As a work from home mom, getting quality focused work time is a challenge. I wondered, “how to be productive at home?”, “how do other moms manage their time and have successful careers?”. Over the last year and a half working from home, I figured out a system to get my work done efficiently. Having created my own system and achieving my blogging goals, I thought now is a good time to share my productivity tips with other work from home moms. So here goes, 15 productivity tips that will make your work from home career a success.
PRODUCTIVITY TIPS FOR WORK FROM HOME MOMS
Even before you set up a system to work from home efficiently, you need to set an intention. It is not just about getting work done, it is about the larger picture.
What do you want from your career or business?
How much time can you give to your work every day?
What is important in your life right now?
Where does work stand in your current life situation?
Once you figure out why it is important for you to work, you will stay motivated day to day. This “Why” will need to be reassessed at different points along your career trajectory.
Intentional goal setting gives you the drive and focus required to move through the tasks and challenges that come along the way.
- Brainstorm how to get there
Once you know the “Why” and “What” you want to achieve, brainstorm a career trajectory or smaller goals that lead you to the ultimate goals. Focus on each step and its importance in getting to the bigger goals.
I like to make a map of my goals at the start of each year. It can be a simple flowchart or a stylized map of tiny goals leading to a big goal. Add timelines and checkpoints to assess success and work on improvements.
- What do you need to achieve your goals
After making a map of the steps needed to achieve your goals, think about what you need to achieve them. If it’s being able to work without interruptions daily for 4-5 hours, then set up a system where your child can be sent to daycare for a few hours a day or a helper can come in for a few hours a day.
Or maybe you need to retrain or learn new skills in order to achieve your goals.
Once you know what you need to achieve your daily goals, you can focus on setting up a system that suits your lifestyle and supports your goals.
To help you get started here is a free worksheet to Review Your Year. Work through these 10 questions to assess how successful you have been at work in the last year achieving your goals. This sheet can act as a starting point reassessing goals and shifting mindset to become more productive.
- Make a schedule
As a work at home mom, you will need to be friends with a schedule. I love using daily and weekly planners to plan out my day by the hour. I make weekly goals instead of daily goals so that I don’t end up with work overwhelm and have a little extra time on hand to complete tasks.
- Time blocking
When I need to focus on an important task I use the time blocking technique. I work on one task for a set period of time with no distractions.
Some days I time block for 20 minutes per task. This simple activity helps me work in a more productive manner, giving my best output with focused attention.
If you are home with a toddler and want to time block around the toddler’s active playtime, you can use simple activities to keep the toddler busy as you work.
Some activities that manage to keep my son busy for 15-20 minute slots are;
Water play: Set up a tub of water with cans and toys for the toddler to explore and have fun with.
Sensory bin: In a large plastic bin put in different toys and safe materials like cotton wool, pom poms, scrunchies, boxes of different sizes and let the child have fun exploring the contents of the box.
Puzzles: An older toddler can be given different types of puzzles or busy books to play with.
Check this post for more screen-free activities for toddlers.
- Designated work area
Working in your bed with a laptop is not going to help. Set up a small desk for yourself.
A designated workstation helps you focus and also helps with setting boundaries for little ones.
- Set boundaries
Everyone at home should be made aware of your work timings. It is very important when working from home that you get quiet time at the desk with no distractions of the home chores or things around the house during your work hours.
Toddlers can be explained to, “this is mommy’s office/desk when mommy is working ask nanny or daddy for what you need”. It requires constant reminders for little kids to understand that mommy cannot be disturbed when she is at her computer, but eventually they do understand and take help from others at home.
I always plan special mom and son activities and time slots in the day for just the two of us. This helps me connect with my son and keeps our connection strong. When your child gets your focused attention on a daily basis they do comply with your request to work at the computer when you have work. It’s a difficult balance for sure, but ultimately all tantrums and clinginess are a sign of our children needing more attention.
This has happened with me too. During such moments I make a call if its worth continuing work with a clingy baby or should I just leave it aside for a while and give my son one on one time. Most times it’s the latter, but giving him one on one time always helps me get more work done later.
This constant see-saw of who needs attention first, work or kid is the biggest struggle when working from home.
Staying on a consistent work routine helps your child adjust to your work from home life.
My biggest tip is to include time with the child during the workday too. An hour or two in the middle of your work day that you spend doing some activity together. Ever since I started allocating time slots specifically to my son and doing special things with him my work productivity has increased.
- Schedule time for breaks and self-care
Between scheduling time for work and children, self-care takes a backseat. It is important to schedule breaks like a weekly day off and time slots for certain self-care activities. These short breaks rejuvenate and energize you to keep going.
- Keep distractions away
This is the big one. With everyone using social media as a way to interact with the world it is easy to be distracted by the 100’s of notifications each day on each of these social media apps.
When I am immersed in work, I start by keeping my phone away. This simple act has improved my productivity by leaps and bounds.
Having a set time to use social media apps is also an excellent way to stay away from mindless scrolling of feeds.
The more clutter around you in your home, on your work desk the more cluttered your thought process. Start by using minimal things in your day to day life and keep your workspace clean of extra things gathering dust.
When you start work in a clean and tidy space you will find your thoughts also become more organized and clear.
I especially keep things like bills, magazines or novels way from my work desk. When these are on my desk, I find my mind wandering off thinking of my to-do lists or the latest article I read or how I haven’t got around to completing the book. Best is to not have such distractions on the work desk.
- Batch big tasks into smaller achievable tasks
The best way to stay consistent and avoid burn out is to break big tasks into smaller tasks. For eg. If I need to write a blog post every week, I assign one day for research, one day for drafting the article and the third day for writing in WordPress along with image creation. This way the task of writing a blog post does not look daunting. My mind is only focussed on the part I am working on for the day.
- Delegate or outsource
When things get crazy, delegate or outsource. Don’t have time to make meals, hire a service or hire a helper to care for your child for a few hours each day, ask your husband or other family members to help with chores around the home.
Divide and conquer over the mundane and repetitive tasks.
- Brain dump
There will be times when you feel overwhelmed or find your mind racing ahead of you. These moments lead to anxiety and work stress affecting productivity.
Whenever I feel my mind is overloaded with ideas, schedules or to-dos I first brain dump everything on a piece of paper.
Then assess what I want and make a new schedule from there.
Routines and life keep changing, keeping up with it and staying productive should be your focus. Drown out the noise in your head and stay true to the course.
- Plan a vacation
Everyone needs a vacation, in my opinion at least 2 a year. Going on vacation helps you unwind, relax and come back refreshed to start again with new enthusiasm. Do not carry your work on vacation. As much as is possible automate tasks or hire someone to continue what you are doing while on leave.
- Slay your goals
Getting a planner that helps you organize your thoughts, goals, and life is super important in order to be productive.
I like the Slay Your Goals Planner because it helps you right from goal setting to actually achieving those goals. The planner offers so much more in terms of intention setting, goal brainstorming to tracking individual goals through weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly planner sheets.
It is a catch-all planner for all areas of life be it personal or professional. A way to document your life and achieve the goals you envision for yourself.
And the beauty of this planner is in the fact that it is a digital product, that can be used over the years, again and again, making it worth the money.
The most important point to remember when trying to maximize your time and become more productive is to give yourself some grace. It is a challenge, managing a home and career. There will be days when you fail and fail miserably at that. But it’s important to push through and continue to focus on the big goals. Keep your “Why” at the center of your life plan.
Working from home requires a mindset shift and some practice, but it is the most mom-friendly career option available. I hope these productivity tips helped you as much they have helped me this year. Leave me with your best productive work hack or tip in the comment section below. I love reading how other moms manage this work-life balance.
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