One of the main missions when creating PJS & Co. CPAs over 6 years ago, was to focus on the work / life balance. We wanted to be involved family members while maintaining a rewarding career where we can make a difference.
That mission is also focused on our clients, making a difference in their lives and aiding in growth and profitability. We want them to have stronger companies and make decisions that will allow them to step back from the things that they don’t need to be a part of and obtain work life balance as well.
In this episode, our team talks about some personal and work challenges they face when trying to accomplish this balance. They share tips that have helped them overcome these challenges, or atleast manage them, as well as cover four themes in the remote work realm.
What we cover in this episode:
- 05:10 – Boundaries and time management
- 17:52 – The transition period
- 33:18 – Finding “balance”
- 43:04 – Necessity of change
Boundaries and time management
When working from home, boundaries and time management are essential to being productive, effective and efficient. Knowing where and when to draw the line when it comes to getting work done or personal tasks done can be difficult to do if you don’t properly prepare. Our team gives some tips on how to be better at setting boundaries and time management.
“The availability to work is constantly lurking, and finding a shut off point is a work in progress.”
Tip: “Don’t stress, but give yourself space to work while being extremely accountable.”
“Being able to set aside specific time for ‘work’ vs non-work time. That was really tough at first but now I’m more consistent with making time for my family and stop work at a specific time each day…by 5pm, regardless. I also try to stay out of emails during non working times…allows me to focus my energies on other areas and not just work.”
Tip: “Schedule your day! Or at least make a list of what you hope to accomplish. If I didn’t have that list, I’d struggle on what to do next and getting things done.”
“While COVID made working from home much more mainstream, people will still think the flexibility of working from home means my daytime is ‘free time’ for lunches, phone calls, errands, babysitting, etc. After All, I am home, right? … It’s been a challenge to set those boundaries and expectations with people who think working from home ‘must be so easy’.”
Tip: “Organization and planning ahead!! Every Friday before I ‘clock out’ for the weekend, I look at, and plan my work time for the following week. Then Monday morning I can hit the ground running!”
“Time management – getting the most accomplished in my weekly schedule including spending time with my family.”
Tip: “Staying focused on your daily tasks and keeping good notes and to do lists.”
“Setting work hours and sticking to them”
Tip: “Make a schedule and stick to it.”
The transition period
There are two types of transitions that happen when we bring on new team members. One is coming from a traditional, full-time work environment and hasn’t been working from home while the other is a full-time parent transitioning back to a workplace environment. Both situations can be a struggle. You have to establish boundaries at home for your family when you are working, and for work as well, when you’re needing to give attention to your family.
“Making the transition from a traditional work environment was a game-changer for me. My husband’s job doesn’t have a lot of flexibility and having one parent who can be there has been great for lowering the stress-level of my family… I get flexibility from the team at PJS, and they help me when I have things that come up… I still need to be reliable and meet my deadlines and get my work done.”
Tip: “Strong Relationships. These come with Communication, gratitude and flexibility. Making sure I communicate and ask for grace when I need it is what makes things work. It’s also important that I show gratitude to anyone who has made a shift in their work to accommodate any last-minute schedule changes I may have. Lastly, when anyone else on the team needs time off for their family needs, I do what I can to help. They’ve been there for me. I need to be there for them.”
“Going from being a full-time stay-at-home Mom for over 5 years to being employed again, was a very big challenge. This was a total shift in my family’s lifestyle. Being committed to making the transition work, allowing myself grace as I began to balance my career again, and cooperation from my family are what have allowed me to become a successful work-from-home parent.”
Tip: “Keeping my calendar updated with everyone’s appointments, school pick ups, and practices helps to visualize my week and where I will be at in my day. This also helps me to see what availability I have for the week when it comes to running errands or taking care of unexpected needs that pop up.”
“For me, learning new skills and refreshing old ones as I get back into working! Getting back into a work schedule, it is a transition for sure.”
Tip: “Creating a daily rhythm and routine that my whole family can expect. Also learning to not say yes to everything and keeping my schedule balanced with work and family.”
“Working 20 hours a week has been a difficult adjustment for me. It didn’t sound like much at first, but trying to squeeze that many hours out of an already full week has been a challenge… No matter which hat I’m wearing – mom, wife, teacher, cook, maid, employee – I’ve had to learn to balance the time and focus on quality hours, not quantity… it’s been so great to get to work again without having to sacrifice the things that are most important to me.”
Tip: “Planning out my days/weeks – errands are still the hardest things for me to get to, so I have to intentionally plan out when I’m going to the store, etc.”
Of course, one of the most important and possibly infamous pieces of working from home is “balance.” In theory, being available at home when the unexpected happens, as it always does, sounds great, but we know that being available is not always the case.
There are times where your personal life just has a lot going on at the same time as your work life does. It is sometimes amazing how there are 24 hours in a day, but everything, both personal and work, always ends up needing to be scheduled at the exact same time. Balance can be a big challenge; so one of our CPAs, Melanie Nuckolls and one of our Accountants, Victoria Ingersoll let us know their challenges and what they do to overcome them.
“Working through a large mid-year payroll processing transition, while still keeping all of our daughters’ extracurricular/social obligations and household balls in the air, so to speak. The timeline was extremely tight, and our team identified a substantial number of issues on the new platform. It took a lot of detailed dedication to correct the information before the next payroll cycle, but we were able to complete the tasks on time, as promised.”
Tip: “Organization – Hands down! For me, it is important to be able to see upcoming work deadlines, as well as our entire family’s extracurriculars, on the same calendar. For some reason, I still operate best with a paper calendar, and it is chalked full of items, but it allows for me to see where things need to be shifted around on a given week to make it all work.”
“My biggest challenge was when my husband went away for 6+ months. Being a ‘single mom’ with a busy hockey schedule, it was a struggle at times to make sure I didn’t fall behind in my work, the house and yard work was being kept up, and spending time with my son… It was very challenging but with the help from the team, we got everything completed successfully.”
Tip: “Accept responsibility and be accountable for your work. It’s important that you know what needs to be done and when it’s due, ask any questions and keep lots of lists to make sure things don’t get missed.”
Necessity of change
We have all heard the saying, that the only constant in this world is change. This is where the previous three topics come in handy if you have mastered them.
There will be change in your personal life and work life. It isn’t about avoiding it, but accepting it and adjusting where and when necessary. Of course, it is way easier said than done. Katina Peters, one of PJS & Co’s owners, and Marketing Manager Megan Spicer speak to the challenges of change perfectly and give tips on how they adjust to it.
“Shifting schedules- As children grow their schedules change so much from infants to toddlers to school age, extra curricular activities, etc, reworking schedules has to continually happen and I have found that for me things can be a little difficult for a couple of weeks until the new schedule solidifies. Mostly being aware that this will happen and knowing that you have to be flexible to adjust things.”
Tip: “Flexible structuring and OUR TEAM! Build it around you.”
“I started my work at home career when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child… That was a major transition period personally, which made it very challenging… Now that I have experience and can look back as a whole, the changing schedules in going from newborns to school age kids at home, while balancing a career has been tough as well.”
Tip: “Routines, writing down priorities, and discipline in actually carrying them out. Also, a healthy sense of humor.”
Not all work from home jobs are created equal and you deserve one that matches the type of life you want to live. You deserve to find the right team and balance. So keep looking if you are not happy where you are because you don’t have to be stressed to the max to work from home, especially now, when remote opportunities are more readily available than ever.