When you’re a work at home mom, time is at a premium.
I’ve been working from home since the time my son was born over 10 years ago, so I’ve learned some productivity tips along the way that help me manage my time and fit it all in.
Working from home isn’t impossible, but it is work! Even if you’re a freelancer, you need to treat your business like a business in order to be successful. That starts with managing your time as efficiently as possible.
Here are some things you can get the most out of your day.
Honestly, if something isn’t on my schedule, it isn’t getting done.
At the beginning of the week (or sometimes not until the night before) I look at my agenda and see what I have coming up during the day or week ahead. Then I’m able to plan when I will work around my other responsibilities.
When you plan out your work time, write it down. Just that action will help you to better stay on task.
Utilize Time Blocking
With time blocking, you schedule everything out in chunks, writing down what you will work on and when. When it comes time to work on that task, ONLY do that task. Trying to do more than one thing at a time never works, so don’t even attempt it.
When it comes to time blocking, make sure you allocate time for things like cleaning the house, cooking dinner, and playing with your kids. If you try some loosey-goosey way of working all day while fitting in your other responsibilities, it won’t work (ask me how I know…).
Yes, your kids will interrupt your workflow, and that’s OK, but you can also tell them that you’ll be ready to play or read them a story at whatever time you’ve designated.
If you need help staying on task, set a phone reminder to alert you when it’s time to move on to the next things.
Yes, I know you’re busy, and yes I know it’s a pain, but exercise is one of the most important forms of self-care. You have to take care of yourself.
According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise improves your mood and boosts energy (along with a whole bunch of other important benefits), so I’d argue that this certainly increases productivity.
I don’t rush off to the gym every day because I truly don’t have time for that, but I do try and get a 30-minute workout in, just by streaming something on my laptop.
This doesn’t even have to cost you any money. One of my favorite workout sources is Fitness Blender, which offers a whole variety of free workouts with varying levels of difficulty.
Along with exercise, sleep is one of those self-care things that needs to be a priority.
I always make sure I get at least 7 hours – anything less and my brain has trouble focusing. It’s impossible to be productive if you’re feeling tired and sluggish all day long.
My goal is to wake up between 5:00 and 5:30 every day, but if I go to bed a bit too late I’ll bump back the alarm so that I get at least seven hours of sleep.
Know What’s for Dinner
Ever stood in front of an empty fridge at 5 pm while your kids are clamoring behind you rattling on about how hungry they are?
No? Just me?
The solution to this all-too-common problem is meal planning. If I had to choose just one of these productivity tips that’s been the biggest help to me, this is it.
When I write down in my planner exactly what we’re having for dinner, a huge source of stress and waste of time is completely eliminated.
The night before, I always check and see what I’ve written for the day ahead. That way I know if I’ll need to prepare to throw something in the crockpot in the morning, or take the meat out of the freezer before I go to bed.
Meal planning also helps save money, since I have a plan of attack when I’m buying groceries rather than stocking up on supplies that I think I might need.
Use a Chore Chart
Delegating chores only works once your kids are older. If you happen to have only littles at home, just file away this information for when the time comes.
I start giving chores to kids when they’re 4 – 5 years old. The smallest can empty the silverware from the dishwasher or do some simple dusting, while my oldest two are given more substantial tasks, like cleaning the bathroom.
When they’re finished, the bathroom might not be up to my standards, but it’s definitely always cleaner than it was when they started (and that’s cleaner than it would be if I hadn’t gotten to it at all). Which leads me to my next point…
Lower Your Standards
If you’re a work at home mom, you have to lower your standards. Try to do the best that you can, but don’t stress that your house isn’t immaculate and your kids are eating frozen meatballs for dinner instead of a three-course meal.
You’re trying to do a whole lot, and there’s only so much that a person can do in a day.
Pick up your house and do your best to keep things neat and tidy, love your kids, and do your best. I usually feel like I could spend all day cleaning and it still wouldn’t be up to snuff.
Realize that if you want to be a work at home mom, you’ll have to settle for things that are less than perfect.
Ask for Help
If you’re building a freelance business, you need to carve out some time for yourself each week when you can work without kids around.
That might mean you wake up several hours before the rest of the household, or you stay up a little later. If that doesn’t work, ask for help from your family, friends, or even a babysitter so that you can get some work done.
Can your spouse watch the kids for a few hours while you head to Starbucks? Can you drop them off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for some playtime?
I know this is easier said and done. We’ve never had family close by, and there are sometimes many weeks where I can’t sneak away for a break. But asking for help with childcare and some of your other household duties will make it much easier for you to work on your business.
Learn While You Clean
One area where I give multitasking a big thumbs-up is listening to podcasts while you are cleaning. There are so many informative podcasts out there for freelancers and you can learn a great deal to help you grow your business.
I usually keep a notebook close by because I’m always stopping what I’m doing to jot down a note or piece of valuable info.
Making the most of your day is an ever-evolving work in progress. These productivity tips can get you started in the right direction, but it’s also up to you to tweak and see what works best for your family.
Getting started as a freelancing mom will likely require a bit of trial and error, but you’ll soon find yourself in a good routine where you’re getting stuff done and growing your business.