Are you a work-at-home mom that is struggling to get things done? Could you use some time management tips that can help you manage your work schedule but still leave you with enough time to take care of your kiddos?
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If you’ve got littles underfoot or even if your kids are in school, they still demand a lot of your attention. This makes finding the perfect balance between work and family rough.
Believe me, I get it. I’ve been working for myself since I was seven months pregnant with my first child. (She’s eight now BTW so I’ve been a self-employed work-at-home mom for the past eight years.)
Here are some time management tips for staying productive while also tending to your families’ needs.
Maximize Productivity by Maximizing Time
If you want to get things done, try paying attention to the times that you work best.
One of the most helpful things I’ve figured out is understanding and accepting how I work best. For instance, I’ve figured out that if there is something on my to-do list that hasn’t gotten done by about 4 pm- it isn’t happening.
I can’t explain why, it’s just how I roll. It’s like my body and brain go into low power mode at about 3:30 and there is just no revving it back up again.
I’ll give you an example.
When I started graduate school I had a one and a two-year old. I was constantly telling myself that I would do my homework at night, once the kiddos went to sleep. Did that work? Noooooo. I would just fall asleep and wake up a few hours later with pen marks all over my face.
Instead of constantly fighting the way my body works, I’ve come to embrace it and plan accordingly.
You can do this too. Take a few days to pay attention to what times of the day you get the most stuff done. Is it early in the morning before everyone wakes up? Or is it during naptime? Maybe you are a night owl and get things done while burning the midnight oil.
Make a mental note of when you feel the best. Having high energy is key for getting things done.
Once you’ve figured out when you are at your most productive, make sure you schedule important tasks during those times.
Stop trying to work after the kids go to bed if that’s your lowest energy point of the day. Instead, rearrange some things. Maybe do your low energy work at night and save your high energy work for the times that you are most energetic.
I know this may take some serious rearranging of your schedule but the benefits can be enormous!
I guarantee you, even if it’s tough, working while you are the most energetic will produce better results than when you are deadbeat tired.
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Avoid Trying to Remake Yourself
Listen to your body and work with yourself.
If you try to completely change how you normally function, you’re in for a long uphill battle.
Instead, have some compassion and understanding with yourself and listen to what your body is telling you.
If you’re a night owl, stop fighting it and get your important things done at night.
Now when I am planning out my day I schedule anything that HAS to get done in the morning, even if that means waking up a few hours earlier than I would prefer.
Understanding and embracing how I function best has made accomplishing my goals easier and I feel less stressed overall.
Plus, it’s nice to look at my planner and see the evenings free and clear. It lets me relax and enjoy my time with the kids instead of constantly thinking that I should be doing my “work.”
So figure out what times of the day you feel best, have the most energy, and get the best ideas.
Then, plan your most important projects during those times for increased productivity.
Planning is Key for Productive Time Management
Having no set schedule can sound wonderful at first. Days and weeks stretch out endlessly before you and you think you have all the time in the world to accomplish your goals.
Well…. yes and no.
Sure you have all the time in the world but you also have all the weight of your business on your shoulders plus all of the demands that taking care of children puts on you!
When you work for yourself, there’s no longer anyone checking up on you.
Your success or failure relies solely on how you spend your time.
I found that planning is the key to success. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t get done. So EVERYTHING gets written down and scheduled into a time slot.
If not, all the demands of your business AND your home will start to steal time from important projects.
Don’t laugh, I’m serious about this one.
When you’re working from home it’s easy to forgo “dressing for work.”
As a person who perpetually wears pajama pants if allowed, trust me on this one.
Getting dressed (in proper pants), doing your hair, putting on a little perfume- whatever- makes a big difference in how you feel about yourself and your work.
If you feel better about yourself and your work, you will be more interested in sticking to your time management routine.
So treat your work-at-home business just like a job that you have to leave the house for. Get dressed, be on time, and get stuff done.
Talk to Someone
Working at home can get lonely.
I mean really, really lonely.
Unless you do work that requires talking on the phone, you’re probably spending most of your day in silence.
Lemme tell you, there is nothing more jarring than stepping out into the loud world after writing in silence for eight hours.
Talking to someone, anyone, at least once a day can help with the seclusion that working from home creates.
Even if it’s just a quick call to your mom or a friendly chat with the neighbor, try to reach out to someone for some human interaction.
Yes this might seem like a distraction (see below), but if you time your interactions with other people during downtimes, it can actually give your productivity a wonderful boost!
If possible, create a “work only” area.
This space needs all of the supplies you need for your business or online job. Make it in an area where other people in the house won’t bother you.
Cut out any distractions like a TV or a view of the dishes piled in the sink.
This one goes back how important planning is. If you dedicate time in your planner for a certain task, don’t let other household distractions get in the way.
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you have to do the dishes at that moment. You wouldn’t be doing them if you were in an office, so don’t do them now either.
Spend the entire chunk of time you devoted to the work at hand, then you can deal with the other things going on around you.
There is nothing better than a little exercise to break up the day.
Exercise reduces stress, eases anxiety, and makes us feel better about ourselves.
Even just a little walk down the block or a trip to the backyard for some fresh air helps.
I like to queue up a yoga YouTube video every once in a while, or do a few sun salutations, just to get my blood flowing.
I find I have more energy, focus, and creativity after one of these quick exercise sessions.
Time Management for Work-at-Home Moms
Everyone’s experience with working at home is different.
Understand that even if your routine doesn’t work perfectly now, as your children get older, things will get easier.
So even if you can’t use all of these tips right now because your children demand too much attention, you can still get some benefits from attempting them.
And remember, just because you are working from home doesn’t mean that your work is not important. If you must, hire a sitter to come to your house for a few hours each day. That way you aren’t separated from your children but you do have an opportunity to get more work done.
If hiring someone isn’t an option (it never was for me), always always ALWAYS take advantage of those naptimes! LOL