- I work from home full-time as a freelance writer and am on track to break $US100,000 this year.
- I do most of my work from my home office, but also go to coffee shops once a week.
- I try to get most of my work done without children around, but my daughters often sneak into work time.
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This year, I’m on track to crack $US100,000 working from home as a freelance writer. When I used to think about six-figure jobs, I envisioned sleek suits and corner offices. My reality is far from that.
Here’s what it really looks like: carving out large and small chunks of time to get work done when I can. Getting the 5 year old on the bus at 7:45 am and off at 3:45 pm each day, and the 1 year old to daycare on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Sometimes, it looks like taking a call in my car, or working in a parking lot while the baby sleeps, or trying to squeeze some exercise into my days and telling myself it’s brainstorming time. It looks like trying to get out of the house now and then.
Here’s a glimpse.
I mostly work from my home office.
Although the lines are blurred between home and work, it’s important to me to have designated work space.
I do about 80% of my work in my home office. Sometimes I’m at my desk, but often I’m in my rocking chair. I initially bought it for rocking babies, but in reality it’s nurtured more stories than infants because it’s just so comfortable.
One of the biggest challenges about working from home is being able to ignore the mess. Putting in a load of laundry, sweeping the floor, or stopping into the grocery store are all quick tasks, but combined they can take hours from my work day.
Having a clean office space where I can shut the door on the endless household tasks allows me to really focus on work.
It’s tough, but I manage to balance full-time work with parenting two young daughters.
Peeking into my week, it’s sometimes hard to tell where work stops and home life begins. I work about 30 hours a week, with most of that concentrated Monday through Thursday.
I reserve Fridays for email, light work, or any necessary catch-up, but I’m usually too mentally exhausted by then to do any in-depth work.
My oldest daughter is in school every day, but my little one (15 months) is not. She goes to daycare two days a week (and I add a third day if it’s a busy week).
Still, that means I do a significant chunk of work while she’s home. Sometimes, that means letting her make a mess while I type away.
I break up my day by taking a purposeful lunch break.
When you work at home, for yourself, there’s no structure to the day. Instead, I have to find my own. Generally, I aim to be “butt in seat” working by 9 am (on the days the kids are both gone). That gives me a solid three hours before lunch. This is my best working time, perfect for writing long stories or delving into reporting.
Then, I take a 30-minute lunch break, which doubles as a mental reset. Usually I’m working on a different assignment in the afternoon, so I like to clear my head during lunch by avoiding anything work related. Sometimes, that means making cookies, but more often it’s heating up leftovers and maybe turning on a podcast.
Early afternoon is my most challenging time of day because I need to motivate myself when I would much rather be napping (and my bed is oh-so close). That’s when I head outside to work in the sunshine, or at least with a view of nature. This is always a good stretch to work, since my baby is napping if she’s home
I work from a coffee shop once a week so I don’t get too stir crazy.
I live in a very rural area. There’s about one neighbour within walking distance from my house, and no stores. Being so remote is incredibly peaceful, but it can also be very isolating. Because of that, I leave the house to work at least once a week.
Being in a coffee shop provides a change of pace. The background noise and conversations are sometimes distracting, but they can also expose me to new ideas and even help me come up with story angles. More importantly, it keeps me from going stir crazy from being in my house all the time.
By the time my older daughter gets home from school, I’m wrapping up for the day.
In the afternoons I work until about 3:40, when I get my older daughter off the bus. Then, there’s about an hour until my husband gets home. During that time I try to wrap up for the day, completing short stories, sending emails, or arranging interviews for the following day.
I’ve worked from home for as long as my 5 year old has been alive, so she’s used to entertaining herself while I work. However, some days she needs a little extra attention.
I try to get everyone outside once we’re all home for the day.
Once everyone is home, usually by 5 pm, I make an effort to get outside and get everyone moving. It’s important to me to have this time to clear my head and move my body after sitting all day.
I get a lot of work accomplished in relatively few hours, but that means that when I’m on, it’s intense. To balance that, I need to have time to unplug, let my brain relax, and prepare to do it again the next day.
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