Being a female entrepreneur + a parent + working from home all bring about their own challenges. If you're struggling right now, read on to restore a bit of hope and get real-life tips from a mom who's been working from home for a decade 💛
This post is Part 2 in a series about what nobody tells Moms about running a business from home.
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In part 1, we went over some ways to tackle productivity issues, and a few tricks you can start using today. You can read part 1 here.
In this post, part 2, we go over how to tackle some common distractions. And though you can't completely eliminate all distractions (except perhaps by moving solo to a seaside cabin - sigh wouldn't be so nice?) you can certainly be proactive about removing a lot of unnecessary distractions from your life.
In part 3, we're talking about some mindset challenges. This is stuff that might be slowing you down that you're not consciously aware of. You can read part 3 here.
Here are a few challenges I’ve faced, and solutions that have worked for me:
How to Tackle Common Distraction Challenges
Your Family Home Is Not An Office
One of the more obvious challenges arises when kids are home when they normally would not be (sickness, ped day, Covid-19 closure, appointments, etc).
Like many families, across multiple Covid-19 quarantines and lockdowns, we’ve seen our house go from a busy transit hub, where we touch base and leave again, to the stable core of our universe. Our school, favorite restaurant, active playground, workout gym, relaxing oasis, and office all rolled into one.
With everyone at home 24 hours a day, the concept of alone time became a distant dream. And the noise!! There was just so much noise.
Like Jack, you need your own door
You might be lucky enough to have a separate office, with a door. Others, like me, work in more of an open space (ours is next to the kitchen), which has proven very difficult (because hashtag snacks)! Every minute of the day, it seems snacks are a hot-ticket item in high demand. (I can also hear sibling squabbles happening anywhere in the house. One word for that: noise-canceling headphones.)
A Back-Up Work Space for Mom
For these extraordinary busy times, I’ve ended up making a makeshift quieter space to concentrate by squeezing an old desk into my bedroom.
Seriously, if you can repurpose any sort of space that has a door - even an underused closet! - I’d highly recommend it.
My bucket list includes having my own she-shed with fast internet in a large backyard somewhere. Swoooon. I'll keep you posted ;-)
Your Secret Weapon: Acceptance
However, even when the kids are not at home, as the one with the more “flexible schedule" you might well find yourself as the flex parent who takes care of comings and goings for the kids. If this is the case for you too, you might love it or you might resent it.
Is it ideal? No. My typical workday has been super short for the past year and a half, and I've fallen behind on so many levels of this business' advancement.
On the other hand, I'm incredibly grateful for our situation because this flexibility has been crucial to how we manage each day as it comes. It's one of the ways we've been able to handle all the unexpected new realities we faced in 2020-2021.
It’s not perfect, but we make it work for our family. I’ve finally made peace with it.
Raising school-aged kids is but a short season in my lifetime - with some much-needed perspective - so instead of fighting it every minute, I've decided to roll with it and make the most of it.
When at home… do as the homeowners do. Right? Wrong-o!
You finally sit down to concentrate on work with a fresh mug of coffee.
But the homefront has other things in store for you. As the person who works at home, you've got all kinds of things to field. People are coming to repair the furnace/clean the air ducts/trim the rogue tree branches, etc. The Amazon delivery person rings the doorbell, and the dogs wake up and go nuts (and now they need a walk). Someone comes by to pick up the donations. The neighborhood kids pop over, looking for playdates. The lawn needs mowing... like really badly.
Don't we all want more freedom to live out the day as we please? Well, yes and no.
These interruptions really add up in your day -- and, because we're at the mercy of these outside factors, they are not what we have in mind when we're striving for time freedom.
We want to use time intentionally - not to have it fritter away.
You're trying to fit in pockets of work around all sorts of other obligations, not fitting other obligations around your main priority: your own business growth, during your most valuable high-focus hours.
See if any of these items can be moved to a weekend or other more convenient time when someone else might be around to help manage some of this.
As Tony Robbins likes to say, "It's not the lack of resources, it's your lack of resourcefulness that stops you."
Friendly Reminder: not everything has to be carried on your shoulders.
Household Chores: Just Say No!
When you’re working from home, you might also feel a deep-seated urge to run the rest of the household too, i.e. slip in a little meal planning & cooking, pay a few bills, throw in a load of laundry, tidy up, and oh, run some quick errands since you’re… “at home”.
But hold up. This is an area where you do have more control.
What I’ve learned is that this was a bad habit I formed because I was procrastinating.
Which usually meant I was putting off something necessary.
This raised my anxiety, so the tidying and busywork were more of a way to burn off pent-up stress than an effective use of my precious work time (if I’m being really honest with myself).
My solution? Make a rule for yourself and whoever else needs to be involved: no non-work tasks during work time.
(Whatever your "work time" looks like is irrelevant - more on that in part 3 of this series)
PRO TIP: While it's true that you can unblock some inertia (feeling stuck) by accomplishing a small easy task (like say, walking to the mailbox to get the mail) you know you're in the wrong territory if you're feeling antsy and decide to reorganize your entire closet!
If you feel like you can concentrate better when your surroundings are in order and you just can't focus until the tidying is done then I hear you -- in fact, I might be the one who made that a thing ;-)
But can we all just agree that Mom's work time is not cleaning time?
One last thing on this -- Keep an eye on this space because I will be publishing a checklist of things to tackle outside of work that will make your work-life way smoother!
So, there are some places to get started now with your distractions.
Hey, will you help me by contributing your thoughts to a subject I really want to tackle? Please tell me, in the comments below, how do you keep your kids occupied while you work? And how old are they? I'd like to add to my own list of tricks and grow it into a resource for other moms. Please share!
Then, I encourage you to continue on to part 3, where we're talking about some mindset challenges. This is the stuff that might be slowing you down that you're not consciously aware of.
Part 3 is now available, here.