PERFECT PROFESSIONAL: TIPS FOR WORKING AT HOME.
Good morning, Critters!
I get a lot of emails from readers asking exactly what it is that I do. No, I'm not at all insulted when people ask that, in case you are wondering. I am always curious about how people spend their time, especially during the work week, if they don't have a traditional job. If you follow me on Snapchat (@CarolineMCurran) it might look particularly confusing to see me in the middle of the day doing something fun. I have people ask me all the time if I even work!
Earlier this year I launched a boutique marketing agency Curran Creative. I work with companies on their marketing ideas, plans, and help implement and execute. What this means is that I use my creative juices and knowledge to help companies spread the word about themselves, their services or their products. It really is rewarding to work with great companies that I believe in and people who I genuinely enjoy.
So.....what do I do? I write blog posts, connect with customers, help with social media, brainstorm ideas, and more. I also work on my blog and meet with other entrepreneurs to hear about their company, give them feedback, and help in any way I can.
As someone who spent the last couple of years commuting to Atherton (near Palo Alto), my new career offers me the opportunity to work from the comfort of our home. It's quite funny how opposite my daily experience is from my time working in schools. At school we had a strict start time, bells set the pace, and there was so much structure. Now I have flexibility, no commute time, and complete control over my schedule.
Working from home has been wonderful for me and a lot of people ask me my tips, how I stay focused, and my perspective on the whole experience. I thought I would share my tips here because even if you work in an office, I am sure you bring your work home with you. Work doesn't end when you punch out.
I'd like to think it was my experiences as a good student and then an educator, as well as Jesse's example, my need for autonomy, and my drive that enable me to really thrive as a party of one all day. (I'm not trying to be boastful, but Adele inspires me to talk more honestly about myself). Hopefully some of my practices help make it easier for you to come up with ways to be more effective and efficient when working from home.
Get up early. I like to get up early and start my day before Lillian is awake. Checking a few emails, planning out my day, and looking at my to-do list makes me feel ahead of the game.
Have a routine. Jesse wakes up Lillian, I make breakfast for us, get her dressed and I drop her off at school. Having to get her up and out the door makes me start the day and get some fresh air. I'm fortunate for drop-off because it gives me structure at the beginning of the day. The only thing I feel bad about is that everyone at Lillian's daycare sees me looking like a trainwreck after I've just rolled out of bed. I drop her off, get a hot chocolate (a habit I am trying to break but I don't drink caffeine), and then exercise and hop to work. I usually don't get dressed until 10:00am so if you see me before then...SORRY! It's a sight worth avoiding!
Eat dessert first. I read an article about being more effective- 8 Habits of Highly Effective People on Real Simple - and one bit of well quoted advice is to "eat the frog", meaning do the most challenging work first so that you have mental energy to do the easiest tasks. While I like this advice and I think it applies in some cases, for me I have found that it is best to eat dessert first. I always work on my most pleasurable and enjoyable work. As a creative person I find it much more invigorating to work on what is most interesting to me. I use that momentum to carry me over to the projects I am not as eager about. If I feel stuck on a client's project or request, I will write a blog post on here about my feelings or things that inspire me. Just getting words out helps me think creatively and then bust the road block I was having.
Define a working space. While I don't have a beautiful office like the one pictured above, I have found that working in certain spots at certain times of day really helps me. Mornings I lay on our chaise, afternoons in our bed, and at night I work at the kitchen table.
Create a space that is conducive to working. If there is one thing that gets me sidetracked it's the urge to clean our house. Since work and home are the same place it can get messy. I try and clean before bed so that I can work in a clean home office space. Even if I am exhausted I will clean so that I won't waste working hours cleaning. I also love having music on; I pretty much have it on 24/7 and am glad Lillian loves it. But I will listen to an album on repeat so that I don't even notice it. I don't have to bother with skipping annoying songs. Jesse thinks it is INSANE that I can listen to music on repeat. It honestly becomes white noise to me after I've listened to it a few times in a row that I don't even notice it. Obviously, I have 25 on repeat!!!!!
Get dressed. There are definitely days where the only people I interact with are the staff at Lillian's daycare. And that is for five minutes at drop-off and pick-up. But even on the days when I know I am not going to see anyone I get out of my pajamas and put on a comfortable work-from-home-outfit.
Check in with someone else who works from home. It is an absolute blessing to have Claire also work from home. We check in about our days, what we are working on, and bounce ideas off of one another. I am happy to be your person you check in with! Just email me Caroline.Perfect10SF@gmail.com
Create checklists. The night before I usually make a list of everything I need to do. This helps me stay organized and get things done.