Thursday, July 9, 2009

Working out of the Panera Office

Moms in the 21st century try to do it all: balance a career, raising the kids from home, and keeping the household together. I'm one of those WSAHMs (working stay-at-home moms). Since my daughter Jorie, now 2, was born, I've found it increasingly difficult to balance it all. And with today's economy including a salary reduction to our budget, it's become important that I take all the work I can get.

I am very fortunate to get more work than I can take these days, and being spread so thin, it's important for me to work overtime to maintain balance in my life--and sanity for that matter.

My solution: A solid morning routine and the Panera office.

Each morning I wake up at 6 AM and start my day with my Bible study. I find that spending time with God almost magically gets my priorities for the day in line. My heart and mind become more capable of handling the day's events and I'm less irritable, stressed, and overwhelmed.

Next, I try (and only do it about half the time if not less) to workout for 20-30 minutes in the morning to get the adrenaline flowing. I always feel so much better physically after a quick workout. It's great to achieve a sense of accomplishment before the kids even wake up.

Two days a week, I schedule a babysitter to watch the kids from 9 AM to 3 PM and I work out of the Panera office. It's a great location. The dining room is large, so I can usually find a nice, quiet table next to an electrical outlet to set up shop. With a bagel and OJ for breakfast (ya gotta get something), I'm ready to tackle the day's work: grading papers, planning classes, emailing students, and whatever else is on the menu.

To accompany my laptop, I have my husband's Verizon card, so I'm sure to always have a reliable signal. I have a portable, cordless mouse that plugs in easily, and all my files on my beloved flash drive. I wheel in my office in a black, leather computer case, armed with my textbooks, papers, and, of course, my microphone in case I need to correspond with a student via Skype. I've also been known to record a podcast or two.

My assistant, the iPhone, comes with me so I can make phone calls, check my To Do List on reQall, record voice memos, or check my schedule for what's in store that week. I juggle personal tasks with iPhone applications like Shopper, where I can add to my grocery list and Lose It, where I can log in my calories.

The time I spend at Panera is precious: it's my time to get caught up and refresh so that I can be a better, more focused mom at home with my kids. I'd better hit publish and get to work: my babysitter's on the clock and I need to get to work.


Anonymous said...

Working in a different place than home really can energize attitude :-) That's why I like going to the campground most weekends and occasionally staying there by myself for a week (with hubby there on both weekends, before and after). I get SO much done when there are no distractions! I need that next week but can't do it because I have too many appts scheduled for various things. I try to schedule all my appts all in the same week every month or so. Our Panera's here is just too busy for that kind of work like you do all day. AND they have a one hour limit on table time and they'll ask you to leave if you've been there more than an hour.

Beth L. Gainer said...

Yes, I like to go to Starbucks to write sometimes. It does help to remove oneself from home if possible. There are often too many distractions at home.

This is an excellent post, Jeannie. Love the "Panera Office" lingo.

Oh, BTW, I can now access the Internet from my laptop with a CriKet gizmo. It's inexpensive. Now I can work on blogs away from home!!

Portable office, indeed.