12 Tips to Get Things Done
As a work-at-home mom, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of things I need to do. Mornings are spent rushing to get the older two kids out the door to school. Once they’re on the bus, I’m feel ready to conquer the world and get to work. Then the baby’s raging cries bring me crashing back to reality.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? How can we, as work-at-home moms, be productive when the needs of our children must come first? I’ve revised my daily routine several times since beginning my freelance career. I don’t have it completely down yet, but I’ll share what I’ve learned as well as advice from some of my work-at-home friends.
- Keep a daily notebook. Develop a notebook system that works for you to record your daily to-do list along with reminder notes and organization tools like grocery lists and appointment reminders.
- Use an electronic management program. Some people prefer to do everything online. There are lots of great management tools to help you keep things organized. I use Gmail because its label system is easier for me to organize than traditional folders. I also like 30 Boxes as my calendar.
- Multitask. I have a friend whose favorite time to brainstorm is when her kids are bathing. I think that’s brilliant. I take a book or notebook with me when I wait for the kids to get off the bus.
- Utilize your best time of day. Most of us are either a morning person or a night owl; use your best time of day to your advantage. I’m kind of an odd ball, in that I do better in the afternoon. When my husband gets home from work at around 2:00, I get busy until it’s time to go pick up the kids.
- Start early. No matter what your best time of day is, get started on tasks immediately. Then reward yourself by taking some time to check your email or catch up with your favorite social network.
- Divide and conquer. Trying to do everything at once makes me feel scattered, so I allocate each day to a different task. For example, I use Monday to do research and brainstorm topic ideas, and Wednesday is usually query day when I pitch my ideas to publications.
- Minimize distractions. It is so tempting to watch just one TV show or do one load of laundry. Avoid that time trap by setting yourself a timer or resolving to stick to a set schedule.
- Take a break. Though you don’t want to get sucked into time traps, it is important to recharge your body. Each day I sit down to lunch with my infant son. We enjoy the uninterrupted bonding time while refueling our bodies. Then I’m ready to get back to work.
- Delegate household tasks. Enlist family members to help with the chores and determine when they will be done. Maybe you could work as a family to clean on weekends or tidy up a bit each night after dinner.
- Make family agreements. Your family must be involved in order to make work-at-home work well. I’ve challenged my husband to do his job while caring for children and cleaning the house. No traditional employer would expect so much, so why hold yourself to such unreasonable demands?
- Reassess. This is something I’ve had to do, and it can be tough. Have you over-committed? Consider whether one or two of your daily to-do’s can be dropped. This will free up your time to tackle what’s really important to you and your business.
- Dress the part. Don’t work in your pj’s and bunny slippers. Nothing kills my productivity more quickly than foregoing my shower and trying to get right to work. When I look like a professional, I feel more professional.
These are a few examples to get you started. Consider your personality and your family’s routine when developing your own schedule. And remember that you may have to try several variations before finding a routine that works for you, so don’t give up!