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Lesson #2: Work Smarter Not Harder

This week we’re sharing lesson #2 in our series about running your business around your home life instead of letting your business run your home life. Figuring out how to work smarter not harder (thanks for the title James!) has been a very important lesson for us and something that we are still working on implementing. In order to work smarter not harder you first have to recognize that even though the marketing world would tell you something different there is no right or wrong way to do this. It honestly starts with knowing your own lifestyle and business perimeters and setting up tasks to help you stay within those boundaries. This will look different for every person, every family, every business. If you are single you may not mind working late into the night and if you are a mom you may find that you get your best work done early in the morning before the kids are up. Either way, you figure out how to work smarter by first recognizing what daily tasks are foundational elements to establishing a satisfying home life for you and your family.

Start by asking yourself what are the day to day tasks that have to be done in your home life? As fun as it is to dream up the perfect home life at the end of the day what stresses us out is the stuff that everyone has to deal with; chores and all that responsible adult stuff! More often times then not it’s the daily tasks of running a household that can easily distract you when you work from home so it’s important to figure out what those daily tasks are and how they align themselves up with your preferred lifestyle.

For me (Meg), my list looks like this:

Based on the list above there are four categories that are important to me and the home life I desire to have:

  • Chores
  • Marriage/Immediate Family
  • Personal
  • Social/Friends/Extended Family

By going back through the individual pieces that make up each category I was able to establish simple, everyday tasks that have helped me meet and maintain a healthy and realistic balance to my preferred lifestyle:

Chores:

  • Pick one day a week (Wednesday) where the laundry is sorted, washed, folded and put away.
  • Pick one day a week (Friday or whatever day I might have to go into to town for a client meeting) as my grocery shopping/errand day. (I’ve found that by going to the organic/local grocery store I only have to go grocery shopping every other week because the produce lasts twice as long! Totally worth the extra expense and driving if you ask me)!
  • Take a 15 minute break during the day to clean the bathroom (1x a week) and/or sweep the floor (everyday).

Marriage/Immediate Family:

  • Go to bed at the same time as Cale.
  • Purchased life insurance (feeling like a legit adult now), opened a separate savings account for our “dream home”,  established a monthly budget to put “x” amount in, and a time frame to break ground.
  • Have dinner ready or at least started NO LATER than 6pm (when Cale typically gets home).
  • Still working on the baby pre-prep… I plan on sitting down and “scheduling” in several workdays on a Saturday throughout the next few months. Need to clean out the milk barn, get rid of stuff, put a few items on Craig’s List, and come up with a game plan for the nursery.

Personal:

  • In bed by 9am (we are like old people) but this allows an hour for reading, dreaming, looking through magazines, time to talk about our day and is a great time to catchup on other marital activities (totally works if you don’t seem to have “time” for this)! :)
  • Get up with Cale… this allows us to spend more time together and gives me time in the morning to get dressed, alongside Cale, and an extra hour or two before “work” to catchup on housework and/or spend time with Jesus (which helps me stay calm and stress free).
  • Found a new church that we are really excited to attend.
  • Enrolled in a 5:30 am workout class 3 days a week. Sounds crazy but this has helped us get on a better schedule and is the kind of accountability I really enjoy (I know I’m weird! It’s true… I’m going pregnant belly and all)! On the days we don’t have class we take walks in the field or work in the garden together during the work week.
  • Planning Meals… this another weird one but something I really enjoy. I love looking up healthy recipes or figuring out ways to make the meals we like healthier. I’ve found it’s made my grocery shopping faster and more efficient (I tend to use the same grocery list from week to week with the addition of any items needed for a new recipe or seasonal produce).
  • Snail Mail… I enjoy writing letters and letting the people in my life know that I am thinking about them. To help spur this on I buy pretty stationery and blank cards so they’re always in reach along with keeping a stash of stamps handy (there is nothing more annoying than wanting to send a letter out and not having a stamp).

Social/Friends/Extended Family:

  • Writing letters is one way I have been able to keep in better touch with the people I love while doing it in a way I really enjoy (Including my 13 year old brother and my 90 year old Grandma).
  • Taking the time to text loved ones in the moment. You always think you’ll do this later but a simple text saying “hello”, or “thinking of you” goes a long ways. Just pause and send the email or text. It can be short.
  • I schedule a lunch date at least once a week to meetup with other professional women that I want to get to know better on a more personal level and/or an old friend who I just want to catchup with.

As you can see some of these tasks have come along quite well while others are not as consistent. We did not flip a switch and start implementing these structures overnight. A lot of these tasks are things we have talked about doing for years. The concept of working smarter doesn’t always take organization or structures you have never thought of before. Sometimes the solutions are already there you just have to slow down long enough to listen to the needs and the desires of your family.

To establish your business around your home life you have to recognize the home life you desire, establish those boundaries from the start, and build your business structure and schedule around that. We realize that this type of “business model” is not a desire for everyone or every client; and, we’re ok with that. We run our own company so that we can work from home. We desire to be our own boss so that we can take an extra hour in the morning… just to make pancakes for the kids. The heart and soul behind our company is family. It’s love and a desire to truly spend as much of this life together… and that includes our work life.

We know that there will still be late night deadlines and days (and even weeks!) where the couch is completely covered in laundry. There is no way around seasons of growth and growing pains; but, our hope is to establish a foundation that allows us to work smarter not harder (leaving more time for vacations :) ).

Is anyone else in this season of re-organizing your home life? What tips have you found that have helped or simple tasks you realized that you really needed to start implementing; like… going to bed at the same time as your husband?

From the Farm

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About meg:

I like curly lines, and the simple joys of life. Good coffee and the perfect souffle.

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One Response to “Lesson #2: Work Smarter Not Harder”
  1. [...] Nearly two and half years ago, on an October Monday, we met up from our corporate design jobs for a quic... bringingdesignhome.com/2012/04/05/lesson-3-start-with-what-you-have

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