Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Work-from-home Tips for Professionals & Entrepreneurs

I’ve been working from home for over 14 years now. And honestly, I’ve loved it way more than I ever enjoyed working in a cubicle at any office. I like the flexibility, the ability to meet my deadlines at a self-created pace, working solo and being in my favourite place – my home, while I craft a career I enjoy.

Laptop and coffee in the work-from-home scenario
Photo credit: Unsplash

As much as I’m a die-hard fan of working-from-home, I understand that it’s not the first choice for everyone. So, with the Corona pandemic forcing everyone to huddle at home and work, it might be challenging and confusing for many of you, who prefer the structure, social aspect and discipline of walking into an office every day.

I’m sharing some tips that have worked for me in my work-from-home life and I hope these can help you ease into this too:

1. Create a rhythm or a schedule that factors in work, chores and family time. There are far too many distractions when you’re working from home, and if you don’t have a plan for the day, you may find it slipping from you quicker than you expected.

2. Ditch the pajamas and dress for work. Wear your “outside” clothes. Put on some make-up. Reach out for your favorite pair of earrings. I’ve found that dressing for work helps me focus better and feel sharper as I tackle the day’s to-do’s.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Textile artist & Army wife Meenakshi Sharma on building a brand around your passions

Hello friends! I'd like to introduce you to a fabulous Army wife artist & my online friend, Meenakshi Sharma, in today's edition of The Brigade That Builds Brands. I often reach out to her to know where to source certain art supplies (for my small art brand "Jugnoo Story Art") or how to start on a new medium, and every time, she shares with generosity. Mrs. Sharma is known for her beautiful hand-painted soft furnishings and she puts in her heart & soul into every piece she creates for her clients. Let's find out how she built a successful art business post-50, while juggling her many personal commitments.

Artist Meenakshi Sharma in her living room
Meenakshi Sharma

CB. Where are you based and how long have you been a fauji/military wife (and which service are/have been part of i.e Army/Air Force/Navy)?

MS. I’m Meenakshi born and brought up in Delhi and married to an AMC officer, now retired and settled in Mohali. I'm mom to two children aged 26 and 22 . I'm basically  a self taught artist . I'm passionate about all kinds of folk art like Madhubani, Pichwai Gond and tribal art. I started doing it on paper and later brought it to functional home decor items like decorative wall plates and on fabric like cushion covers dupattas and dresses I have also started doing small projects in watercolour. I sell these under the brand name Tulika. 

Three dragonflies watercolour painting
Meenakshi's watercolour dragonflies

CB. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when 
did you start your brand/business/creative career?

MS. I had always been a creative person but all my creative pursuits had taken a back seat when my son was diagnosed with autism and most of my time was spent either running around for therapies or trying to cope up with the emotional turmoil the whole family was going through. Acceptance brought in lot of stability. But I started with my creative venture after my husband hung up his boots. At the behest of my daughter and few good friends, Tulika was born about 2years back.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Opinions & Questions Every Homeschooling Parent Needs To Be Prepared For

All of a sudden, everyone is talking about how difficult it is to homeschool and seeking out long-term homeschoolers for tips and tricks to crack the teach-at-home code! 

From being “THAT LADY WHO DOESN’T SEND HER SON TO SCHOOL”, I seem to have transformed overnight to that mom who knows a few things about homeschooling! Ha! 

Boy making science toys in his homeschool
N in his homegrown "workshop" making sci toys

I wonder if more parents will continue homeschooling their children, even after the Corona scare dies down. I wonder if this new understanding and empathy for the homeschooling life will continue or once the kids are back in school, homeschooling will just be another “dicey choice” that only some parents, like me, make. 

Here are the general (wrong) impressions folks have had about us homeschooling our son (and I bet all homeschooling parents face some versions of this):

Is homeschooling even an option?” And “So, when does he get back to school?”
While homeschooling is not so uncommon in bigger cities in India, in the military community, I’m yet to meet another homeschooling family. In the defence services, homeschooling is unheard of and most people fall from the sky when we mention that the kiddo does school at home. 

You must try enrolling him in the local school - I mean how long can you homeschool!”
Umm…maybe till he goes off to college? Sounds good? 
Often when families choose to homeschool, they would have explored the go-to-school option first and found a reason not to pursue it. But just because our method of education is non-traditional, we’re asked all these weird questions by well-meaning people. So when folks nudge and cajole me to send my son to school, it kind of annoying because hey, am I telling anyone to keep their kid at home?

Monday, May 4, 2020

How To Work-from-home When You Have Small Children At Home

Hello mommies! Today, I’m answering a work-from-home question sent in by a reader. 
How do you work when you have a small child at home? My daughter shuts off my laptop every time I sit down to write.” This question was sent in by Bhakti, a technical writer, military wife and mom to a 4 year-old, who would like to get back into copy writing and a work-from-home career.

Bhakti and all moms out there struggling with the same problem - I hear you. And I’ve been in your shoes; in fact, I’m often in this kind of situation even now.

Work-from-home mom working on her laptop with toddler in her lap
Pic credit: Pexels

As a homeschooling mom to a rambunctious little boy and a military wife, it is a constant juggling act to work on my projects and dreams, while fielding questions from this very curious 6.5 year old, having said boy trailing me throughout the day and singing at the top of his voice whenever I get on a client call :D. 

I started this blog, when my son was a few months old and got back to freelance journalistic assignments when he was a toddler and my husband, often deployed frequently. 

(Do check out my Youtube Video on this - link mentioned at the end of the post.)

Here are some of the things I did to get some work done, while tending to and often sole parenting my son.

Find pockets of time to work in. The early morning hours are my jam; for you, it could be late nights and afternoons, when your child naps or is more amenable to some quiet time. 

Have a rhythm instead of a tight schedule. If the latter works better for you, then go ahead with that. But for me, chunking my day into routines and staying flexible has worked much better. When the day has a more organic quality to it, then I don’t get hassled too much if something comes up (which is very probable when the kids are small) or if something changes.

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