Work From Home Expectation VS RealityDec 27, 2022
In 2012 I started a network marketing business that I worked on in the evening and morning and. I had no life outside of work.My life was work. My work was life. I hid behind the fact that I loved what I did,
There is an expectation of freedom that working from home has but what’s it really like? And how can you put a fortress around your focus to get top notch work done AND feel present on your off time
When I held my day job, I had to be super focused in the time I was building my new business because I was short on time
Predictably my business grew,but so did my kids. And by the time my little side business gave me freedom from my day job, my kids were packing up and moving out.
They were the reason I wanted more freedom of schedule.
I lost touch with why I wanted time freedom, I suddenly had sooooo much time on my hands - an abundance of time!
So I gradually began to fill my days with being as busy as I could handle. What was missing was the earning part.
I signed up for course after course to learn marketing strategy after marketing strategy.I wanted predictable income, and I didn’t feel like I had that in network marketing.
I spent hours and hours trying to find the secret to success. I WISHED I could just sit at my computer and do some work, earn pay WITHOUT sliding into dm’s with a “unauthentic hey girl messages”
I wondered how people actually do this. AND make a living. AND avoid burnout. Is that actually possible? Most of the time management gurus I’ve studied under have all suffered burnout on their way to the top of their industry.
Is it actually possible to have both? Do you have to work until your eyeballs bleed as Gary Veynerchuck was once quoted, or is it about what you are doing with your time?
Turns out all the things I learned in the courses I took trying to avoid the network marketing model became incredibly useful.. And so it was.
I began freelancing in the virtual assistant space I’ve learned a ton. The most valuable thing I have learned is how I manage my energy and the difference between working from home when you are paid for productivity and output, and working in a place where you are paid to be there for 8 hours a day.
Last year I was asked to sit in a Q&A session with some highly skilled professionals curious about pivoting into this space.
I have been on the roller coaster of adjustments for years, and today I’m going to share with you the same things I shared with them.
Let’s dive into all of my work from home strategies to put a fortress around your focus so that you can earn more while keeping wellness in your work plan.
Expectations vs reality between working remotely and physically BEING at work
Productivity windows and self organization was top priority when I worked outside the home.
I was a Beauty Advisor. I'd get up early. I had a block of time for me to get my workout in and get ready for work in the morning. Then I had my block of time that I’d be at work, and then I’d have my block of time for dinner & family.Then I’d sit at my computer building my side biz.
While I was at work, our number one priority was that person who just walked in the door. Put the task down and serve. Many days the “To Do” list didn’t get completed, but that was okay., Sales were up, and you still got paid if they were down. Clock in, clock out, Paid for all the time you were there.
STRUCTURE WAS SURVIVAL
While working from home,on a contract to contract basis, there is no clock in,clock out guaranteed pay. Output is what is recognized as work. Production. Sure in some lines of work, in communications or project management it might BE your job to talk to people all day and that has to be scheduled- BUT guaranteed walking away from meetings creates an action step or more on your to do list.
THE REALITY OF Working at home
I know for me working from home comes with the challenge of disciplining myself, AND other people in my life. Just because I am at home, it doesn’t mean I could take an hour long break for a phone call with Mom at 10am on the same day I have a lunch date and afternoon dentist appointment.
Oh and that social media selfie I posted this morning after my workout led to a 35 minute scroll to see what’s up with my friends.
Oh yeah, we have to take the car in for the oil change- was that today? - Oh well, there goes Monday. Guess I’ll work a couple hours and make up for it somewhere else. But where else is that going to go?
You can’t operate that way for long before feeling defeated and making no money.
Then there is the flip side. Hyper focussed on working in a bubble. You close your office door and get labeled by your family as unapproachable and nicer to your clients than your family. Don’t you dare interrupt during business hours, I’ll peel myself out of my chair when I’m good and ready, fully burnt out with mushbrain.
There is a middle ground but the only way to get there is to create your own structure because reality is if you try to go with the freedom and flow working from home gives, all self discipline can get sloppy, and quality of work can suffer yet you will still feel like you are busy all the time
It’s time to get to work on YOUR plan so that you can do the things that you want that seem to get squeezed out of your life like the chocolate is squeezed out of a smore when you smoosh too much in.
Start by putting a fortress around your focus
Recalibrate and reassess what you want. You might know it all in your head, and that’s great, but take a beat ,and get out your journal or notebook and take stock of where you are and where you want to be.
What does your ideal day look like?
Your ideal week?
What is considered in your scope , and what’s out of scope?
Are you doing the work that moves the needle?
Set your Schedule
Setting your schedule creates stability in income, relationships, and life in general. It gives you an anchor. It lets your loved ones and family know when you are available. Setting your schedule establishes routine and feeds your confidence.
It gives you personal power to determine compatibility with clients and to also know when it’s not a good fit.
There is no wrong answer. You do not need to be 9-5
You do need to know:
How many billable hours you need to clock in a week financially.
When your brain will be sharp
When you are least likely to be interrupted
Test and re-calibrate
Post Your Calendar
Get a calendar out, and write down these questions so that you can circle back to this when we are done today.:
What are obligations that cannot be moved? Time/day
What are your personal commitments ?
Insert your work hours
Don’t forget to schedule lunch/ coffee breaks /exercise
Post your calendar with your office hours up where everyone in your house can see them and give this a test run. - You may need to adjust for different seasons in life.
One of the biggest things to look at is if you will be able to maintain this long term. For example if you have small children, you may have chosen your shifts to be evenings or early mornings, or perhaps “split shifts”
Pick one or the other- If you sacrifice your sleep nobody wins. - If you start work say from 5-9am parent all day and then work 7pm-11pm - you are working an 18h day - Through multitasking by answering client messages by mobile throughout the day and you are on a road to burnout.
Adjusting Expectations Time Inventory
Know where time is going, and how long it takes you to do stuff to avoid overcommitting.
What is not measured cannot be improved. This gives you personal accountability on the promises you make, and protects you from overpromising.
My first time in San Francisco was my husband’s birthday, and we decided to go to Appleby’s for his Birthday dinner. I had never been there and I was super excited. I opened the menu and my face dropped. It was the first time I had seen a menu with all the calories listed beside the meals.
Talk about a killjoy. What I wanted to eat would have blown my calorie budget for 2 days.
Seeing it right there in front of me made me more self aware of what I really wanted (which was dessert) so I went lighter on the meal. Seeing the measurement helped me redirect my choice.
The same is true for inventory of time. If you know - truly know in all honesty without judgment you will have a better idea of what can be cut, or even relocated. You will know what’s more important to you- maybe that choice will be the catalyst of landing that next dream client.
If you close your eyes it does not mean it doesn’t exist. The more aware you are, the more refined your schedule can get. You will avoid overbooking your workload, and underestimating your capacity. You will become more aware of choices of what’s worth it to burn time on mindlessly, and where you’d rather bank it for a bigger chunk of indulgent time.
Action step : Take an inventory of your time for at least one day . 3 - 4 days is better. Track everything and be honest. Whenever I do this exercise I totally find all the correction points.
How long does it take you to answer emails, take bathroom breaks, take lunch breaks, Interact on social media, read a book, go grocery shopping, walk the dog, feed the cat, etc.? From the moment you wake until you put your head on the pillow, do your best to track it.
How long it takes to do workflows for clients is a separate task. Right now this is general. Beware, this is not to say you are unproductive and need to work more, rather it’s an exercise that brings awareness to paying attention to all spaces in your life.
Time Yourself on BIG projects
One of the most common questions you may receive from clients is “How long will it take you to “Fill in the Blank” or “When can you have that done by?”
Likewise one of the biggest causes of time management breakdown is underestimating how much time things actually take.
Overestimating is better than underestimating.
What is valuable is knowing your range.Whether you are paid by the hour or project, it doesn’t matter, you still need to know for at LEAST yourself
I will use myself for example. I’m a Kajabi Architect. Been working with it for over 7 years, and I’m very efficient at building things.
A question I’m often asked is how long it will take me to build a landing page. My answer is - “It depends. Anywhere from 45 minutes to 5 hours”.
Here’s why. A Landing Page is what is required, however there are many pieces to the Landing page to make it work. It depends if the client has all the assets ready and copy written,or if the client needs me to source the assets and co-write the copy.
Every client is different. It’s up to you to be the professional that guides the ship of promises and expectations. To do that you need to know your windows of time.
There are the little things you will be doing with that client too. Answering emails, logging in and out of client meetings, etc. Knowing the time it takes you to not only do the task but all the things associated with that task is the number you need.
Being aware is key to setting realistic timeline estimates for your clients AND FOR YOU. Especially when you have multiple clients that have big projects or want to increase their hours in the same week. Most clients want their projects done yesterday which is why they’ve hired you. Don’t overpromise, overdeliver instead by communicating with as much accuracy as possible.
Get out a notebook and start recording some of your project work.
Draw a line down the center of the page.
Use one side to estimate and the other to record. Don’t rush. Focus on quality over speed. Take a fair measurement.
Everytime you are touching something associated with that project, turn the timer on. You can use an app, or your phone. Just do it. Then begin to use that as your base.
Depending what you do, and what you do more of, you may find you get more efficient with your clients over time.
However, whenever starting with a NEW client always go back with your base plus a few hours.
Efficiency with time is usually a result of a great relationship and workflow development. You don’t need to ask as many questions. The beginning always takes more time.
I love saying yes. I love helping others, I feel guilty saying no, but it feels so much worse when I let myself slide off my desk than when I delicately and professionally remind my client of the scope we agreed to. Everyone wins. Ask yourself, am I hurting my client by saying yes to something I don’t know how to do or don’t like doing, or am I helping them?
There is plenty of work coming in your specific field, and there are many people that love doing the things you don’t. Some of the exercises we went through today are embedded in the Ideas in motion Dayplanner,
It’s a system within the day planner that works to keep you focused on what matters to you now. I won’t make you figure out a list of a million goals. Instead I walk you through a simpler process so that you win your days more frequently .
Time really is a gift we can’t take for granted. It’s our only resource that is unrenewable. How are you spending yours?