Work From Home
In 2012, I started a network marketing business that I worked on in the evening and morning. And I had no life outside of my overall work. My life was work. My work was life. I hid behind the fact that I loved what I did.
You are listening to the ideas in motion podcast. And I'm your host, Karen Wilson. And in today's episode, we're going to talk about your work from home survival guide. There's an expectation of freedom that working from home has, but what's it really like? And how can you actually put a fortress around your focus to get top notch work done and feel present on your off time?
Well, we're going to pull back the layers and we're going to separate the work from home expectations. Versus reality.
I think when I got into working from home, I thought that there would be this like freedom, you know? This freedom of schedule of everything kind of falling into place of this nice state. Of flow.
You know, when I had my day job outside. Of home. I felt like I was not spending enough time at home. And I wanted to have the flexibility of being there for my family members when they need it. Scheduling. You know, not missing out on the, on the birthday parties, the, the hockey tournaments and all of that. Cause I had to work working holidays and evenings.
And I just, I wanted to have more choice.
But things. Are different on both sides. You know, when I held my D job, I had to be super focused in the time I was building my new business because I was short on time. And predictably, my business grew, but so did my kids. And by the time my little side business gave me the freedom for my day job. My kids were packing up and moving out.
They were the reason I wanted more freedom of schedule. So I lost touch. With why I wanted time. Freedom. And at the same time, I suddenly had so much time on my hands. An abundance of time. So I gradually did what I knew what to do. 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 have that in network marketing. I spent hours and hours trying to find the secrets to success. I wished I could just sit at my computer and do some work.
Earn some pay. Without sliding into DMS, you know, instant messaging message, all your friends. Within an authentic, Hey girl message. Like what you've been doing the last 30 years. I felt like I always had an ulterior motive. I did, and it was awful and I felt guilty. I hated it. I wondered how people actually do it and make a living and avoid burnout.
Is that actually possible?
And, you know, just to reflect on most of the time management gurus, I've studied under, have suffered burnout on their way to the top of their industry. So is it actually possible to have both. Do you have to work until your eyeballs bleed as Gary Vaynerchuk was once quoted or is it about what you're doing with your time now?
You know, It turns out all the things I learned in the courses I took trying to avoid the network marketing model. It 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're paid for productivity and output and working in a place where you are paid to be there for eight hours a day.
Last year. I was asked to sit in on a QA question, a session. Q and a, you know, Question and answer session. We some highly skilled professional curious, um, they were curious about pivoting into the virtual space from working in an office. And since I've been on the rollercoaster of adjustments for years,
I had to share with them, all of this stuff that I learned, and those are the same things that I'm going to learn. I'm going to share with you today.
Let's dive in to all my work from home strategies to put a food fortress, fortress like a fence. Around your focus so that you can earn more while keeping wellness in your work plan. So we're going to touch a little bit here first on the expectations. Verse reality, working remotely and physically being at work, there is a huge difference.
Productivity windows and self-organization was top priority. When I worked outside of the home. I was a beauty adviser and it was kind of like a survival, right. I'd get up early. I had a block of time for me to get my workout in. I'd get ready for the morning friend. My dog. Then I had my block of time that I be at work. I was unreachable, you know,
And we, except for the people that were coming into my work to see me. And then I'd have my block a time for dinner and family. And then I'd sit at my computer, building my side business. While I was at work. Our number one priority for the day was the person that just walked in the door. I didn't have to worry about anything else. Put the task down and serve many days that to do list didn't get completed, but that was okay. You see sales were up.
And you got paid anyway at the sales were down clock-in clock-out paid for all the time. You were there. Structure. Was a survival tactic. Okay. I had less time to do what I wanted to do in my off time. So I was very focused of exactly what I needed to do to move the needle. Now, working from home on a contract to contract basis.
There is no clock in clock out. There's no guaranteed pay structure. Output is what's recognized as work production. And some lines of work. Okay. Their communications project management. It might be your job to talk to people all day and that has to be scheduled, but I guarantee walking away from those meetings. Doesn't it. Add to your to-do list.
Okay, let's talk about 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. So just because I'm at home, it doesn't mean I can take an hour long break for a phone call with mom at 10. On the same day, I have a lunch date and an afternoon dentist appointment.
Oh, in the social media selfie I posted in the morning after my workout led to a 35 minutes scroll to see what's up with my friends. Oh, and is that today that I have to take the car in for an oil change? 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 really making no money. Because that generates a habit. Okay, so then there's a flip side, right? You could be hyper-focused on working in a bubble. You can close your office door, get labeled by your family is unapproachable in 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 mush brain. I promise you 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 gifts. All self-discipline can get sloppy and quality of work can suffer yet. You'll still feel like you are busy all the time. So it's time to work on your plan so that you can do the things that you want to seem you, you, that you want.
That seam. Let me get that word right. To get squeezed out of your life. Like chocolate that squeezed out of a smaller, when you smushed too much in. Okay, so now we're gonna workshop this a little bit. So if you're doing something where you can't get a pen and a piece of paper out, just keep in mind that you're going to come back and you're going to do homework. So right now, and just kind of mentally go through it.
Uh, step one is to start by putting a fortress around your focus. I'm want you to start thinking about this right away. Recalibrate and reassess what you want.
You might know it all in your head. And that's great. But I want you to take a beat and get out your journal or notebook and take stock of where you are and where you want to be. So, for example, what is your ideal day look like? Your ideal week. What's considered in your scope and what's out of your scope. So meaning like if you're doing virtual assistant work and you're doing things that you really don't want to be doing, what are those? You don't have to quit them.
You just, I want you to be aware of them, so maybe you can move away from them.
Are you doing the work that moves the needle for you?
The next part of, of, um, putting a fortress around your focus is setting your schedule.
Set your schedule. Creating the stability in income, relationships and life in general. And it's going to give you an anchor. It lets your loved ones and family know when you're available setting your schedule establishes routine, and it's going to feed your confidence. Your confidence will get better because you'll be doing the stuff that you said that you were going to do, which makes you feel great.
It gives you personal power to determine compatibility with your future clients. And also know when it's not a good fit. There's no wrong answer. You don't need to be nine to five. But these are the things that you need to know. How many billable hours state do you need to clock in a weak financially?
Like, how much do you need to earn? What what's that number and what does that mean? Like, depending on, um, what your income is, if you're selling candles, how many candles do you need to sell for that? If. If you're, um, doing workshops, how many workshops seats do you need to fill in a month or in a week?
When will your brain be sharp?
When are you least likely to be interrupted? And test it and recalibrate. It's never going to it's like, I shouldn't say never going to be one and done, but as you enter different seasons, You're always going to have to readjust and see if it's not working. Um, you don't try to like, you know, just really brute force it.
Just, uh, See what works test out a few different. And, uh, go with that. This next step is to post it. So this is still putting the fortress around your focus. You want to get this old school calendar out, write down all these questions so you can circle back. Okay. And if you don't have a pen, like I said, you're going to circle back and do this on a physical calendar.
Put in the obligations that can't be moved the time in the day. Your, uh, personal commitments. Insert your work hours. Schedule lunch, coffee breaks, exercise. And put your calendar. Uh, outside your office, like with your office hours. Where everybody in your house can see it, put it on the door to your office. If you do have a door or just on the, you know, somewhere where everyone can see them.
What are the biggest things to look at is if you're able to manage this calendar you made long-term. So very example, be mindful that if you smell have small children, And you choose like the first four hours and then the last four hours. You're burning the candle at both ends. So you don't want to sacrifice sleep because that's not keeping wellness in, in the work plan. So make sure that you can stick to what you, um, w if, if everything went a hundred percent as planned, you could stick to it. Long-term.
Now the next part of, uh, the setting, your, um, work from home expectations versus reality. Is I touched on it in the opening of the show. There seems like there's this abundance of time. All of a sudden when you don't have to go to a workplace, And one of the biggest mistakes do I've done and experienced is adjusting expectations of myself and my own time inventory.
So by adjusting expectations. Sometimes I think that, you know, I have all the time in the world, so I have a S. I used to have. A tendency to overcome it. And then I would end up working way harder. Um, and, and, you know, I have way less white space and, you know, go on these bursts like three or four weeks and get really close to burnout. And.
It's it's no fun. Um, so you can really avoid this when you know where your time is going and have and how long it takes you to do stuff. So that you can avoid over committing. So it's going to start. With, uh, again, uh, Time inventory. What is not measured, cannot be improved. So this is what you're going to do and why you're going to do it. It's going to give you personal accountability on the promises you make.
And protects you from over promising. So for example, my first time in San Francisco was my husband's birthday. And it was a few years ago. We decided to go to Applebee's for his birthday dinner and I'd never been there. So I was super excited. I had like figured out I'm going to have like the burger and the fries and the cake.
And, you know, no limits, no calories count on birthdays, not your own, nor your spouses in just saying. But then. I opened the menu. And to my shock, they had calorie counts for everything on the menu. So it's like if I ordered what I wanted to order, I would blow my calorie budget for like three days.
And I just couldn't bring myself to do that. Like when we know, right. We have this tendency to peel ourselves a little bit back to add a little bit more. Self-discipline. So I, I ended up still having the cake and the burger, but they noted the fries. 'cause the fries. Weren't very important to me. So when you have a time inventory and you know exactly where your time is going,
You're able to say, oh, well, that's not really important to me. Do I really need to be doing that activity? So your fries might be scrolling on social media. It's it's. Where I find myself sometimes when I'm looking to procrastinate. There's no judgment here. But if you close your eyes, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
The more aware you are, the more refined your schedule can get in. You'll avoid overbooking your workload and underestimating your capacity. You'll become more aware of choices what's worth. It to burn time on mindlessly. And we're whether you'd rather bank it for a bigger chunk of indulgent time. You see how I did that. And then.
Penny little way. You know, intelligence. Yeah. Anyways, let's move on. So your action step is to take an inventory of your time for at least one day. Three to four days is better because you're going to be SU. Super focused on that first day. Track everything. And be honest, whenever I do this exercise, I totally find correction points.
Add everything up. How long does it take you to answer emails, bathroom breaks, lunch breaks. Um, Chat with your friends, read a book, grocery shop, walk, the dog, feed the cat. From the moment you wake until you put your head on the pillow, do your best to track it. It's not judging. It's just awareness.
How long it takes you to do workflows for clients is a separate task. And we're going to do that in the next. Um, exercise here. So. This brings awareness full circle for you. So when you, when you're looking for new clients or you're working with new clients, or maybe you have a new project coming up, uh, those are times to time yourself.
One of the most common questions you may receive from people are, I know I do is how long will it take you to fill in the blank? And when can you have that done by? So if you do creative work, your. You're going to get those questions a lot. And one of the biggest causes of time management breakdown is underestimating. How much time things actually take overestimating is better than underestimating.
So, what is valuable is knowing your range. Whether you're paid by the hour project, doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. You still need to know, at least for yourself. So for example, um, I work with Kajabi and I, I do architecture on it. So I build courses, landing pages, websites, been working with it for years, and I'm very efficient at building things. But if I'm asked by somebody new, um, how long it'll take me to build a landing page.
My answer is it depends anywhere from 45 minutes to five hours, maybe seven hours. And here's why. A landing page is what's required. However, there are many pieces to the landing page to make it work. And it depends if the client has all the assets ready and copy written, or if they need me to source the assets and co-write the copy.
Every client is different. So it's up to you to be the professional that guides the ship of promises and expectations. To do. What you need to do, you need to know your windows of time to do that. Right. There are a little, little things. Right, but there's also the big things. So. All you have to do to do this is, is kind of, it goes along with the time inventory.
Um, but. Get out a notebook and start recording some of your project work. It's going to really help you with your estimates too, so that, you know, if you're undercharging. Right. Because a lot of times. That's what will happen? Get out of notebooks, start recording. Uh, lake. Like a line on either side, like put a line through the middle of the paper.
And then. I use one side to estimate, like what you think it's going to take you and the other side to record. So don't, don't rush on this focus on quality over speed and take a fair measurement. So every time you are touching something associated with that project. Turn your timer on. So this could be an email. You use your nap, use a phone, just turn the timer on. So this could be an email, a pricing research.
Um, doing the physical work itself. Anything associated with that specific project, get the timer on so that you can use this as your base. Depending what you do and what you do more of, you might find that you get more efficient with your clients over time, but usually with a new client, you're going to it's best practice to go back to your, your.
Longest projection base because you have that getting to know each other to do. So this is if you're working client by client basis. Okay. So that was a lot of stuff, a lot of homework for you to do, but I think that it really will set you up for setting your, you know, knowing the expectation versus reality.
The reality is it's, it's tough, um, to stay focused and, um, But if you set your own expectations, Of yourself and you go through these exercises so that you, you know where they are and put the structure in. It's going to be a lot easier and get a lot easier. If you're anything like me, like I love seeing yes, I love helping others and I feel guilty saying no.
But it feels so much worse when I let myself slide off my desk. Then when I delicately and professionally remind my client or my loved one. Of my work hours or the scope we agreed to a, you know, everyone wins. Ask yourself, am I hurting? My client, am I hurting my family by saying yes to something? I don't know how to do.
Or don't like doing. Or am I helping them? And this is going to help you. Um, You know,
We're going to talk about boundaries in a future episode, but this is going to help you set up to create those boundaries, which, you know, just spoiler alert. You can't just cut people out. Life right. Um, so there's, there's a way, um, that you can. Start working more on the things you want to work on and less on the things that you don't want to work on by establishing boundaries, but it starts with this type of self-awareness.
It was a lot. Wasn't it? Okay. Now I should probably note that some of the exercises we went through today are embedded right into the ideas in motion day planner, which is the ideas in motion podcast show sponsor. 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. It's available as a digital version on my website, or you can jump right into the paperback copy. I'll link include the link in the show notes below. There's also a workshop that, oh, I take you through. The planner and we sit together on zoom. Of course. And we have a QA hot seat question afterwards.
Um, it's, it's a lot of fun and there's an. You know, we planned together, so it's cool. And then you get some feedback and, and, um, you know, you get other people sharing ideas and just the support, you know, you're never alone. Time is really a gift and we can't take it for granted. It's our only resource that is unrenewable.
Thank you for spending this time with me. And if you found the show helpful and you liked it, please take a moment and leave me a review on the podcast player that you're listening to. It really helps me know that this is the end and it helps me develop the content. If I know that this is the type of stuff that you like, I'll make more about this type of topic.
It also allows other people to find the show too. And, um, You know, it helps, it helps a lot. And lots of different ways. And until next time. Bye. For now. Take care.