I frequently get asked about how my days are and how my work is going. A pretty typical question. But… when the questions come from someone outside of the industry I’m in, I can’t help but laugh a little. Not at the person asking, but more at the situation in general. Bless them for showing interest, but I watch as they stumble over how to word the question, completely clueless about what I actually DO all day long. Am I working? Am I sitting at home knitting? (Yeah, don’t I wish I could knit.)
My days and weeks used to be confusing enough when I worked as a nurse. Shift work, office work, night shift, day shift.
Now that I work from home, I think the mystery about my day has only intensified. Do I actually work from home? How hard can it be to edit pictures all day? It can’t take that long, right? If I’m home all day, can I just choose not to work? What does my schedule really look like? Do I sleep in every morning? Do I stay up late every night? Do I do fun things with my family every day? Do I use a babysitter, why or why not?
I’m finally removing the veil on the mystery that is my work from home schedule. Yep, no fluff here. I’m sharing it ALL with you. The great, the good, the bad, the ugly of working from home.
MY DAY IN GENERAL
Based on the time of year (photography is very seasonal) my day can differ greatly. Aside from January – March when I cut back in hours a bit, I typically work about 20-25 hours per week. In October-December that increases some during prime photography season, and I’ll work up to about 35 hours per week. What I’m actually working on during each season differs as well. But for the sake of this post, my general day includes either editing, marketing, business management, or client experience related tasks.
4:30 – 6 AM
Every morning, I wake up anywhere between 4:30-6:00 in the morning. This only varies depending on how late I stayed up the night before. While I am a stickler for being productive and actually working, despite the fact that I’m at home, I do allow myself this one variable. My body requires 8 hours of sleep in order to maintain my health (and my sanity.) There are definitely some days when it’s not quite 8 hours, but if it starts to become closer to 6 hours, I’ll sleep in past 4:30 AM.
Once I’m up, it’s straight to the front door with our two black labs who stretch, moan, and put on quite a show before running out to use the bathroom. After that, it’s on to my coffee maker and then a short jaunt to the office across the hall. My office has become a favorite place in my home. I have a creative job, but I also have what can sometimes be a boring and lonely job. So having a place to come work, that sparks joy in my life is an absolute must for me.
Once at my desk, I usually light my candle, tell Alexa to play one of my favorite morning playlists (The Piano Guys, George Winston, Morning Acoustic, Piano in the Background). With my music on, I take 5-10 minutes to write daily pages in my journal and then read a morning devotional. When I wake up late, during prime editing season, this part of my morning doesn’t always happen. However, I’m really working on changing that and making this short routine a priority EVERY day, because I’ve noticed the impact it has on clearing my head and renewing my heart.
Work Time: About 1 hour
6 – 7 AM
Depending on the time and day, I may spend 30-45 minutes working, while I finish up a second cup of coffee, before starting my morning workout. My goal during peak editing season is to exercise 4 days a week. Any other time of year, I exercise 5-6 days a week. As of right now, I’m 100% in love with Piyo from Beachbody. I stream the workouts in my office on my laptop or move into our larger living room if I’m doing something a little more intense, such as the 21-Day Fix workouts. Once I wrap up the program Piyo, I’m really looking forward to diving into their new program, 100 Mornings.
7 – 9 AM
This two hour block of time is dedicated to getting myself ready, getting McKenna ready, eating breakfast, school drop-off, and finally a quick tidy of my home and office before I dive back into my work day. I shower every morning and get ready for the day. I tried the “lounging in yoga pants” thing while working from home and it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve found that I am my most productive when I get dressed for the job. Kenna’s clothes are laid out every night, so she can get herself dressed. From there, we eat breakfast together, I do her hair, double check that homework is good, pack her lunch, and it’s off to school. Some mornings, Zach is home to help with this getting ready and school drop-off routine. Some mornings, he isn’t. So the time I have available here can really vary.
9 AM – 12 PM
Werk, werk, werk.
As soon as the kitchen and office is tidy, it’s time to start doing focused work. When I start this block of time, I always bring a big tumbler of water into the office with me. For productivity, I REALLY love using the Pomodoro technique. This means working for 25 minutes, and taking a 3-5 minute break in between each work segment. Sometimes, if I’m feeling extremely focused I’ll work for 50 minutes.
This does a few things for me, it allows me to know that at the end of the 25 minutes I can get up and move my legs, grab a drink or snack, use the bathroom (because lots of water) and that at the end of each segment I can break my focus and clear my head. After four 25 minute segments, I take an extended break of about 15-30 minutes. For me, this is usually checking e-mail, engaging on Instagram or grabbing my lunch.
Work Time: About 3 hours
This isn’t exactly an exciting part of my day, but I really wanted to include it because lunch is something that is commonly overlooked while working from home. When working outside of the home, I always had access to a cafeteria or snacks I could buy if I wasn’t fully stocked on groceries and didn’t have leftovers available. That looks a lot different now. Making sure I have a healthy lunch option is so important to both my productivity and my health. I almost always eat salad, sandwich or leftovers for lunch. During a “busy” time of year, I will occasionally stock the freezer with healthier, frozen meal options.
That being said, I do often eat at my desk while I’m working or responding to e-mails. Why? Because I sit a LOT during the day, especially when my work days are longer. So while I eat at my desk, I’ll still take 30 minutes for my “lunch” to get out of my office, walk around, and really stretch my legs. I’ve found this works best for me to make sure I’m eating a decent meal, not feeling rushed, and still having time to get up and move around.
12:30 – 2:50 PM
The last stretch of my work day. After taking a dedicated break from my computer, I return feeling ready to conquer the final hours of my work time. During prime editing season, I typically use up my 5 hours of work time during the day with JUST editing. Other times throughout the year, this time is dedicated to any other tasks that I had mentioned above. Because editing is service based, and I have deadlines, I like to prioritize that first. So, I’ll often edit early in the morning, and then hopefully finish up during my morning block of work. I have found this works really well for me, as I’m usually “in my creative zone” to write or produce content during the afternoon.
Of course, if editing hasn’t been finished for the day, I’ll wrap that up during this time.
Work Time: About 2.5 hours
3 – 5:30 PM
If all has gone well and it was a productive day, this time is dedicated to school pickup and spending time with Kenna. Depending on the weather and time of year, I usually pick her up from school and as soon as she gets home we go outside with our dogs, or do something with my husband. This is also a chance to tidy up the rest of the house, accomplish any cleaning I need to do, and start dinner.
If for some reason, something threw my daily or weekly schedule off, and I have to finish any work, I’ll do that now. Using this block of time for work, almost always puts me at a full 8 hour day, which is fine with me. However, because my daughter just spent her full-day at school, I try to make it a habit to not work past this point in the day.
Work Time: About 2 hours as needed
6 – 8 PM
This block of time is dedicated to dinner, evening routine, family and hopefully just relaxing. When I first started working from home, Kenna was only three years old. My days didn’t look quite as streamlined as they do now, and I’ll admit it could be quite a challenge. I often had to extend whatever I didn’t accomplish into the evening. Even with that, I still have always tried to set aside time in the evenings to spend time with my family, take care of our home, and make dinner.
I have attempted to work late at night, and on occasion, if my day just didn’t go as planned I still do whenever I need to. But I KNOW that this is something I can only do on limited occasions. Working late does not work for me, or my family and our typical schedule. Despite the fact that I’m at home, and have flexibility, I still try to be as consistent as possible in order to create some calm in our lives.
OBSTACLES AND GRACE
Outlined above is a pretty typical day in my work-life schedule. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s always perfect.
Working from home does not come without its challenges. There are distractions, obligations, and events that throw me off track. Because of how I have my work scheduled out, if I get behind on even just one day, that automatically puts me behind on the next day. It’s those days that cause me to extend my work into the evening, or work as soon as I get up each morning.
Over the past three years, I’ve learned to really give myself grace. I’m a work at home mom for a reason. I want to be able to go to Kenna’s Halloween party at school. Even if that means, I have to cut three hours out of my work day and finish it up that night. I’m also available to run last minute errands as needed. My husband doesn’t have as much flexibility in his schedule so that often falls to me. Last minute trip to the bank or grocery store? I’m on it. Internet isn’t working? Looks like I’ll be making a trip to the library instead of working at home. And that’s OK. Schedules are wonderful, but so is having flexibility in life.
Whether you’re just curious about what my daily schedule looks like, you also work from home, or you’d love to make this a goal in life, I hope this helps give you a clearer picture of how I manage my days, my business and my life.