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Bringing Up Business: 6 Habits Every Work-at-Home Mom Needs to Start Today

6 Habits Every Work-at-Home Mom Needs to Start Today

Working from home - when you have children at home - is not for the faint of heart! I’m a wedding photographer in Kansas City, and a working author and copywriter, and I homeschool our three children, ages 6 and under...so when I tell you I know how hard it is, believe it, Sister!

A little while back, I asked my followers over on Instagram what they’d like me to share more about in upcoming blog posts, and there was a resounding ask for tips and hacks I use to manage being a wife, #momlife and a rapidly growing business, among other various roles in ministry, etc.

Today, I’m sharing the six life-saving habits I have developed that help me stay organized and productive, without sacrificing my sanity or our home life!

Teen girl’s hair blows wildly in the wind. © Merry Ohler Creative, 2019. Photo by Merry Ohler, wedding photographer Kansas City.

1. Do some kind of meal prep every week.

Speaking from experience, I can guarantee that meal prep will save you time, money and your sanity. If you aren’t already doing this, you need to start a little weekly meal prep today, Mama.

You will be absolutely amazed at how simple meal prep will positively affect your stress level and free you up on weekdays. I usually do this on either Friday or Saturday nights, and to be fair, I don’t do nearly as much meal prep as some people. However, my InstantPot makes meal prep a breeze, and I typically use it once or twice a week to cook dinner in addition to the meal prep. 

I like to make ahead a big batch of seasoned chicken, a batch of ground beef, and one pot of a favorite soup every single week. Typically, I will do all my meat prep on one night (one right after the other), and the next night I will make the soup. My kids love a good soup, and so do I! I usually eat either soup or salad for lunch Monday through Friday, so having a fresh batch of yummy, nourishing soup on hand helps me make healthier choices while cutting down on the time I spend figuring out lunches. I use the chicken in salad, for chicken spaghetti, burritos, and casseroles. I use the ground beef for tacos, casseroles, pasta dishes and spaghetti, as well as sloppy joes and other favorite recipes. 

Click to view and follow my InstantPot Pinterest board here!

Attractive young couple kiss at Liberty Memorial overlooking the Kansas City skyline. © Merry Ohler Creative, 2019. Photo by Merry Ohler, who is the best wedding photographer in Kansas City.

2. Set a work schedule for your week.

Decide in advance which days or nights you will work each week, then schedule your actual working hours and stick to your plan.

When you work for yourself, the temptation to mix work hours with “home hours” is strong. Don’t fall into this trap! One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is that when my attention is divided, failure will soon follow in some arena. 

Every Friday evening, I write out my work schedule for the following week, taking into account everything I have scheduled. I start with weddings, sessions and projects which are due, then fill in whatever else I need to accomplish. As a professional photographer in Kansas City and a working writer, I frequently manage multiple projects at once. We also have three young children, and I homeschool as well, so there are always many things going on every week. 

Over trial and error, I have learned that whatever I am doing in a given day, I need to be able to give 100% of my attention to that role. During the hours that I work, I hire childcare and work in my office or leave and work at a favorite local coffee shop, or the library. During the hours that I am teaching my children, all work is put away so they have my undivided attention and 100% of their mama.

This habit will keep you on task and help you give your family, clients and self the best you have to give at all times.

Girl smiles in background as beautiful Thoroughbred mare takes center focus. © Merry Ohler Creative, 2019. Photo by Merry Ohler, wedding photographer Kansas City.

3. Divide your week by day, then schedule batch work for each work period.

Every WAHM knows the multitasking struggle is real. Batch working helps you by virtually eliminating the constant time suck you create when you switch between various tasks all day long.

One of the biggest struggles I faced when I first started my own business was figuring out how to manage my workload. Fortunately, I stumbled upon the concept of batch working and created a workflow that makes the most sense for me and my business.There are many ways to incorporate batch working, so you need to figure out what your priorities are and adapt the method to fit your needs.

My creative business currently fits into five tiers of batch working:

  • Culling & Editing

  • Copywriting

  • Marketing

  • Administrative

  • SEO

When I write out my work schedule for the week, I look at whatever meetings and events are on my calendar, then fill in the rest of the hours with whatever batch work fits and is my top priority for the week. For example, rather than spending an hour editing, followed by an hour copywriting, then an hour writing copy for social posts in one day, I will dedicate all my work hours to culling and editing on Day 1, then all my work hours to writing copy and social posts on Day 2, then all my work hours to administrative tasks like finalizing Wedding Day Timelines on Day 3, etc. This allows me to get into a groove on one specific task and get the most out of every minute because I don’t have to shift gears once I am finally on a roll.

Newborn baby sleeps on his mother in hospital bed © Merry Ohler Creative, 2019. Photo by Merry Ohler, Kansas City Wedding Photographer.

4. Get enough rest.

When you work from home, it can be tempting to stay up all hours of the night once the kids are finally in bed to finish “one last thing” or get a head start on the next day. This is one of the absolute worst things you can do, because in order to function at the level required to care for yourself and your family (not to mention your business), you need adequate rest!

If you find yourself struggling with this one, start by planning to go to bed at an earlier time one night a week. After one or two weeks, plan to go to bed at an earlier time two nights a week. Gradually increase the number of nights you go to bed early until you have reached 5 nights a week. 

Truth be told, this is something I still struggle with on a weekly basis! My children are all 6 and under, so I do the majority of my housework, laundry, etc. in the hours after my children fall asleep.

High school senior girl poses with vintage suitcase in front of colorful shipping containers. © Merry Ohler Creative, 2019. Photo by Merry Ohler, who is the best wedding photographer in Kansas City.

5. Find your tribe.

Working from home can be an amazing opportunity to bring in some income while staying home with your children, but Many work-at-home-moms feel isolated much of the time. 

Stay at home moms who do not work from home can’t fully relate to the struggles related to running or working a business from home. Moms who work outside the home can’t totally relate, either, because the challenges they face look different. All of this lends to a feeling of isolation because it is difficult to share your struggles with someone who doesn’t fully comprehend your struggles. 

Invest time and energy into finding your tribe - a handful of other work-at-home-moms who do similar work that you do, and build some relationships, Mama! Schedule a coffee date. Invite them over one morning to chat at your kitchen table. Start a group chat and update each other once a week, then plan a monthly get together to share struggles and wins. Isolation is the breeding ground of comparison, and comparison is the thief of joy!

High school senior girl smiles in background as she holds a photo of herself from Kindergarten up as primary focus. © Merry Ohler Creative, 2019. Photo by Merry Ohler, Kansas City Wedding Photographer.

6. Celebrate your weekly wins.

Perhaps the hardest part of working from home is that there is no peer feedback or support. Start celebrating your weekly wins!

Wins look different for everyone. For me, a win often looks like finishing everything in my editing queue in the time I allotted to edit for the week, or writing copy for all my social posts for the quarter in one week. When I accomplish one of these small wins, I will take a half hour off one morning and go read a book at my favorite coffee shop, or if it’s a particularly big win, I might schedule a pedicure!

Begin incorporating these habits into your week today, and watch how your productivity increases rapidly! 

I’d love to hear from YOU! What habits help you be productive when working from home?