I’ve worked from home at least part-time for years now. However, up until I lost my outside job over a year ago, it was only off and on, an hour or two here or there, and I was still gone from the house three days/week after cutting back my hours when Luke joined our family. My long-time job was my main income and everything else was just on the side for supplemental income.
Once faced with the big change of losing that job last fall, I knew I wanted to work at home more than outside it. I took some time off while figuring things out, but by early this year I was doing bookkeeping work from home again, and then we started the poultry farm and I began to make products to sell alongside our fresh eggs. With the things I do now, I try to focus on work for at least 3-4 hours at a time.
We had both our beagle Cricket and Luke, along with our cat Sam when I started all that earlier this year. It was an adjustment for all of us. I had to figure out what kind of schedule worked for me, and Cricket and Luke had to understand that even though I was home, I was not here to entertain them all the time!
Have you ever considered working from home, so you can be with your pets more? Who wouldn’t want to be? I know it’s not for everyone; some people prefer to be out with people and in social atmospheres more. Since I’m an introvert, I don’t miss the social aspect of being in the workplace at all, I would much rather be home with the dogs, Sam, and on the farm. I still do some outside work though, and I think I’ve been managing to find a good balance so far, even though I’m still figuring things out as far as work.
Here are some things I’ve learned that help when working from home:
Get yourself on a schedule. Some people’s work from home jobs, like one of my sister’s, require you to be on a schedule anyway. I’m self-employed which makes it different. Even though most times, other than an occasional meeting, I don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time, my alarm goes off almost every day at 6 am, and I have a plan for the day.
Find a routine that works and stick with it. While I’m doing several different things (blog, bookkeeping, running the farm and making homemade products to sell) and I can be flexible with what I do each day, I still have the same morning routine almost every day. I have a cup of coffee while lying in bed with Luke for a half hour before getting up. I like a little time to wake up before jumping up and starting my day. Lately Luke often leaves me and goes out to lay in front of the wood stove, which is funny because that’s exactly what Cricket used to do! Then I get up and feed Samantha, then Luke, and then hit the shower. After I shower and dress, I put the eggs out for sale by the road and check on the flock to be sure they have food and water (they almost always do since the Dadz handles that the evening before). I let them out into their fenced-in run area.
Then I have breakfast and Luke and I go for a walk. When we get back, I’ll start whatever work I’m doing that day, whether it’s bookkeeping, baking cookies, making skincare products, tending to gardens in the summer, or blogging. I’m still looking for a little bit of outside work, but whatever I find needs to also fit in with that routine. While I was working at the farm stand two days/week over the summer, sometimes Luke’s walks were shorter, but we still took them, and I still had my same morning routine. Weather can sometimes throw things off, but we try not to let it affect us too much.
The Dadz is home two days per week normally now (at first he worked 6 days/week, so I had less help), so sometimes he might feed Sam if she starts demanding it before I get up. Then I take an extra few minutes to relax. If I have errands to run or places to go, I try to do that on those days so Dadz can walk Luke and I can get going earlier.
Try to avoid distractions! It took Luke and Cricket a bit of time to understand that I was not home to play ball all day, or to let them in and out constantly. They got better, and now that Cricket is gone, Luke settles down quite well, though there is the occasional squirrel drama and it’s urgent that he goes outside! He occasionally forgets, and I get what you see in the photo below, but for the most part he’s good.
He actually does that more in the evening, which is often my blogging time. He just wants attention, and if Dadz is free he’ll sit with Luke on the couch and he’s happy. I also try to spend some time doing that when I can, since I like to watch the news too.
If you have pets, tending to their needs – meals and exercise – before you try to work can make a big difference! But there are still going to be distractions – squirrels, the UPS driver, anyone going by the house! Sometimes Luke likes to stand by the doors and look out. It’s often unclear to us whether he wants to go out or he’s “just looking”. So, when I’m working, I have to learn to ignore him. If he persists in standing there he might really need to go out, or he will also paw at the door. I don’t need to be getting up and down and opening the door only for him to just keep standing there looking (I do that plenty when I’m not working)!
Since Samantha is an elderly cat, she doesn’t have a lot of demands. While I work at the dining room table where I can spread my papers out, or in the kitchen when I’m making things, I still go down to my office which is her room quite often to print things or get supplies. She distracts me with accidents on the floor (luckily she has most of those in the morning so clean-up can happen before I start work), or the temptation to pet her all the time. She’s also pretty scruffy these days, and I have to brush her all the time to try to keep the mats down. I have to learn not to look too closely at her when I’m in the middle of something (because I’m compelled to brush her!), but to mentally remind myself to brush her and give her some attention later!
I don’t think I’ll ever perfect the whole aspect of ignoring distractions – e-mail, texts, phone calls, instant messages, etc., distract me too. I have a hard time ignoring those little pings and notification noises coming from my phone. I try…..but I still keep working on that one. I do at least avoid social media, so that’s one thing.
Then there’s the crazy birds! I try to keep them inside the coop and run at least for the morning, so I’m not constantly running to the window to check on them when the guinea hens start making a racket! My spot at the dining room table looks right out at the coop/run so I can make sure they stay safe, and that works out well. Dadz gets home early in the afternoon, so if I let them out just before lunch that usually works. They get their free-range time, but I also get a break from constantly watching them in the morning.
Things needing to be done around the house are distracting for me as well. So when Luke is eating his breakfast, I do any kitchen clean-up needed, and generally straightening up around the dining and living room. I’m a little obsessive-compulsive about things being neat and where they’re supposed to be so getting things like that out of the way is important for me as well.
If you work several jobs like I do, it’s also easy to forget to relax sometimes! That’s when it’s nice to have Luke remind me to pour a glass of wine and sit with him to watch the news in the evening.
I think those are the three major things that help – get on a schedule and routine, take care of the animals ahead of time, and then try to focus and avoid distractions. There are days I keep so busy at home and so well-focused on what I’m doing that I feel like I’ve neglected the animals! But I really haven’t, and I think given a choice, they are happiest with me here, even if I’m not always at their beck and call. 🙂