Summer break is almost over, and you've by now been seeing back to school ads for several weeks already. By working from home you already have some form of workplace flexibility, so take advantage of it! Research by MomCorps shows employees value the greater work/life balance that comes with flex time, and they may be happier with more freedom to organize their schedules. How do you balance your work from home, summer camp schedules, and back to school preparation? Here are some helpful tips to keep you organized heading into the fall.
De-clutter your desk and inbox.
Take time to go through your inbox while many colleagues and clients are on summer vacation. When they return you will no doubt get an influx of emails as everyone tries to settles back into work mode. Create folders to file correspondence that is completed, and flag emails in your inbox that still require follow up. If you have piles of paper on your desk, make it a goal to file them before the pile gets worse (see #5 below about procrastination).
Data file backup and accessibility
Make sure your computer is backed up. It's often one of those "I should have..." thoughts after it's too late. Companies like Carbonite and Dropbox make it easy not only to backup all your documents and files, but also allow you to access them from any computer, where you are working in your home office, or your "temporary office" at the local coffee shop. It takes just a few minutes to sign up, and it's worth it. Think of all your personal files (including probably hundreds if not thousands of family photos) that would crush you if they were lost. And not to mention, all your important work documents and reports could really be detrimental on many levels should those disappear.
Organize your calendar
Review what's to come over the next couple months and include things like school pick-ups and events. It will allow you to better manage your work week and schedule calls and meetings around your true availability. It will also make it easier to plan as things come up - a quick look at your calendar can confirm what days are still available for professional or social events. Try to "bundle" any calls on certain days of the week, leaving other days a bit more free and open for catching up, following up, and staying organized.
Confirm your circle of support
For the moms with younger children, make sure you have your support system and know who is available to help jump in if needed. Don't wait until the last minute to scramble frantically for a last minute sitter unless you need to - see which grandparents, neighbors, and fellow WAHMs may be available first. And if you have to find a reliable sitter, start the search now. There are great sites out there to help you find qualified leads in your area based on your needs such as care.com and UrbanSitter. Reconnect with mom friends before school starts and compare after school plans and schedules - perhaps set up a trade each week to watch each other’s kids.
Ditch the procrastination
We all have them... the box of "random stuff", the stack of papers to be filed, the piles of kids clothes that need to be switched out with their growing size. It's too easy to procrastinate because there is always something better to do (even vacuuming the house!). But the piles and boxes don't disappear, and others are started along the way. Before things get too overwhelming, start with one project a week and make it a goal to finish. You may just end up with a new box to give away, which will make you feel good in a different way.
Don't forget to network!
You never know what lies ahead for your job, so it's great to keep up on your professional network! Actively reach out and connect with current and former colleagues on LinkedIn and add new people you meet at events or even moms at school or on the playground. People are usually willing to help out or refer you to someone who can help if you've taken some time off or are new to the workforce. Also, fall is a time that employers begin thinking about hiring again. If you are looking for something new, think about researching jobs with some form of work flexibility on Mom Corps.