Finding the Best Work/Life Balance with Careful Scheduling and a Closed Door
Tara Gearheart started working remotely when she was an inside sales rep at HubSpot. After 60 days of training, she was able to work at home twice a week. That bumped up to three days at home and two in the office after the birth of her daughter. About two years later, with daughter number two on the way, she launched her own company, tMedia Consulting. Since working from home had been going so well, she continued the set up. Now she goes out for client meetings and spends one day a week at a co-working location.
What were the challenges for you when you first started working from home?
I didn’t set boundaries. Every room in my house became a pseudo workroom. That was bad for a lot of reasons. I never had a relaxing place. I started associating not only my office but also my living room and kitchen and everywhere else with work.
I finally realized that I had to set build boundaries, so we set up a defined home office with a door.
I also had to figure out how to work with an office mate. My husband works from home occasionally too. At first, we had side by side desks, but when the baby came and he was around more, we changed it up so we each had one side of the room. You have to experiment and figure out what makes sense.
Why did you decide to keep working at home?
After my first daughter was born, I realized I could never work 9 to 5 in an office again. There was too much time wasted on commuting and chit chat in between meetings. I am way more productive when I’m on my own in the office.”
How did you manage working at home when you had babies in the house?
We hired a nanny to help when they were little. Now, it’s a combination of school and babysitters.
With so much going on how do you make it work?
I rely heavily on a calendar. I’ve always been super organized and cognizant of time. When I was working in radio, we would always have a 15-minute leeway and I’ve learned to build that in. At Hubspot, if a meeting was scheduled for 1 to 2, it would end at 1:55 so you could get to the next one. I became aware of what you can get done in 15 or 30 minutes or an hour. And I use that to plan the day.
My scheduling includes the children. I get up at 5:15 am and do some work before they get up. Then I get them ready, and off we go. There is either school or a nanny. Starting around 3 p.m., we have family time until 7 p.m., when they go to bed. Then I will have some time with my husband and sometimes do a little more work.
I try to schedule out two weeks at a time so I can put in major projects, deadlines and client leads. I avoid having fire drills due to a lack o
Why did you decide to do a day of co-working when you have such a great home office?
I don’t like being confined to my house all day. Plus, I like the team environment and the group camaraderie at inc.ubate. I like engaging with my peers. You may not see the same person every time you go, but over time you get to know them, and they become a good referral network.
Have you worked out at other places?
I have worked at cafes, it’s a decent option. But I really like the library. It’s a great option because there are people around but it’s quiet. I also like parks. I’ll find a picnic table and use my portable hotspot. It’s great to be outside.
What advice do you have?
You have to be disciplined. Working from home doesn’t mean playing hooky and watching Lifetime. If you want your peers, your boss and your clients to take you seriously, you have to work like you are in the office. It’s a mindset really. You may be in your yoga pants, but that doesn’t mean relaxing and not getting things done.
If you are on a team and working from home, make sure you are communicating with people on a channel like Slack. Make connections, utilize other people’s brainpower, they can give you insights into the challenges you are facing. And, they need you too. Even if you’re not eyeball-to-eyeball, you need that network of people.
Be organized. And, be really conscious of time management. If you’re new to working from home, be clear about what you’re doing during the day. Keep a log. It sounds tedious, but it will help in the long run.