My top 5 tips to working from home

When your meeting gets cancelled & you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go! #wherearemyslippers

When your meeting gets cancelled & you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go! #wherearemyslippers

I have experience working from home. I spent a year working from my condo as Associate Editor of Lifestyle Nova Scotia magazine. Yes, there were lots of meetings and interviews but also long stretches of writing and editing, many times straight through the wee hours of the morning. I can remember my husband coming home from a long day at the office ready to netflix & chill (before netflix & chill was a thing) and me feeling ready to go out and do something - anything - beyond those four walls.

I worked full-time in a very casual office for 5 years, and was often the only one there since my only co-worker was part-time, so I basically treated it like working from home. Especially since for most of those years, the office was just a 10-minute down the street.

And I spent 5 years at home full-time with my kids, though I was the stay-at-home mom who never stayed home. That was the key to survival! I also did some freelance at the same time, and home was my full-time head quarters.

There are lots of pros and cons, so I thought it would be fun to share 5 quicks tips I use to make the most of my freelance life working from home.

1. Get ready

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I work from home but I still get up, shower, get dressed, style my hair and put on makeup. This energizes me, helps me feel professional and makes me a lot more productive. Like they say, dress for the job you want and I don’t want to be a yoga instructor or feel like a couch potato. Of course some days I take full advantage if it makes me feel more comfortable. Working from home allows me to take casual Friday to a whole new level!

2. Ten-second tidy

I’ve been working from the kitchen table, though sometimes I get really crazy and move to the bar at the counter. (Yes, I have a lovely home office space in the attic but it needs some TLC that I haven’t made time for, though now that I have more time to work and a steadier workload I am going to set myself up there so I don’t have put my “office” away every night, and I’m not living out of my kitchen 10 hours a day). But each morning once everyone is gone I do a ten-second tidy (ok it’s more like 5 minutes) to straighten up the space surrounding me. Breakfast dishes cleaned up, random junk shoved into the junk drawer and strewn toys back in their baskets. Sorry clutter, it’s not you, it’s me and I can’t work with you around.

The view in front of me. Nothing out of place.

The view in front of me. Nothing out of place.

The view behind me. Zen. but i think the table needs some tulips!

The view behind me. Zen. but i think the table needs some tulips!

3. Stay focused.

Yes, there are great perks to working from home like being able to switch over the laundry or get dinner going early, but I try not to get caught up in getting caught up on home life. That’s not what I’m home for. It’s hard when you can physically see the floor needs sweeping or the sun streaming in the windows showcases all.of.the.dust but it has to wait. Unless my procrastination game is feeling strong…  and I don’t turn the tv. on. Ever. That would be game over!


4. Get out

The best advice I received when I embarked on my first maternity leave was to “get out of the house at least once every single day, even if it’s just to check the mail.” It was my prenatal yoga instructor who said it and I took it very seriously.  Anyone with a baby, especially a new baby, knows just how long it takes to leave the house (like, I’m talking sometimes 2 hours in the beginning!) and whether it was to attend a class, go for a walk, grab a coffee or just check the mail, I got out every day. I pass this one piece of unsolicited advice on all the time because it was so good for the mind. The same applies to my work-at-home life. I do have to leave the house everyday on school runs, but I’ve also joined a networking group that meets regularly, schedule lunch dates and meetings out of the house and when I need a break or change of scene I’ll go check the mail, take a short walk or hit up a local coffee shop for a work session.

5. Take advantage

Hey, I’m not silly. I didn’t set life up this way to be strict and rigid and all work and no play. The major perk to freelance life, in my opinion, is the flexibility. I determine my workload, my own schedule, my office hours and vacation time. This is not always easy. I need to find all my own work and am hustling all.the.time and there’s no chit chatting around the water cooler. But I’m chaperoning my daughter’s field trip tomorrow, I can book a few days mid-week to getaway to PEI this summer without requesting vacation time, and I can work all night if I want to take the day off instead. Plus, it’s wine o’clock when I say it’s wine o’clock!

Bonus: office dog!

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Hot off the (online) press

I have two new assignments published this week. First up, my latest for East Coast Living magazine, a step-by-step DIY fresh winter wreath. I paid a visit to Props Floral Design in the Hydrostone and they walked me through the process of making a wreath. I’m planning to make my own this holiday season and will design it to last all winter. I painted the front door navy blue this summer so I am thinking a silver bow, or going rustic with a burlap bow. I think it would look really nice with our warm white Christmas lights. Learn how to make your own here: DIY Fresh Winter Wreath.

Though the Heavens Fall by Anne Emery is my latest book for review over at Atlantic Books Today. I have reviewed books from this series before, and I do enjoy them. I love reading local and having a connection to the setting. (Fictional) Halifax lawyer Monty Collins and his sidekick Father Brennan Burke sure get themselves involved in a lot adventure. What’s not to love about a good mystery? I learned a lot of history about the conflicts in Ireland through this story along with the help of google to keep up, since I really didn’t know much at all. It’s a deep, complicated and still ongoing issue. I thought Emery handled it well with this book. Given the connection to Ireland through Matt’s side of the family, it was neat to learn more about it, and the fictional story is intriguing too.

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Update

Welcome to my new website! I’m building something more current, more clean and more my own. I’m switching from wordpress to my own site using SquareSpace. Construction is slow as I am learning to build this website as I go but I hope with a little perseverance everything will be in its place in no time, and I’ll soon be smoothly up and running with a functional website and lots of current content. 

I am still plugging away at bringing over all my past blog posts from the old blog site (https://heatherfegan.wordpress.com/). I had no idea how many posts I wrote in two years! Often two a week for many months until I slowed down in the spring of 2015 and then stopped altogether in the summer of 2015. Probably around the time I went into early labour 11 weeks before Rosie was due (held on 9 more weeks before she made her debut!). And from there life raced on. Be sure to scroll down for all the posts from the early days. I still can't believe I started posting content four years ago! 

I’ll continue to bring the posts over until everything is here. I don’t want any of my work to go to waste. Lots of the blog posts are timeless and relevant and I can share those fun “from the archives” posts on social media! I'm sad past comments and discussions will be lost but looking forward to the future and where this website takes me. Of course, my portfolio section of the site is up-to-date with all my freelance work, if you want to check out my articles and book reviews (with more coming very soon!). At the same time, I’ll be adding new, regular posts and updates as I rev this website back to life.

Thanks for dropping by and come back soon! 

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A tale of time, part 2

I came across this meme the other day and it really spoke to me. Because it is SO true.

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What did I do with all of my time pre-kids? No, seriously. I should have been accomplishing a lot of really grand and really great things. I was working a lot more I suppose. Volunteering. Fundraising. Television-watching. Drinking. Well, I still do the television and drinking things (less TV, more drinking).  

But this saying also goes to pre-two-kids me. Based on my last, oh-so-long-ago post, I thought I was so busy with one kid and an older dog and baking cupcakes and party planning and writing. ‘Oh, I have NO time’ was my complaint. But when I look at life now, and the speed it’s been hurtling the last two years, and compare it to back then, I had SO much time.

Or so I think now. Perspective is a funny thing. I thought I had no time at all and yet I’ve added so much more to my plate. While what I want to say is “ok, now I really have no time…”  Guess what. No more “no time” excuses. It’s become clear to me that I will make time for what I want to make time for. Things will shift, space will expand and shrink to naturally make room for what we need or want (or don’t need or want) to accomplish. In a couple years I bet I will take stock of what I’m doing, look back and think, “Why did I think I was so busy? I had TONS of time back then!” And so it goes.

My commitment now is to make productive use of what time I do have. And to make an effort to make time for all I want to achieve, and I have few things up my sleeves. The fact it’s been two years since my last post is terrifying, but to be fair, I have been very busy! I’ll give myself credit for that.  But I do feel like I’m coming out of the other side of a very busy season of my life. A hands-on, don’t-have-time-to-sit-down-and-can’t-get-away kind of busy. Now it’s time to refocus and accomplish some goals. Hope you’ll join me for the ride!

Life update! Since my last post we... 

  • -had another baby!
  • -staged our home & put it on the market
  • -moved out for three months
  • -sold our house and bought a new one
  • -moved to the new house 
  • -embarked on a complete kitchen reno and installed a second bathroom
  • -traveled to California, Italy, Toronto (twice!), Florida, NYC (twice!), North Conway, Ottawa, Quebec City
  • -endured 3 (!) week-long hospital admissions (not counting the c-section for baby #2)
  • -the epic summer of 2017
  • -got a new puppy

In case you missed it

I’ve updated my portfolio page with recently published work. There are book reviews, feature stories and interviews. I’ll have more updates in the coming weeks as more of my content is published in various publications. Exciting times, people!

I was particularly pleased to find my article on baby proofing with style on the front page of the Homes section of my city’s newspaper, The Halifax Chronicle Herald. The story continues inside and there’s even a picture of Bear.

I’m still trying to get the hang of a common occurrence — or so I hear — freelancers encounter: securing work, and then being way too busy working to continue pitching and lining up more work. Now that deadlines are passing one by one, the workload is lightening so now I’ll have to build it up again. But it means more time for blogging! I’m going to stop moaning about finding time to blog and just get on with it. It also means I’ll have a bit more time to focus on some home projects and fill you in with what the hell happened to the last week of my November sweeps project! Oops… more on that later! In the meantime, if you are interested, here’s bit of what I’ve been up to.

Book Reviews:

Into the Wasteland by Lesley Choyce

Bodies and Sole by Hilary MacLeod

Phoebe’s Way by Pamela Ditchoff

Punishment by Linden MacIntyre
 

Feature Stories and Interviews

The Halifax Chronicle Herald: Baby proof with style
We had a hard time finding gates to fit the wonky stairs in our home, and I didn’t want big, chunky, plastic rails. Having a baby doesn’t mean your home has to be suddenly bumper padded and bare. Be smart, be safe but don’t forget you can still be stylish too!

Atlantic Books Today feature story: Socially Acceptable
Bethany Myers is a local YA author and her social media feeds are so much fun

Atlantic Books Today Q&A with singer-songwriter Dan MacCormack: Lyrics and Literature
Dan’s creative project is so impressive. He’s made an album inspired and influenced by the works of David Adams Richards. Be sure to check out his album!