If you read my article Time Management Tips for Busy Moms, you’ll know I’m a work-from-home mom with a certain work-style and schedule. I only work early in the morning while Tasha is asleep! Well, since writing that post, I’ve had some moms say “I love my sleep so I couldn’t get up early in the morning, how do you do it?”, or “I work around my kids who go to school but I still can’t get myself organized”, etc. SO, I decided to share this post especially for those work-from-home parents who can’t seem to find a balance between working-at-home and staying organized.
The key to succeed while working at home is having a schedule. I personally find it’s easy to get sidetracked with chores especially – the laundry, cleaning, those errands etc, that’s why my schedule is non-negotiable. I wake up before 6am, start work at 6am and stop at 10/10.30am when Tasha wakes up. Then we run errands together, or clean or do the laundry together. In other words, work time is solely work time. And when I’m mummy, I’m mummy full-time.
In case you’re wondering how I can actually run a business with this schedule, the trick for me is staying focused on the job at hand and not doing too many at once.
Check out my previous post 6 reasons I stopped multitasking on why I favour focusing on one task as compared to multitasking.
“How can I stay focused on one task when I have many to do?”, I hear you ask! Well, create a schedule! Here’s why you need it and how you can create one.
Why you need a schedule?
A schedule is essential as it’ll keep you productive at work and in control at home.
For a creative thinker, scheduling things can seem rigid and unwelcome. But if you try and work around the times you’re more productive, you’ll find this actually works and will provide freedom.
When you work at home, you are face to face with the chores, the mess, aaaaand the children! It’s easy to get sidetracked trying to take care of these things. But if everything is on a schedule, you can get more done. You’ll be able to focus on work when you’re working because you won’t get sidetracked thinking about all the other things that you need to get done. Afterall, you’ve got those things on a schedule too, right?
How might you schedule?
- Start with your work
- Are there specific times you have to work?
This will determine how you schedule your routine. I know for me I don’t necessarily have to work between 9am – 5pm. I can be available during work hours but most of my work can be done anytime. In that case, I work around my productive hours and Tasha’s sleep schedule…
- When are you most productive?
When do you feel your best to work? And can you accommodate that?
I’m a morning person. When it’s nice and quiet, and after a good night’s sleep, I’m very productive. As such, I’m up before 6am, and I do everything I have to. During the day, I make myself available for work emails or calls but I’ll mainly be mummy. IF you have a similar situation with your work, and perhaps you work better at night or morning, maybe you could schedule around that.
- How often do you have to work – each week day or every so often?
This will determine how you can schedule your other tasks like running errands, cleaning etc.
In order to be efficient in work, it’s best if you just work when you’re working. That means not getting sidetracked with other stuff like paying bills or ordering books for your child’s book collection. Save those things for your breaks or evening time, when you are more focused on home endeavors.
- Break other tasks into daily/weekly/monthly
It’s important to think about every task you need to get done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. These are tasks outside you work.
You know you have to eat each day right? Planning menus is essential. If you are the primary cook in your house, you must know what you are going to cook each day or at the end of your workday. Since most women choose to work at home in order to be more available to their family, working at home all day and then providing takeout is hardly a step above.
Instead, plan a week’s worth of menus at a time. Ideally, you will plan a month’s worth of menus, but you can start with a week. Buy all the groceries you need for the week and even clean and cut veggies, put meat in marinades, etc. When you close up your work shop or office for the day, you can easily get a simple meal on the table because you were organized enough to get some prep done ahead of time. Super woman, right?!
Take the laundry for example. You don’t have to do it everyday, but perhaps once a week? Choose the day you’re home all day, and not working e.g Saturday or Sunday. Plan to make that day laundry day, i.e from washing to ironing/folding. Sticking to this schedule will ensure you won’t get sidetracked during the week thinking about the laundry.
- Take regular breaks
A lot of people think working hard means taking no breaks. In fact, it’s the opposite – in order to be productive, it’s important to take breaks. Think of yourself as working in a proper office away from home.
In my case, I have limited time in the morning before Tasha gets up but even in those few hours, I take time to make a cuppa or get something to eat while working.
If there’s someone else at home with me, I may have a brief discussion with them like I would with a coworker at home.
If you work all day, you might take another break later in the day and make a phone call to a friend or partner or child’s teacher. It’s good for the brain.
The trick is to treat your work at home life in a similar fashion as a work away from home. You do that, you’ll see the results of your structured time.
- Start each day right
Start each day in an organized fashion. If you prefer a clean home, it’s important to ensure everything is in order before you start otherwise it drives you crazy thinking about the untidy home. Sitting down to a clean workspace will not only bring you joy, but you’ll have a sense that everything is in order and you can feel at peace focusing on your work needs because there are no other pressing needs you must worry about right now. If you need a cup of coffee before you start, ensure you have one otherwise you waste the first few minutes.
Structuring your time as a work-at-home-mum might seem like one more thing to take care of, but doing so will actually free you to focus better when working and when doing household tasks, even when those worlds intersect. You’ll be more productive and efficient!
Do you struggle with the concept of working-at-home and staying organized? Would love to hear your thoughts/comments on the tips above.