March 2015 Healthy Women Feature Story: Working From Home

Managing the distracted mother

Michelle Collins is a business advisor at the New York State Small Business Development Center at SUNY Canton. She teaches a Women’s Business Bootcamp twice a year to help working women  of all types. Photo by Melanie Kimbler-Lago.

Michelle Collins is a business advisor at the New York State Small Business Development Center at SUNY Canton. She teaches a Women’s Business Bootcamp twice a year to help working women
of all types. Photo by Melanie Kimbler-Lago.

Women who work from home need to set limits to succeed

By Joleene Moody
NNY Business

During the past decade, the number of mothers working from home has significantly increased. Nearly 75 percent of the 10 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. are a one-woman production, run largely by women with children, according to data from the Center of Women’s Business Research.

The primary intention of a home-based business is to allow mothers to better merge work and family, allowing for more time with children and spouses. These solo operations can be anything from multi-level marketing endeavors and consulting practices to web-based business and other virtual services. The pool of creative endeavors is endless. There is one underlying complication, however, that can keep a stay-at-home entrepreneur less productive and continually stressed: family-based distractions.

Michelle Collins is a business advisor at the New York State Small Business Development Center at SUNY Canton. Many women she advises often face challenges of working with children underfoot. But that’s not their only struggle. Once you add in the pop-over neighbor or lunch buddy, you have a barrage of instances that can cripple your productivity. The fix? Set limitations.

“Many don’t recognize when someone is working from home, they are actually working,” Ms. Collins said. “So you really need to work hard at telling people you’re not available. Same with family. They need to understand if they knock on the door, it has to be for a really good reason. Work to set boundaries to let people around you know it’s work time.”

Once children hit school age, the pressure decreases. But for mothers working with toddlers at home, the challenge is significantly greater. Ms. Collins suggested child care, if only for a few hours a week. This is exactly how Janeigh Grady, an independent sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics and mother of two, is able to run a successful business from home.

“I have a home office, but I work outside the home, too,” Mrs. Grady said. “Sometimes my children are with me if I’m delivering products or doing a kid-friendly event. But for three days during the week, they are in child care.”
Mrs. Grady’s children are 2 and 4 years old. To complete her scheduled daily tasks, she gets creative.

“Distractions happen. But if you prepare a craft, a snack or a movie, you can buy yourself precious time in order to get income-producing activities done,” she said.

And what about that pile of dishes or that mountain of laundry staring you in the face? Having a dedicated space can keep laundry and dirty floors out of sight and out of mind.

“Having a work space can keep us in the realm of our business,” Ms. Collins said. “It can be hard to bring your laptop out to the dining room and still concentrate on business when all you can see is the laundry in the corner or dinner on the stove.”

In the end, it comes down to self-discipline. Here at three more productivity tips from the Canton SBDC:

Set a schedule
While it doesn’t need to be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., setting regular work hours can make working from home more productive. It also allows you to separate your work hours from your homemaker hours.

Give yourself time to adjust
If you’re new to working from home, be patient with settling into a schedule. Shifting from an outside office to an inside office requires permission and patience.

Network
Getting out and meeting new people enables you to make connections and find clientele. It also gives you much needed time with other women in the same situation as you.

The SBDC offers Women’s’ Business Bootcamps twice a year. Visit canton.edu/SBDC/ for upcoming events.

Joleene Moody is a creative transitional coach, speaker and author who lives in Pulaski with her husband and daughter.