Casey’s Tips for Working from Home
Ever since I entered the “real world”, I’ve worked in an office setting. My hours were always normal (besides my early days as a news reporter), and I’d wake up each morning to put on business casual clothing and commute to work.
Now that I’m working from home on the blog full-time, things are waaaaaay different. At first, I was so excited about my new work from home setup. I didn’t have to put on makeup (or shower even!), I didn’t have to commute to the train in the snow & cold, and I didn’t have to start working at 8 am on the dot.But I’m not going to lie, those first few weeks were a struggle with my new routine. I found myself working 12 hour days, in my pajamas, with my laptop constantly in front of me. Finn would walk in the door at 7 pm and I’d be right where I was when he left 10 hours earlier. Eek. I was quickly on the road to burnout.
In the past month or so, I’ve figured out a routine that works well for me and I now love working from home. I’ve learned A LOT about myself and my work habits and have plenty of tips to share with you guys.
But before we get to those, let’s chat about what I’m doing with the blog now that I’m full-time.
Working Full-Time on the Blog
Bridget and I both own the DIY Playbook 50/50 and that is never going to change. But just like in a marriage, the workload is never split down the middle. When Finn & I went on a few big vacations last year, Bridget picked up all my slack on the blog. When Bridget was busy with her pregnancy and the new house, I did a bit more work on the blog. That’s just how it works when you own a business together, and we love knowing that someone always has your back!
When I decided to go full-time with the blog, Bridget and I sat down and really outlined what that would look like for the business. It was coming at a perfect time because we were both a little nervous about how things would work once baby Mac came and Bridget was adjusting to life as a mother. Knowing that I would have way more hours to devote to blogging came as a relief to Bridget.
We decided that we would keep our posting schedule exactly the same. We both blog about whatever is going on in our homes (and our lives), and that isn’t going to change now that I’m full-time. You’ll still see posts by both of us here on the blog. But it’s all of the behind-the-scenes stuff that I am now much more involved in.
I handle most of our brand relationships, contracts, and conference calls. I stay in touch with our contacts and am working on securing new relationships with companies we want to work with. I’m doing all of the scheduling and planning for our social accounts. I’m keeping the backend of the blog up & running, and updating old posts on our site. Honestly, I’m doing the things that Bridget and I always talked about needing to do, but never got around to because we just didn’t have the time.
It is still an adjustment, and things will continue to evolve over B’s maternity leave and then summer break, but we’re loving the new setup for our business. Things are less stressful for everyone and we are really excited to devote more time to bigger projects this year and beyond!
My Tips for Working from Home
Now that you know what I’m working on all the time, we can chat about how I’m getting it all done. Here are my tips for working from home.
Use a White Board
The first thing I did when I quit my corporate job was go onto Amazon and buy a huge whiteboard. No joke. It came in a couple days, and I was so excited to get started filling it out. You guys know both Bridget & I love a good to-do list, and I’ve always been a paper planner person in the past. However, I knew that I needed a large space so I could visualize my week and set goals for myself.
I ended up buying this whiteboard and then used washi tape to segment it off into 6 sections (weekdays and 1 section for the weekend). I have 3 colored markers and I use those to fill out my plans for the week ahead. I don’t have it hung in a set spot, instead, I bring it out to the kitchen every day and place it on the kitchen island. Then when people come over, I can tuck it away in our closet. Not the best setup, but the best we can do living in a small space without a room for an office.
Plan your Week
Every Sunday, I set aside 30 minutes to sit down with my whiteboard and fill it out completely. I erase everything on it and start fresh. Then I get to work adding things in.
Have you guys ever heard of the analogy of filling a glass jar with rocks, pebbles, and sand? You have all of those items and you need to fill up the jar and make everything fit. So how do you get it all in?
First, you put the rocks in. The “rocks” are your commitments and obligations for the week. These are things that are on your calendar at a set time. For me, that’s doctors visits, conference calls, family obligations, etc. I go through my week and add all of those on there first.
Second, you put in the pebbles. The “pebbles” are the big goals you have for yourself that move the needle on your business. This is by far the hardest for me because as a task-oriented person, it’s difficult for me to devote time to my schedule for those big-picture ideas. For me, these are the items that are going to bring in more money for the blog or grow our business. Perhaps it’s time spent working on a new big project or time spent reaching out to brands to work together.
Finally, you add the sand into your jar. The “sand” represents all of the little administrative tasks you have to get done. Bridget & I used to spend most of our time on the blog doing these “sand” tasks. Taking photos, writing posts, setting up social media, responding to emails, etc. These are tasks that you have to get done each week to keep things afloat.
I add workouts, grocery store visits, errands, and cleaning tasks onto my whiteboard too. By the time I’m finished, my whiteboard is always full and I’m geared up and ready for the week when I wake up on Monday morning.
Get Out of the House
Remember those first few weeks where I was adjusting to life working from home? Well, this was the dead of winter and I found myself barely leaving the house every day. It wasn’t good for my spirit or my motivation. Finn would come home after a long day of work and I’d bombard him with questions about his day because he was the only person I’d interact with all day long. Poor guy.
Now, I try to get out of the house at least 1x per day and I spend 1 day per week working in a coffee shop. It’s nice to be forced to put on real clothes, swipe on a little makeup, and actually go out into the “real world” for an afternoon. I’ve also found that one of the best things about working from home is the fact that you can get errands done 10x quicker than on the weekends! Heading to the grocery store on a Tuesday morning when it’s empty is bliss compared to a Sunday afternoon when it’s packed.
I try my best to scatter random errands throughout my week to give myself a break from work and get out of the house. I also set up lunches and happy hours with my friends and family. That way I have something social to look forward to each week.
I’ve also found that doing tasks in batches has been the most efficient way for me to get things done. I used to do a project, take the pics, edit the pics, and write the post all in one day. Now, I take one day a week where I take all of the photos I need to for the blog. My house gets crazy messy and I get photos done for multiple posts. I also have 1 day a week where I do all of my writing. This is usually my coffee shop day, where I sit down with a latte and churn out 3-4 blog posts.
I even have a “cleaning day” where I clean my house and also “clean up” the blog. I fix old posts, make sure all of our pages are working, and fix any broken images or links on the blog. Doing batch tasks has made things much more efficient.
Avoid Household Distractions
Even though I do clean during the week now (more on my process here), I try my best to avoid getting too distracted with household chores. It’s easy to want to run around my house getting things done and it’s actually really hard for me to work in a messy environment, so I like when everything is neat and tidy.
In the morning, I take 20 minutes to straighten up the house. I make the bed, clean up the kitchen, and get everything looking good before I sit down to work. I also take breaks throughout the day to run an errand or do a chore around the house, but the other times I’m 100% devoted to work.
My final piece of advice is to set boundaries. When I was working full-time and blogging on nights and weekends, I had zero boundaries. I would sit on the couch at night with my laptop working away and I was constantly on my phone even when out with friends. Now, I set my hours based on Finn’s schedule. When he leaves for the day, I get to work. When he comes home, I try my best to put my computer and phone in our bedroom and be present with him. I’m not perfect (old habits die hard), but things are so much better.
I still have A LOT to learn when it comes to working from home, and I think it will take some time to get fully adjusted to my new routine. But I am happy and excited for what’s in store for me and my new career.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.