Work-Life Balance When You Work From Home

Virginia Wedding Photographer working from home as a small business owner

I always knew how amazing it would be to get the chance to work from home. My dream has always been to take care of my family while also providing a steady source of income. It’s this weird position of wanting two contrasting lifestyles. I want the ability to be a stay-at-home-mom while also being independent enough to bring money into the household. The best of both worlds, right? To most, it might seem impossible. But in all actuality, I think it’s more achievable in today’s society than it has ever been. I get to work from home as a wedding photographer, but so many parents have this opportunity with so many creative avenues. 

Working from home is fantastic, but it also has it’s cons, just like every other good thing in life. 

Cons of Working From Home

First of all, if you thrive on being social during your workday, this might get super lonely for you. You get up, make your breakfast, have some coffee, and start working through your to-do list… all in complete silence. Most of us are used to some kind of customer traffic, or at least coworkers to bounce ideas off of. While working alone can minimize distractions, it also might make you look at your phone a little more often. You’ve got to see what everyone else is doing outside of your little bubble, so you don’t feel so lonely. This, in turn, adds more distraction than you might’ve had in a public workplace. 

Secondly, you might find that you haven’t left the house for the entire week… and it’s Friday. Sure, this is great for your car mileage, but is it driving YOU insane? Does your living room start to feel like a dungeon? Has your butt been asleep for the last hour because you haven’t budged from the same spot on your couch? I get it. I get it all too well!

Finally, laundry is sitting in the basket waiting to be folded, and the dishes are piled up in the sink. It’s all up in your face as you’re trying to edit and plan your posts for the week. You’re at home, and you have the luxury to get those chores done, so you do. But then, you find yourself deep cleaning your house from top to bottom when BOOM. You glance at the clock and it’s 5:30pm. In a panic, realizing you’ve accomplished nothing, you work through dinner to complete your to-do list and you’re up until 2am with tired eyes and a hungry belly!

Why is this bad?

This is how it all started for me. I quit my full time job and started working completely from home, five days a week, super pumped and ready to begin this journey. I found myself struggling to overcome all of these obstacles, and even though I was excited to work every day and had huge plans for my business, it wasn’t enough to keep me on task. Work ended up being an all day thing that had me ignoring my fiancé and my pets, and in turn, I wasn’t even able to give my all to my clients. NOT good! So counter-intuitive!

how to achieve productivity when you work from home Virginia Wedding Photographer

What You Can Do To Stay Productive When You Work From Home

  • Wake up early, but not TOO early! When I first started, I felt like it would make me feel more successful if I woke up at 6am like I thought all business owners did. The thing is, everyone’s body is different, and while 6 hours of sleep might be enough for one person, you might need 9 or more! That’s totally okay, and it doesn’t make you any less of a go-getter, it just means you need to account for that extra hour or two. I need about 8 and a half to 9 hours of GOOD sleep to feel well-rested. I usually can’t fall asleep until about midnight. So I usually wake up between 8:15-8:30 Monday through Friday, and on the weekends I don’t even set an alarm. If I woke up earlier, I’d find myself dozing off due to the comfort of my couch, fuzzy blankets, and a purring cat. Now I’ve had a two-hour nap by 10am. So not cool. SO not cool!!! I don’t know about you, but naps RUIN my day!! Especially when they’re unplanned. Just take that extra hour or two in the morning… because you can! That’s the beauty of getting to work from home.
  • Plan one to two days a week where you work in a different location. For me, that would mean a Starbucks or a Barnes & Noble. I would prefer a hipster coffee shop if there was one close to me, but in Gloucester, Virginia that would be about an hour in either direction. Regardless, as long as you get out of your house and into the real world, it does a few things to boost your productivity. For one, I don’t want to use my gas driving to “work” and spend money on a coffee I don’t actually need just to get nothing done. If I’m spending the extra money to treat myself, I’m going to be productive! It also allows me to have human interaction, which is known to boost your mood. I am completely serious when I say that a 30 second interaction with a barista can take my day from a bad day to a good one. Just a smile is enough. And in that same respect, your presence might make someone else’s day better, too! Read more about that in this article from the Washington Post.
  • Make daily checklists that include household chores. If you find that working from home is giving you way too many distractions (like laundry and dishes), on Monday’s I like to make a realistic to-do list for the week. Then, I make a to-do list for each day, which I do every morning before I begin my work. This keeps me on track, and it’s a low-stress morning routine that I can accomplish while I have my tea. I usually just make a checklist in the “Notes” app on my iPhone, which I like because I can physically put a check in a box once I complete a task- super satisfying! Within each task list, I also sprinkle household chores. This is helpful because then I know my chores will get done during the day. And they won’t lead to an impossible chain of household cleaning. I know what my weekly task list is, so I know in the back of my mind that I have set aside a time for these to get done. You might be thinking that it’s a waste of workday hours to add a household chore to your to-do list, but I completely disagree, and here’s why:

When you work from home and you also have a house to take care of, that’s two full time jobs. So your options are to either: 1. Not plan to do these things during the week, and do them whenever you notice them. This will lead to more distractions and a workload that never seems to dwindle. 2. Do them after you “get off work” at 5 or 6, cutting into dinner time, family time, and relaxation time. 3. Ignore them completely until they pile up, causing you loads of stress (and laundry) constantly in the back of your head. 

  • Schedule a lunch break. If you don’t force yourself to stop and make yourself lunch, you’ll work straight through it and that is NOT healthy! Remember, that would be illegal in any job where you weren’t your own boss, and there’s a reason for that!
Virginia Wedding Photographer Jamie Dunn work life balance when you work from home

In Conclusion

I try to implement these tips daily to ensure a productive, healthy, and happy work day. When 5 o’clock hits, I want my computer shut and dinner going on the stove (I love cooking, so this is a reward to me). I can do that knowing that I have been productive throughout my workday, leaving me with zero guilt to hang out with my guy and my pups! Which is of ULTIMATE importance to me since Roman works night shift, and time is precious to us. The real reason we wanted to work from home in the first place.  The decision to work from home takes a lot of self-discipline, but when you get it right, there is nothing not to love about it. Remember, we’re some of the lucky ones. 

March 9, 2020

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