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.”