I used to work in an office 8-5, and I hated it. I found office politics and work relationships draining. The days were too long, and others’ inefficient use of time exhausted me. During a normal week, I spent a lot of time waiting and lamenting that my time wasn’t being well spent. Then I had kids, and things only got harder.
I was lucky to have access to affordable, high quality childcare, but I still felt like I was missing too much my time with my baby. Going to a part-time schedule improved my life substantially, and now working completely from home has been mostly amazing. It’s taken years to figure this all out, and some details are still in progress, but here’s how I made the change:
I found a legit work from home job
Flexjobs.com was the best resource I found for work from home jobs. It’s a paid service that’s worth it. They vet all the jobs to make sure they’re real opportunities, not schemes. They sort them by career field and have jobs covering many areas. I was impressed by the breadth of the postings. I found hundreds of jobs to apply for and eventually accepted three. One of those jobs is the one I have now that offers benefits and holidays for part-time staff! I still have one of the others as a fall back if I ever need it.
I set up my workspace for success
I bought new equipment. I tried just using a chair we had for work, but it wasn’t working. I’ve also had to invest in a good webcam and headset. They’re good for interviews and meetings. I recommend making sure that your computer is fast and your workspace has a door, so your family will leave you alone.
I also use Google Docs. I don’t have the time to lose any work. I write everything in Google Docs. There’s no save feature because it is constantly saving everything. You can go back and see the revision history. You can access the documents across devices, which is a lifesaver if you travel like I do.
Regardless of where I am, I find I work so much better if I have a dual monitor setup. One thing I love this year that we bought is this USB portable monitor. Now we can easily set up dual screens even when we travel with our laptops.
I keep a set schedule and use a calendar. I also recommend investigating time-saving opportunities like macros or programs like Shortkeys for repetitive tasks. Being efficient and accurate allows me to respect my time at and away from work.
The missing piece: childcare
The only thing lacking in my work from home situation is childcare. I would love affordable, flexible childcare, so that I could work while my husband was working because trading off the kids is exhausting for both of us. Many days, I work before he goes into work, and then I work again when he comes home. I work the bulk of my hours on the weekend. It’s not the best. We don’t get as much family or social time we’d like because of it, but we haven’t yet found another alternative though I’m still searching.
The change took time
I wish I could say finding a flexible job that fit my life didn’t take much time, but it took two years of actively searching, and one before then, of looking on and off. When I first realized my employment was unsustainable, I did some searching for alternatives, but as the breadwinner for my family while my husband finished school, I couldn’t take as many risks. The compromise I ended up with was going part-time at the job I currently held.
After my husband graduated and we moved, I was unemployed and able to devote more time to exploring options. I didn’t keep track of the amount of applications I did because the total was depressing. It was stressful at times to be living on such a small income while I searched. During that time I had interviews, I had offers, but I had decided I wasn’t going to just take any job because it was there. If I hadn’t taken the risk to pursue something more than a paycheck, I don’t think I’d be as half as happy as I am now. I feel incredibly lucky that we were able to financially weather that time in our lives.
I love working part-time at home. It just suits my personality, my aversion to commuting and traffic, and my need to be available to my family while also contributing reliable income.