Working from home is a constant balancing act.
If your day is anything like mine, you rush around for most of the day taking care of every little thing. Before you know it, it’s 5 pm and it’s time to cook dinner. It’s easy to look back on your day and realize that as busy as you were, you got nothing accomplished at all. Over the years, I have learned a few time management tips that have helped me become more productive at home. It doesn’t matter if you work or stay home with your kids. You can learn to get more done each day with these tips.
Time Management Tips from A Work-at-Home-Mom
I know some days I feel so busy that I forget to stop and plan my day. I’ve found that creating a habit out of organizing my day really helps my productivity. Some things I like to do every day include:
These steps help me determine where to spend the majority of my energy each day. This is how I manage to work towards my goals and move my business forward while raising a toddler and running a family.
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1. Set Goals
Goals can come in all shapes and sizes. I personally have some big, scary goals I’m focusing on. These goals are always on my mind when I sit down to plan my day. I’ve identified them, and I’m able to dedicate the majority of my work time to these items.
Maybe you just want to put away all the laundry today. That’s a great goal, too!
No matter how big or small your goals are, it’s important to identify them. Then, you can start working towards them.No matter how big or small your goals, it's important to identify them. #smallbiz #mompreneur Click To Tweet
Once you’ve identified your goals, you can break them down into the steps you need to do to accomplish them. Write all of your goals and steps down. It takes more time and energy to constantly run through your to-do list in your head than it would if it’s written down on a piece of paper.
I’ve had my goals in mind for awhile, but if you’re unsure of what your current goals should be, and how to work towards them, I highly suggest the book Time Management Mama: Making Use of the Margins to Pursue your Passions. I read it this past weekend and I can tell you, it’s an incredibly helpful book for any mama looking to make better use of her time. There’s a whole chapter on figuring out your true passions, too!
Once I’ve got my goals in mind, whether they’re big or small, I take a few minutes to prioritize those goals. Let’s face it. We’re moms, business owners, and so much more. Some days, we can’t meet every goal that we’ve set. It’s important to prioritize your goals so that you focus on the most important things first.
I like to give myself 3 “must do” items every day. Items can end up on this list several ways. Sometimes, I have a deadline that I have to meet, so that automatically goes to the top of the list. I also add items to my top 3 if I am tired of seeing them on my list.
When I have a few spare minutes to work, I can refer to my top three and really get to work more efficiently. I spend a lot less time checking social media, blog stats, and my email when I have a full to-do list to complete.
3. Use a Planner
I know I’m a big fan of a fancy planner, but really, any planner will do! The important thing is that you have a place to write down your plans and events, and that you keep up with it. Your planner is no good if you write everything down and then never reference it again. I like to keep mine open on my desk every day so that I can refer to it regularly.
I tell people that my planner is basically my whole life. Nothing would get anything done without it. If you look in my planner you can find some of the following:
- daily and weekly to-do’s
- deadlines for projects and customer orders
- classes and activities for kids
- upcoming birthdays
- school projects
- PTO responsibilities
4. Stop Multi-Tasking
That’s right. I said it. I know it seems counter-intuitive, especially to moms, but it works. Despite the very popular advice, I think that multi-tasking is actually bad for productivity. It seems I’m not the only one, either. Block scheduling is becoming more and more popular every year as people realize that multi-tasking can actually make you less productive *.Multi-tasking can make you LESS productive! Find more time management tips here. #smallbiz #workathome Click To Tweet
Here’s what I suggest. Set aside a block of time for each task. I set an alarm, so I know I’m dedicating the proper amount of time to everything. When you sit down to work, really work. No social media, no phone calls, no email. Log out of everything and just sit down to knock out that one task that you prioritized for this time block. Once the timer goes off, you set it aside and move on to the next task at hand. It’s an incredibly helpful concept for being more productive.
By focusing on one thing at a time, you are able to mark more things off your to-do list each day. It feels so much better to wake up in the morning without partially completed tasks to carry over to a new list.
5. Learn to Say NO.
I struggle with this one a lot! When I first started working from home, it was hard to make people realize I was busy, too. It was easy for them to ask me to do something for them while they were at work, because they thought I had more free time. It took a long time for me to figure out what was happening (It’s in my nature to serve!). In the end, I ended up running myself ragged and hurt my business because of it.
These days, my issue is less about everyone else, and more about me. There are just so many things that are important to me! I’m involved in the school, run a school garden, help with Girl Scouts… Well, you get the idea.
While reading Time Management Mama, a quote that stood out to me from Beth Anne is:
“If you don’t volunteer for something, it might not get done. If not you, then who? Saying no often makes us feel guilty or uncomfortable, while saying yes makes us feel great.”
I don’t know about you, but this is absolutely me.
The thing is, there’s simply not enough time in the day for me to accomplish everything I want to. At least, not without sacrificing somewhere. I’ve learned to identify what my true passions are, and focus only on those things. It’s required some hard choices,because sometimes I have to say “no” to something that’s important to me. Chasing dreams and running a business is a huge commitment, and one that can take a lot of time and energy.
Better Time Management Can Help Your Productivity
Some days it seems like there isn’t enough time to stop and get organized. When you make it a habit, these steps take very little time. If you feel like you’re on a hamster wheel, running in circles and not getting anywhere, you may just need a little organization to help. Follow the steps above and see what a difference they can make in your time management!
Like the daily docket planner page I posted here? Great news! It’s FREE just for you! Grab it here and let me know what you think.
Do you have any areas you struggle with more than others? What about tips to share? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!