How do you handle living and working in the same space? Are you tempted to do house stuff during “business hours”?
Yes! And I often do random chores and things during the day. Much of my work and “job responsibilities” are created and set by me, so I always have a really good idea of what’s on the docket for the day; what needs to get done, what I should start working on, etc. Knowing what is required of me for that specific work day, I can manage my time around that. On days when I’ve got a lot of things that need to get done, the sink is full of dirty dishes and I haven’t made the bed by time 6pm rolls around. However, most days offer a bit more flexibility and allow me to do a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, or run errands during “business hours”.
I’ve come to find that I work best within flexibility. I’m grateful to be in a position where I can do that! If I sit at my desk to start work for the day and just can’t seem to get anything flowing, I allow myself to step away and do something else – go to the gym, run those errands I need to do, re-style those shelves in the kitchen. Most often, when I’ve given myself a little room to do something else, I can come back to my desk and be productive.
There are times where I’ll feel bogged down by everything I have to do, for sure. Because I am the one that is home all day (and it’s my natural tendency to be the “homemaker”), I often default to doing the chores that Mike and I both share. I’ll get to the end of the work day and know that I did too much – I didn’t need to work a regular work day AND take care of those things around the house. In those times, I just remind myself that house things will get done eventually and give myself grace. It can be a delicate balance at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else!
How do you manage your time while maintaining a blog and a business at home?
A lot of my success with this comes from the fact that it’s all I’ve ever known! Aside from that one stint at an unpaid internship, I’ve only ever worked for myself full-time. I had to learn pretty quickly how to spend my time in order to have a successful business! Most days, I’m at my computer with a cup of coffee by 7:15am. I start by checking emails, making sure my blog post was published or working on the post for the next day, and writing a list of everything I need and want to accomplish for that day. Depending on what I have to work on, I’ll either head downstairs to work on EA things, or I’ll head upstairs to shower and get ready for the day if I’m shooting content for the blog. I work usually work until about 5 or 6pm everyday, sometimes taking a break in the afternoon to do something else – run errands, work out.
I have tried having set days for different things, i.e. Mondays and Thursdays are for shipping orders, Wednesdays are blog work days. Having that sort of “schedule” doesn’t work well for me – if the weather is bad on a Wednesday and I’m not able to shoot photos inside, that will throw off the whole week. Monday mornings, I usually have a “master” list of my to-do’s for the week. Each day that week, I can tackle what I need to depending on what I feel like doing and what the setting is right for. My schedule is very fluid and I love it that way!
If you’re just starting out working from home, my biggest piece of advice is to give yourself grace! Very likely, it will take some time to get into a groove and get used to the new work environment and everything that comes along with it. It can definitely be lonely and isolating, at times. If you start feeling that way, try to schedule in time outside of the home, whether that’s going to a workout class, meeting up with a friend for dinner, or making sure the that you’re getting out of the house and socializing by time the weekend rolls around.
Tips for getting up early! (When you know you don’t “have” to)
Getting into a routine and have something to wake up to! I’m a morning person, so waking up early isn’t too hard for me. If I could get myself on a better schedule and go to sleep at like 9pm every night, I’d be the happiest girl to wake up and start my day at 5am. I love the quiet and stillness of the morning. I’m also my most creative when my mind is clear, so I do my best work first thing.
The biggest element to getting up early is making sure you get enough sleep! Yes, you may be a bit groggy when that alarm goes off at 6am, but once you get up and start moving, you should feel good. If you need more motivation, get yourself into a routine that you come to enjoy in the morning. Whether that’s making a cup of coffee and having a little quiet time, going for a quick walk with your dog, prepping your lunch for later in the day, or something else, I find it helps me to have something I’m excited about. As simple as it is, I love making a cup of coffee and getting onto my computer in the morning. I will make sure my blog post is published, do a little social media planning, and just scroll through Pinterest. It’s how I like to ease into the day and get my mind right for officially starting my work day. When we’re traveling or I’m out of my regular routine, I crave that little morning time I give myself everyday!
It may be a bit of trial and error to get there, but I think everyone is capable of it.
Do you take a traditional lunch break when working from home?
Most days, yes! If I’m working alone at home (when my assistant isn’t here), I will usually take 20-30 minutes to eat lunch. I try to disconnect from work during that time, so I’ll watch a show or scroll through social media or something to take my mind off of work things. Occasionally, my day just doesn’t allow for a break or I’m on a roll and want to work through lunch, so I’ll just eat at my desk. I try to infuse some breaks in my day that allow for a little breather here and there. For me, that’s how I feel my best during the workday.
Are you able to “turn off” work in the evenings and weekends (mentally)?
Most of the time, yes! It took me about five years to get to that point, but I’m so much happier having a more “balanced” life. I’ve finally come to be able to set some healthy boundaries for myself when it comes to the evenings and weekends. Having two online businesses, there isn’t really a time when I don’t “need” to be working. There are always things to be done and tasks to be completed, not unlike the seemingly never-ending list of things to do outside of work, you know? It wasn’t until this year that I have given myself the grace to not do it all. I’m working on accepting that I can’t do it all and do it all well. So some things need to be sacrificed. At first, I thought that sacrifice was time off, but that was very unhealthy and made me unhappy. On the flip side, that sacrifice is not always having fresh content for the blog and Instagram or not creating new products for EA every week. There are different things that get sacrificed each week to allow myself the healthy amount of time to unplug from work, spend quality time with my husband and friends, and refocus on the truly important things in life. My work is very important to me, but it is not my source of value in life. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that!
It also helps immensely to “turn off”, at least from the Elisabeth Ashlie side of things, having my office in our basement. Aside from doing laundry or grabbing something from our storage room, I don’t have any need to be down there other than to work. Not having to see my desk and my work ahead of me allows me to put it out of my mind and not feel the pull to do things on a Saturday morning.
There are certainly times when there’s no such thing as “balance”, like around the holiday season. November through mid-December is bonkers around here – I’m usually working from 7am-7 or 8pm everyday. Those weeks, my sole focus is EA and doing my best to have a great holiday season for my business. Relaxation, time with my husband, and working out are usually sacrificed for those few weeks and I feel the effects of it almost immediately. It’s a temporary state, so I can remind myself that it won’t be that way forever, but it’s hard to be in a position where you feel like you can’t stop working to enjoy something else. Those times and those seasons occur, but I put in my greatest effort to make sure that they don’t last a second longer than necessary.
What’s the thing you enjoy the most about working from home?
Just being home. I’ve always been a homebody, so to have the opportunity to spend most of my time and days inside our home is something I’m thankful for. I also really love that I can make breakfast and lunch. I feel like I would get into a bad routine of eating out all the time if I worked in an office or somewhere else, so I like that I have complete freedom when it comes to food – I eat healthier when I’m eating at home!