Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Balanced Challenge: Day 2: How to Make Working from Home Work

While I know some people who would love the chance to work from home every day and spend more time their their family, I also have plenty of friends who look appalled when I talk about working from home. They couldn't concentrate at home, they tell me--there are too many distractions. They need to work in a location where other people are also working, to keep them accountable--an office, or a lab or a library. Or they simply can't handle being at home on their own all day, only seeing other adult human beings when the postman arrives. 

I'm entirely the opposite--I don't get much work done in a busy coffee shop, and I never spent more than a few hours at a time working in the library when I was at university. Unlike my husband, it doesn't take me ages to get into the "zone" of working, and my work isn't drastically altered if I'm interrupted by a distraction. It's not impossible for me to tear myself away from answering emails or writing my novel if something else requires my attention. In fact, while I was writing yesterday's blog post I stopped twice--once to hang laundry up on the washing line (because I knew it needed as much sun as it could get if it were to dry, and couldn't wait!) and again to make myself some lunch, as I've recently learned that hunger pains can quickly turn into nausea if I put off eating for too long. 

That said, I do sort of have a typical 9-5 workday schedule. Simon leaves for work around 8am every morning, and I try to make sure most of my responsibilities are tackled before he gets home around 5pm in the evening. There are some things I know I have to do every day--answering emails, washing dishes, tackling some sort of laundry-related task (washing it, ironing it, putting it away), writing, and making dinner. I tend not to schedule these tasks on a calendar, but I do aim to have dinner ready (or almost) by the time Simon gets home from work. 

Tricia shared her calendar on her blog post today, and I'm afraid that mine isn't quite as full or colourful. In fact, I'm sharing my calendar for the entire month because there just isn't enough on this week to make it look interesting! 

I don't schedule events that are weekly or daily occurrences, like attending church or home group, or going grocery shopping, because I'm not likely to forget them. The things that I do schedule are special or one-off events that Simon and I need to remember, such as having friends over for dinner, serving at church, dentist or midwife appointments and birthdays. 

I do have a constant to-do list sitting on my desk. I've tried different methods of keeping track of my to-do list, including splitting it into tasks for each day, or making it clear which tasks need to be done today, this week or just when I find the time. Neither of these have really worked for me--making daily tasks went out the window when my morning sickness started, as it just made me feel guilty about everything I wasn't getting done, and my daily and weekly tasks often overlapped or became repetitive. Here's what my current to-do list looks like:

Some things are merely reminders (I have an Audible voucher that expires soon), others are small tasks that I don't want to forget to pregnancy brain (requesting a book to review) and the rest are normal, daily tasks.

Today's Challenge
Working home from definitely isn't for everyone (I don't think my husband could drag himself away from fixing a bug to spend 10 minutes pegging up laundry!) but it definitely suits me. In today's chapter of Balanced, Tricia asks, "What are some benefits from working at home that you've experienced?"
  • Compared to the last four years that I've spent studying at university, my life has stress and pressure, which has vastly improved both my mental and physical health. There are definitely deadlines to meet and tasks to complete on a regular basis, but the atmosphere of working from home has made a big difference for me. I've struggled with IBS and SAD for several years, and both conditions are aggravated by stress, and my change in working lifestyle has definitely benefited both of these. 
  • I've learned to be flexible and deal with change and the unexpected. I don't plan every second of my day, so I can deal with new tasks that pop up and require my attention.
  • Having a flexible schedule also means that I can meet up with friends who also work from home or have atypical work lifestyles. I can make space in a morning or afternoon to pop into town and have tea with a friend. 
  • And as a result of this, evenings and weekends are freed up for spending time with my husband! That's not to say that we don't meet up with people during these times, but if I can meet up with someone on an afternoon rather than an evening, I will, as it means more time with my husband. Especially with a little one on the way, we value every moment we have together, even if we're just hanging out in the same room reading or watching a film. 
  • Not every day is the same, and I appreciate this. I like some continuity, but I'm not sure if I could handle doing the exact same things every day, to a schedule. 
  • I'm learning flexible time management, and although I know I do need to improve this (I'm considering scheduling a specific hour into my day to write, as I often neglect this over other responsibilities), I'm mostly happy with my time management. 
  • We have a healthier, calmer lifestyle. Essential housework is nearly always dealt with before Simon gets home from work, meaning that we don't spend our evenings cleaning or doing laundry. We have time to relax. While Simon cooks at the weekends, I handle meals during the week, meaning that I have time to cook healthy, balanced meals for us. This is especially important for me, because my IBS is diet-controlled. Yes, we eat frozen pizzas occasionally and hot dogs with onion rings and corn on the cob is one of our favourite quick and easy meals, but I'm grateful that we have the time and money to eat healthily.
  • We don't have to worry about additional travel expenses to get me to and from work, and childcare won't cost us a penny, since I'll be at home! 

This post is part of the Balanced challenge with Tricia Goyer—and you can join, too!

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