One thing I’ve heard from bloggers and podcasters often is that we shouldn’t assume people tell their whole stories on social media especially if they present the illusion that they have their lives completely organized and running smoothly. Jamie Ivey often says when she’s home she is 100% home and when she travels she is 100% focused on work. While that is a great suggestion, when your family, home, and office all overlap 100% of the time it is necessary to develop different work/life balance strategies.
Earlier this month I featured the pros and cons of working remotely. While nine months out of the year my days are divided into sections where my guys are at work and school and when they are home, summer is coming and that means football practices will begin and the kids will not have a regular weekly schedule. While there are times within each month that I find myself working to meet a deadline and ignoring other things that require attention, I have found that with a little preparation and a good amount of discipline work/life balance is achievable most days.
Here are my remote working work/life balance strategies:
Meal Planning and Prep
While summer is easier, most of the year dinner execution falls to me. Even if a meal is completed by someone else I’m still the one to make sure all the ingredients are available. You can read about my meal prep process once a menu is planned here.
Notice that I have a list of things to keep on hand. With growing boys appetites vary. I build in 1-2 leftover days with each weekly menu, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. It’s easier to have some meals to quickly throw together than to have to run to the grocery store.
Every week I ask if there are meal requests and browse what we have in the house that will work together to create meals. I check the calendars I’ve built in Plan to Eat and compare my plan with previous weeks and then I write out the menu for everyone to see.
Plan to Eat is my go-to recipe database and meal planner. It stores all my recipes, syncs well with Pinterest and allows me to build menus as far out as I choose. There’s also a tab to help figure out what items I need to add to my grocery list. You can use my affiliate link if you are interested in Plan to Eat. Plans start at $4.95 for a month. My favorite part is that Plan to Eat allows you to “always export all of your recipes, even after your subscription has expired.”
My last meal strategy is to include my guys in the planning and cooking of meals. In the summer each guy has a night where they are in charge of the whole meal from planning to prep and clean up. Through the school year, I’ll often have them help me put together a side dish or make pancakes on the weekends.
I’m keeping meals healthy, reasonably priced and simple by:
- Planning ahead
- Prepping ahead on the weekend
- Writing out the menu so everyone knows what to expect
- Utilizing grocery services to stay on track with my list and budget
- Including the whole family in the process.
The best way I can keep work/life balance is by prioritizing my health. This includes regular exercise, eating healthy, making sure to limit caffeine and sweets, and incorporating vitamins and essential oils into my daily routine.
My strategy is to put my workout clothes on first thing. Whether that means I’m heading out to workout first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon I wear my workout clothes until I have completed exercise for the day. Sometimes this means I head out for a quick walk followed by some planks as the day gets away from me, but by having my clothes on I’m able to throw on my gym shoes and go whenever the time allows.
Cleaning Through the Week
I take advantage of the fact that I’m home and I take short breaks through the day to keep up on chores. This does make the weekdays a little fuller, but in reality, I’m spending less than 15 minutes most days cleaning while at the same time saving myself a few hours of time on the weekend.
We have a shared Google Calendar for the family. This includes all activities going on including all practices, special events, doctor appointments and anything else that’s going on. Once a week when the boys bring home their school communications we make sure the calendar is up-to-date.
This app may be my favorite Google app. Shared lists allow for Ordell to add groceries to my running list without having to tell me. When he remembers he needs protein powder and I’m not around he can just add it to the list.
Google Keep allows for several lists to build at the same time and you can add alarm reminders as well. We have lists for library books and movies we want to see, doTerra oils we need to reorder, and tasks that need to be completed such as take the kids for haircuts. This app syncs with Google Drive, so you can access it even when your phone is in the other room.
We’ve finally found the perfect way to make sure all the papers and receipts and documents are not lost and aren’t stored in email boxes. Google Drive has become organized storage for tax documents, emails with information needed in the future, budget tracking, and photos. Using these steps I’ve been able to send emails and documents to Google Drive without having to print and store things. Since the drive folders are shared I also don’t have to remember where everything is!
The final work strategy I’ve adopted is the habit of closing my laptop and placing it across the room by a certain time each day. The time of day varies because I don’t work a steady 9-5, but each day once it’s closed I’m done for the day. If I remember there is something I need to do the next day I add it to my Google Keep list and deal with it the next day.
I’ve also set phone notifications for email and Slack to turn off at a certain point eliminating the temptation to answer the email that comes in late.
I’m a big fan of scheduling texts. When I remember at 6 am that I wanted to try to have lunch with a girlfriend this week I’ll schedule a text to go out later that morning. They will respond when they can, but I don’t need to continue to try to remember to send a text, and I don’t send something at a crazy time of the day.
Voxer is another app that helps me stay connected with both work and life. Sending a quick voice message helps me feel more connected to certain people.
This year I’ve utilized Powersheets and it has been a great option to track short and long-term goals. The pages are well structured with check-in points and specific questions to think beyond the surface of life.
I also meet bi-weekly with a partner. We discuss where we are with goals and offer insights and encouragements to each other.
Embracing working from home has included accepting that my days still need to start at between 6-6:30 am through the week to make sure I have time to exercise and spend time with God, but without the strategies I’ve highlighted today I’d be starting at 5 am. I know because I’ve learned the need for strategies the hard way.
Ultimately, we all need to find the things that work for us. I’ve found that my family thrives on structure whether they realize it or not. Additionally, once something is implemented adjusting hasn’t been hard.