Productivity Tips for Moms Working from Home
Working from home can feel like the best of both worlds for many moms. You are earning much-needed money for bills and other expenses, while not having to pay for daycare, commute, or really even take on a lot of the stresses of having a job outside of the home. However, without care, the dream can quickly become a nightmare. Many moms who work from home feel like they are less productive, more stressed, and less able to get their work done even though they feel like they are always at work. The problem is not unsolvable though, and with a few changes in habit, you too can be a happy home worker.
Set and keep a schedule
The major complaint from moms who are new at working from home is feeling like they’re always at work and always at home at the same time. Taking a 24-hour shift of two jobs and shoving them into the same space and time is enough to stress anyone out, but guilt sets in making things worse. You may feel like you can handle the balance but a lot of times it’s almost impossible. Working from home and being home from work do not have to be at odds.
Set a schedule for when you want to work and stick to it as best as you can. Put in time for lunches and breaks and enlist help with your children if you need it during rather intense bouts of work. You may be able to manage without outside help most of the time, but if you have the end of the month reporting or something similar it can make sense to get someone to watch the children while you spend a few hours laser-focused on getting things done.
The flip side of setting a schedule is making sure you have time off work. Unless you’re always on call, finishing at a standard hour and making it clear that you’re going to pick up calls and emails when you begin again tomorrow can give you a lot of freedom during your off hours. Remember that even though emails come through while you’re off, you don’t have to respond to them or even look at them. Set up a system for when urgent things happen for sure, but make sure people know what’s really urgent so they don’t abuse that system and take time away from you and your family when really the issue could have waited until the morning.
Turn off distractions
Turn off notifications for social things while at work and work things while being social. Many cell phones have the ability to restrict certain notifications during certain hours. Figure out how to best make use of this technology to benefit yourself. Some moms find it helpful to use a different web browser while working so that they are not signed in to social media while at work, while others use browser plug-ins that can block most distractions while you’re working.
Again, don’t forget to do it again when you’re off work. Working from home is all about setting boundaries so turn off your email notifications when you “clock out” so that your attention is 100% on your family.
The beauty of working from home is the flexibility you have, so take advantage of it to make your life work for you. If your child has a doctor’s appointment in the morning that you need to go to, make sure to set an out of office notification on your email, but also let your partner know you’ll be making up those hours later. Communication and planning can help everyone feel like they know what’s going on, and facilitate a feeling of being included and on the same page.
The key to managing a to-do list that’s too big to write on the back of your hand has always been organization. While you may already have helpful routines that you engage in to make sure things get done, there is a benefit in systemizing it and putting it all in writing. How do you know when you’re done organizing? When someone can come in without knowing anything and see what you’re working on, what the next steps are, and what to do if things go wrong.
Organization at this level is typical for people who work in offices, but bringing it home not just for your job but also for your family is going to make your life easier in the long run. If you’ve ever had a day where it was hard focusing or even gotten a good dose of winter ick you know that having routines and knowing where everything is will help you keep on track or even hand it off if you need a break.
Being organized means you have a better handle on all the balls in the air and you know what to do when things go wrong. You’ll have a bird’s eye overview of what’s urgent, important, and what you can or should delegate. You’ll be able to make sure nothing slips through the cracks and that everything is prioritized so that you’ll never be left in crisis with more to do than you have time to do it in.
Having a planner and a task list is a great start. Calendars for work and home are a great idea but make sure to reconcile them often to make sure you’re not double booked.
Always remember yours why
It can be stressful, and wonderful at the same time to be able to work from home, but when the rubber hits the road you may end up wishing you just had a job off-site. While that may be a solution for many, always remember why you started working from home, to begin with. That reason is still valid and should affirm your decision to undertake this amazing challenge. While things may not always be peachy, you should always remember the benefits, not just the drawbacks of working at home. Use your reasons for working at home as motivations to do what it takes to make it work for you.