It’s not quite the end of the year, but it has been (over) a year since a major lifestyle change.
As a family, we had our first baby at the start of 2014. By the end of that year, it was decided something needed to change. In most cases, having a soon to be 1-year-old isn’t exactly the right time to change things up or start freelancing. But, we needed to make it work – as if having a wee little human and her constantly changing schedule isn’t hectic and stressful enough, right?
So, with the craziness of this past year, I thought I’d take some time to reflect. Maybe some of you have a similar experience to share or maybe you find yourself facing something similar ahead.
Luckily my work has been very busy and I’ve found myself exceptionally happy with who I’ve been working with.
Luckily, working remotely was not a hard adjustment for me. My studies at the Art Institute were remote as well some of my time returning back from maternity leave. Admittedly, I’m also slightly OCD about being productive most of the time. After all, one of the small reasons I’ve stuck with the design/development career was the prospect of being able to work from home. When I took online courses and had tons of reading, it was incredibly frustrating to try to concentrate with distractions around me or even having a tv on. After a few years, things have changed in that regard.
Although I work from home now, I actually work in many different locations. Surprisingly, even to me, the room dedicated in our house as the office is rarely used. The only time I’m in the office is if I desperately need extra screen real-estate for work or gaming. The places I am most productive are the bedroom or the living room – probably because they’re more cozy or they get more sunlight.
If I’m feeling particularly sluggish or if I feel like having a nap, a quick trip to Starbucks for more coffee and ambient noise does an amazing job at bringing me back into work mode. Some weeks I’ll spend 3-4 days in Starbucks, while other weeks I’ll curl up in bed with some coffee and some nostalgic beats.
The best thing you can do is be aware of how you work best. Whether it’s in complete silence or with the ruckus of a coffee shop – don’t be surprised if your best work environment changes from day to day or week to week.
I love being productive and feeling accomplished. There are occasionally days that are almost a waste and you make no progress for some stupid reason. Unless that’s just me?
This year, I’ve been pushed pretty hard to keep productivity up and build my time management skills — I’ve learned a lot. The concepts and strategies are nothing really new to me, but I guess I never actively practiced them or pushed myself as much as I should.
I enjoy coding so when I’m working on a personal project I sometimes prefer to lose any sense of time and just take my time – it’s enjoyable and when I’m less rushed, I often retain better.
In all aspects of project work, be sure to keep track of your time.Even if it’s a few minutes or a few hours. Keep an eye on the clock and challenge yourself – see if you can finish a particular task in 5 minutes or flesh out a snippet in 10-20, see what else you can challenge yourself with. But, just be sure your quality of work doesn’t suffer.
If you have a baby and both parents work, this is where it gets really crazy tough — not gonna lie. Not only does the baby’s schedule change once you finally get settled into a routine, you simply don’t have much extra time for yourself. Even if you’re like us and you have your baby/toddler at daycare most work days, evenings are still hardly for relaxing. Once the baby is home, food needs to happen asap before you have to rip open a bag of snickers and disperse it desperately at everyone (me in particular). Once dinner is over, there’s time for cleanup (depending on how messy the baby was) and then it’s off to the bath and coloring circles all over the bathtub. The struggle starts again once you’re ready to put pajamas on. It’s a 15 minute ordeal to play/wrestle with them to get their pajamas on which may or may not end in screaming and crying because you’ve had to pin them down as they’d rather run around the house butt naked.
As busy as you may be with work to meet your financial needs or baby duties, don’t take lightly how scheduling some “you” time can help you (and those around you) be happier and have a better mind set when you get back into the grind. Think about what will help you destress and wind down and put it in your calendar – whether it’s reading for 30 minutes each night or having a Halo Guardians marathon once a week. Do it! ?
Working at home may not be for some – and it may not be for forever. I enjoy it and I’m grateful I’ve been able to do it. Some people prefer to go to co-working spaces which is also a great way to meet others.
Finding that happy balance between productivity and down time may not be perfect every week and will likely have it’s fluctuations, especially with a baby in the house. Try your best and at least make sure you get a little time to wind down.
Surround yourself with people who support you and think you’re awesome. If you’re an introvert and/or don’t have a lot of friends who share some of your interests, this can be super hard. Be sure to keep connected with a good friend or two and do something with them often! Having friends that are relatively engaged in your career field is a hug bonus – it can benefit your creativity and may even have the possibility of building some projects together or even a business.