business growing, it got to be too much and opened up a pretty little space near Saratoga Springs, NY. I will never forget signing that lease. It was like a new lease on life. No more work at home, no more late nights of assembling, packaging or design. No more having my work in front of me all the time. My new office space gave me a 20 minute commute and boy was it luxurious! My friends used to think i was nuts that i wanted to add a commute into life but to me, it was my morning coffee, in the car, listening to the radio, and walking into this studio space that i adored so much. There was so much creative juice flowing between me and my employees and interns. We were able to take the breaks we needed to stop by the local coffee shop for an afternoon pick-me-up. It was glorious. My son was also born during this time and he would make many, many appearances there with us. However, after 2 years there, i was ready to expand again because business was still growing- hooray! On the flip-side though, my husband and i were also considering a move out of the area and so in the essence of not being locked into another lease, i moved the business again - to home. It was hard to swallow but i just knew that bigger, greater things were going to happen. And they did!
In May of 2014 we moved just outside NYC and lived there for 3 years. I worked from home the entire time, but I did have a shared, leased space in Greenwich, CT just to hold client meetings.
In July 2017 we moved to Fairfield, CT and this is permanent. We love it here. However, now that both my life and business have shifted in amazing ways i also knew i had to be more intentional with both my space AND my time. You see, if you are a mother, and a mother that works at home- you can relate. Parker turned 7 this year and times are much, much different from just a few years ago; Even one year ago. Sports practices and games, religion class, playdates, parent meetings, sick days, snow days - you name it, it interferes with work routines. However, interferences are the spice of life and i love every moment. I have also realized that as much i used to be able to work late nights and/or early mornings because my office is at home, i can't do it anymore. I need to be 100% on for my little man when he gets out of school each day. If i'm exhausted from working a late night i don't do either of us any good. I plan to write a blog post about my daily schedule and how it helps keep me productive and focused, but my intention here was to share my best practices for being most productive at home.
1. Create working hours (and stick to them)
This one is huge and even bigger than creating an inspiring space. Treat your home office like a traditional out of the home office. You have to. If you don't, you will find yourself working all. the. time. Believe me, i've been there, done that and it caused incredible tension between my husband and I. Set hours and stick to them. Of course they don't have to be 9-5, the hours can be what works for your schedule but it's a must. It will create consistency and better productivity.
2. Create and inspiring (and seperate if possible) work space
Depending upon your living situation, this one might be tricky. Find a place where you can decorate and create a space where you will want to be and stay working during your hours. Create a space that you love being in. A beautiful space is a productive space. I also love if you can close the door at the end of the day. It helps to keep you from being tempted to work outside of your 'normal business hours.' A space on another floor is great too!
3. Don't make personal appointments during your work hours
Another hard one and i'm guilty of doing it myself. Just consider if you would leave your traditional work to get your nails done? To me, an emergency appointment for myself or my son is different.
4. Schedule everything - even emailing
Ok, ok. I get it. This one might be a bit trickier, but hear me out. I use Workflowy to schedule my days. I break tasks into one or two hour chunks. I do this each Monday so i can see my week ahead and because of this, i have an overview of where i have extra time to fit something in. How many times have you taken on extra work or tasks only to realize you actually don't have the hours to fulfill said tasks - unless you work late or after hours. *see above about working extra hours
I've done it way too much and have very easily been burned out.
When i say schedule emailing, i mean take 2 or 3 times a day that work for you and answer email, send email or draft email. Maybe it's 20-30 minutes each time. (If your job requires constant emailing this probably won't work). For me, i do it first thing in the AM, mid-day and before the close of the day. I find it keeps me from being distracted and getting off task by answering emails at the same time i'm trying to concentrate on designs, details and other tasks at hand. My rule is that if someone needs something that is urgent, they will call me. I do have a caveat to this: if i'm under deadline and there are constant emails going back and forth for file approvals, etc... i'll leave my email open.
5. Do not let your inbox become your to-do list
Whether you make your list through an online program or on paper, get your to-do's in an official list that you can cross off, and move the emails to their appropriate folders for organization. A big ole' inbox can feel overwhelming, so use to-do lists. Let me just say, that i design some really pretty notepads and to-do lists. :)
6. Get out of the office
This is a big one. Once a week i'll go and sit outside, go to a local coffee shop, or even meet a friend to work together. It really helps my mojo to just get out of the house routine and being 'alone' at home. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that i commute one a week just a bit over 2 hours one way and that is also big for me. It allows me to be with an awesome team of peeps and a nice break in the week from being at home.
7. Don't mix home and business
Ok, this is weird, right? I mean i work at home. But really what i mean is that i don't cook, clean, do laundry or anything else to keep my house tidy while working. I will toss a load of clothes in the washer first thing in the morning and then switch to the dryer at lunch - but i don't take them out and fold until the evening when i'm watching TV. (i actually find it relaxing to do). This helps to keep me focused and on task.
8. Shower & get dressed
Feeling your best and looking your best is a game changer! So if you get up, get showered and dressed as you would if you were going to a traditional office, you will feel so much better. Heck! Sometimes i even put on a pair of fun shoes and jewelry to spice things up.
I hope one or more of these tips will help you in your daily productivity. Some may work, some may not. I would love to know what does though for sure!
(photos by: Shaina Lee Photography)