Working from home comes with plenty of perks, but it also has its fair share of challenges. If you’re a work at home mom, you know how easy it is for the day to fly buy from one activity to the next, and by the end of the day you’re wondering, “Where did the time go? I didn’t get anything done!”
Boy, can I relate to this sentiment. When you’re juggling a job, childcare, and general home duties, it’s common to feel like you’re never accomplishing your daily goals.
That’s why having a plan is so important. Over the years, I’ve learned that the best way to be productive and move forward in my business is to stay organized and on task. This means sitting down at the beginning of the week or even the beginning of the day and creating a plan to make sure I get all my most important tasks done.
Here are some of the best ways to plan your day when you work from home.
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Use a Planner
With kids and a crazy schedule, I swear some days it seems like I live and die by my planner. I use it to keep track of all our family activities, all my work deadlines, and any other miscellaneous notes or to-dos for the week ahead.
I also keep a blank notebook handy for those times when I need to jot notes or scribble ideas relating to my work. As a freelancer, I’m always looking for ways to make my business better. When I have an idea or need to make a note related to my writing work, into the notebook it goes.
I know that there are a lot of tech-lovers who are able to stay organized and on-track digitally, and if that works for you, great! Personally, I’m a pen-and-paper type gal and need to jot my ideas down in order for them to stick. Whatever method works for you, the important thing is that you keep track of everything you’ve got going on, especially when you are running a business.
Follow a Schedule
There’s definitely no way I could follow a strict schedule – life with kids is way too unpredictable for that – but I do give my days some loose structure so that I’m better able to get things done.
Not only does structure help me make sure I’m crossing all the important tasks off my list, but it also creates habits. For instance, I know that I’m going to exercise for 30 minutes soon after I wake up. After maintaining this practice for several weeks, it became a habit and now is something I look forward to rather than a chore I need to cross off my list.
Here’s a look at my schedule for a typical day:
- 6:00 – wake up / pray / exercise
- 7:00-9:00 – shower, breakfast, morning chores
- 9:00 – 12:00 – school work
- 12:00 – 1:00 – lunch
- 1:00 – 2:00 – kids outside / mom work
- 2:00 – 3:00 – chores
- 3:00 – 5:00 – mom work
- 5:00 – 8:00 – dinner / family time / kids bed
- 8:00 – 9:00 – mom work
With this loose schedule, I’ve given myself four hours in the day to get things done. If I buckle down with no distractions, I can get a lot done in four hours! Of course, there will be distractions from time to time, but just having this schedule on paper makes this more likely to happen.
Also, please know that this changes from season to season and even week to week. Since my kids are at the age where we tend to have an extracurricular activity going on at least several times a week, I usually sit down at the beginning of the week and adjust my schedule to reflect what the days will really look like.
Give Yourself a Deadline
As a freelance writer, I’m generally given deadlines to follow, but if I’m working on one of my own projects, I find that I need a self-imposed deadline in order to have that push to finish my task.
Since I work at home, there’s a real danger of procrastinating or feeling like you have all the time in the world to get something done. When that happens, it’s hard to accomplish anything.
I like to set a timer and promise myself that I will work diligently until time’s up, then get up and move on to something completely different.
Schedule Social Media Breaks
Boy, this is a big one, isn’t it? Social media has to be the biggest time-suck of all motherhood (or is this just a problem I have…?)
One way I combat falling down the rabbit hole of Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest is to give myself scheduled breaks to check these sites. This way I’m limiting my time but still giving myself a break from everything else to just tune out for a few minutes.
If you’re trying to balance work, family life, and keeping a home, it’s imperative that you have a good meal plan for the day ahead.
I don’t necessarily always plan out breakfast and lunch, but I do make sure I have plenty of options on hand for these meals.
Dinner, though, is a biggie. At the start of each week, or whenever I plan my grocery shopping trip, I figure out a week’s worth of dinner meals and add these to my planner. This way I know in the morning if I need to pull meat out of the freezer or prep something for the crockpot.
Meal planning is also a lifesaver on evenings when I know we’re going to be out of the house for one activity or another.
Use a Grocery Service
Maybe you’re a mom who loves grocery shopping, and if that’s you then definitely feel free to skip this advice. I happen to loathe a trip to the grocery store, even if I’m sans kids, so add four kiddos to the mix and I’m looking at a tedious chore that takes up a huge chunk of my morning or afternoon.
Right now, I’m using the pickup service from Walmart Grocery, and it’s been an absolute gamechanger. With my meal plan that I’ve made for the week, I order what I need and pick it up at a time that’s convenient for me.
Before ordering groceries online, I heard the claims that it saves money. The idea is that if you’re not in the store, you’re not impulse buying. I was a little skeptical about this idea because I’m already a budget-conscious shopper and I thought I was doing good in that area.
Well, let me tell you – I was wrong.
Since starting with the Walmart Grocery service, I have seen a decrease in my grocery bill. It turns out the rumors are true! Plus, this is the only grocery pickup in our area that doesn’t charge a surcharge for the service, and I’ve found the prices to be low overall. If you want to save money and time, I recommend finding this or a similar service in your area.
If you want to try it out for yourself, use this link and get $10 off your first order.
It’s no secret that being a work at home mom can be hard. Finding clients and juggling the responsibilities of work while caring for children and a household isn’t always easy, but it is definitely possible.
If you’re just getting started, it will likely be a bit of time before you get into your own rhythm, but let me tell you – it WILL happen. It is absolutely possible to be a good mom and a good businesswoman. Try out some of these tips and let me know if they help you stay organized and on task.