The Balance of Editing and Writing with Home Life

The Balance of Editing and Writing with Home Life

How do you do it? I am often asked how I manage to balance working at home and being a mom, wife, and partner, and day-to-day parts of home life.

First, I will say, I don’t honestly know if you can find a perfect balance. Working at home is a fantastic experience, and I genuinely love it. The more office time I get, the happier I am. It has some complicated drawbacks that can be extremely difficult to overcome, and I have found a few things that you can do to help make it easier.

First, before we get into the solutions, let me talk about working at home. I have spoken with many people who do different types of work at home, whether writing, editing, blogging, crafting, business administration, etc. What we all seem to agree on is that working at home takes an extreme amount of discipline. When I started working at home, I had to figure out how to focus in ways I had never experience before.

I had been writing and editing for years. However, most of my projects were either shoehorned into my day or for a job at an actual worksite. When you work at home, you need to focus on your work completely. It required you to learn to ignore the huge “to do” list of household chores, the ease of sleeping in or going out at any time. Self-discipline is paramount. You have unlimited access to the internet without someone looking over your shoulder and 1000 other distractions. It is easy to fall into the trap of having so flexible a schedule that you end up not getting enough done or eating into family time. When I first started, I didn’t manage my email and internet time very well, so I often ran right up against deadlines.

Freedom is a beautiful thing, but boy, can it also be highly distracting. And when you set your own deadlines, you can get far too comfortable moving them around to accommodate this or that.

So, how do you find a balance with working at home? Honestly, you treat it just like a job at an office.

My top tips for creating the most productive environment for freelancing from your home office have served me well over the years.

Have a Home Office

This seems logical to many, but I know several people work out of their bedrooms, at a desk in a corner, or on the dining room table. Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to have a separate office space, and if that’s the case, then make your office/work area YOUR SPACE. Don’t let it clutter up with things belonging to other people in your household. Make sure your office has everything you need for your chosen work, including electronics, books, and resources, a few things that make it feel like your space.

Decorate it soothingly and creatively (favorite paint color, a desk that you like. Make it the perfect, most inspiring space that you can.

Don’t Do Anything Other than Work.

Don’t use your work time (Office Hours) to do other things like work on that household “to do” list. Stick to the idea that you are AT WORK, and if you were working at a job location, you certainly would not be fixing the toilet or cleaning the kitchen floors.

One of the benefits of working at home is that you can intermix your work time with household time. However, one of the biggest mistakes people make when working at home is not setting aside specific office hours. (Also, make sure your spouse, family, and friends understand that when you are working, you are busy. They can’t just drop by or call because you ‘don’t have a real job. Train them well, and you’ll have a happier relationship with them in the long run.)

Keep a Schedule

Set “Office Hours” where no matter what, you are sitting in your office working. Individuals vary, and as such, one person might require a different type of schedule than the next. For example, when my son was in day care three days a week: one full day (Monday) and two half days (Wednesday and Friday.) My office hours are 9-4 every Monday and 9-1 Wednesdays and Fridays. I make a point to sit at my desk during those times and work on something.

If I didn’t have editing to do, I worked on my upcoming poetry book or one of my fiction projects. I tried to keep any phone calls to Mondays, or do that on the off days if the kiddo let me.

He’s in school now, so I work full time and it’s wonderful. As a rule, I don’t have to plan my entire day out, but sometimes that works. You may find that you need to allow yourself a certain amount of time to read through emails, perform website or blog updates, handle phone calls, or do essential office maintenance. Only time and experience will tell you how much you need to schedule your own day.

Track your Time

It is vital to get into the habit of tracking your time when you are working. Often when you get a freelance job, your client will want to know how much time you spent working on their project. If you track all your time working at your desk/in your office from the beginning, creating the habit makes things so much easier when you need to report that information to a client. It is also an excellent way to see how much time you are spending on different things.

I track my overall office time, as well as individual project time. It has helped me become more efficient and a great deal better at time management and awareness of how long a project might take.

Dress to work

This is one of those things that seems to fly in the face of freedom. It goes against the popular idea of working at home in your PJs. I always get comments about how nice it must be to not need to dress up for anyone. While this is true that I don’t have to be as careful of what I am wearing, I do find that dressing for work not only helps my mindset when I work but also means that I don’t fly into a panic when I suddenly need to speak to a client via Zoom. I feel more awake if I go through the motions (and I generally get dressed anyway to take my son to school, so I might as well dress for the day of work). If you can work in your PJs and feel productive and official, more power to you. I find I need a bit more encouragement for my day. My typical attire is often yoga pants, a nice comfortable shirt and sweater, and slippers. It’s a good compromise of comfort and professionalism.

Find Your Routine 

Finally, one of the most important things that I do every day follows a routine. This is a nice mix of many of the other parts covered in this post, but it entails a bit more. When I worked in a big office building, I did certain rituals every day to make my work time better. I do the same at home. I get home after dropping off my son, grab my breakfast (English muffin or bagel), make my tea (TEA IS LIFE!), eat while the tea is steeping and check emails via my phone, and then once the tea is ready, I head upstairs to start my workday. I usually spend about half an hour sorting through things before I dig in and get to work on whatever the ‘project of the day is. I take at least 2 more tea breaks (As I said, tea is life!) as well as a lunch break. I try to move around a bit every hour or so (this is important if you sit at a desk most of the day).

These habits or routines are part of what makes my workday productive. Because I have them, my brain clues that this is what we’re doing, and I get more work done if I keep up my little rituals. Every part of the puzzle helps you become more productive and helps balance the freedom of working at home with the discipline required to do so well.

Until next time,

Have a great day!

Galen

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