Jennifer: Hello everybody and today we have Amanda Accioly with us and we're going to be talking about working from home. So, Amanda, why don't you introduce yourself.
Amanda: Wonderful! Yeah! Absolutely! Thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. As you mentioned my name's Amanda, and I have been working from home full-time for about six months or so. I've been running my own business for a little over a year, about a year and a half.
My brief summary is that I'm a wife. I'm married to a lovely man. He's originally from Brazil and we've got two lovely children. Gabrielle, she's 5 years old and in kindergarten, and Luca, he's three years old and in pre-school. So, that's my short biography.
Where I actually come from was in the corporate space. I was in corporate finance for nine years before I ended up leaving. That was really the culmination of a long commute, two small children, dropping off, picking up, daycare, the whole thing. I really just felt worn out and wanted to have some more time with my kids, my family, and doing a little bit more of what I love.
Jennifer: That's awesome! My daughter is almost three, so I totally get where you're coming from on that toddler phase.
Amanda: Yes, welcome to it. Three is my least favorite age. It has a lot of great things about it, but it's very trying as well.
Jennifer: I saw something on Facebook recently that I just had to laugh at. It was: "I'm a strong independent woman raising a strong independent toddler and that's why I drink strong wine."
"I'm a strong independent woman raising a strong independent toddler and that's why I drink strong wine."
Amanda: Yes. Absolutely. Just literally last night I was taking an interview call with a new potential client, in the evening. Which I don't typically do but with time zones it was about the only time we could fit in. My three-year-old just refused, nope, I'm not going to be with Dad tonight. I was walking outside. I went everywhere to try to avoid my small child. I took my prospective call while walking hand-in-hand with my son around the neighborhood. So, that is in short sometimes the not luxurious part of working from home.
What Can Trip You Up
Jennifer: Absolutely! In your mind what's the biggest thing that trips people up when it comes to working from home?
Amanda: Gosh, that's such a great question. My answer is twofold, one I have a response for what everyone else thinks that someone that works from home does. This goes to even my husband, my mom, maybe other people. It still takes a lot of work to work from home and I think it's a misconception that I mentioned. Even my spouse, I still have to remind him, hey my work is very important you can't just come home and expect me to drop everything that I'm doing. So, that's one side of it that's been difficult sometimes. My husband maybe comes home for lunch and I am on back-to-back calls for two hours. I can't just cancel what it is that I'm doing.
The other piece of it is more just for my own self, really having to stay true to a routine. There's no boss above me that's going to make sure that my work is done. That's just the other piece of it too is you really have to make sure you're internally motivated. It will be a little bit harder if you require those extrinsic things to motivate you.
Granted, I'm home by myself from 8:00 to 2:45 every day so if I don't feel like working there's nobody here that's going to say “Amanda get off the couch and go to work”. That doesn't happen because I'm intrinsically motivated to want to grow my business. That's just the other piece that's different than if you were working somewhere where you got to show up looking like you got your act together and do some work.
Jennifer: That's a really great point. When it comes to what other people sort of expect when you work from home, and this is something I deal with as well. Like you said I can totally relate to the idea that my husband might come home from work and he'll say, "Okay, I'm here. Look, I'm surprising you, I've got a sandwich from the local Deli." or whatever...
My husband might come home from work and he'll say, "Okay, I'm here. Look, I'm surprising you, I've got a sandwich from the local Deli.
And, I'm like “I'm on a call. I'm really sorry, I'm still working”. The only thing I tend to notice is he will say “You were home today. Did you get laundry done or did you get the dishes done?”. Now, and I say this, I do have to put a caveat on this that my husband is amazing, and he is extremely supportive, and we don't have these conversations, these days. We had them when I started working from home.
Other People Versus Your Expectations
Jennifer: What advice do you have for people who are dealing with this right now and they're kind of in the middle of it, the expectations that other people have working from home versus your expectations of working from home?
Amanda: Yeah. Again, I think it goes two ways. I have really believed in building a network of, for the most part, women, who are also work-from-home moms or they are online entrepreneurs, who do get it. So, on those hard days, I always have an immediate network of people that I could go to for guidance, support, love, a virtual hug, coffee whatever. I think that is really important for people that just understand what it is that you are going through.
On the flip side, people that don't really know what it is that you're going through, their expectations are probably a little bit different. I remember one of the first conversations, a similar topic that you brought up was about laundry, and this was more just of a cleanly house.
My husband made some comment of, "This is what you wanted, you wanted more time at home." I had to quickly just readjust those expectations of yes I want to work from home because I want to be able to drop off the kids or pick up the kids and not pay for extended daycare. Or want to join them for lunch on a day that it's allowed, things like that. I didn't choose to work from home to become a nanny.
I didn't choose to work from home so that I could clean the house in-between every call. The house really should have the same standard whether you work from home or you don't work from home. Now maybe, before this call, I was actually flipping the laundry into the dryer because I had the choice, but it isn't the expectation.
I would say that's something you're struggling with currently. It's just a conversation you have to have with whoever it is in your household and really realign those expectations and those boundaries. I think it goes for any relationship whether it's your client, someone in the house, a family member, a person on the street.
If that comes up you just simply have to have the conversation, "Hey, this is actually not the reality. I don't do XYZ, this is how my day looks. I very openly have shared my calendar. Would you like to see what it looks like from day-to-day? I have three hours of things that I really have to get done. Whatever. So, I think giving that information can be really helpful.
Jennifer: Absolutely. I agree because it's so different. It's just such a different shift from working at a corporate office. I know in terms of my relationship with my husband. Again, a disclaimer in case he's listening to this.
"Working from home is such a different shift from working at a corporate office."
He is amazing but one of the things we dealt with is, my office used to be a guest bedroom. We were very used to putting laundry that needed to be folded in the guest room and so when it turned into an office he would just still put the laundry in there and what I had to say to him is, "I don't bring the laundry to your desk at your work so you have to respect that at the same time for me."
It was funny because he had never thought of it that way. I'm like you basically made it so I either fold the laundry and move it or I have to stare at it all day which is stressful to me.
Amanda: Yes, Absolutely. Exactly I think just giving them those real lifelike, “Hey do you understand that you're putting this in my workspace?” I love that you give that exact flip the script. “How would you feel if I showed up in your office and put it on your desk? Then how are you going to feel?”
And not to be malicious about it but just having them really understand. That's what I mean too about setting the expectations or boundaries. I give people the benefit of the doubt, maybe they just don't understand. They don't know what that means or whatever.
Jennifer: Absolutely. Now, you talked about building a community. So, when you build that community where are your go-to spots for that?
Amanda: Yeah, great question. Because I'm a mom and because I'm an entrepreneur, I find several mom entrepreneur Facebook groups online. I tend to hang out on Facebook. There's probably still some great places on other social media platforms as far as really feeling like there's a community of people. I have found it more inside of groups on Facebook.
I also was in a group coaching program. I was in a mastermind at one point. Even those experiences for my business built me in personal relationships that now function more as almost like a colleague.
We're not working on the same projects but it's someone that I can send a quick message to. "Hey, this is what I am struggling with. Can you provide some guidance, or can you just listen?" I've definitely picked up the phone and said, hey I just need you to listen because I need to vent and nobody's going to understand if I call my mom or my husband so...
Making Real Friends
Amanda: It's funny when you tell people that aren't in the online space. They are like what do you mean, you make friends on Facebook. Why are you talking to them? They think it's super weird but again if you're in that world or if you're new to it and I encourage you to hop into a few Facebook groups, maybe some smaller ones initially if you don't yet have a network because you will start to see some of the same names.
Maybe you will open up a post saying, hey, you're looking for some virtual coffee dates and just simply hop on the phone and chat with some people. Just like you do in real life, meeting people you will find just those natural connections of someone that you really hit it off with and that's where I've built those connections and networks.
Jennifer: That's absolutely fantastic advice. I tend to find Facebook groups are pretty good as well and I've made some really interesting connections, but it is so true, people who don't live in this space typically don't get it and I'll be,
Facebook groups are pretty good as well and I've made some really interesting connections, but it is so true, people who don't live in this space typically don't get it.
"Oh, that's a friend."
"Okay. Well, where's your friend?"
"Well, she lives on the other side of the country from me."
"What! How did you meet her?"
"Online." and then you get the weird looks but that's just how it goes if you're going to be in the online space. Get used to making online friends.
Amanda: One crazy story is that I am a November birthday, so I just had my birthday last month and I obviously have plenty of friends from high school, from college, from after college and I didn't receive gifts from any of them which is fine.
I'm 31, I don't expect gifts from my friends from college but what's really interesting is I had four virtual friends all send me a gift card. One was to Amazon, two were to Starbucks, one was a Target gift card.
There are people that I've met several times over a Zoom call or we've had phone calls but I've never actually met them in real life.
Yet four people sent me something, a monetary gift for my birthday and that's just the power of those relationships. They really thought that they were a true friend that wanted to help celebrate my birthday so, I love that.
Jennifer: Yeah. Those are real relationships.
More Opportunities To Connect
Jennifer: That's one of the things I love about the internet is we have so many more opportunities to connect with people that, just quite simply our mothers, our grandmothers didn't have. My grandmother spent a lot of time at home maintaining the house and had a few friends but, I look at her life versus my life and I feel so much more connected even though I'm working from home.
One of the things I love about the internet is we have so many more opportunities to connect with people that, just quite simply our mothers, our grandmothers didn't have.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely and that just been the joy. I mean there was a friend that asked me yesterday what has been the biggest change with my children between working in a corporate space and working from home.
Without a question, it was the fact that I actually enjoy taking my kids to school and picking them up. Where before, when I was in the corporate space those same routines caused a lot of stress. Because not only do I have to get my kids somewhere on time but then I have to get somewhere on time.
So, I was usually rushing them right or pushing them along to say goodbye because I had to hurry off to get to work or then at the end of the day I'm exhausted. It's 5 o'clock, maybe it's after 5 o'clock so it's more of that shuffle of hurry up, get in the car let's go home, eat and go to bed.
It's just a very, very different routine that I'm able to provide now and now those two parts of the day are lovely for me. I get to approach them with simply just love and joy and it's wonderful.
Internal Discipline - Tips & Tricks
Jennifer: Yeah. That's fantastic! Earlier, you mentioned having that own internal discipline. What are some tips or tricks that you can recommend to people, especially people who are new to working from home?
What are some tips to kind of motivate yourself to continue to work? Because I hear it all the time. Well, I know I need to work, and I want to work but my couch just looks so inviting.
I know I need to work, and I want to work but my couch just looks so inviting.
Amanda: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, I do believe in a few schools of thought. I do believe in waking up before your children are awake. So, specifically, if you're working from home and you have small children.
Small, small, children who either are maybe part-time school or not even in school. It's almost a requirement. You will need to be up before your children to get any sort of dedicated work done.
Now, if you have a newborn please don't listen to my advice, please get some sleep. Right? I mean there's a season for everything.
So, it depends. But if your child is sleeping in, you're getting a regular amount of hours of sleep every night, I encourage you to wake up one to two hours before your children, to get some of that work time in. That way you can still be a mom during the day with your kids.
If you have kids at home, you're not going to be able to make as many calls, take client calls, or get some dedicated focused work done because you have the interruptions of a small child.
It's Okay To Have Your Children Work With You
Amanda: The other piece though to that is I have taken plenty of calls where my client has a one-year-old sitting on their lap. Just know that it's not completely frowned upon to have your child working with you.
You have to make it work, where it's something that you can still accomplish. But if you have a small crawling around as long as you can still get that call accomplished, that work accomplished, then no harm, no foul.
The other thing that I truly believe in is you'll be less overwhelmed if you actually schedule in the time that you're supposed to be really more present with your kids or then more present with your work.
Whether it's the morning time and then once your kids are awake you're not doing work for a certain set of hours. Then, maybe when it's nap time you're again really focused on your work for maybe another 90 minutes. I've found that more moms are stressed when they simply try to do both.
How To Structure Your Day
Amanda: We are great multi-taskers but it's difficult to be an amazing mom and an amazing businessperson at exactly the same time. I do think, if you can structure enough in your day, just shut it off. Shut the computer off, be done for a bit, focus on the time with your kids.
Then you will feel less guilty when you actually want to get some work done because now you've been a good mom and you've been around for them. Those are probably the two biggest hacks that I would focus on if you're newer to working from home.
Having A Dedicated Work Space
Jennifer: Absolutely. One of the biggest changes in my business has been having a dedicated space to work because you do you have to be able to turn it off. For me, that's the biggest difference.
One of the biggest changes in my business has been having a dedicated space to work because you do you have to be able to turn it off.
When you work in the corporate world, you have a building that you go to that's not your house. You get up, you drive over there, and depending on the job you don't always bring work home with you.
But working from home those boundaries kind of shift a bit. So, for me having that office where, when I'm in my office it's all about work and then when I'm in my living room that's all about my family.
Amanda: Absolutely, and again for those that are starting out that don't have that space, again that's okay you can make it work.
Amanda: But, as you're saying, still really try to provide that boundary of whether it's a certain time of the day or whether it's just simply the symbol of shutting your computer off.
If it happens to be still in your kitchen or in your bedroom, that's okay, you can still make it work. It just does help to have some of that separation of, "Okay, I'm not going to step into that space because this is family time."
Jennifer: Exactly, shutting the computer off is huge. Turning off the cell phone or putting the cell phone away.
Shutting the computer off is huge. Turning off the cell phone or putting the cell phone away.
Amanda: You will survive the night without it.
Jennifer: I know it's one of those things where moms get judged. It's funny, because dads don't get judged as much but, moms get judged. "Oh, you're on your phone with your kids or whatever."
I struggle with that to say well put your phone away, but it does make a big difference when you work from your phone. It's really tempting for me when I'm sitting with my daughter. It's easy for me to open up Instagram and start scrolling.
If I see something I want to comment on for work I have to take that step back and say "No, that's work. This isn't work time. This is family time." For me putting my phone away has been a huge thing.
So, I'm not saying put your phone away just in terms of just general parenting. But when you use your phone in an online type of business, and you're working from home, to be able to make that clear separation can be very helpful.
When you use your phone in an online type of business, and you're working from home, to be able to make that clear separation can be very helpful.
Staying Productive By Time Blocking And Setting Limits
Amanda: It can! If you just go in to study the productivity of it as well, you will be more productive if you set specific limits. You can still network on social media for two hours a day if you want. But choose one hour in the morning or afternoon, and one hour in the evening or nighttime.
Then you block it out and again you'll feel less guilty because you have the time schedule just like you would any other work task. Then the rest of those hours you know you should be staying with your family. That's the point of why you wanted to work from home.
Give Yourself Grace
Jennifer: Exactly. So, is there anything else that we didn't cover that you feel like our listeners should know.
Amanda: Just, in summary, it's a good reminder to just give yourself some grace. Maybe you overslept and you didn't get your morning work done, that doesn't mean your whole day is shot. You can still build around it.
Give yourself some grace for when things don't go well, or you end up with a sick child, and you had a whole bunch of stuff you wanted to get done. Give yourself some grace, build in those expectations.
If it's a client deadline that you're going to be short on because of a sick child the same thing you would do in the corporate space you just have to communicate it differently.
That's been the biggest learner for me, of working from home. Yes, I might have some more flexibility. I also might have some different stressors because of the more time I have with my kids. It doesn't mean I have to stop working or completely fumble through things. You just have to continue to build those expectations with either clients, colleagues, or whoever it is that you are working with.
From Corporate to Self Employed
Jennifer: That's excellent advice. So, I'd love to hear a little bit more about you and your business and how you cope with it all.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Because I came from corporate I always love to mention that I came out of a male-dominated industry. Corporate finance, for the most part, is a more dominated male industry.
I choose now to work with women. I partner with small business owners or solopreneurs, on really helping them to grow and scale their business but without so much overwhelming anxiety.
Now, I'm not the mindset coach that's going to tell you, "Rah! Rah! We got this."
I'm actually more of the business coach that's going to help you understand how we can streamline your business. How can we make things a little bit smoother? How can you work better, stronger, faster? I work with women one-on-one to build and scale their business but in an efficient manner.
The Lux Way: From Overwhelmed To Organized
Amanda: I do also run a Facebook Community where I do one or two live training a week on some sort of specific topic around that. Whether I'm sharing a certain part of my day that I find productive or efficient. Maybe I'll share a tool or a platform or system.
Maybe just some general things on business foundations that I think you need to run a successful business. All of that kind of good stuff is what I share inside my private group, but that's what I do now in a nutshell.
Jennifer: What is the name of your private Facebook group?
To Wrap It Up...
Jennifer: Alright anything else we need to talk about today.
Amanda: I don't think so. Like I said just give yourself some grace, keep your head up. You can always connect with me on social media if you're one that feels like gosh I do need a friend in business. I am always open. Open door policy as I would say virtually. Please feel free to reach out if you're struggling with some sort of an issue from working from home. Happy to help.
Jennifer: That's awesome! Thank you so much for your time today. I feel like you've given us so much to think about and so many great tips.
Amanda: Thank you so much. It was exciting to be here and share in your wisdom. Appreciate it.