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When I was in college I had this vision of what my future career would look like. At the time the goal was to become an event planner. I envisioned myself running my own company, which would allow me the flexibility to work from home because I would have kids, yadda yadda. I got a job right out of college and did the whole meeting and event management bit... but unfortunately, the companies I worked for hadn’t fully embraced the whole “work from home” thing. Then I met Megan Ferris - the stars aligned.

Here I am 10 years later running my own business (x2) from my guest room. Before FPG was ever a virtual company, it was encouraged to work remotely for a number of reasons.

+ Less travel/drive time which equals more time with your family

+ You can work on your own terms which can often lead to higher productivity

+ With the exception of toddlers, there are generally less distractions - think about the great yet albeit sometimes unwanted conversations from peers in the office. It’s like, “I love you Jane and your four cats but I really need to get this inspection response out the door…” Yeah. I went there.

When you’re working from home YOU get to be in control. I know, none of us are thrilled about having to spend the last five months at home quarantining. And as a result of said quarantining, many have been forced to work from home instead of the office, or a really awesome fun adventure: e-learning. But it can be done and it can be enjoyable/productive. These are my tips to making virtual a reality. (see what I did there!? Ok, I’ll get to the point.)

  • Create a designated office space, your “command center”, for your work. A place where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of your home. Ideally it has a door you can close for when you need to take calls, but the key word here is designated. Not dual purpose, not your dining room table...

    • I live in an adorable yet typical Broad Ripple home. That means I don’t have a ton of space. My office is in our guest room/husband’s closet/future home to e-learning. BUT, I got myself a secretary’s style desk from Ikea - it’s like my own little work cabinet/hub, just for me. My printer, computer, resources are all here. So when I wake up in the morning I literally go to work, i.e. a separate space in our home where work happens and stays.

  • When putting together your work space, choose supplies that make you happy. Like file folders - they come in an array of styles and colors - choose a style that makes you smile. Upgrade from that boring manilla/vanilla color. I chose a set with an encouraging phrase and metallic accents!

    • Bonus tip - if this is your thing - put up inspirational quotes or pictures. Anything that will keep you motivated and in a positive mood.

  • Make it comfortable - not too comfortable though. Make sure you have a supportive chair, for example. Choose a space with good airflow and temperature control - sounds weird but I don’t know about you, I’d rather not work in an ice box… or a sauna… Think about it. Does it get adequate light? And natural light at that? Sunshine makes us happy, folks!! I work right next to a window, bring on that Vitamin D.

OK, now we have your workspace setup. Excellent! But that alone won’t solve all of your work-from-home problems. You can have an amazing office, but if you’re not productive, then what’s the point? Here are some helpful tips to stay on track and efficient.

  • Determine when you’re most productive during the day - that’s when you’re going to knock out your most important tasks or busy work.

    • Are you a night owl? Are you an early bird? Are you a nine to five-er? I realized that I’m most creative and energized right away in the morning. (Although please don’t talk to me until I’ve finished my coffee. I know - seems backwards but I’m human) I set my alarm to get up 3 hours before my kids. I take that first hour for me and those next two to knock out as much “busy work” as I can. Think emails, reports, this is when I curate or create our social media, planning, etc.

  • Once you’ve determined your most productive hours, create a work schedule. Know your work hours and don’t work outside of them. This is to avoid burnout. It’s too easy/tempting to keep working when you’re working from home.

  • Write it down - identifying what needs to get done before you do it will help you stay on track. Especially if you have kiddos at home like me - you know what I’m talking about. “Mom, I need juice. Mom, he’s hitting me. Mom, snack!” Need I say more?

    • Bonus tip - I write my list in my planner, like I literally schedule when I’m going to do what task. I have found this to be more effective than your standard to-do list.

  • Batch tasks and theme days. Reflect on your typical work week - are there tasks that can be lumped together because they’re similar in nature? What about themes?

    • Batch tasks - all emails, then all your calls, then all your reports, etc. This helps keep you “in the zone”.

    • Theme days - a day for meetings, a day for paperwork, a day for business admin (think bills, budgets, etc.)... my theme days look like this - and I organize my day by marketing in the AM and real estate in the PM:

      • Monday - AM: Schedule/plan posts | PM: Client followup

      • Tuesday - AM: Branding/strategy | PM: Meetings/showings

      • Wednesday - AM: Makeup day | PM: Lead generation/showings

      • Thursday - AM: Curate content | PM: Mom day + showings if needed

      • Friday - AM: Create content | PM: Client followup

There is so much more I could share on the topic but I won’t bore you with it. The tips mentioned are the ones that I have found to be most helpful AND actually work. There are others like changing your clothes/don't work in PJs… but seeing as I’m in mine as I type this… If nothing else I hope to pass on the encouragement that working from home CAN be done and done well. It is an adjustment at first. Like anything else it’s not something you can grow accustomed to overnight. But you absolutely can be productive, efficient, and more importantly HAPPY. Good luck, my friend!

I probably should tell you that I am an FPG agent and our Social Media Coordinator. I should also admit that my middle name is Jane, that I love cats and it was once me bugging coworkers with cat stories. My future as a ‘cat lady’ looks bright. I’m a boy mom for life and constantly chasing messes (when I’m not breaking up fights!) and truly love serving my community by way of real estate. I get to meet and help so many amazing people around town! It has been an awesome career. Now as the brokerage’s Social Media Coordinator, I get to brag about how awesome our city and people are. Win win.

My husband and I were referred to FPG when we returned home to Indiana. I was drawn to their way of doing business and when I was offered an opportunity to join them the choice was easy! If you’re thinking of a career in real estate, or one with Ferris Property Group, we’d love to talk.

- Kate Sowles

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