Like most freelancers, I work from home a lot of the time. While I recently started hanging out a co-working space (more on that later), I still work from home a lot.
Also like many freelancers, I don’t live alone and I take care of people. I may not have kids, but I help with taking care of my aging grandmother who is ill. Sometimes, because I have the ability to work from home while others in my family don’t, I have to stay home and watch her while I try to get some work done.
This is part of the reason why many people go into freelancing to begin with so that they have the flexibility to take care of business in their personal lives. Unfortunately, this does sometimes lead to a bit of a stressful balancing act. Here are some of the ways to handle these stressors so you can get some work done.
Add flexibility to your schedule.
I know this sounds like crazy talk, but hear me out. I used to drive myself insane trying to fit my freelance life into a 9 to 5 work schedule. While I still tend to stick to this, it’s more of a loose guideline than actual regimented structure.
Why? Because life doesn’t work that way. Especially when you work from home and you’re taking care of someone else. Sometimes my grandma is having a bad day and needs help. That doesn’t exactly fit into my neatly organized schedule.
While some structure is excellent, we need to remember to allow room for flexibility as well and work that into our schedules. This ends up causing less stress if for whatever reason you can’t stick to your desired schedule.
Leave the house.
Another way to handle distractions when you work from home? Leave the house. If there are days when my mom can stay home to watch my grandmother, I head over to a coworking space.
I may not be able to do this all the time, but it feels great to have a place to go to that’s not my house. Sometimes putting on jeans and some makeup does wonders for my productivity and if you’re a caregiver, you know that any time you get to yourself is precious and actually helps you keep your energy up.
Have open communication.
If you’re in a situation similar to mine, where you are a caregiver to another person (be it a child or an elder), it’s very important that you have open communication with the people you live with. For example, my family and I have learned to communicate very openly about or schedules so that we can make arrangements and make sure my grandmother is not left alone.
If my mom needs to run errands, I stay home with grandma. If I have a huge project and need to go to the office, my mom stays home. Sometimes my dad or my brother may need to take a day off or they watch grandma on the weekends so I can get some work done.
The point is you need to work this out with your family. Through open communication everyone can lend a helping hand so that you can better balance your work with being a caregiver to a family member.