Working at home has lots of benefits – especially for Muslimahs. You don’t have to answer to a demanding boss, the commute to your office is less than five minutes, you can make your prayers on time each day, be available for your children and work in your most comfy clothes or pajamas and slippers if you like.
But for all of the luxuries working at home affords, there is still the challenge of actual work that needs to be done. One negative of working at home in my personal experience are the daily distractions that can throw off productivity. For me it’s things like dishes in the sink, piling laundry, a clingy four year old begging ummi to play, my favorite blogs, websites, social media sites and email. If I’m not careful, the day could easily slip away without me accomplishing a thing.
There’s no boss around to remind me to finish up my client projects, it’s all on me. I learned early on the importance of creating a daily work-at-home schedule. I’ll be completely honest with you – I’m not naturally all that organized. I’m really quite scatterbrained and easily distracted so a schedule is a necessity for me to maintain a growing business and orderly home life.
Some people say that you should create a work-at-home schedule that mimics a traditional working schedule, but I disagree. A traditional work schedule doesn’t fit my lifestyle because I have four children under the age of 10 years and am unable to work for more than a couple of hours straight during the day. For instance, I must take a break in my day to drop the older kids at school and again to pick them up and help with homework during the school year. Sometimes, I go back and wrap a few things up later in the evening once the children are in bed. The true beauty of owning your own business is the ability to create a schedule that is custom-fit for you and your life.
A daily schedule also helps keep you productive and can keep you from feeling so overwhelmed about everything you need to get done on any given day. It makes it easier to seperate work hours and the time that’s just for family and friends so that you don’t feel as if you’re working around the clock. I’ll share with you a peak at my daily (Monday-Friday) schedule:
5:30a.m. Wake and get into wudu. Read Qur’an, and make fajr (times vary according to time of year)
6:00a.m. to 6:20a.m.: Stretch or try to do a 20 minute yoga routine to maintain flexibility throughout the day.
6:20-7:30: Get the kids up and ready for breakfast, then off to school (right now we’re having summer vacation so they’ll be attending an all day summer camp every day which will keep them on the same schedule).
7:45a.m.-8:45a.m.: 45 minute to one hour power walk through local park or an hour work out to DVD at home (trying to get back in shape!)
9:00a.m.-9:30a.m.: Shower & quick breakfast (by this time my 4 year old is awake to join me for breakfast). My office is set up in a corner in my dining room so that I can keep an eye on everyone and everything in the dining room and family room as I work.
9:30a.m.-11:00a.m.: Check and respond to email. Give 4yr old an activity and get to work.
11:00a.m.-11:15a.m.: Daily phone chat with my “accountability partner.” We are both commercial writers living in different states (she’s in California and I’m in Georgia). We met on a Yahoo! Group for copywriters and agreed to speak at the same time each day to discuss daily and future work goals, and whether or not we met our goals the day before. (I highly recommend finding an accountability partner to help keep you focused – especially when you’re just getting started in your business).
12:00p.m.-12:30p.m.: Lunchtime. I also try to squeeze in some online networking time commenting on blogs and social media sites (at least 15 minutes a day).
12:30p.m.-2:30p.m.: Work. Let 4yr old watch 30 minute video, and then he takes a 30-60 minute nap (always praying that it’s closer to 60 minutes). When he awakes, he’s usually content to play on his own at the dining room table next to me (play with cars, paint, PlayDoh, color, etc.) Pray zhur at the appointed time.
2:30p.m.-3:30p.m.: Take 4yr old outside to play or to play at the park near the older children’s school (yes, sometimes I take along my laptop if I’m on deadline).
3:30p.m.-7:00p.m.: After school snacks, homework, pray asr at the appointed time, play outside (DH takes them once he gets home if there’s time after homework) while I prepare dinner. Then wash up for dinner. Make magrib at the appointed time.
8:00p.m.-9:00p.m.: Children take baths, watch a family TV program. 4yr old in bed by 8:30, older kids by 9:00pm.
9:00p.m.-12:00a.m.: I usually spend quality time with DH. We make isha at the appointed time. I also check my email once more, prepare blog posts and my to-do list for next day. I like to go to bed between 10:00p.m. and 11:00p.m. If I’m on a tight deadline, I will work until around 11:00p.m. or 12:00a.m.
I plan to go back to working half days on Friday so that I can start attending jumuah again. My schedule’s tightly packed, but without one I don’t think I’d get anything significant accomplished. It’s not set in stone though. From time to time I’ll take a day off to take the kids to do something fun if they have a day off from school. I just plan my day so that I can make time for work later in the evening. I also like to use a kitchen timer for activities like checking email and social networking to keep me from wasting too much time.