Today we are continuing our Working From Home series with an interview with Megan Pollard. Megan manages not one but two careers from home while balancing the role of mother to two beautiful girls! You can follow Megan on Instagram here. Read other work from home stories here and here!
Tell us about yourself and your work.
Hi! My name is Megan Pollard and I have two daughters; Maryn age (10), and Grey age (8) and we live with my boyfriend Jon in Northern Virginia. In addition to “momming” I work for a start up meal delivery service called Terra’s Kitchen that launched in 2016 and is based in Baltimore, MD. My role there is the Director of Partner Relations and overseeing our Care and Customer Solutions Team. In addition to that I am also one of three founders for a wedding day of coordination company in the DC Metro area named Etc.Coordinators, founded in 2014.
I first began working from home in 2008 when I co-founded my first company Events in the City (now Grit & Grace) in the same year that I had my first daughter. I am someone that thrives on having multiple pots on the stove. I don’t think I have ever just had one job! I love ideas, growth, passion and more recently have a new found appreciation of time! Having the opportunity to help grow both Terra’s Kitchen and Etc.Coordinators is such a great way to make a difference. Even though they may seem so different in nature they both provide their customers or clients the same value…. time. Time can not be replaced or given back and it is my true joy to do what I can to create more opportunities for people to spend time with the ones they love.
Did you start working from home before you had kids or after?
I started working from home shortly after my first daughter was born in 2008 and have been doing it in some form ever since then.
Are your children home with you or do you have childcare/school?
I have used a variety of child care methods to match different stages in both their lives and my work efforts. I have gone from doing it all on my own; just waiting for the girls to go to bed to get work done, to then having a part time sitter for specific meetings only, which then turned to a shared nanny, and finally became part time nanny & after school care. Looking back on this I think I made things way more complicated then necessary, but I struggled with “mommy guilt” and the financial component. It is what it is, it is a total process and you just never know what is best until you try it out.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Now its a bit different as the girls are in school full time, unless it is Summer break which creates a different dynamic! I get out of bed, brew that coffee and start the girls in their morning routines to get them off to the bus by 8:00. I am a big believer in time blocking so I will work through my day 30 min / 1 hour at a time. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not always stick to it. As a mom and a woman that works in the quick pace of start ups your day can change direction in a minute, and you need to be ready to follow that path quickly. However if I start the day with peace knowing at least what my targets were it helps me re-center when everything calms down. I have found that I am most productive early in the morning and most creative at night. So I have learned to put my more challenging projects/ tasks early in the day. I am in a series of meetings through out the day which I try to do via google hangout so I don’t miss out on the ” face to face” time. I have to admit I have struggled with multi-tasking in the past. Even though I would feel as though I was accomplishing tons and maximizing my time; in the end I found that the final results were half baked, or drove more back and forth communication for resolutions, and my time with people was rushed and not the quality that I wanted. So by time blocking and creating daily priorities it makes it easier for me to stay on task or pick back up where I left off if when something un-expected comes up. Being present whether it is work or with my family isn’t always easy but I am working on it. Lets be real you can’t schedule everything, nothing can turn a day sides ways faster then a sick kid or the start up world.
What’s your best work-from-home hack?
Get up before everyone else does, grab your tea or coffee, take a few moments by yourself carefully crafting how the day is going to go. Don’t just build in ALL of the things you need to do, just the things you are going to do THAT day. I work to make sure that the day is filled with things for work, my family, myself, and my friends. I think when you are a working mom you are always stealing from Peter to pay Paul so to speak; so I try to make it a point to fill all of those “peter’s” back up daily. I also do my best not to “work” from my phone. Responding to emails or doing research from my phone makes it easier for me to try to “multi-task” instead of committing to my time block or those in front of me. I also noticed that I have less patience with my girls when I am working from my phone, so in an effort to be calmer with them; I try to remember to put the phone down.
What’s the biggest challenge about working from home?
Not having a real separation between roles. When your work is at home it can bleed into your family time and make it more challenging to compartmentalize and fully focus. On the other hand I absolutely love it and couldn’t imagine not having the opportunity to work from home at least a couple days a week.
How do you stay organized with life and work?
I am someone that needs to physically write it down to truly comprehend whats going on. Despite all of the marvelous advances in modern technology I still use a white board ( and by a white board I mean three), journal, and google calendars. There is something super helpful for me to just glance up and see whats happening with out having to pick up my phone. Also when I do my time blocking I set it up in categories ( TK, ETC, Girls, Personal, Family/ Friends, Health, MISC.) this way I know I am chipping away at all of the things that are important to me daily.
How do you like to unwind at the end of the week?
I love spending time with my family and friends. The weekends go by so quickly so we have adopted one of Jon’s sayings ” Life is too short to wait for the weekends” so if there is an opportunity to get together with family or friends during the week and unwinding that way; then we book it!
Saturdays are typically filled with the girls sports games, which I absolutely love attending. As for Sundays that is a family day. We work to make it a habit if possible to stick close to the house in full re-charge and re-set mode. Everyone is always welcome, we have a pretty open door policy, but my gang is home. I have a tendency to get a bit compulsive about work, so it is important that I use Saturday & Sunday to zero in on my people.
What are you reading right now?
Even though I work to avoid multi-tasking, I love having multiple projects and yes that includes reading multiple books at once. So on audible for my commutes to Baltimore I am listening to ” Leaders Eat Last” Simon Sinek, at my desk ” The Competent Organization” Lee Thayer, and on my night stand “The Year of Magical Thinking” Joan Didion. and ” Write the Damn Book” Stacy Nelson
And what’s your favorite kids book?
I love the “Rainbow Fish” Marcus Pfister and anything by Sandra Boynton particularly “Pajama Time”
If you could offer one tip on how to balance working from home while being a mom what would it be?
Cut yourself some slack! There is no exact formula and every day will be different from the next, try to embrace that. I believe that we can do it all, but we might not be able to do it all at the same time. Like I said before; we are stealing from Peter to pay Paul, so make sure Paul is worth what you are stealing for. Also automate as many things as you can; cleaners once a month for the house, meal delivery services a couple times a month, and basic things being delivered regularly with out having to think about it. Your time is valuable so don’t get dragged down doing things you don’t personally have to do. </d