Tips For Being An Ace Work-At-Home Mom
Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
Photography by Photograph by Michael Wells.
Being a work-at-home mama can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you’re able to spend extra time with your kiddo(s) during your workday, something in-office moms don’t necessarily get to do. On the other hand, toggling between childcare and work often means you have next-to-no time to get your tasks done, much less sneak in that much-needed shower. That’s why we decided to seek out some of the best, most helpful tips on how to get your non-kid duties done efficiently without feeling guilty, slipping behind, or losing your marbles.
Create A Schedule. First things first, get organized—no ifs, ands, or buts. If you don’t establish some sort of agenda, you have no discipline to keep yourself in line. Make sure to keep it reasonable, so you’re not setting yourself up for failure. Create a work schedule that agrees with you and your family, and try to remember that life happens—you just have to adapt and work around it.
Kid-Free Hours. Let’s face it, with all we have to get done as moms, we tend to have a lot of overflow on our to-do lists every day. Make the decision to either wake up early or go to bed late everyday. You may have to nix your late-night Netflix binge-watching, but you’ll feel less pressure the next day when you’re ahead on work and ultimately, you’ll get more done throughout the week.
List It Out. Prioritize your most important tasks first. Make a point each morning to grab a notepad or open your e-notes to jot down your to-do list for the day, starting with the most crucial. Most people think they are amazing multitaskers, but according to the American Psychological Association, multitasking can actually decrease productivity by 40%—that’s almost half!
Designate A Workspace. There’s not much inspiration to get things done when you’re working from your bed or sitting next to the blaring TV. Find a place in your home that you can set up shop that has minimal distractions and a decent amount of desk space. As for clutter, Princeton University found that a messy desk can actually stress people out and promote laziness, so do your best to keep things tidy.
Diminish Interruptions. We all love a good dose of social media and news and it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole with one click. Find a time in your day to catch up on all of those silly gossip sites, whether it be before you start your day, over lunch, or before you go to bed, and don’t allow yourself to look at them during work hours. Mute your phone (or any chronic texters) and only respond to important messages.
Happy Busy Babes. Perhaps the biggest tip of being a productive work-at-home mama might be to keep your kids happily entertained so you can focus. It’s important to start the day with some undivided, quality time together in the morning over breakfast, before work. Have some fun toys available in a designated area that your kids can play with once you dive into your day (like Play-Doh, Legos, puzzles, etc.) or make a point to only allow TV, movie, or iPad time during certain work hours or during important phone meetings. If your littles have something to look forward to, they’ll be less likely to interrupt.
Turn The Music On. Recent research (from the University of Windsor, Canada) has found that background music can make you more productive by improving your mood, boosting creativity, making repetitive tasks more enjoyable, and drowning out distractive noises. But before you jump up to turn on Top 40 or hip-hop, know that loud beats and synths can actually be disruptive, so it’s best to stick with ambient, relaxing tunes.
Little Schedules. If you’ve got more than one child at home, try to keep them on the same steady schedule. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself making food, changing diapers, entertaining all day at different times without a break to focus on work. Another great tip—nap time is mama work time (and essential for non-cranky tots). Make sure to have this in your schedule each day at the same time, so that you have 1-2 hours of solid productivity to yourself.
Give Yourself A Break. If you are constantly wearing your mom-hat and your work-hat all day, every day without some escape, you will most-likely start to feel drained. Make sure you take a little “me-time” each day to recharge. Work smart, so perhaps you can utilize nap time for yourself from time to time. Even if it’s reading a few chapters in your favorite book, catching up on that new episode of Game Of Thrones, or even getting in a short nap yourself. Either way, it’s important to reserve some time for self-care, whatever that may be, in your day to keep you mentally refreshed and go-go-going.
Helping Hands. Under a time-crunch for a big project or deadline? Know that it’s okay to ask for help from others. Just because you work at home doesn’t mean you can’t ask your hubby, mom, sister, best friend, or even a child care provider for some assistance. Set up special activities, like going to the park or a group playdate, so that your little one looks forward to these times when you need to dive-in.
Get App’d. In this day and age, there are so many wonderful apps and add-ons to our smartphones, emails, and browsers that promote productivity. Get tech savvy with some of the best, like Boomerang, Evernote, Wunderlist, Google Docs, and Slack to get on your way to a more organized and productive you.
Dress For Success. We all know how easy it is to go from last night’s pajamas to today’s morning conference call without changing, putting on makeup, or even brushing your teeth when you work from home. However, it’s this habit that can blur the lines of work and lounging, resulting in less productivity and organization, and overall, can just make you feel bad about yourself. Make a vow to get ready each morning as if you were going into the office and see how it changes your work day and your mood.
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