Anyone who watched 30 Rock will remember Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) constantly trying to “have it all”. When you work from home with your baby, that’s essentially what you’re doing—trying to have it all. If working from home while raising your children is a goal, that’s great! Go for it. Here, The Storyteller Agency’s managing editor weighs on what it’s like to work from home with pint-size bosses running the show and real-talks on how she plans the day so actual work gets done.
For Starters, How Do You Plan Your Day?
I swear by my weekly to-do list. Every Sunday, I write down what I need to do the following week. I indicate when it’s due if there’s a deadline. Next to the item, I indicate when I want to do it or to have it done by. As for each day, I attack my top-priority items first. My children self-entertain the best in the mornings, which means I have a window of 2-3 hours where I can work with relatively little interruption (if I’m lucky).
How Do You Adjust When Work Doesn’t Get Done?
I’ve found that when you work from home with a baby (or babies), you don’t have a standard eight-hour work day, which is fine. Most workdays don’t need to be eight hours. When I was in a “normal” environment, there was a lot of wasted time with chitchat, meetings that didn’t need to happen, etc.
I’m all for getting my day’s work done in a handful of hours; however, there are days where the kids are super needy or sick, or we have errands (yes, as the “work from home” component of our family, errands, appointments, and all of that is assumed to be my responsibility), which means all of the day’s work isn’t done.
I adjust in one of two ways. I either stay up and finish what I must after everyone else is asleep, or I go to sleep early, wake up very early, and work then. Currently, I prefer to wake up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. and start my day because if I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I am more refreshed and focused first thing in the morning.
How Do You Handle Virtual Meetings and Conference Calls?
About two years ago, I was on a conference call with The Storyteller Agency’s owner Laura and some other team members, and Lillianne, my now-kindergartner, freaked out. She didn’t want anything specific, but she wouldn’t stop shouting, so I went into my bedroom and locked the door. She rattled the handle and banged on the door, so I ducked into the en-suite bathroom and locked that door, too. Her banging and shrieking was so loud (almost as loud as the mom-guilt ringing in my ears) that I finally had to duck out of the conference call.
To avoid The Shining: Toddler Phone Call Edition again, I made two major changes. One is, if possible, I get someone to watch the kids during important calls. If that won’t work, I schedule the call during a typical nap time, put them in the car, and drive them around until they’re asleep. Then, I do the call from the car on a headset.
Any Other Good Habits?
I’ve stopped checking e-mails at the beginning of my work day during that window. I do a quick skim for important messages from Laura or clients; however, I’ve found that trying to declutter my inbox can eat up an hour or more of my day’s best productivity time.
Speaking of productivity, in a perfect world, I’d hire someone to clean my house, and I’d coordinate having all of the shopping delivered. I don’t always do this, but my time is valuable. The time I’m not working, those pauses during the day, are meant to be spent enjoying my children, not running to Costco. For me, that’s the whole point of this very-harried working from home with a baby lifestyle that I’ve chosen.
The Storyteller Agency is a place with real people who have real stories who know you’re a real person with real stories, too, which is why we want to help you do what you want to do whether that thing is reach the biggest audience possible or figuring out how to coordinate the work / family / life dynamic all from the same space. So, contact us. Let’s share stories.