C Tann-Starr's Outside Blog

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I Love Being A Work-At-Home-Mom (WAHM)

There are so many wonderful things I love about being a Work-At-Home-Mom (WAHM). At the top of my list is the ability to be there for my learning disabled children. My six year old son, Noah, suffers from Autism. My two year old son, Stephen, suffers from Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). When you are balancing two sets of therapy schedules, three freelance positions, and trying to get a little face time in with your husband, things can get a little crazy in your daily planner. No one really knows what anyone else’s life is like and I am flattered that you’ve been very curious about mine. Since I have received so many emails from the readers of my blog; I decided instead of answering each person individually, I would simply publish the answers on the very blog that generated each inquiry. The number one question revolved around how I do all of the things that I showcase in my blog.

The answer isn’t as complicated as some of you were lead to believe. The fact of the matter is since I am working for small periods of time for multiple clients and customers on a broad spectrum of projects, the most important thing for me are to manage my activities during a set amount of time wisely. It’s not the “time” you concentrate on; it is the “efficiency of the activity.” This is my key for how I manage to get so much done: (1) I schedule my time carefully in 20 minute intervals until my “list of things to do today” actually get done. (2) I prioritize my phone calls into (a) immediate answer or return, (b) 24 hour return, (c) 48 hour return and also try to ensure that a response rarely goes past the third day. All important calls are followed up with a fax or an email to recap the talking points and to document where I am in the project with the client.

As an independent contractor who telecommutes I have to be very careful about my attitudes toward the flexibility in my schedule. You control your schedule and can not blame someone else for what you fail to do with it. I am responsible for my own health insurance, errors and omission insurance, general operating expenses, transportation, marketing and overhead. If I am not careful with my management of my activities or fail to schedule adequate time to perform my goals, then my business may fail. As a Real Estate Paralegal operating (1) a Mobile Notary Signing Agent business, (2) conducting legal research/investigations and (3) working as a New York State licensed Realtor, my self-management style is based upon obtaining “the most bang for my buck,” e.g. maximizing a final result while minimizing time, costs and commuting. If you are anything like me and your wireless laptop and cell phone is your office, then technically your business can virtually remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This WAHM is never absent; I am always on duty and simply an email, fax and / or phone call away.

On a final aside, yes I am an artist and I create illustrations, fine art, and graphic art and absolutely love my photography, however, I treat my creativity as seriously as I treat my e-commute and schedule time for those activities accordingly. I even treat my blogs as a job and take the branding of my name and association very seriously. If you are going to be a WAHM, then time and activity management is the key.

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Comment balloon 58 commentsC Tann-Starr • July 26 2008 07:32AM

Comments

CAROLYN - I'm surprised that your headshot doesn't show you wearing a cape!  You are definitely someone that we should look up to for inspiration.  It's interesting that you started Club Chaos, when you have managed to turn your life into anything but Chaos.  Maybe you should start the group Organized Chaos, and teach us more about time management.

Posted by Adam Waldman, Realtor - Long Island (Westcott Group Real Estate Company) over 10 years ago

Hey Adam, thank you for your kind words. Believe me when I say it is not easy, never perfect, but has evolved to the point where I found a way to make it all work for me in the end. It helps that the boys are such curious little people. They are completely into real estate, road trips and discovering new places to play. My six year old thinks he's "Bob the Builder, Realtor Man of Action." He travels with his own clipboard and lately I've been letting him take digital pictures as well.  :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

C - and you still have time to blog and take wonderful pictures, the kids alone would be a full time job for many. Linda Carter, move over, you have competition for the Wonder Woman title.

Posted by Mike Saunders (Lanier Partners) over 10 years ago

Developing and improving my systems are the key to getting the job done.  Good Job!

Posted by Nannette Turner, Online Marketing Home Ownership Advocate Specialis (Keller Williams Lynchburg) over 10 years ago

Mike -- too funny! My turtles runs are scheduled down time for me to relieve stress with a little exercise and eye candy. Getting to blog about play time? Priceless:-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Carolyn,

Thanks for the post. For most independent contractors, time management is a major component of their planning that goes lacking. Appears as though you have a lot to offer the Time Management Group.

Posted by William Collins, Property and Asset Management (ERA Queen City Realty) over 10 years ago

I hear you!  Being a WAHM is one of the hardest jobs in the world!  James and I work full time as licensed realtors, just opened our own 3700 SQFT brokerage office in town and are raising 3 boys (ages 4, 2 and 1 with a girl on the way in October!).  Keep on doing a great job and much success to you and your family!

Sincerely,

Kathleen

Posted by Kathleen Cooper, Sposato Realty Group - Broker Owner (Kathleen Cooper, Sposato Realty Group) over 10 years ago

Hey Nannette, I find I am always tweaking my schedules. My home based business certainly makes life very interesting for me. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Hi William -- I had no idea I could join an AR Time Management Group. I have got to go check that out. Thank you for the kind words and heads up!

Hi Kathleen, kudos and congrats on the baby! Wishing you both the best in your business and family lives as well.

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Carolyn, I am in awe.  I work primarily from home, although I have a desk in an office where I go for some adult camaraderie every day during the school year for an hour or so.  I am not organized at all at seem to operate very much like my ADD post from last week.  My house continually looks like a project gone awry and although I long for order, my brain just can't seem to achieve it.  I love to read so I do, even when there are things that need doing.  When I am out with clients showing houses and then get home, I want to kiss the kids, play with the dog, and read.  You are my hero and I know I need to get on some kind of a schedule.  Maybe in Sept. when they are back in school.

Posted by Susan Mangigian, Chester & Delaware County Homes, Delaware and Ches (RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A) over 10 years ago

Carolyn, your parallels with myself being mobile and multi-skilled in diverse fields are amazing. I usually don't get down in the details to explain this ability to be more efficient with my time because most people can't relate to this "on the fly" behavior. Also I would say 80% of the people are single focused out there and I know I have at least five focuses from the business to the personal side. And interests? Probably a 100. I learned to accept myself as different in this area about ten years ago and go with who I am rather than be a cookie cutter the way everyone else is. I can see why you get emails about how can you draw, do photography, do your multiple businesses, attend to your family, because they just think it can't be done. It can, with the right personality type. It is who you are and thanks for the quick thumbnail on how you get around even with the turtle runs ; ) WAHM almost sounds like your local radio station : )

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

We have gotten close and I am always amazed at how well you juggle everything going on.  I consider myself a multi-tasker but I do not have small children.  Take my advice- Please remember to take time out for yourself.  I spent years of my life racing around trying to 'acomplish' every task no matter how large.  Recently I figured out the world was going to revolve whether I pushed it along or not.

Posted by Melody Botting, You Deserve The Best (Broker Associate PenFed Realty) over 10 years ago

Susan, you are on "some sort of schedule" because you have a routine of how you like to spend your day. Each schedule is unique and tuned to the personality creating it. No two schedues will ever be the same. We can all improve at anything, but sometimes if it's not broke, don't fix it. What you want to get done and what you need to get done are two very different things, so please make and keep yourself happy when you do tweak your schedule.

My house is a perpetual wreck between me and the minions. Mike is very neat, so our messes stress him out on a daily basis. Imagine if you had a creative person in your mist working on multiple canvasses at the same time, which have to be propped different places in order to air dry. Then add two hyperactive, climbing little people (a) you have to keep out of the oil paint and (b) whose idea of fun is to spread every single toy they own from one end of the house to the other, (c) only to fight over one lego block when there are already 200 on the floor. They know if you move something too and have an unusual way of protesting (which we will save for another blog about my children later - LOL).

The key is to decide what takes priority in your life. Reading is your down time, your "me" time and a very important part of your day that you should never mess with. Let the laundry and dishes sit, but do relax your mind and emotions with a good book that refreshes and rejuvenates your inner being. You can always get to the housework later, its not going anywhere. When I do laundry or the dishes, I usually wear my iPod and listen to language lessons (my husband is Jewish and I have a lot of Hebrew to learn and Spanish is mandatory in FL). Sometime I just want to enjoy myself and will listen to what ever music I am in the mood for. I even download audio books when I don't have time to read. I, like you, am a recreational reader, which is why I love blogging and enjoy paralegal work.

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Hey Gary, you are a kindred spirit, for I am the Queen of On The Fly (LOL). I am a retired Correction Officer and can definitely attest to the fact that one must be flexible and able to adapt at the drop of a hat. Inmates have ways of making one see with great clarity and one never really excapes the paramilitary mind frame. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Mel, that's why I play video games, roll on the floor with my kids, make mud pies, create artwork, program music on my Korg, jog, blog and hang with you guys when I play phone tag. I love Club Chaos and all of the sharing and caring that goes on here. My favorite AR moments are when I'm giggling on the phone with my CC family. You guys ROCK! It's a very different relationship from my brick and mortar friends. Variety is definitely the spice of life! Live your lives to the fullest and don't forget to take time out to rest and sleep. Schedule a nap if you have to. It's your schedule. Control it. Make it work for what you both want and need, balancing it as you see fit... Melody, I will always remember to take your advice, sweetie. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Darn Girlfriend,

I got tired just reading about how you handle your day to day.  Maybe it is because I am getting old and suffer from SMRS!  Go figure growing old sucks.;-))  It does sound to me like you are totally enjoying life and all it has to offer tho.

Keep it up and thank you for sharing your day with da family.

Don R.

Posted by Don Rogers, Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes (Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield) over 10 years ago

Hey Don, they are such sweeties and I can't wait to see what the little buggers do next. However, I will admit that when it is a bad day, it goes very wrong really quickly. The Autism is actually easier to handle than the PDD-NOS. You haven't seen a melt down until you've seen a terrible two flip the script with PDD-NOS. It can leave you speechless and be very exhausting, indeed...

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Carolyn - You are clearly a masterful time manager, and I applaud you for this.  I have had people question my ability to be so prolific, but I usually work from home and write very quickly, so it really doesn't take as much of my time as you might think.  Having dealt with a lot of occupational therapy for my son until last year (he has Sensory Integrative Disorder), I can only imagine the challenges that you face each day.  Keep up the good work, my new friend. 

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 10 years ago

Hey Jason, thank you for your kind words. I know what you mean about writing quickly (LOL). There were a handful that I actually got to save as drafts, but for the most part I fire them off then start serial commenting.  ;-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

C,

If there is anything that I can do just call.

Don R.

Posted by Don Rogers, Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes (Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield) over 10 years ago

Carolyn, THANKS for sharing a bit...actually a lot more of your life with us.  Like Gary, said...I find myself somewhat amazed at the parallels between our lives.  Although he hasn't shared a whole lot about his multiple hats, that could be part of the reason I find his writings so intriguing also.  It is not too often that I encounter someone that thrives on keeping a lot of irons in the fire. 

I had been wondering how your paralegal activities fit into the scheme of things.  My kids are older now, but your brief tidbits about the legos - bring back some memories.  Your kids sound simply delightful. WAHM....you've added yet another word to my new vocaulary.  

I should thank you for giving me the "freedom" today to not worry so much that my house is not nearly as orderly as I expect my real estate clients to have theirs.   I like your idea of making time for your art and your creative side.  That has been the one area, well maybe along with the blogging,  where I like I am partaking in a guilty indulgence.       

 

Posted by Sondra Meyer:, See It. Experience It. Live It. (Star View Real Estate ) over 10 years ago

Forgot to mention...Nice picture. 

Posted by Sondra Meyer:, See It. Experience It. Live It. (Star View Real Estate ) over 10 years ago

That's a whirlwind life you're living, but it sound fulfilling, and isn't that what we all want?  Sounds like you're honoring all the facets of your life, not simply focused on making a living, but more on making the most of living! 

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) over 10 years ago

Sister C, Kudos to you girl! You are a wonderful lady and I have enjoyed watching you flourish in The Rain. Still love that little Noah, what a good looking little man, watch out girls when he gets older.

Brother D

Posted by * Rate A Home (Rate A Home) over 10 years ago

All I can say is you're way too Organized for me..... LOL :)  Seriously though I like how you have the 20 minute slots...and your attitude sure is one that can make it work.

Posted by Kathy McGraw, Riverside County CA Real Estate (CELLing Realty) over 10 years ago

Sondra, if you can't indulge in life, what can you indulge in? (LOL)

Enjoy your blogging and everything else that interests you and live your life abundantly! You know, even when things start to go bad, I can find something to laugh about. I'll call up one of the girls and ask them how their day is going and the next thing I know I'm not concentrating on the negative, I actually start to feel very positive about things and I begin to count my blessings. My clothes are dirty? Hey, at least I have clothes! The dishes are piling up in the sink? Hey, we had a great meal! Toys thrown in every crevice? OMG, I have two kids after 5 miscarriages! The day I realized it was "how I looked at life" and "how I wanted to approach being alive" was the day I really started learning how to enjoy what I have and just live, live, live... I can't wait to get up in the morning and see what's cooking with my clients, friends and family. My schedules all revolve around them. That's why "down time" or "me time" is so important. It is the one time each time that I take a time out and do something special for me. You should always have a special moment for yourself and enjoy the anticipation of when that next moment will arrive. Life is short, enjoy your desert. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Norma, what an interesting description! "Whirlwind Life" is so romantic and chic! However, the truth is I am just caught up in the crazed and hectic drama of living my life like every other Mom out there trying to make ends meet, deal with family issues and juggle the bills while keeping the kids in food and clothing. I have a few quirks and talents, but don't we all to some degree? You have made my day, however, with such an interesting description and your kind words. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Hey Brother D, thank you kindly. I love being a member of AR. I've made such great new friends here! (LOL - the boys are cuties pies, aren't they?)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Sister C, they sure are, you are going to have your hands full in a few years.

Posted by * Rate A Home (Rate A Home) over 10 years ago

Thank you Kathy, your kind words are very much appreciated. :-)   (P.S. I can be VERY disorganized on a bad hair day - LOL)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Hey Duane, only a few years? They are FULL NOW! (ROTFL)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

You have your priorities straight Sister C.  I made many sacrifices to be there when my kids were small and even now my schedule is around them.  It has made a huge difference in the way they have grown up and how they relate to me. Keep up the great work you will be rewarded in the end.

Posted by Paddy (Patricia) Pizappi, Real Estate Associate Broker Hudson Valley NY (Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty) over 10 years ago

Thank you, Sister P! Your encouragement warms my heart! :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Ditto Susan (it's uncanny how much her description would match mine except oh, to read a book!) and WOW!  Shall I just go with your response to her (penalty for my ditto)?

 

Posted by Elaine Hanson, REALTOR - Topanga, CA Real Estate Agent (Partners Trust Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Haaaa! Elaine, I do so love you... :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Carolyn, you just never cease to amaze me. You and M both! Your energy is boundless and channeled in the right direction! As I was reading your post my mind kept taking me to TAZ...you know the cartoon character? He represents just one correlation with you...taz.gif image by dabydoll

You know how he bursts into a spinning action like a tornado? And, then ends up somewhere totally different? I could imagine you with your own tornado force behind you!

We would have to call you CAZ. Carolyn of the angelz.

Your children are incredibly lucky to have the both of you as parents. So much talent all wrapped up in a tornado of energy! Cool. We will all look forward to getting to know more about you!

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 10 years ago

Deb, I have to say that I don't know what to say! (LOL) Thank you for your kind words and I do believe I just inherited a new nickname How cool is that!  ;-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

sounds like you have your hands full and you are definitely a work at home mom!  I do not know how you do it.

Posted by n d (Naoma Doriguzzi) over 10 years ago

Girl, you are all that and a bag of chips. Those of us that choose to stay at home to work really do get a lot done in our days. My kid is my dog though. I'ts late and I need some sleep. Zzzzz 

Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes (Lizette Realty - Richmond KY) over 10 years ago

Naoma, I do it one day at a time. Sometimes, I even skip a day to unwind. :-)

 

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Hey Lizette, thank you! I've seen your little cutie pie and understand exactly how you feel about your pet. ;-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

I live under the illusion that I am organized and efficient, but girlfriend, you put me to shame with all that energy.

elizabeth weintraub sacramento real estate agent land park

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (Lyon Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Bulletin, people -- When I talked to C yesterday, I realized that she has left out a thing or two.  Don't worry, I thanked her for leaving them out, but I'm sure there are more!

Long live the Chaos Queen!

Posted by Elaine Hanson, REALTOR - Topanga, CA Real Estate Agent (Partners Trust Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Wow, C, thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us!  I knew you were an amazing artist and photographer but you are also one amazing mother and human being!  I am so glad we met in the rain!

Posted by Cristal Drake, Realtor - Fullerton Real Estate (Prudential California Realty) over 10 years ago

You guys are making me blush. That is a neat trick! ;-)

Elizabeth, thank you for your kind words, but truth be told, I can get pretty disorganized at times, especially when the little minions make it into my file cabinet while I am otherwise occupied. :-)

Elaine, the Queen of Chaos thanks you! (I shall have to pace myself with these revelations - LOL)

Cristal, it's a lot of fun sharing and a great place to sit back, relax, and just be me. I enjoy hearing from you all and have to say I really love my Club Chaos family. BTW, thank you for the compliments, your kind words are very much appreciated.

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

HI C!

Time management is key.  It's become extremely challenging during the summer months with the children out of school!  First day of school...almost here!!

Thanks for sharing,

Posted by Yvette Smith, Realtor In Williamsburg VA, Homes for Sale (LONG & FOSTER) over 10 years ago

Hey Yvette, I understand completely. I did some serious scrambling to get my kids into Summer programs. Having a few hours each morning without the pitter-patter of little feet and crashing items goes a long way in fight to help keep my sanity (LOL).

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

I was actually wondering how you accomplish so much (and I didn't know about all the things you're juggling). I always thought of myself as being organized until I started working from home. :) I'm still managing just fine, but I get distracted often. I want to go out in my newly planted garden to see if the plants are okay (and stuff like that).

Your advice about doing what you love is so true. Life is short--when you put it all in perspective. We each have gifts that are unique to us, and ignoring those gifts can make life a bit dull. :) Sometimes, it feels like you don't have the time to enjoy yourself especially when you're juggling so much. But Carolyn, you seem to have found a good system and an even better attitude. You are amazing!

Posted by Deborah Burroughs over 10 years ago

Thank you Deb, I appreciate your kind words. It is not a perfect system, but it does work well for me. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Carolyn, this excellent story about being a Work at Home Mom has been featured in the Group Diary of a Realtor. Congratulations. I hope even more readers get to view your well written thoughts here.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

Thank you Gary, what an honor! I truly appreciate it. :-D

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Carolyn, very impressive I could learn a thing or two from you.  Actually I just did, you gave me a little guidance on the phone issue.  I like how you have it broken down. 

Posted by Michelle Hall (Century 21 Hecht) over 10 years ago

Carolyn~It really is true that busy people get things done.  Most people who don't have to be more efficient AREN"T.  It's amazing what we can do when we put our mind to it!  You are a testament to WAHM everywhere!  You get it all done, and manage to have some fun along the way!

Posted by Pam Pugmire, Meridian Idaho Real Estate (Silvercreek Realty Group) over 10 years ago

Hey Michelle, I'm glad you enjoyed the post and found it useful. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Hey Pam, I do get a lot done, but truth be told, I don't always get it "all" done; however I did enjoy the compliment. Thank you!

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

C.  I am really amazed and in awe of you. I really wish I could get organized like that. I start out organized with my schedule in hand, when BAM, I am thrown off course and have to tend to something that wasn't on my calendar of events for the day.

I am a notary myself, but all mine is done at the office. I don't bring it home with me for the simple reason, I would never get any thing done. There are several notaries in my family, but for some reason most of my family like to call on me to notarize for them. I don't advertise my notary either because I would be bogged down worse than I am now.  Real Estate, BPO's and REO properties keep me hopping.

I enjoyed this blog.     The Energizer Bunny has nothing on you. LOL

Posted by Laura Watts (Positive Properties, LLC) over 10 years ago

Thank you, Laura! I appreciate your kind words and have to admit it is not every day that I get compared to the energizer bunny. Cool! :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

http://www.wahm.com/

Someone sent me this link. Very interesting. I'm checking out their telecommuting list and the associated blog... Hmm...

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Participate