But business is still business, and if you want to thrive, you have to perform. Everyone can benefit from finding ways to be more efficient, and there are simple ways to do so without retooling your entire working structure. Consider the following five tips to help you maintain the lifestyle you enjoy by working from home, but become an even more marketable professional!
1. Schedule Time for Continuing Education
One aspect of our lives that tends to take a back seat once we start working, and especially once we become mums, is our education. We got our bachelor’s (and that was a struggle enough!), so now we want to focus on making money and enjoying the opportunities that our education, and the tuition they charged us for it, warrants us.
But ladies, the reality is, just having a bachelor’s is quickly becoming not good enough. With a booming population, and in turn, a bigger workforce, to choose from, employers of all sizes now have more options for finding the perfect candidate to fit their openings. For your work from home position, this could be a tremendous setback: if your employer can find someone who’s better educated than you, who’s also willing to drive into the office daily, then how secure are you, really, as an employee?
To help get back on top, make sure you’re continuing to spend time with, and invest in, education. Typically this means getting a Masters or possibly even a PhD. But even if you don’t have the time or money to go for a full degree, take some online courses to get a certification, or any form of training that you can put on your resume or add to your employee file. In addition to making yourself less indispensable, you’ll also gain further skills and ideas that you can apply to your own business.
2. Build Your Own Website
This is crucial for anyone in the freelancing market, but even if your job is a typical salaried position, you can benefit immensely from having your own website.
No matter if you work for someone else, or work for yourself, you need to think of the work you do as a brand. Your brand isn’t just a logo or a slogan that you use to advertise, it’s your working identity; it defines you as reliable, a professional, an expert, and a hard working individual. Because the great majority of business, from networking to sales, job-searching to advertising, is done online, having your own website will make you stand out in a crowded market.
Though you’ll need to spend time improving your website as you go along, setting one up is incredibly simple. You’ll just need to choose a name that’s simple and unique to you, then register your own domain. From there, you can use a pre-made template to setup your site’s design, and you’re ready to upload content.
3. Consolidate the Time You Spend on Email
Email is a productivity killer, and for working mums, wasted time with email is a luxury we can’t afford. Surveys and research have shown, time and again, that constantly checking your email will not only distract you, it will cause a severe decline in the amount of work you get done.
There are several reasons for this. First, checking emails as soon as they come in breaks your concentration. If you’re 500 words into a 2,000 word doc, your train of thought is now broken, and you’re wasting time getting back on track.
Second, emails detract from your quality of work. Even if you only skim an email, without immediately responding or acting on its contents, that email is now in the back of your mind, occupying brain power that you should be devoting to completing the task at hand.
And finally, instantly replying to every email that comes in will cause you to delay projects to the point that they become overwhelming.
To get the most out of your working hours, you need to limit the time that you’re spending in your inbox. As a golden rule - if you don’t have time to instantly address an email, don’t even bring up your inbox. It serves no purpose, other than to distract you, and will lead to the results we mentioned above.
Instead, make checking your email a recurring task that you do only a few times in the day, and schedule it. I’d recommend once at the start of your day, once before lunch, and about an hour before you stop working. That way, it’s a predictable, controllable habit that you’re prioritizing during times that you can actually devote your full attention to sorting through your inbox.
If you’re expecting a critical email, or you do have to immediately address emails from certain individuals, turn off your general “New Mail” notifications, and set notifiers for only those individuals. That way, you’re able to give your full attention to your current task, without worrying that an unexpected email from your boss or an important client will go unnoticed.
4. Outsource Menial Tasks
Admittedly, this suggestion won’t be practical for many readers, because it can get expensive, but if you have the luxury of some additional disposable money, are stable in your cash reserves, and don’t mind double checking on quality now and then, you can potentially outsource some of your least important tasks.
By menial tasks, what I’m referring to are business or personal related tasks that take up your time, but don’t necessarily do much for you. Examples could be sorting and stapling documents together, running your dry cleaning to the shop, checking a document for spelling or grammar errors, etc. If you’re a freelance writer, an example might even include having someone ghost write an article for you.
While you’ll ultimately still be responsible for the quality of work that others are doing for you, checking someone else’s work is far less time consuming that creating something from scratch. By delegating certain tasks that others can do for you, you’re saving time, and allowing yourself to focus instead on the work that will make a real difference to your employers, clients and yourself.
It’s All For You
While there’s no one correct answer that you can use to instantly make your life easier, I hope that these suggestions are of some benefit. Ultimately, what I’m sure matters to you, and what I want for you, is that your work allows to focus on the things you truly enjoy in life. Namely, being a mum, and being there for all of the moments in your child’s life that you’ll remember forever!