I’ve always been someone who stays insanely busy, even before having kids. It was never a question to me that even if I didn’t work a traditional job that I would do SOMETHING while I had my kids home with me. I love the freedom that working from home provides me. I can work as much or little as my life allows. I like to set my own schedule! One thing that is a challenge is getting things done with the kids home. They are my top priority, and I don’t want to be on my computer when they are around. It’s definitely a balancing act if I want to do work related things while they are home. I’ve come up with a few simple tips that have helped me manage my time better, and I wanted to share because I’m sure I’m not the only one who works from home with young kids!
Routines are everything- have one!
Monday through Friday we have the same exact routine. We wake up, my 5 year old goes to school, I go to the gym to exercise, and my 1 and 3 year old have classes they attend. It makes a big difference in my day to get in the self care that I need and get my kids socialized right off the bat.
The only work related thing I do during the mornings is check my email, and I do that while everyone is eating breakfast. It’s not until after lunch has been eaten that I get into my “work day” if I’m going to work that day. More on that later!
Wake up earlier than your family.
If you can make this happen, it will have your whole day running smoother. In a perfect world, I would love to wake up an hour earlier than my kids. I could have breakfast and coffee in peace, look over my monthly and weekly work goals, and write myself a to do list with those in mind. I could start a load of wash and unload and reload the dishwasher. I could start my day with organization and a little zen before the crazy. Alas, I’m a night owl so I’m usually waking up when the kids do.
Set realistic expectations for yourself.
I’m not going to get an 8 hour work day in any day of the week. I’m not even going to get a 4 hour work day in. It’s not realistic at this point in my life. I’m a stay at home mom, and I don’t have outside help besides my husband. I have the help of an occasional sitter, but not on a regular basis.
That being said, I’m a machine when I have a little bit of time to work, but I don’t give myself 50 bullet point to do lists, because they’re not ever going to get done. And that’s ok.
Prioritize your time with quadrant planning.
My brain is usually going a mile a minute trying to remember all the things I need to get done in a day, in a week, in a month. It helps me to write lists and prioritize how urgent the tasks are. I created a planner page for myself that helped me decide what was important to do and when. I love that I can magnet it to the fridge and when the week is done, I can assess what I finished and what needs to go on next week’s list.
Have separate to do lists for house/kid/job.
Speaking of lists, it definitely helps me to realize I have separate priorities in my life. Work has its own list. Housework has its own list. Our family life has its own list. Every major facet of your life has its own set of tasks, so keeping those separate and prioritizing within each list is key.
Don’t burn time on social media.
Don’t fool yourself that you can go on Facebook without getting lost in your newsfeed. Schedule yourself a social media break. Going on Facebook can be a ten minute reward for getting through the task that you are hoping to accomplish that hour. Set yourself a timer to keep yourself honest. It also helps to turn the chat feature off on Messenger and delete the apps on your phone.
Have days where you do nothing for work.
Most days of the week I try to fit in a couple hours of work. I might squeeze in 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there and a couple hours when the kids go to bed. But some days? I don’t do squat. Part of the joy of working from home is working hard some days and not working at all other days. You need that time away from work to recharge and spend time with your people. When I take a day off, I also find myself buzzing with ideas and a fresh outlook to take into the next day.
On days you work, tend to your kids first.
I’m a mom first, and I don’t have extra childcare, so I definitely don’t want to be working for big chunks of the day when my kids are home. On days I’m working, I tend to the kids and the house first. I mentioned earlier that we have a routine in the morning. After lunch, the kids usually go into the basement to play, or take a technology break for an hour. That’s my time to work.
In the past, I’ve skipped working out and tried to get my work done before noon. When I don’t exercise in the morning, I don’t feel energized for my day. My kids haven’t had socialization. We start our day off on the wrong foot and it’s not healthy for anyone.
Set long and short term goals.
It makes the most sense for me to have goals to reach: my goals for the year, for three months, one month, and this week. I keep my long term goals in my Google Docs and write out weekly goals on my planner sheet. Breaking it down like this makes a big difference for me!
I like to keep track of what I’m cooking for dinner, what needs to be done around the house, exercise, and even some quadrant planning. When I can keep track of everything on the same sheet, I feel so much more balanced and at ease about my schedule for the week!
I used to keep a paper planner, but this method of planning works out so much better for me. I like that I can see my whole week at a glance and if I need to, I can write myself a daily list based upon my week.
Think my planner will help you? Download it below! Click the picture below and watch your inbox for the password.
Did you enjoy this post? Leave me a comment and tell me if I should create more posts like this. I’d also love to hear your best tips for productivity. Tell me your tips in the comments!