Working from Home: How I Get Things Accomplished

Working from home, magazine creator Working from Home: How I Get Things Accomplished Vanessa Santamaria Contributor Miami Moms Blog
One of my completed magazine projects, photo by Modern Image by Candy

I left the corporate world four years ago to start my business, Bits & Pieces Media. I create and launch content strategies for clients, which requires a lot of writing, editing, and creativity (read: a LOT of concentration!). I’m constantly in meetings, giving presentations and managing complex projects. And when I’m not seeing clients, I’m working from home. With two little girls, ages 7 and 5, who demand my attention, I’ve had to come up with ways to stay organized, be productive and establish rules for my kids to follow. Without this structure, I wouldn’t be able to achieve half as much. With the new year ahead of us — and so many commitments to fill up our calendar — it’s more important than ever to stay on track.

Here’s a look into my day and some tips and tricks that help maintain my sanity — and allow me to complete my work tasks on a daily basis.

Working From Home: A Day in My Life

  • 5 a.m. – wake up and catch up on the latest news and events
  • 5:30 a.m. – take a shower and get dressed
  • 6:15 a.m. – wake up the kids and get ready for school
  • 6:45 a.m. – kids sit down for breakfast while I prep lunch boxes
  • 7:15 a.m. – head out to school
  • 8:30 a.m. – return home and enjoy my coffee, smoothie and/or breakfast while catching up on work priorities
  • 9 a.m. – go to my home office and get to work, accomplishing the most time-sensitive and/or challenging tasks first
  • 1 p.m. – have lunch (if time permits); I need to get better at time management because sometimes I don’t have time for lunch or I eat and run
  • 1:30 p.m. – leave to pick up the girls from school
  • 3 p.m. – return home, review homework, prepare snacks for kids
  • 3:30 p.m. – get back to work and try to keep interruptions to a minimum while acting as entrepreneur, mom, referee, chef, housekeeper, and enforcer
  • 6:30 p.m. – quickly finish the remaining work tasks so my family can sit down for dinner at a “reasonable” time
  • 8:00 p.m. – get everything ready for tomorrow to save time in the morning
  • 8:30 p.m. – kids begin to get ready for bed
  • 9:30 p.m. – head back to work, if needed (although sometimes I just pass out after such a hectic day!)
Working from home, desktop Working from Home: How I Get Things Accomplished Vanessa Santamaria Contributor Miami Moms Blog
A glimpse at my desktop, photo by Modern Image by Candy

What Has Helped Me

In order for me to have a successful and productive workday, I try to incorporate a few tips and tricks that I’ve created myself or learned from other working moms. Some of these are things that I have already implemented in my life, while others are still a work-in-progress. Hopefully, some of these will help you, too.

Create a dedicated workspace: I believe the most important thing to do is to make sure you have your own home office or dedicated, private space in which to work.

Create a task list: I am all about making lists! While there are awesome apps out there to help you plan your day, I prefer my old-fashioned planner where I can write, cross out and check off the tasks as I complete them. I begin my day by setting priorities on my to-do list, and I also end my day with a new list for tomorrow.

Get organized: It’s not just about creating lists! Make sure the space around you is tidy and that all your files are easily accessible. I create a file for each of my projects and have them all within arm’s reach. I also have a place for invoices, production schedules, school papers, and other important documents. Although as I write this, I’m realizing it’s time to tidy up again — because no one is perfect, right?! Let’s get rid of clutter together!

Revamp your workspace: When I worked in a corporate office, it was important to me to have a few details that were special and personal. Now that I work from home, I’ve really enjoyed designing my space based on my needs. It’s also inspiring to be surrounded by some of my favorite décor pieces, a gift from my kids, fresh flowers, and even functional furniture. It all helps breathe new life into this space!

Get social: The one thing I do miss is being surrounded by co-workers. Earlier this year, I decided to make it a point to set up coffee dates, attend more networking events, and get involved with organizations that are dear to me, among other things. I love spending time with other professionals and mompreneurs who totally understand how hard this work/life balance thing is… like I always say, that “seemingly unattainable (insert unicorn pic here) work/life balance!” So, get out there and talk to people!

Train your kids: While I TRY to schedule important conference calls and Skype meetings during the morning hours when my kids are at school, it’s not always possible. For the most part, my kids know that if mommy is in her office on the phone or working on her computer, you are not supposed to interrupt — unless, of course, big sister took little sister’s favorite Barbie and now little sister can’t play with any of the other 10 Barbies she has because she must have that Barbie or erupt into a full-blown tantrum. I’m sure you mommies totally understand this completely rational behavior. Seriously, though, I tell my kids to respect when mommy is on the phone and they are usually pretty good about it! But I’ve had moments when things didn’t go as planned. Do you remember that guy that was live on BBC during a very serious interview when his kids came into the room, followed by his wife who rushed in to pull the kids out? You must watch it.

Create an after-school checklist: Like I said, I’m all about lists. I created a list to help my kids focus on what needs to get done. This includes emptying their lunchbox, taking homework out, putting away their backpack, taking a bath, getting dressed and — after all is done — play time! This keeps them busy while I continue to work, and then I can join them. I cherish every moment I can spend with them in the afternoons and evenings because the hours are long but the days are short.

Mom and daughters Working from Home: How I Get Things Accomplished Vanessa Santamaria Contributor Miami Moms Blog
Having fun with my girls

I hope this is helpful. I always enjoy speaking to other moms and learning about their routines. Do you have other suggestions? I’d love to hear how working from home works for you!