It seems that many moms think of working at home as the best of both worlds and perhaps it is but that does not mean that it is easy by any means. And I'm not just saying that because I am a work at home mom! I remember several years ago, I used to spend quite a bit of time with a friend and her family. My friend was (and is) a work at home mom and it did not look easy. At all. I even recall telling her that I thought being a work from home mom seemed like the most difficult of the options. Now that I'm a mom, I realize that is most likely not true but, as a work at home mom, I do know first-hand how much of a challenge it is.
I won’t pretend even for a second that I have this figured out but I have learned a few things that have helped me become a more productive work at home mom. More specifically, these things help me make the most of my time because whether it is being spent doing activities with my son or working on a project... time is precious!
Stick to a schedule.
A good blogging friend of mine who has worked at home for many years, recommends having office hours. I don't necessarily refer to my work time as "office hours" but I definitely have a scheduled time (Monday - Friday) when I work. One of the challenges of working from home is the temptation to do other things besides work but it is really important to stick to a schedule. So, make sure you come up with a schedule that actually works. For example, if I decided to schedule myself to work every day from 9am - noon, unless I hired a babysitter (which we will discuss later), that schedule would not work. In fact, I used to schedule myself to check emails first thing in the morning. Guess what? It never happened. So, I took it off the schedule. Now, I schedule myself to work every day at naptime (approximately 1-3:30pm) and every day after my son goes to bed. Many people would consider these times to relax but, for me, these are the most productive times to work. Trying to do anything productive for my business while my son is awake just doesn't work. Do what works.
I love lists with all of my heart. I’m one of those people that adds stuff to my list that I’ve already done, just so I can cross them off. Lists make me happy. You may not be a list person but making lists will help you maintain balance. Lists will help keep you on track. I think this is especially important if your work (like mine) requires you to spend a lot of time on the internet. The internet is a wonderful place but it can also eat up two hours in what seems like two minutes. If I don’t keep lists, my time is easily wasted. I make lists daily, with the priorities first. Then, I work my way through the list. Whatever doesn't get done, just rolls over to the next day. If I think of something else I need to do that's not on the list, I resist the urge (mostly) to stop what I'm doing and work on that which I just remembered and add it to the list. Unless it is absolutely urgent those "oh yeah" items should go on the list. Otherwise, it will likely slow down your productivity. Pull up the notes on your phone if your list isn't handy and write it down.
Put your phone down.
Seriously. Just walk away. Working on my phone while tending to my regular mommy tasks doesn't make me a multi-tasking master, as I would love to think it does. It makes me less attentive as a mom and less productive as a business owner. I can't give either one my full attention because I'm distracted by the other and it could easily take me hours to complete a simple task that would otherwise take minutes, due to all of the distractions. If you want to be a productive work at home mom, learn to put your phone down more often.
"Help" can be defined so many different ways. It may be that you utilize some tools that help make your job easier. For example, my work as a blogger and social media influencer requires me to be really active on social media. But I can't spend all my time on the computer posting on social media. So, I use services like Buffer and Roundteam to help me share content and retweet other bloggers' content while I'm spending time with my son (or having a good Netflix binge!). Another form of help could be getting paid help. Personally, this is one of the best decisions I've made in my blogging business. I hired my sister to be my Virtual Assistant. Having her handle some simple tasks, really frees me up to focus on other projects and maximize my work time. Other types of paid help could be housekeeping, babysitting, a grocery delivery service, lawn maintenance... pretty much anything you can think of! If getting paid help isn't in the budget consider alternatives like doing a trade with a friend or family member!