If you’ve ever tried to work from home while managing your household and caring for your kids, you know that it’s not easy! In fact, juggling all the balls in the air can feel downright impossible some days.
Trust me, I get it.
As a homeschooling mom of four kids plus a work at home mom myself, time management is an ever-evolving skill that I’m still trying to master.
If there’s one thing I learned really early on in my work from home life, it’s that multitasking just won’t work.
Try as we might, humans simply aren’t wired to do two things at once. I can’t give my full attention to my child while I’m trying to write an article, and I can’t cook dinner while I’m trying to proofread a paper.
As work from home moms, our jobs deserve our full attention. So do our children. If we can’t (or shouldn’t) multitask, time management is so important in order to get everything done. While there’s always room for improvement, there are a few techniques I use to help me stay on task and as productive as possible.
1 – Follow a Schedule
A schedule is absolutely crucial to getting stuff done. Schedule in everything you need to do, like regular household chores and even spending time with your kids.
When you’re a work at home mom, sometimes the allure of the computer screen and the idea that if you do just a little bit more you can make a little more money is too alluring. Don’t let it overwhelm your life. Instead, only work during the hours you’ve set for yourself on the schedule.
Recognize that things ebb and flow, especially when you have young ones. Even so, you’ll find yourself with a much better chance of success when you write out exactly what you’re going to do with your time.
2 – Use a Timer
A schedule only works if you follow it. Use a timer to keep yourself on track. Of course when you have kids life happens, and things will ultimately happen that derail the schedule you’ve set for yourself. That’s ok.
Allow for things to happen as they unfold, then pick back up where you left off and switch to your next task at the allotted time.
3 – Find Wasted Time
Have you ever reached the end of the day and wondered where the heck the time went?
Maybe it’s time to answer that question!
Take several days and write down all the tasks you do throughout the day, and the time it took you to do them. Then, evaluate yourself and try to pinpoint where you could have been better with your time management.
When I did this exercise, I found I was wasting a lot of the evening hours after my kids were in bed. Theoretically, this would be a good time for me to work, especially since my husband often works the night shift so the house was quiet.
In reality, though, my brain was just too exhausted to get anything meaningful done and I was wasting loads of time frittering on the Internet without really doing anything.
If I go to bed early instead of staying up doing nothing, then I’m able to wake up early and get some real work accomplished before the rest of the day starts. Since my brain is freshest in the morning, this was a switch that helped me be more productive.
Evaluate what you’re doing throughout the day to see if you can make any similar tweaks in your schedule that will help you manage your time a little better.
4 – Batch Your Tasks
When you’re working, it’s often very helpful to do tasks that are alike all in one sitting. Will your work from home position require you to be creating video content? Record several videos in one sitting if you can.
Are you a freelance writer? Maybe take one day to outline several articles, another work time to write first drafts, and a third period to proofread and edit.
Doing similar tasks together allows you to keep your focus and reduces the time you might waste switching gears from one activity to the next.
5 – Eliminate Distractions
Distractions are the downfall of an otherwise productive mom. Social media, Google, Pinterest, TV shows – the list goes on. If you find yourself constantly reaching for your phone while you’re supposed to be working, leave it in another room.
If you can’t have a document open without switching to an unrelated social media browser, install a blocker on your computer for a certain amount of time.
Some people are motivated by external reminders, like phone apps that help you focus on productivity.
6 – Use Your Computer Time for Working
One of my biggest temptations as a work from home mom is to sit with my computer in front of me all day long.
When we’re homeschooling, I might be checking email. When I’m making lunch, I might be browsing for a recipe. If that happens, I find it’s harder for me to stay focused on my work tasks when it actually is time for work.
To that end, I’m working on using my computer only for working. I can check an email or browse for something real quick on my phone if I need to.
My brain needs to make the connection that when I sit down at the computer, it’s not time for browsing or scrolling, it’s time for working. This helps me be as efficient as possible and make the most of my work time.
A Final Word
The crux in all of this is that if you’re a work at home mom, chances are your kids will be hanging around at least some of the time that you’re trying to work. That’s ok.
Some moms are able to hire childcare help for certain hours of the week, and if you’re able to do that, that’s a great option. Don’t let it stop you from getting started though. I’ve never been able to hire help and I’ve still managed very well.
Figure out activities for your kids while you’re working, and do your best to fit it in when they won’t need you. As they get older, they’ll become much more independent and you’ll find yourself with more time to get stuff done.
Do you want to use these time management tips to work from home, but you aren’t exactly sure what you can be doing to make money? Sign up to my newsletter below and receive a list of 100 jobs that are perfect for moms who want to make money from home.