Being a mom is hard work. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a mom with a 9 -5 job, or a work-at-home mom —every mom has her challenges. I will admit though, sometimes I think being a work-at-home mom has some of the trickiest challenges. There is always a feeling looming overhead that you’re not really doing ANYTHING well. There are days (even weeks) when I feel like I am doing a total crap job at everything. Sometimes I’m barely keeping my head about water with work deadlines, not paying enough attention to my child, my house is a disaster, I’ve eaten nothing but granola bars for days and my husband has gotten little more than a quick hug goodbye from me for the day. At times I feel like I am a jack of all trades, but master of none. I’m sure all moms feel like this sometimes, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Over time though, I’ve come up with some tactics that have really helped me to increase my work productivity and also helped me find a bit more balance on the home front. I wanted to share them with you in hopes that it would give you a bit of inspiration and if you’re anything like me, some much-needed help.
10 Tips For Work At Home Moms 1 of 11
All moms have their own types of challenges. For work at home moms, the challenge is productivity and balance. Here are 10 tips that will help you on your way toward achieving it.
1. Get up early 2 of 11
The one thing that increased my work-from-home productivity the most was getting up early. I used to laugh at the mere notion of waking up early, because I am a last minute wake-up girl through and through. I can roll out of bed and get ready within five minutes and it's not like I couldn't use the extra beauty sleep. That said, I started waking with the sun every day and now I don't think I would ever go back. It has become my most productive time of the day and I actually look forward to that bit of "me time" before my daughter wakes up...even though I'm working, I still appreciate it. The main draw is the mocha my husband makes me every morning. Find a way to treat your self for getting up extra early - whatever it takes. It will seriously boost your productivity.
2. Get dressed 3 of 11
I can not overestimate the effect that simply getting dressed can have on one's productivity. You don't need to get dressed to the nines or anything, but simply putting on real clothes will help you feel more like you've started your day - a simple mind trick really. Pajamas = relaxed lounge time. Real actual clothes = productivity time.
3. Make a schedule 4 of 11
For me, knowing what my day is going to look like is half the battle. When I'm able to mentally prepare myself for what the day will hold, I am able to manage my time more effectively. For example: I typically spend my mornings cranking out blog posts. Nap times are spent creating content (i.e. tutorials and such) and taking photos because the light is good. Evenings are for image searching and brainstorming. This way I'm not trying to do too many things at once, because when I switch back and forth between tasks I end up being terribly unproductive.
4. Prep meals ahead of time 5 of 11
Working moms still have to eat, but often it's easy to get busy and only grab granola bars or string cheese. So, I started prepping my lunches in the morning while my daughter eats her breakfast. That way I have no excuse for eating poorly and the quality whole foods give me the energy to better accomplish my work tasks later.
5. Set mini goals 6 of 11
Sometimes working from home can seem overwhelming. The to-do list is a mile long and totally daunting. Instead of just giving up before you start, make a list of mini goals to accomplish. Setting smaller goals will help you feel accomplished and more encouraged to keep plugging away at your list.
6. Get a timer 7 of 11
OK. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very good about this, but when I've tried it, it really does help. Give yourself a specific allotted amount of time to finish the task, set your timer and go. No "checking in" on any other task until you finish the one at hand. Instant increase in production.
7. Remove distractions 8 of 11
Distractions are the biggest pitfall to working from home. Figure out what yours are and eliminate them. For me, I require a clean space to work in. Toys scattered all over the floor will just bug me to no end and will steal all my focus until I tidy them. As such I have gotten into the habit of cleaning up every night before I go to bed so I don't have to wake up to a mess and can get right to work in the morning. Also...social media. Oh social media, how you distract me. Part of my job requires spending a lot of time connecting on social media, but I try really hard not to allow myself to fall into the worm hole while I'm in the middle of tasks. And phones. Hide your phone in the other room. I am an avid texter and as such get a lot of texts that totally derail me from my work.
8. Get out of the house 9 of 11
This may sound counterintuitive, but oftentimes, the most productive thing I can do is to get out of the house. Being home all the time can start to make me fall into a rut and I need to get out to get re-inspired. This could be something as simple as eating lunch in the backyard, or something bigger like taking a quick trip to the children's museum. This also helps me devote undivided attention to my daughter. The thing about working from home is that there are days when you feel like you're not really doing anything well - not being a very good/attentive parent and also not being a very productive freelancer. Sometimes getting away is just what I need to help me be a better parent and come back refreshed to be a better freelancer.
9. Plan for non-work time 10 of 11
In conjunction with the above tip, planning in "non-work" time is essential. On occasion it's necessary for me to work in the evenings, but I really try my hardest to accomplish all my tasks during the day so that I can relax and unwind with my husband in the evenings. It's a way to disconnect and recharge. And if cocktails and Mad Men are involved? Well, that's even better.
10. Ask for help 11 of 11
As amazing as it is to be able to work at home, there are also times when it can get a little bit frustrating. Sometimes the fact that you don't have to leave the house for your job can be forgotten by friends and family who still make requests for your time as though you were a full-time stay-at-home mom. Don't get me wrong...I think being a stay-at-home mom is a TON of work. I'm not saying that moms who stay home with their children and don't take in outside work as well are just sitting around watching TV all day or anything. What I am saying is that the balance gets a little bit trickier when you are trying to work AND stay home. There are certain expectations that you will still accomplish many of the tasks that a dedicated stay-at-home mom might have more time for (i.e. grocery shopping, meal planning, house cleaning, and scheduling organized activities for your children). Over time I've realized that I need to ask for help. I am working hard, just as my husband who leaves the house to work every day is, so we need to tag team the extras. And sometimes I will have to say no to a play date, because I have deadlines...that's just the way it goes. After I accepted the fact that I can't do everything and started asking for help and a little more understanding I was pleasantly surprised at how much more smoothly life began to run.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble. More from Lauren: