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I've been working for myself since right before I was pregnant with Emery and over the last (almost) four years, I've been able to put processes in place to stay motivated, efficient and successful with my time working from home. When I added babies into the mix, there was absolutely a learning curve and figuring out the balance but 13 months postpartum with my second little one, I feel like I've got this down!

A little back story, I was working at our church home doing Social Media Marketing and Blog Editing when Andrew and I decided it was time for me to take a step back and go ahead with being full force business owner. That's when AK | Design Studio came to fruition full time whereas before, it was part time, nights + weekends when I wasn't working at the church.

I was in a routine of working 9am-4pm or starting January 2014 and once Emery was born October 2014, I reworked my schedule here and there to have flexibility to continue taking clients. I expanded from just blog designing to full business branding, social media marketing and offering consulting to build business presence. It was the dream job!

Here I am, almost four years later, and I'm working full time doing the same! It's been an adjustment with two little ones, I won't even deny that but I wanted to share my routine so if you're in the same boat, it may help you sail versus sink trying to balance it all.

Create a work space that sets up up for success.

I am a huge believer in your environment will either help you or hinder you. Each night before bed, I'll make sure my desk is cleared off, clutter free and prepped for the next day's agenda. I also have a large work space so when I'm in the thick of emails, design boards, Skype calls...etc, I have a large surface area housing notebooks, my planner, coffee, my Bible and phone.

Urban Wood, a local AZ word working company recently built me a custom desk to accomplish that for me! I was the person who had a cheap IKEA desk that I forever said I'd upgrade and guess what? I never did. But, moving into our new home in August gave me the push because my work space is shared with our formal dining room. We hardly use that space for actually dining, outside of entertaining, but, I wanted a stunning desk that was not only functional for work, but beautiful as a piece of furniture in our home.

Tory and Drew, owners of Urban Wood, were incredible taking my vision and making it a reality. I chose a thick x base in white and then complimented with a gray stained top. I am literally obsessed and it makes me excited to jump into work every day!

Block schedule your time.

My friend Jaime gave me so many pointers with this process but it's blocking out your time so you know everyday, you'll be doing emails from 9-10am, then client details 10am-12pm... etc. That helps you stay on task with things you're doing and not jumping from one project to the next, never finishing the original item you were working on.

I also turn my phone on silent during my blocked out time so I won't aimlessly scroll instagram or get off task doing something pointless on my phone. That ruins productivity and is distracting so either turn your phone on silent or completely eliminate it and put it in a different room. I promise, it's worth it!

Invest in a sitter/nanny.

I know this sounds scary and not budget friendly but it's saved my sanity. I have help 1-3 days a week, all depending on my work load and it's made a huge difference in my success staying on top of work and hitting deadlines.

Our nanny is my cousin so she already knew the kids and they are buddies but it's peace of mind knowing someone is coming to my home and loving on my babies. Some days she stays only 3-4 hours and others it's 8-9 hour days. She's super flexible for us and we are beyond appreciative. I'm currently writing this post while she's with my girls!

There are apps out there you can find help who also assists with house keeping, meal prepping, grocery shopping...etc. You can either agree on a flat rate for the day or an hourly rate. Personally, we're hourly and we use Venmo to pay her weekly. Putting those processes in place has really helped me know when I'll have a chunk of time to work and when I'll be present with my kids.

Set office hours and stick to them!

Working from home or for yourself is hard in general because you're the boss. You are the one setting your hours and time in office but you also are torn, feeling like you need to be present and available to clients and emails.

Nope.

That's not the case. You are human who has a life outside of work and a life you need to spend with your friends and family, enjoying! Clients will understand this so be strict about settings your "in office" hours and follow through with them. I am available Monday - Friday 9am through about 4pm but that means I don't respond to emails or clients inquiries any time outside of those set hours.

If you respond once, you'll continue responding and then clients come to expect being able to get in touch with you. You need balance in your life and that means you need to take care of yourself. Don't feel guilty with that. It also means you'll be able to shower and get other "mom" things done outside of those hours! AND BE PRESENT WITH YOUR FAMILY! Hallelujah!

Have flexibility.

I think this may be the most important piece to the puzzle, simply because life happens. Kids get sick, there are extra curricular activities that call for your attention, the internet goes down, a computer crashes... you name it. They've all probably happened to me! ;)

If that means you need to ask daddy to help with the kiddos for a 3 hour block over the weekend so you can push through a couple things for work, that's okay. If you need to be accommodating to a client who's schedule only permits weekend flexibility - okay. I realize I just yelled at your above about honoring work hours but there are exceptions. Some of my clients pay for a rush service so I'll work 2-3 hours at night or over the weekend when I know daddy will have the kids.

Google Drive is Your New Bestie

And the monthly fee of $1.99 is worth every penny for the additional storage. I had a computer crash in July. Like it blew up and started on fire and I was devastated when I lost almost everything. BUT, I started using Google Drive as my backup system in May or so meaning I didn't in fact losing all my content! I have the Drive installed on my computer so instead of saving docs and files and images to my computer, I sync it to my Google Drive.

I believe you are given 30GB with your Google account but I pay for extra storage. Everything from 5 years ago, I have stored on an external hard drive. Family pictures, vacation pictures, previous clients...etc. 

I also use Carbonite. It's an auto back-up system for your computer so it's running continually and saving everything you're working on in real time. You can access your account from any computer, download what you need and it's all there. Again, worth the money! I think I have the personal plan that's $69/year.

Be Present

Kiddos know when they're being ignored or something is taking precedent over them. Use your time working, strictly on work and spend your time away from work being present with your family. That means turn your phone on silent or put it in your bedroom until they babies are in bed, don't respond to emails or creating tasks you'll need to do at a later time. It goes back to honoring the boundaries you've put in place having strict office hours.

Your family deserves YOU! Spend the time with them and focus on making memories instead of aimlessly scrolling through Instagram or checking Facebook notifications or work emails. Mkay? ;)

Honor the Sabbath

I'm just going to leave this message from our church, right here. I highly recommend watching it if you're a business owner or struggle with being "busy" all seven days of your week. 









Biggest thank you to Urban Wood for sponsoring this post
and creating such a beautiful, timeless piece for me to utilize every day!

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