7 Golden Rules for Working at Home

by Guest

Nothing compares to taking your lunch breaks with your 2-year-old and her teddy bear, canceling calls and meetings on a whim to play hooky on a sunny day or write a sentimental blog post to the sounds of laughter in the playroom. It’s the reason many moms are choosing to work-from-home and combine building a business with raising their kids.

For all the fun and games that go with working at home, if you are serious about building a sustainable business, you need to follow the 7 Golden Rules for Working at Home:

  1. Designate a workspace – Find a quiet corner of the house where you can set up your workspace, preferably with enough storage space for files and any other related items. The next best thing is a portable filing folder to storing paperwork and clearing work clutter off of common family areas.
  2. Schedule official ‘office hours’ – Maybe it’s early in the morning before the household wakes up and when the baby is napping or maybe you hire a babysitter for a couple of days a week. Whatever you do, you need to schedule in undisturbed focus time.
  3. Get organized (to the extreme) – Pre-pack lunches and activity bags, create a family in and out box to manage the things that come and go from the house, and plan your weekly menus and bulk shop for ingredients.
  4. Set clear boundaries – Let friends and family know that you are working from home and set clear boundaries on calling or dropping in. The same holds true for clients. Let them know when you are available and manage their expectations by avoiding responding to voicemail and email in ‘off’ hours.
  5. Find help – Parenting and building a business are both full-time jobs. Doing both requires ‘outsourcing’ tasks. The good news is you get to ditch the stuff you hate doing anyway, like cleaning the toilets or bookkeeping. It doesn’t matter what you get help with – the key is getting help.
  6. Set daily goals – Use daily goals to stay focused and get priority tasks done. Remember to make your goals SMART (Specific-Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Time-Sensitive). For example, growing your web traffic by 10% by next month or adding 3 new clients this quarter.
  7. Celebrate your successes – All work and no play makes mommy a dull (and often overtired, grumpy and overwhelmed) girl. Take the time to celebrate the small daily victories and treat yourself to a bit of me-time for the big milestones.

Want to learn more about building a work-at-home mom business? Visit MOMeo Magazine.com or download a copy of their Business in a Box Special Edition.

– Carla Young, Founder & Publisher MOMeo Magazine

Carla is the proud (and totally biased) mother of one very precocious daughter, a loving wife to one very lucky husband, and a supporter of moms everywhere who want to build a lifestyle business that gives them the flexibility to work-from-home and raise a family.

She is a believer that the best business training isn’t in the classroom or the boardroom, but the playroom where she hones her business skills on a daily basis. Want marketing help? Try upselling a toddler on carrot sticks instead of cookies. Need to negotiate a contract? Try talking a reluctant preschooler into washing her hair.

She shares her time management, motivation and practical business tips for mom entrepreneurs as well as the trials and tribulations of balancing work, family and a little bit of playtime for mommy at MOMeo Magazine, an online resource publication for work-at-home moms.



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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melody September 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Great advice! Since my little one arrived I have been struggling to figure out exactly how running my own business is going to work with her around… she doesn’t answer phones very well, and she isn’t the best proofreader. Thanks for the tips!

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2 Carla Young September 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm

How best to manage little ones depends entirely on their age.

When my daughter was a baby, I worked in the mornings and evenings when my husband was around and during her naps.

Now that she’s older and can entertain herself for a reasonable period of time, I sometimes set her up in my office with a craft or her own little desk and she plays secretary while I get a bit of work done.

But of course, the best option is to find yourself childcare – whether it’s help from a family member or a neighbor or hiring a part-time nanny.

Remember that before you know it, your little one will be in school all day so take the time to enjoy her while she’s little.

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3 Jacqueline September 24, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Thank you for the tips. I am still in the thinking planning stage of starting to work from home. All the information is so helpful.

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4 Carla Young September 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm

One of the most important things to plan is your childcare because without knowing how much time you have available to work, it’s difficult to know how much to promote or promise potential clients.

If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend downloading the Business in a Box Special Edition (link above at the bottom of the article). We really packed a lot of content in to help start-up moms like yourself!

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5 Amber Strocel September 25, 2010 at 12:27 am

These are great tips! I am finally getting some childcare help – I’m really looking forward to it. I think it will make it much easier to set ‘on’ and ‘off’ times, and I’m hoping it will increase my productivity. I’m so looking forward to having 2 hands free as I work!

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6 Carla Young September 28, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Yay! Two hands free!

Childcare definitely takes a lot of the multi-tasking pressure off. Don’t forget to preplan your work time so you are getting the most done while you have the extra help!

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7 works September 25, 2010 at 6:16 am

This post can contribute so much to “home workers” get a work at home job and/or improve their home business.

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8 Denise Crosbie September 25, 2010 at 10:47 am

Love this article. Good timing too since I am just stuggling with this myself. I just quit my day job 3 months ago after my 2nd maternity leave to run my business and still be able to be at home with the kiddies. My biggest struggle has been to learn how to relax and not feel the need to be working ALL the time. I set up my daily to do and I’m feeling better. Once I get my daily tasks done, I can relax and not feel like I should be working all the time because I know I’m on track and have finished my goals for the day.

I’m only on day 2 so far, but last night at the end of the day, I felt more relaxed then I can remember since I started my busines 2 years ago!

Great tips! Next one I have to try is #5, get help. We’re a small business so I’m always reluctant to pay someone else, but I’m begining to realize that I can’t do it all myself.

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9 Carla Young September 28, 2010 at 9:46 pm

The trick with staying out of overwhelm is to do exactly as you said…set 2 to 3 must-do tasks for the day and finish them and then close the door on your office.

If you find yourself tempted to go back in and sneak a peek at your email or check voicemail, plan an outing with the kids and get out of that habit.

Work can always wait until tomorrow.

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10 Petula September 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Fabulous information. I’ve copied it to my OneNote so I can make sure I’m following the rules! :-) Thanks.

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11 Jennifer, Snapshot September 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I need to do more of all this!

Thanks for the gentle nudge!

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12 Carla Young September 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm

We all do, Jennifer, we all do! You are welcome for the gentle nudge.

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13 Rachel September 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Great rules and reminders…It’s good to be reminded of things like this that are easy to forget when I’m working but it is not an “8-5″ job. Thanks!

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14 Carla Young September 28, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Yes, working from home can easily extend into a 7 to midnight job if you aren’t careful. That’s why boundaries are so important.

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15 Mandy September 25, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I’ve been working from home for several years now and I found it really helpful to have a routine for my household chores as well as scheduled office time. This means that tasks like the grocery shopping, the laundry and paying the bills get done without encroaching on my work time.

I am often working in the afternoons when my kids get home from school and what I find hard to balance is finishing my planned worked with requests to run to the store or take them on an errand. Being flexible and adaptable is one of the benefits of working from home but I still need to get my work done.

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16 Carla Young September 28, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Sometimes those surprise interruptions are the most difficult to handle, but that’s why boundaries are important as well as setting key priorities for your work time and getting them done early.

That way if you need to finish up early for an unplanned request, you feel like you have accomplished what you needed to and if you need to return to tidy up later on, you can.

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17 SMART Goal Lady September 26, 2010 at 12:25 am

My favourite goal quote is: “a goal without a plan is just a dream.”~ Larry Elder. Here is a free simple facebook app that uses your friends as Goal Buddies to help monitor your SMART Goals. http://www.facebook.com/SMARTGoals.Me Just like at the gym when you have someone watching you work harder hopefully with someone watching your goals you’re more likely to achieve it.

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18 Carla Young September 28, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Thank you for sharing that quote! It’s so true and often we fall into the habit of dabbling and forget that even thought we’re working from home, we need to run it like any other type of business!

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19 mai September 26, 2010 at 3:23 am

Thank you so much for this article. It really helped me in so many ways. I’ve been struggling on how to separate time for work and time for the kids at home. Now, I have better ideas on how to balance my time working from home.

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20 Carla Young September 28, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Think of it not as a rigid structure, but as an ebb and flow — if you need to finish up your day early or even take a day off, then somewhere else in the week, you can catch-up by handing off the kids to Dad to entertain while you do what needs to be done.

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21 Caitlin Knight September 26, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Thank you! I need to print this out and hang it next to my desk to serve as a daily reminder!

I do have a suggestion or two for mom business owners out there like me who have a zero budget for childcare and therefore can’t do much with point #5: Find Help. Two things that have worked great for me are 1) exchanging room & board for part-time babysitting and 2) exchanging play dates with another mom. Both come with their own “costs”: your privacy with the live-in situation and your time when you’re on duty with the other mom’s kids, but I am so thrilled to be able to avoid paying out my meager earnings on childcare that it’s not a problem at all for me. I hope these suggestions are a help to some of you!

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22 Carla Young September 28, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Yay! I’m delighted this post was helpful for you!

You are exactly right on finding creative solutions for the childcare problem. I used the exact same strategy when I was in-between part-time childcare providers (because finding people who are willing to work part-time can be challenging).

I traded play dates with neighbors or even hired a local tween-aged babysitter to play with my daughter for far less than hiring a nanny!

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