How I Make a Full-Time Income from Home
My schedule is one of those things that I am constantly tweaking. Admittedly, every time I think I have it all figured out, someone gets sick or stops napping or I just get overwhelmed with life. That's when I know it's time to change it up again.
As a work at home mom, no 2 days are alike, but I have gotten into a good rhythm lately (cue major life event to throw me off...) I actually thought I really had things together a year ago, then went into labor a month early and had a baby in the NICU. Now that Jack's first birthday is approaching, I can't stop thinking about how much life can change in a year.
When Jack was born, I was completely overwhelmed with trying to keep up with all these low-paying writing jobs and going to work. I desperately wanted to be able to stay home with him, but ended up going back to work because we needed the income (can you relate?)
Going back to work, even part-time, was heartbreaking, so I decided I was going to make some changes. I realized I was doing the same things I'd always done, but expecting to get better writing jobs. I had to change my strategy!
The most important change I made was sticking to a set schedule. If I wanted to be a professional writer, I had to start acting like it. No more blowing off my blog or not putting myself out there or wasting time on Facebook when I was supposed to be working.
I planned out my time carefully, and because I was now a mom of 2, including a newborn, I couldn't afford to waste any time. I cut out the tasks I really didn't need to be doing, and only focused on what was going to make the most money in the shortest amount of time. The whole point of this career switch was to be more present with my family, so I made sure to minimize working time as much as possible.
I've included all the scheduling tips I used to significantly grow my biz in this free Work at Home Mom scheduler!
I now start my days with a short planning sesh the night before. At the end of each weekday, I like to glance at my planner to make a general game plan for the next day. This makes a huge difference, because I no longer waste any work time trying to figure out where to start. I try to limit my plan to 3 work tasks and 3 life tasks. A typical day might look like this...
Write 1 article
Send follow-up emails for last week's pitches
Set up an affiliate account with a new company
Go for a run
Run to Trader Joe's
Trying to accomplish anything more than 3 tasks is impossible (at least for me) and just leaves me feeling stressed and behind.
Every morning I make sure to get up before C & J, even if it's only 10 minutes. Having a moment to take a deep breath and think about my day is crucial. On those days when I just can't get out of bed and wake up to J crying and C late for school, the whole day feels overwhelming.
When I get up, I always grab a mug of hot water and do a little yoga and meditation. I'll spend about 10 minutes stretching while taking deep breaths. This is also when I'll focus on what I'm grateful for. I think a daily gratitude practice (thinking of 10 things you're grateful for) is completely transformational. When you focus on the positive gifts in your life, you naturally attract more to be grateful for.
After I take that time for myself, we'll get everyone up and get ready. C is in half-day kindergarten, so after Tim leaves for work, J and I will walk her to school. After dropoff, J and I usually go for a run in the jogging stroller. When we get home, J usually naps for about an hour and a half, while I start writing. This is my only uninterrupted time all day, so I make sure to schedule my hardest writing tasks (like client writing) for this time.
I generally try to write at least one article during this time, sometimes 2 if I'm in the zone or they're really easy topics. When J gets up, we'll walk to pick up C for school then come home for lunch.
When it's time for afternoon naps, I'll sneak in a little more work time. Because I'm often interrupted by 1 or 2 munchkins refusing to nap, I don't try to write during this time. I'll spend it doing little, short tasks that don't take a lot of concentration. These include: posting to social media, sending pitch emails, follow-up on pitches, commenting on other blogs, etc.
When naptime is over, I try to be done working for the day. We'll usually play outside or walk to a park. I'll do some picking up and laundry while C watches her show. I also make dinner most nights, so have to make time for that as well. I love to cook, so that's one of those things that I don't want to give up. If cooking at the end of the day feels too overwhelming, try prepping your food over the weekend or trying out a meal delivery service.
In the evenings when Tim's home from work, we'll hang out together until bedtime. Once the kids are in bed, I may work for another hour, depending on how many articles I have due. I always make sure I have at least an hour at the end of the day to just unwind and watch a little Real Housewives :)