Relatability and Hope for the Worn-Out WFH Mom 💛
Welcome to Part 1
If you’ve worked in an office in the past, specifically in a prototypical 9-to-5 office setting (as I have), you will be used to viewing the 9 to 5 standard North American workday as “the accepted norm” (as I have).
So it follows that when you’re starting your own online business and managing your own time, you'll probably assume it’s expected of you to be sitting at a desk (or otherwise on-call to work on your business) during that "full-time" window. Is this really true?
Being a True Entrepreneur is not all shiny cars and margaritas by the pool, like they make you think in the get-rich-quick ads. There are a few bumps in the road too.
My aim with this series of posts is to say "lookout!" where the bumps may be hiding so that you can know when to safely swerve... or at the very least, see them coming and be mentally prepared.
Here’s what you might not expect during your transition to entrepreneurship -- from another mother who works from home:
Productivity Challenges (within yourself)
Your productivity or “output” might be way lower than before (but, eventually you can do more in less time). You'll need to create systems to support you.
Your flashes of brilliance and insight don’t give a damn what time of day it is and will show up at random (often inconvenient) times. You'll need a way to capture your genius.
When you lose external accountability/obligation to some other entity (a boss, a company, a deadline, a structure) your motivation to work might take a serious hit. You'll need to stay organized and give yourself the boosts you need.
Your time spent “sitting at a desk” might not, in fact, be as productive as you’d like. (More like wasting time with online distractions aka “research” and calling it “work”). Your ideas of time management are likely due for an upgrade to match your new lifestyle.
Distraction Challenges (within your environment & relationships)
Trying to focus on work when your kids are physically present is just super difficult (unless you’re a major fan of screen-time - no judgment - you’ll need a solid plan to keep them out of your hair)
It can be really challenging to focus when there are a zillion to-do’s around your home (your self-discipline will never have worked so hard! Sometimes you really do need to be a horse with blinders on)
You might feel frustrated or resentful when non-work things pop up and demand your attention during work time (boundary work is not only useful but suddenly crucial)
Mindset Challenges (stuff lurking under the surface)
You might feel guilty, delinquent, or ashamed of yourself for any daytime hours that you don’t spend physically sitting at your desk between 9AM and 5PM (You’re a mom! You have so many jobs! You are not delinquent!)
Your mind might feed you a lot of unhelpful, garbage thoughts that can take the wind out of your sails and slow you down (“I’m not doing enough”, “I’ll never get there”, “who do I think I am, anyway?” or my personal favorite: “I’m so far behind!!” -- haha, what does that even mean?!)
Even if you tack on extra work sessions in the early morning, or late-night after the kids go to bed, or try to do catch-ups on the weekend, you might still not shake this 9-5 guilty feeling... unless you’re consciously aware that it’s there
And all of this is totally normal. If you’ve gone through or are currently going through any of the above, you’re not alone.
The reality of blending working-life-at-home with parenting is that you will encounter several obstacles to advancing your own business. Some are external, some are internal. And that’s OK.
We build resilience.
We keep going.
In fact, I’m here to tell you what I wish someone had told me ten years ago, when I started working for myself from home: you should expect your workday to look nothing like what you were used to in a more formal office setting. (If I’d just known that earlier on it would have saved me a ton of anxiety and heartache!)
I’m also here to tell you that there are some solutions, so read on! Also, bookmark this blog, and check out my Instagram, as I continue to share more solutions and insights to these exact mom-challenges.
Real-life tips I picked up after a decade working from home:
1. Capture your ideas & solutions to problems
Good ideas and flashes of inspiration for creative people and business owners do not show up on a timed schedule. They can (and will) pop up whenever. You will think that you’ll remember your great idea or expect it’ll come back to you later. It will not. Be prepared!
Your Notes and Voice-Memo phone apps are your new BFFs. Give your entries proper titles that make sense and are searchable. Go back to them often and pull your insights and/or ideas to flesh out.
Bonus points: if you’re on a Mac, the Notes app and the Voice Memos app can sync to your computer. This means you can capture your thoughts while away from your desk, and have them ready and waiting for you when you get some sit-down work time. Set time aside weekly to go through them and turn the contents into actionable tasks.
This has been a game-changer for me.
2. Develop Better Systems
I recommend you spend some time developing systems to bring in more efficiency — you can totally do more things in less time than it would take in a normal office environment that’s got lots of banter, long pointless meetings, and birthday cake in the break room!
Some examples of systems:
Templating as much as you can, so you do the work once and you keep reusing the same process on future projects (if your work lends itself to that). For example, if you work with clients you could have a welcome packet that covers everything they'll need to know. Look for any repeatable process you walk people through.
For instance, I've templated a private welcome page on my site to walk my new clients through what to expect when working together and cover lots of FAQs; I use Google Forms for a deep-dive series of questionnaires; I provide a website delivery packet that contains all the info a client could need after our project is done; a custom brand style guide; a custom marketing plan; and a number of other checklists and cheatsheets that I include if they can apply to what that person does. These are all so well appreciated by my clients (and by me)!
Make checklists for yourself so you have fewer steps to remember next time.
If you find yourself answering the same questions often by phone or email, then your website could use a better FAQ section and you can save some time by directing everyone there.
Perhaps look at streamlining your bookkeeping and invoicing -- the goal is to make it as easy as pos