Want to be a successful work at home mom? These things can get you off to a great start!
Working from home means I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk. I’ve partnered with Modern Office Furniture to inform you about the importance of sitting comfortably and other work at home tips. They provided a new ergonomic chair for me to review, but as always, my opinions are my own.
I spent most of my “grown-up” years teaching Kindergarten and it’s only recently that I became a work-at-home mom. I’ve got to admit, there’s nothing better than the flexibility and freedom, plus I really love the extra time with my family. However, I’ve learned that if you want to be successful you have to make a few investments in your business, whatever it may be. If you were a painter, you’d invest in quality paint and paintbrushes. The same rule would apply if you were a carpenter…you’d certainly invest in all the right saws and hammers. This is no different. Investing in the basics up front is important and you’ll be glad you did. It took me awhile to catch on but now that I have, I realize I should have done it a long time ago! If you’re just starting out, or even if you’ve been at it for awhile, these are some of the things that you’re going to need!
An Ergonomic Chair
Wow…what a difference a good chair makes! Until now, it was never important to us to have a fancy computer chair because we didn’t spend much time at the computer. However, now that I spend hours at a time working on the computer, the kitchen chair I was using just didn’t cut it anymore. It was so uncomfortable and getting to the point where it was causing back pain (and I’m WAY too young for that)! I knew that I needed an ergonomic chair. Not only had I heard that ergonomic chairs were more comfortable than normal chairs, they also support your posture, help circulation, provide better support and most importantly, reduce the risk of back pain…just what I needed! I knew it was time to make the switch.
Let me just say that I LOVE my new chair! I looked at a variety of chairs and really liked the Advanced Ergonomic Meshed Back Ultra Office Chair from Modern Office Furniture. It had everything I was looking for! Once hubby put it together and I managed to wrangle it away from my kids (what is it with kids and spinning chairs?), I finally was able to test it out. After sitting in that kitchen chair for so long, this was like heaven and I seriously don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner! It’s already comfortable to start but I was able to adjust everything about this chair (height, arms, lumbar) to fit me specifically. It even has a fancy knee tilt mechanism that takes pressure off the undersides of your legs to help your circulation. The free floating function is also nice because it allows the chair to tilt and flex with you as you move, though you don’t have to use it if you prefer more of a stiff chair. Now I have no idea how I even managed in that wooden chair for so long! If you are spending a significant amount of time at the computer, this is a must have!
A Spacious Desk
This is something else that I’ve needed to upgrade for awhile! Right now, I am sitting at a small computer table where the computer takes up almost the entire space. I have no room to spread out my notebook and papers, not to mention space for a pencil container, paper tray or any other things I wish I had handy. I finally have a new desk on the way and I’m super excited! It doesn’t ship until later this week so you’ll have to stay tuned to hear about it but trust me, this isn’t just any ordinary desk…you’ll definitely want to check back!
A Quality Computer
I know computers can be expensive but if you’re using it to make your living, this is not the area you want to try to save money on. It’s important to invest in a good quality computer that you can depend on. If your computer is in a constant state of “technical difficulty”, you’re not going to get much work done and it could end up costing you more in the end because you can’t get your work done properly. Isn’t it really worth it for your sanity alone?
Reliable Internet Service
This goes hand in hand with having a quality computer and again, it’s worth it to spend the few extra dollars on the best service you can get. Remember, these things are all investments in your business. Having unreliable internet service is the last thing you want because Murphy’s Law alone will cause it to go down the second you start working on something vitally important! This is something you just don’t want to have to worry about!
A File Cabinet
When you work from home, you have to be organized! Don’t be that person shuffling through a big stack of papers every time you need to find something important (disclosure: I totally used to be that person). Get a filing cabinet, grab some file folders and get to sorting! Not only will it be so much more convenient, just think of the time and frustration it will save next time you need that important document. Nobody wants to spend half their life digging through a Mount Everest of paperwork!
Your Own Work Space
While it would be nice to have my own “office”, we use our extra room as a guest room (Want lots of visitors? Just move to Florida…it’s awesome!). However, I’ve carved out a little space in the house and made it my own. Sure, you can always sit at the kitchen table with your laptop but you’ll feel so much better working when you have an “office” to call your own, however small. Plus, you’ll have everything you need within arms reach!
Uninterrupted Work Time
This is by far my biggest challenge! It always seems like the second I sit down at the computer, my toddler needs a snack, wants me to play Chutes & Ladders, or has a missing toy that she suddenly can’t live without. Then my oldest comes home and it’s homework, after school activities and more snacks. It’s a double edged sword because for many of us part of the reason we work from home is to have more family time but on the other hand, we also need to put the time into our business for it to succeed. For me, my main work time is at night after the kids go to bed. It’s much easier for me to concentrate when I don’t hear my name being called every 30 seconds!
I know this scenario doesn’t work for everybody so you have to find what works for you. I have a friend who brought her computer to the gym, let her kids play in the childcare room and spent an hour working on her computer. It was a great idea, plus it was cheaper than hiring a babysitter. Maybe you can swap play dates with a friend and take turns watching each others children. Then there’s always naptime, if you’re one of the lucky ones with a child who still naps!
Trust me…one of the most important, and hardest parts, of working at home is staying focused. I think it’s even harder for women (no offense guys) because we’re always thinking of the other chores that need to get done too. There’s laundry to wash, dishes to be put away, etc. I’ve gotten better at blocking these things out and it really helps me get a lot more accomplished! If I do find myself getting distracted, I make myself at least finish the task at hand before I get up. Usually when I’m done with that, I’ve gotten in a groove and manage to keep going!
Have your pencils, paper, notebook and other necessities nearby. Don’t interrupt your chain of thought because you had to get up and search the house for a pen. Have a spare ink cartridge on hand too. If you run out of ink when printing something important, you can easily pop in a new cartridge instead of having to spend all that extra time running to the store. How do I know? Let’s just say that you can learn a lot from my mistakes!
Sometimes it’s nice to just get out of the house. This is when you grab your laptop and head to the coffee shop. I always get a lot done this way because there are none of the usual distractions (see “focus” above) I couldn’t do this every day but it’s helpful to have a change of scenery once in a while.
Are you a work at home mom? What other tips do you have for us?