Working from home presents many unique challenges, as I’m sure you know. I have been a work at home mom for many years, in various capacities. I have this blog, I teach other women how to start their own blogs, and I also help other moms who want to switch to a more natural lifestyle. I thought I’d share some of the habits and routines I’ve found to be helpful for anyone who currently works from home or is considering it in the future. If you work at an office, I am sure you will still find many of these useful for you. Keep in mind, I work from home with eight children and we homeschool. So, productivity and time management are a must in my household!
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A BUSINESS YOU CAN WORK FROM HOME, WITH YOUR LITTLES? I work in 15 minute increments each day and teach the ladies who work with me how to do the same. You should never be a slave to your business…our primary job is to raise our little ones right, nurture our marriages and tend to our home. It IS possible to work at home in a productive way so you can do all these things well.
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PRODUCTIVITY TIPS FOR WORK AT HOME MOMS:
1. PREPARE FOR YOUR DAY IN THE MORNING
You know I am all about routines. In our home, we all have a morning, afternoon, and evening routine. It makes things run so much smoother when everyone knows what to expect. I do my best to get dressed everyday and fix my hair and makeup. Nothing fancy, but just enough so I am not embarrassed if I have to answer the door. Your routine may look very different from mine, but set a routine that you will follow every day. Wake up at the same time, go through the same motions and prepare well. Here’s a free routine chart printable for your kids.
2. SET ASIDE TIME FOR HOUSEKEEPING AND CHORES
In that same manner, make sure you have your housecleaning and chores set in your daily schedule. I know how easy it is to get distracted as a mom and forget that I put laundry in the wash. I also know that there are many times I lack energy and I just don’t want to. But, if I have a chore routine in place already, it is easier for me to just get it done. I feel better when certain chores are complete and my house runs more efficiently. Believe it or not, my children are calmer when they have certain things in order too. If you need a starting point, here is my simple Daily and Weekly Housekeeping Routine. I also have some free housecleaning printables you can grab to get yourself organized.
3. DISCONNECT FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
We’ve all been there. Instagram can be a huge time sucker for the best of us. Those phone notifications can be a huge distraction. Imagine if we all tracked the amount of time we spent aimlessly scrolling on social media! I turned off almost all of my notifications on my phone and it has done wonders for my productivity. I now have a set time when I check my emails and a set time when I check into Facebook. I also take one screen free day each week…and my business has survived!
4. HAVE A DEDICATED WORK SPACE
I know this one can be difficult. I am blessed enough to have a home office now, but for years I worked from the kitchen table. I understand. I am not telling you that you need a separate room, but you do need a space that is dedicated for work. If this is a chair in the corner of your living room, just make it your own. It will make a world of difference, I promise. Make it clean and tidy and decorate it so it makes you happy. I do not recommend working in your bed…that space should make you feel relaxed and working in it does the opposite.
5. KEEP ESSENTIALS CLOSE BY
You know what you need when you are working. I always keep a notebook, my planner, and pens near me. When something comes to mind, I write it down. Then I can go back to it later when I have the time. I also always have my water next to me – remember, we are taking care of ourselves! You may have a few other things that you know you use on a constant basis, so keep those handy.
6. POUR INTO YOUR CHILDREN FIRST
If you have children, you know how it goes. As soon as you say you are working, they need everything under the sun. This used to bother me, until I changed things up a bit. I now give my kids, especially the younger ones, some me time before I have any work time (this doesn’t include the time I am working before they get up for the day, obviously). The entire point of me working from home is so I am there with my children throughout the day. They are my first priority and they need to know it. I fill my cup, then I fill theirs, and then I am free to work.
7. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
This should go without saying, but I am telling you anyway. YOU MATTER. You can not pour from an empty cup. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, eat your veggies and get a decent night’s sleep. When you lack water, your body and mind are sluggish. When you fuel your body with proper nutrition, it can function the way it was designed. Sleep is important so you can retain information and work at peak performance. I feel my absolute best when I’m following a Keto diet, and that may be something you want to look into.
8. LISTEN TO MUSIC
This may or may not work for you. I find I can concentrate easier when I listen to background music. I have tried listening to audiobooks or podcasts while I’m working, but that is next to impossible. I have a few playlists on YouTube and Pandora that I know I can just play and I’m good to go. It depends on your taste and what kind of music you prefer, but pick some songs and make a playlist that keeps you going and help you focus.
9. SET BOUNDRIES
This is important for anyone who works at home, but especially as a parent. As I said before, it is important to make your children a priority and spend time with them. However, I also think it is important that your children know when it is your time to work. My children learn valuable lessons when they see me working at home. Set a precedent that your scheduled work time is only for working. Whether it’s letting your kids know that you are unavailable to play during that time, or letting friends and family know you won’t answer the phone during that time, it will really help to set boundaries between your personal and work life.
10. SCHEDULE AHEAD OF TIME
If you use social media for your business (as I am sure you do) then make sure you schedule as much as you can ahead of time. There are many free tools out there that you can fill up ahead of time. If you are a blogger, have plenty of draft posts that you can edit as needed and schedule to publish when you want. I try to schedule for a week at a time and then am able to post randomly when inspiration strikes. I have an entire Instagram account dedicated to helping you plan your life well, using an actual planner.
This can be hard for those of us that are Type A personalities. It can be hard for any of us! But if you find you are lacking in an area, it may be time to get some help. Are there tasks you can hire out? Can you get some guest posts on your website to free up some of your time? If there someone close to you that could come over and help with the kids for a few hours a week? Could you hire a housekeeper a couple times a month? It is likely worth the time it takes to find someone trustworthy and competent to do those small tasks that aren’t a good use of your time. You know where those areas are.
You want to work from home for the freedom and flexibility, right? Don’t let it consume your life and do the opposite. Take breaks when you need to and put your work away when it’s time. Do not compromise sleep for work and make sure your family remains number one.
13. MAKE STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS
As work at home moms we are pressed for time. We don’t have a million hours to work on tedious projects or to scour the internet for days trying to figure out how to fix the latest problems in our biz. I’m about as thrifty as they come, but I finally had to break down and switch from only free tools to a few paid ones. As soon as I did my business started to take off. You can see all the resources and tools I recommend for bloggers here. Another tool I use is Trello…and if you haven’t heard of it…you are welcome! Trello has revolutionized how I live and work. Sounds dramatic, but check it out for yourself! I use Trello to organize almost every aspect of my life!
KristiJune 7, 2017 at 8:31 am
These are fantastic tips! The ones I needed to hear the most are turn off notifications (brilliant!), schedule time and keep it sacred, and invest in paying tools. I’m curious as to which paying tools you use. Do you have a post on that? Thanks!
Jackie SpeedJune 7, 2017 at 1:12 pm
thank you for these reminders! what a great list. putting the phone down and social media off is a huge help sometimes and i like the idea of listening to music!
Lauren AbigailJune 7, 2017 at 4:06 pm
I’m not a work at home mom (not even a mom, to be exact), but this post was still fantastic! I could apply it to my school, club, and career work. After all, productivity is necessary for everything! I think my favorite tip was to take care of yourself. So many hardworking people forget to do this, but if you don’t, you’ll crash and burn!
LeahJune 7, 2017 at 4:08 pm
Great tips!! Especially setting aside time specifically to be in social media. It’s easy to get sucked into it all day!
Brittany PutmanJune 7, 2017 at 7:24 pm
Awesome tips! I don’t have kids, and work outside the home before coming home to blog/freelance but I agree with so many of these points. I have to have a schedule and turn off my phone!
Jeeyoung WJune 7, 2017 at 8:21 pm
Love all of these tips! I especially like the social media breaks and having a dedicated office! Helps me to focus so much better!
Brittany FerrellJune 7, 2017 at 8:39 pm
This is truly great advice and I really need to listen to it! Working from home can be amazing or a disaster depending on how you structure your day. Your tips of “Knowing When to Delegate” and “Knowing when to put it away” really spoke to me. I am a Type A personality and it often does not even occur to me to delegate or to just put it away and close up shop. I feel the need to get it ALL done! I will definitely try my best to follow your advice!
Danielle @ A Sprinkle of JoyJune 8, 2017 at 5:54 am
I just need to read these everyday. The hardest for me is disconecting from social media. My goal is to only have certain times during the day that I check o things, and other than that not be on.
TamiNovember 9, 2017 at 9:28 am
Giving my little guy attention first is definitely the best productivity tip I have to offer.
Wendy Wallace/One Exceptional LifeFebruary 20, 2019 at 12:10 pm
These are great tips, Terryn, thank you! Managing productivity is essential especially while working at home, with so many distractions.
KristenFebruary 20, 2019 at 12:11 pm
What great tips. I know I have to be extremely diligent with staying off social media until our school work and my blog work is done.
Nicole KauffmanFebruary 20, 2019 at 3:29 pm
This is a great list and really encouraging as I think to having kids in the near future and wonder if I’ll be able to make this work!
LeezaFebruary 21, 2019 at 12:20 am
This is a much needed list for this mama. I was just thinking to myself the other day…how do other moms get stuff done? Sometimes it feels there is no time left in the day, but this list gives me some awesome insight of where and how to start better utilizing my time. Thanks!
JenniferFebruary 21, 2019 at 12:26 am
Knowing when to put it aside is so important. I find myself too late at night still working. I need to be better about setting an alarm to stop! 🙂
Kimmy Ripley (Give It A Whirl Girl)February 21, 2019 at 8:39 am
These are all really wonderful tips! I am most productive in the morning. I get up around 5am and work work work.
JordanFebruary 21, 2019 at 11:04 am
Oh my goodness, this is so helpful! Even little things can make such a big difference. I love the idea of turning off notifications and only checking social media/emails at certain times.
MelanieFebruary 21, 2019 at 11:49 am
These are so helpful! I really needed it right now. I think I’m going to start scheduling social media time so I can put my focus elsewhere.
jenna | the urben lifeFebruary 21, 2019 at 2:47 pm
I’m not a mom but I do work from home and these tips are awesome!! I agree with so many of them 🙂
Brandi WiatrakFebruary 21, 2019 at 2:54 pm
These tips are so helpful and truly do help you be the best (and happiest) version of yourself, even when you’re at home…surrounded by piles of toys and screaming kiddos. My dedicated workspace is at my kitchen table facing away from the living room (where all the family and chaos) live. My family knows when I am sitting there that mom is off-limits. I like your idea of having a bunch of draft posts set up for my blog in advance and tweaking them when the creativity pops. I need to get better at that. I am finally starting to make strategic investments with my blog too after learning some blogging pearls. Here’s hoping it pays off for the both of us!
ShootingStarsMagFebruary 21, 2019 at 8:41 pm
Great tips. I have a chair that I always use for blogging. It’s comfortable, and it’s easy to reach my planner/pens and everything else that I might need.
Jennifer EnochFebruary 21, 2019 at 9:20 pm
These tips are so good for me too. Working outside the home means that I have to really keep myself organized during the time that I’m home. I’ve even found that for my kids, having both a morning and evening routine/checklist is essential to keeping them on task and making the most of our home time.
BaileyFebruary 22, 2019 at 8:41 am
I really need to set aside a dedicated workspace in the right location. Right now, my desk is wayyy too close to the TV and it is absurdly distracting.
ColleenFebruary 22, 2019 at 9:28 am
It sounds like your kids are embracing the “outer order, inner calm” that Gretchen Rubin talks about! These tips are great for everyone, not just moms 🙂 I just have a cat but I need to follow your advice as well 🙂