5 Tips for Working from Home when Life Gets Crazy

Working from home gives me the best of both worlds: I am able to both earn income and be more present in my family's lives.  I have flexibility in my schedule that allows me to be more involved in school and extracurricular activities--and I have the convenience of skipping a 40-minute commute to the office.  Sometimes; however, the convenience of working from home is met with some obstacles.  Sometimes life gets in the way of a normal workday!  What are some tips for working from home when life gets crazy?

Expect the Unexpected.  Dishwashers will break.  Toilets will overflow.  Cars will need repairs.  Kids will get sick.  You will get sick.   Sometimes, all five of those will happen on the same morning. Right before the computer crashes.  Instead of seeing the unexpected as a disastrous wrench in your perfect workday machine--expect the unexpected to drop on you every now and then--and be glad that you are already (1) home to deal with the need and (2) you don't need to debate the time off with your h.r. manager or your boss. 

Adjust your Schedule--Quickly.  I try to schedule my workday between the hours of 4am-5am and from 9am-2pm.  If you haven't set up a regular, "work from home schedule"--you really do need one.  It helps keep you focused and working effectively.  As soon as life gets crazy--adjust your work schedule to accommodate the issue.  If car repairs and a sick child consume 4 hours of your early morning work time--then "schedule" yourself on the night shift for 4 hours of catch up!  This takes A LOT of willpower--so put it on the calendar, tell the entire household, and follow through with the change.  Working from home must remain pretty structured--or it's way too easy to give home-stuff an all-day priority to earning income!

Keep a List of Extra Money-Making Activities.   When I'm waiting for the girls after cross country practice or between dance classes--I always have some extra money-making activities in mind that I can do in the car and that require minimal concentration.  Whether I'm reading a book for a book review, composing a rough draft for an article--or popping onto a survey site like Survey Junkie for a survey or two--I find that staying busy with something "income-generating" keeps me feeling that I'm accomplishing something even when I'm in "hurry up and wait" mode! Make a list of "filler" activities that you can do quickly, remotely, and with little focus for hectic days--and during expected (or unexpected) "down time".

Relax--and Accept Distractions and Disruptions.  In a perfect world, you would be able to go into your home office, close the door and work happily for hours without disruptions.  In the real world; the phone will ring, the dog will try to eat the Fed Ex guy, the toilet will overflow--and nobody in the house will know when it happened. While you must have a schedule--you also must be able to deal with a random distraction (or 20) and go right back to the desk and to the interrupted task.  Stay positive, relax, and turn off any negativity.  Staying relaxed, positive and focused will help you lessen the degree to which inevitable life distractions disrupt your work day.

Embrace the Home/Work Balance.  It is very easy for work at home parents to become overwhelmed with the daunting task of home/life balance.   Without a clear separation--it's very easy for a work at home parent to work 24/7 between maintaining the home and maintaining income!  Schedule work.  Schedule home.  Expect the unexpected to occasionally wreck both schedules.  But--if you are prepared for the unexpected, switch to a schedule Plan B quickly, have something to do during your daily down time--and will be able to successfully work from home--even when life gets crazy!

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