Monday, January 9, 2012

Lessons Learned from Working Remotely

I came across this article from Fast Company and it got me thinking.  I have had the opportunity to work from home over the past 5 years which has been great for me because it has allowed me to spend more time with my children.  I used to always think I would love to work from home and wished I could.  Now that I have experienced both I can see the pros and cons to each alternative - home or workplace.  There are challenges to working from home and it helps to learn from the experience of others.  I have learned a few lessons I thought I would share below.  I would love to hear your lessons learned as well.

1.  Office space.  When working from home it is essential to have a separate home office - away from the common areas.  Our last house was small and I did not have any space to use for quiet uninterrupted work time.  So I spent a lot of time at the library or rushing to get things done while the kids were sleeping.  Our current home is larger and we have been able to convert a large storage closet off the laundry/mud room to a home office.  We have to complete the set up - still waiting for my custom built desk and the organizer fairy to show up but for the most part, I can work in there.  I can shut the door and work without all the normal distractions and noise going on in the rest of the house.  At times though, I set my laptop up on the bar in the kitchen so I can see and hear and talk to my family - I hate missing out on whatever they are doing.

2.  Organize!  Ha - still working on that one.  I do have some great file cabinets though so I just need to create folders and put things were they go.  The thought of going paperless is great but not always practical.  I have too much history to scan so I will have to either continue with my paper system or just pick a date to start scanning and go from there.  Either way an organized file system is essential.  When I had an office in the workplace, every paper had its place and I am thinking working from home shouldn't be any different.

3.  Backup everything.  Invest in an external hard drive or some other secure method for backing up all of your computer files.  Not long ago my laptop blew up and of course I didn't have a current backup to use.  I was without my files for 2 weeks waiting for them to be recovered and returned to me.  Not fun.  Backing up files is helpful as long as you run the backup as often as you can.  Daily is probably best.  Some remote workers are connected to a server so their work files are typically backed up there.  This advice is helpful for those of us not connected.

4.  Make a schedule.  Schedule your time to work and be sure to let your family know your schedule.  (Doesn't always help, especially with little ones, but I still make the effort.)  Just because you are at home, doesn't mean you are open to unlimited interruptions.  If I don't make it clear when I am working, then I hear "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy" and "honey, honey, honey" continually making it near to impossible to be productive.

5.  Lastly, don't slack.  This one is a continual struggle with me because there are so many other things to grab my attention when I am at home.  Catch up on the laundry, pay the bills, make dinner, hang out on Facebook or Pinterest, read a book on my fabulous Kindle Fire, and on and on.  Force yourself to stay on task and reward yourself with the fun activities later.  And so what if the laundry piles up for one more day - you will get to it eventually.

I am still learning as I go and I will be honest, there are times I miss being in an office with my coworkers just a step away.  It can get lonely but in spite of that I love it.  I don't have to fight through the traffic of Charlotte anymore, I don't always have to dress up, I can get some chores done during breaks and lunch, and a jump start on dinner, I can hear my kids play on the other side of the wall while they are with the sitter, and lastly I have access to my own kitchen!

If you have your own opinions or lessons learned concerning working remotely, please share!  I would love to hear them.

Monday, October 10, 2011

5 Ways Your Church Can Serve Single Moms

Came across this on and thought it was appropriate since I just posted about single parents this morning.

5 Ways Your Church Can Serve Single Moms: Inform church members of how desperately single parents need to know that they are welcome.

Want Free Movie Passes?

Love free things??  I know I do.  My friend Kristen is offering a cool give-a-way over on her blog.  Two free passes to see "Tower Heist" with Ben Stiller before the movie is released! Sounds good to me!!  Click here to enter now.

Out with the Trash.....

Here in my family we are experiencing something new - my husband is travelling for work.  I don't mean just an overnight trip or even a week long trip - I am talking about 3 weeks in Sweden!  And not just 1 trip but 5 or more trips over the next 6 months.  So it is just me and the boys and the dog and the trash.  I hate dealing with the trash and since that is my husband's job I am having to fill in for him.  It is funny how much I rely on him to empty the trash and then take it to the curb once a week - and I don't have to ask a thousand times - he just does it.

After 8 years of marriage, two kids, James and I have settled into our routines and roles.  We have taken the chores and divided them (not necessarily evenly, but divided nonetheless) and we move forward.  When the schedule is disrupted, like James being in Europe and me home alone with the kids, suddenly the routine is gone.  Not only do I have to take care of the grocery shopping, getting the kids to preschool, doing the laundry, keeping the house clean (sort of clean anyway), working, and going to school, I now have to take care of the trash, clean up dog poop in the backyard, handle bath and pj time with the kids, do all the disciplining, listen to the the "I want Daddy" chant, and find a way for the kids to work out their need to wrestle (not with me by the way because they are too rough!).  So as I think about all of the new tasks I have, I am reminded of the millions of families where there is only one parent present.  Single moms and dads amaze me.  Raising kids is hard enough with two parents, I can't imagine having to do it alone.  A mom of one recently said to me - "I can't imagine having more than one child" and I thought - ha! - that is easy, what would be hard is being a single parent.

So while my husband is out of town, I may find myself grumbling about the added responsibilities - but - I am reminded of the sacrifices made daily by single parents and there goes my grumbling.... out with the trash.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fearless - Book Review

I love Thomas Nelson publishers! Why - well they give bloggers a great opportunity to read books for free in exchange for reviews. I love reading so I enjoy being a part of Booksneeze. The reviews are in my own words, thoughts, and opinions. Since I have been in graduate school, my reading and reviewing time has been limited. But since I only have 4 classes left - yes 4 classes! - I hope to have more time to devote to reading for pleasure again soon. I am reviewing the book Fearless by Max Lucado. I have had the book for quite some time but haven't had a chance to sit down and think about a review. The book is an easy read and includes discussion guides for each chapter. I am pretty sure everyone has some type of fear in their lives. This books addresses several types such as fear of violence, fear of disappointing God, and fear of not protecting your children. This book may help pinpoint some of your fears and gives you suggestions in overcoming them. If you are a Max Lucado fan, I would say pick it up and read it! This book would also be great for a small group because it would definitely encourage discussion and provide opportunities for prayer and encouragement. The economic recession has undoubtedly increased fear in our nation. Relying on God is key to our survival.

FearlessImagine Your Life Without Fear

By Max Lucado
Published by Thomas Nelson

      Check it out here.

Hey Women of Faith!

On September 23 and 24th, I attended the Women of Faith Imagine conference held here in uptown Charlotte.  I scored free tickets  from WOF just for agreeing to share my experiences via my blog and social media.  Savings for me!!  This was the first WOF event I had ever attended so I wasn't really sure what to expect.  As usual, there was an amazing list of speakers and musical guests, tickets included lunch for both Friday and Saturday, and the venue (Time Warner Cable Arena) is easily accessible and a nice place to watch an event.  Sheila Walsh was an excellent speaker and Dr. Henry Cloud was awesome.  Actually I enjoyed every speaker.  I quickly realized it wasn't a note taking experience as much as watch and listen experience.  What I appreciated was the transparency of the speakers as they each shared personal struggles from their own lives.  I found it easy to relate to each of them - especially the moms.  It was a joy to hear author Karen Kingsbury speak - she seemed normal like the rest of us non-famous people.  She read one of her books to us and the words brought everyone in the audience to their knees.  Let Me Hold You Longer is a book she wrote to her children and let me tell you it made me want to hold my boys and never let go.  A woman sitting behind me was sobbing uncontrollably by the end of the reading - my heart hurt for her wondering what it was that had touched her so much.  Had she lost a child?  Was she reliving regrets?  I will never know but I do know the book is powerful.  I enjoyed one of Nicole Johnson's sessions concerning anger and how it seems society does not allow women to be angry without being called the B word.  It is unreal how we are able to stuff so many feelings and emotions into ourselves, hiding true feelings, and fighting to always be in control of everything.  Thankfully God is in the business of healing - not just physical conditions but emotional as well.

If you get the opportunity to attend a WOF event, I would say go for it.  They have a pretty full calendar of events on their website.  This is a great opportunity to get together with the women in your life, church, and community to take a break from the mundane, sit in an arena surrounded by people worshiping the same God, and enjoy the life God has bless you with.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Need to Feed

As an extremely busy Christian woman, wife, mother, and everything else, there are times when I know I am hungry for more of God and need to be fed.  My spiritual gas tank is running low.  I try to keep it topped off but there are days when all I can do is whisper "God, help me."  So today and tomorrow I am attending the Women of Faith Imagine conference in Charlotte.  I am looking forward to sitting in God's presence, surrounded by women who worship the same God, resting in Him, and feeding on the Word.  If you are feeling hungry lately, then take some time for you and God, He restores us, strengthens us, and prepares us for the what we have been called to do.  

Restore us again, O God; and cause Your face to shine [in pleasure and approval of us], and we shall be saved!
Psalm 80:3