One of the biggest challenges that work from home parents face is when the kids are home too. It’s an ongoing juggle but I’ve picked up some productivity tips for work from home mums that might help.
Time is precious – whether you’re spending it with your family or on your business. Whilst it’s easy to maximise time on one or the other, it isn’t as easy when you have to combine both.
Don’t get me started about the guilt! It’s twofold – guilt about neglecting the kids while you work and guilt about not moving your business forward because you’re juggling motherhood. Sometimes self-inflicted guilt, sometimes from society.
If you’re trying to get work done at home, and look after your kids at the same time, these tips might help:
How to be Productive when you Work from Home
1. Find a space that works
We’re not all lucky enough to have room for a full home office, but if you need to work at a desk, try to find a space in the house that is your working space.
It could be a corner of the lounge or dining room or even a dedicated space on the kitchen bench.
Having a working area will help you feel in work mode but also signifies to your children that when you’re at your desk, you’re working. Explain to them that if they need you for anything though, they are your priority.
2. Establish a routine
I’ll start with the most challenging for some – setting up your work routine. If you have help with childcare, this will be much easier to do. Set a schedule of when you intend to start and finish work each day and when you will take breaks. Treat your business like a job – be disciplined on when you intend to work.
But what if the kids are always with you?
You can still set out a schedule for your working day. Of course there will be times when the day is baby-led, rather than business.
Having a clear time that your working day starts can help your focus. Get up, get dressed, be ready to work. For older children, seeing you in work mode, rather than mum mode, is something they should adapt to over time. Explain to them that you’re working and why you are – to be able to provide for their future. Tell them you love to work and set a good working ethic for them.
3. Plan your day…the night before
Laying out your plan for the day the night before means that you can get tracking on your To Do list immediately. If you have a lot on, it can be overwhelming when you do get time to sit at your desk. Having a clear list of what needs to be done the next day can also make for a better nights sleep!
If you have time before bed, do as much preparation for the kids the night before too. This might mean making lunches, laying out their clothes, packing their school bag and more. Again, it’s a way to have more time for work without being distracted by other tasks.
4. Prioritise your To Do List
On the subject of your To Do List, you need to structure it for optimal success. Put the jobs you don’t want to do or the ones that will take the most time to the top of your list.
Getting the things you don’t enjoy done first frees up your time for the easier tasks later. If your kids are school age, when they get home you might be able to get some of those easier tasks done while they’re doing homework or having some reading or TV time. If you can, save the challenging tasks for when your baby is sleeping!
5. Experiment with your To Do list
Find a way to juggle your plans that works for you. It might be a Family Wall Planner, an online or iPhone calendar, a written To Do list, a paper planner or a combination of it all!
Does it help to have family plans on the fridge or in a place that the whole family can see?
It’s a good idea to give a few options a go, without spending a fortune on stationery, to see what works best in making you more productive.
6. Find your prime time to work
Is your head clearer first thing or in the afternoon? And when are you less likely to have interruptions from the kids?
This is your prime time to tackle those harder, or more challenging, tasks for your business.
How can you maximise nap time? If you have a baby but need to make business calls, can you take them for a walk and make the calls on-the-go?
7. Get some fresh air
Getting out and away from the house will benefit you and your child. Go for a walk, grab a coffee, have a quick trip to the local park.
Breaking up your day can clear your mind to recharge for the afternoon – plus some extra quality time with your child too.
8. Minimise (non-child) distractions
Perhaps you work better with the radio on, or the TV in the background? Or do you need complete silence so you can concentrate on the task you’re doing?
If you find you’re distracted by noise, your phone beeping or people calling/texting, then turn those devices off. Set aside a couple of hours in the day to focus only on what you need to get done. The world will not end if you don’t check your social media accounts every hour!
9. Stay Focused
We’ve been told for years how women are naturally great at multi-tasking. Are you?
Juggling the kids and work at home is already a challenge. Don’t further complicate matters by trying to tackle more than one task at a time.
Stay focused on each job you need to do in turn, complete it, tick it off your To Do List and move on to the next one. Trying to make small headways with multiple tasks isn’t going to get them done any sooner – just the opposite in fact.
10. Be kind to yourself
Working from home with kids around comes with pressures that working in an office does not. I talked about the guilt earlier and it’s a tough one to control.
There are going to be days when you get little work done, your child is sick, the internet goes down. It’s easy to feel like you’re failing at being a good mum and doing well in business in the early months particularly.
Accept that you cannot control everything, you can only do what you can to set yourself up for a successful day.
Do you have any productivity tips for work from home mums to share?