I've worked from home on a full-time basis since 2014. And since I'm writing this in March 2020, St. Patrick's Day, no less, I'm writing this from a place of knowing that hindsight is truly 20/20. I'm also writing this at a time when people aren't sure what's going to happen to their jobs and they aren't sure how to manage working from home if they're being presented with the option to do so.
And hindsight really is 20/20.
My Biggest Obstacle Working From Home Was Myself
Honestly, you're probably your biggest obstacle, too, outside off the learning curve because you're not used to doing it and the occasional technical issue. It's not your kids. It's not your friends. It's not your spouse. It's not anyone aside from your spouse.
I know this from experience. I have one child left in the nest. I started with three. I'm married. I started working from home while working two other jobs part time...meaning I started my copywriting businessas a nights and weekends thing. And I quit one job at a time. I had the school drop off / pick-up / field trips. I still have therapy days (the youngest is non-verbal and has autism). There are still days when our middle son, 19 years old as of the day I write this, who needs me to stop doing something and bring him food at work or drop off dog food. I still take off and make dinner for him and our oldest (21 years) since they are roommates. The mom job isn't done just because they are adults.
But...they weren't ever the problem anyway. I was my biggest problem. My scheduling issues and focus issues were my problem. Time management and attention management is not the fault of your children. Children are children. The older they get and the more self-sufficient they are, the easier it is for them to manage. You can come up with resources (and with COVID running around, check out Facebook because there are a list of places with all kinds of great resources and look for homeschooling resources on Pinterest even if you don't plan to homeschool...you can keep them learning and busy).
I always felt like I was pressed for time and I always felt like I did nothing but work.
And I worked from home. Why do people want to work from home? So they can have more control over their schedules...and it was a necessity for us, But I felt trapped and smothered by a lack of time because I felt pulled in every direction. My business was having growing pains. I did not see it that way at the time. I wasn't asking for help from my husband. I don't mean help with my business (at least, not initially). I was still taking on full responsibility for everything: my business which was the sole income, everything around the house (laundry, dishes, cleaning, food...you name it...because that is how women are still primarily raised). I would sit at my computer and cry sometimes when my clients would ask me to do one more small thing. It was literally something small and the requests would come in via email. I was exhausted and yet I still couldn't sleep. I was also still on AFib medication.
How I Realized I Was My Own Biggest Problem (And No, It Wasn't a Tim Ferris Book)
So that same year all of that was going down, which was around 2018 (which, by the way was growing pains round three for my business), I sat down to look at my project management software that I used diligently all year to time every single project I worked on personally because I hadn't used any kind of help...not for my own websites (well, I didn't keep track of how long it took me to write blogs because my regular blogwas / is mostly a hobby). And I thought I was going to see some crazy fucking weekly hours to justify my martyrdom...the mother and wife slaving her life away...
No. I found that, on average, I worked around 26 hours each week. The problem wasn't work. The problem was how I was approaching the need to work, what was happening to the rest of my time (not related to my sons and my husband), and what the fuck was I going to do about it?
I Became My Own Biggest Solution
So, for the limited hours I was working, the money was more than fine. Looking back, now that I have better control over my schedule, I am far happier and less stressed working more. Well, it's not so much working more (except I do work more) as much as it is that I am happier knowing that I am in control of my schedule. I became my own biggest solution and got out of my own way.
I started saying no. Who I said no to...that's a story for another day because it involves abusive relationships between adult manipulative parents and adult children.
I set up a better schedule for myself. My daily work hours are approximately 9 am to 6 pm. Do I work outside of those hours? Yes. I have chronic insomnia (it's improved quite a bit, but I still have times I can't sleep...so I work and then maybe I don't work as much during that day, but my clients know they can still email me). My best clients know and understand they might get emails with a weird time stamp on them, I've worked with most of my clients for at least four years. Sometimes I have deadlines or take on extra projects that necessitate working past 6 pm. During the hottest part of the summer, I work from 6 am until 2 pm (usually) and then sometimes in the evening.
It's less of a time management issue for me than an attention management issue. And for many of you working from home at least temporarily because of COVID-19, it's going to be the same way. You may need to talk with your boss about some alternative uninterrupted hours before your children wake-up or after they're in bed if you have certain projects.
I started asking for help. And it wasn't asking so much as just stating what I needed to do around the house. Something I noticed about my family is that they just tend to follow along with whatever I'm doing. I can literally start doing something and everyone jumps in. That works so much better than nagging or bitching or whatever. With my husband, I can say, "Would you mind doing X?" I know that I may have to remind him later because he does have a brain injury from years ago. Shit happens. And if it doesn't get done, it isn't the end of the world. I've also set up Fly Lady Zones in Evernotefor him (and myself) to follow because it's easier.
I'm in growing pains round four for the business. I am now essentially a digital media agency. And this time I was smarter...I brought on professionals for help. I now have a part time VA, part time business development guy, two web devs to take on projects when they come rolling in, a husband trained by me to copywrite, and a very good friend who is learning to do social media from me and who is also trained as a graphic designer