Top tips for working the school hours

Laura Brudenell-White

Laura is a freelance book publicist who works from home. She writes a blog 'The 9 to 3', where she shares what works for her while working the 'school hours' as well as how she manages the juggle between work and parenting.

I work as a freelance book publicist from my house in Leicestershire. If possible, I try to work between the school drop off and pick up – it is basically 9am through to just after 3pm.  Before my daughter, I was pretty much a workaholic – I loved my job and luckily I still do but after we moved from London about 4 years ago, we left our childcare behind and I started the juggle between parenting and working.

I’m definitely more efficient and motivated working from my home than when I was based in an office and although I miss the camaraderie of the workplace, I don’t miss the long hours.  Here are my tips for working between the school hours:

Create a routine for your working day.

I’m really strict about this. I make sure that before we leave the house on the school run that all the breakfast detritus has been cleared away, jobs done and my laptop is ready when I get back. The kettle goes on, emails are dealt with and I’m in ‘work mode.’

Keep a ‘work schedule’

I have a very simple Excel spreadsheet where I list my projects across the year. It helps me organise my time during those hours across the year.

set out clear working hours to your clients

I tell my clients that they can reach me between 9am to 3pm. Schedule calls in advance, if you can. I never answer emails after 3pm unless it is really urgent. I will read them if time allows and then action them first thing in the morning.

Tell people you work from home

Tell people (neighbours/other parents) that you work from home and that you are not available for coffee/shopping trips during the week. It is harsh but that means that I am able to attend a class assembly or after school activity instead.

Switch off notifications

Switch off all ‘group chats’ that tend to ping incessantly throughout those hours. I catch up with any school news/playdates etc… after 3pm. Nothing tends to be that urgent.

Invest in a proper work chair

I invested in a proper ‘work chair’ last year – it was the best thing I have done. Not only does it help my posture but also again, it is an easy way to separate my home life from work. I choose to work from our kitchen table, it is my favourite room in the house and currently with this weather, it is the warmest!

Give yourself a break.

I use an app to record the hours that I work per client. I end up doing a lot more work than I bill for if I’m not careful.

Put all your work things away every evening.

I have an alarm on my phone that rings at 2.45pm. This is my reminder to finish up my work for that day, write a to do list that I set onto my desktop ready for the next day. By 3.15pm (the very latest that I can leave the house!), I endeavour to have the laptop and notebook out of sight. I can switch back into “Mummy mode.”

Laura Brudenell-White

Laura is a freelance book publicist who works from home. She writes a blog 'The 9 to 3', where she shares what works for her while working the 'school hours' as well as how she manages the juggle between work and parenting.

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