Do you have a difficult time working from home? Do you feel like you are not getting anything done? It’s hard to work from home, especially if you have littles. It can be done! I’ve asked several other mom bloggers to share their best work at home advice, and you’ll see their tips sprinkled throughout the post.
Best Productivity Hacks for Work at Home Moms
A work at home mom’s time is precious, especially time that is uninterrupted.
You need to be at the very top of your productivity game to succeed.
There is no time to waste time. Don’t be discouraged though, there are a lot of ways you can be proactive in this department.
1. Reduce Decision Fatigue
Sit there for a minute and think about all the decisions you make in one day. It might surprise you just how many times you have to decide what and when you are going to do something.
You have to decide when to get up in the morning, what you’re going to wear, what you’re eating for breakfast, when to eat, what you’re doing for the day, and on and on it goes.
We make literally thousands of decisions per day.
It can drain your mental energy, and leave you feeling exhausted. This is called decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue can be crippling.
It leaves you with little to no energy when important decisions have to be made. It can also cripple your creativity. That is a big problem if you have a business that depends on your ability to create something.
Here are some ways you can reduce decision fatigue:
- pick out clothing the night before
- make a weekly or monthly meal plan
- set up a cleaning schedule
- create a morning routine
2. Set a Timer or Alarm
A timer is a great productivity tool. Working on one project for 15 minutes keeps us on task.
Multitasking lessens the quality of your work.
You can do anything for 15 minutes. Do a few 15 minute rounds. Then take a break.
Try the Pomodoro technique if you have a longer attention span. It’s based on the same concept, short work cycles mixed with breaks.
Use your phone alarm for more than waking up in the morning.
You can label your alarm. Set it for things you might forget to do. You can also use it to build habits like drinking water.
Use Google Calendar to remind you of appointments and other important things. Reminds can be set for different intervals before the event.
Some tasks you may need an alarm for are:
- School pickup
- Starting a load of laundry in the morning
- Unloading the dishwasher
- Taking medication or giving medication to your children
- Weekly mastermind call
- Starting dinner
3. Carve Out a Dedicated Office Space
You need a dedicated office space, no matter how small it has to be. Running a business from home must include having a business mindset. For this business to earn money and not just be a fun hobby, you have to treat it like a business.
Your setup does not have to be expensive. Desks can be thrifted and painted. Spruce up a small corner of your home if you cannot dedicate an entire room to your office.
Create an office in a bag to take with you when you go outside the home to run errands. It will increase your productivity.
Take it with you and work at a coffee shop for a few hours if possible. You have just created a mobile office that allows you to escape the chaos of home temporarily.
“I think it is so important to have your own office space in your home, even better if there is a door you can close. It allows you and your family to separate work versus home life. Also, if mom can work it into their budget I highly recommend having your groceries delivered and a cleaning lady a couple times a month. I struggled with the guilt of being a full time working mom, and those two things allowed me to have more of my weekend back to spend with my daughter.” – Rebecca Underwood
4. Plan Your Meals
A meal plan can be a huge sanity saver. When you have a plan, you know what you need to thaw.
That keeps you from staring at the pantry or refrigerator at 4:30 trying to figure out what you can cook fast.
Plan out your meals for the entire month or for 2 weeks or even weekly if you want. You can also plan out a 2-week meal rotation of all of your family’s favorite meals and repeat them every 2 weeks.
It is also helpful if you assemble or cook freezer meals or meal components (think taco meat or shredded chicken).
A slow cooker or Instant Pot can be a great tool to use with meal planning. Just set and forget your slow cooker. Dinner will be done when you need it.
Best of all, it cuts down on the number of dishes that you need to wash. That’s a huge win my opinion.
I love my Instant Pot. It is a little intimidating at first. The rewarding part of using it is that you do not have to babysit it.
Some recipes, especially those for soups and stews, need to cook on the stove top for several hours. This can be a problem because the food in the bottom of the pot can scorch.
The food from my Instant Pot tastes like it has been cooked all day with no scorching. It does much more than soups and stews, you can also bake cheesecakes in it and much more!
I love using a drag and drop meal planning system. It saves so much time!
5. Write Out a Daily To-Do List
Starting your day out with a plan is really helpful. What are those things that you need to do tomorrow? Write them out the night before. I will help clear your mind and give you more restful sleep.
Sometimes it is best to do the worst thing on the list first. That way your can eat your frog and be done with it.
I have changed my system up over the years and now use contest-based to-do lists. I learned this concept from Eric & April Perry. It has helped me tremendously.
Try different approaches and see what works best for you.
6. Use a Personal Planner or Calendar App
This is essential. It’s probably the most important tool in your toolbox.
Without a calendar, you can miss deadlines and appointments. A business owner that cannot keep their commitments will not last long. A bad reputation spreads fast!
So which calendar or planner is best? The answer for that is easy, the one that you will use. Everyone likes different styles of planners and calendars.
It just depends on how you want your planner to function for you.
Do you want an entire planner or just a calendar? Paper or digital?
Whichever one you choose, make sure that it is something that you will take with you outside of your home.
7. Create a Cleaning Schedule
Do you feel like you are constantly putting out fires when you clean? It happens to all of us.
That may be happening if you have no regular cleaning routine.
A cleaning routine ensures that you rotate cleaning tasks. You can have faith in your plan.
You will know that every area of your home will get cleaned within the rotation period.
If cleaning seems to take forever, you may need to declutter.
Clutter chokes out creativity. It is depressing and overwhelming.
Clutter robs you of your joy and it can paralyze you.
“One way I maximize productivity is to involve everyone in maintaining the home. We work together to clean the house so I do not have to spend the entire school day cleaning. The boys (ages 3 and 5) are responsible for picking up their toys. They also help do their laundry and put it away. We have them help with meal prep and clean-up. When our whole family works together, the chores get finished much more quickly than when I try to do them all myself. Plus, they’re learning skills that they’ll use throughout their lives. It’s a productivity win and parenting win!” – Joanna May | May Virtual Assists
8. Establish Morning and Evening Routines
Routines are important. Here’s why:
Routines form habits.
Habits are done without thinking. This allows you to do the things that must get done without thinking about them.
Habits reduce decision fatigue.
When you do something without thinking, you don’t have to waste mental energy. We all have habits. Think about your day from start to finish. What things do you do automatically? It is impossible to overhaul all your habits at once but working on one at a time will greatly improve your life.
So what can a routine do for you? If you have the routine of checking your kids’ backpacks as soon as they come home from school, then there will be less worry about forgetting to sign an important paper.
Creating the habit of double checking them before bed will ensure that the paper is returned. Piggyback this with another habit, like writing important dates from those papers on the calendar as soon as you see them
Routines create trust.
You know it will get done and when, so you do not have to expend any energy thinking about having to do it. It’s a good as done as far as your brain is concerned. I first learned about routines from Flylady.
So what routines should you create for your family? You will have to tailor it to your individual needs, but here is a list of common routines to get you started.
Start with a…
9. Remember What Is Important
You have to keep in mind why you are doing this. You’re working from home so that you can spend more time with your children.
People are more important than things. Unless you are desperate for money (hey, we’ve all been there), you have to remember why you are doing this.
It’s easy to neglect your family or feel frustrated about not getting enough work done.
Some days you will need to be flexible with your goals and schedule to accommodate the needs of your kids. Whether they are sick or just need extra attention, you must learn to twist and pivot your lifestyle in accordance with having kids with a business. It can be hard to pry yourself away from work when this happens, but that’s life.
Keeping an open mind and knowing your perfect plan could change at any given moment is the best (and most practical) attitude to have when working from home with your kids.- Heather Ford | Call Her Crazy
10. Do a Brain Dump
Brain dump? What is that?
It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
Take a piece of paper and just write everything down that comes to mind. Anything that is floating around is fair game.
Need to clean out the freezer, bake a cake, finish a blog post, list 10 items on ebay? Write all of those down.
When you get those off your mind, you will free up mental space to be able to work.
“As a busy Mom I always have so many ideas jumbled and bouncing around in my head! I thrive off of starting each month with a “brain-dump” exercise to increase my creative productivity. Simply sit down with your notebook and just “dump” everything in your mind onto paper as fast as you can. You can organize and purpose it from there, coming up with a unique plan of action for everything or tossing it out the window. By starting each month this way my thoughts get so much clearer and I am so much less stressed!” – Jenny Hartley | Welcome to the Circus
11. Create a Time-Blocked Schedule
When you work from home with kids, it’s hard to stay on schedule. That’s where a time-blocked schedule comes in.
You can set up big blocks of time with certain tasks. When that block is over, move on to the things that need to be done in the next block.
You can name these blocks by exact times or you can name them things like before breakfast, after breakfast, after lunch and after dinner.
“Block scheduling helps aid focus. Everything that needs to be done has a time and place. I can focus on cleaning because I know I have a set period of time to work later in the day. And I can focus on work because I know I have cleaned and that another cleaning block is the next morning. Finally, I can give my all to my family knowing that I have planned time to accomplish my other goals.” – Kimberly Cartwright | Team Cartwright
12. Limit Distractions
Stay off social media. Seriously. It can suck so much time out of your day.
Your time is precious. You con’t have time to be checking Facebook every 5 minutes to see what somebody else is doing. They aren’t making any money for you. You are.
Now, I know that your business may require you to do some social media marketing. Set a timer for your work related tasks and stick to it.
13. Take Advantage of Nap Time
If you are fortunate enough to have a child that naps, take advantage of it! If they are past the napping stage, you can still do quiet time.
Designating a quiet time each day, you can still have quiet work time.
What should quiet time look like? It’ll be different for every child but here are few ideas to get you started:
- boxes of quiet toys that can be rotated
- crayons and color books
- picture books
- favorite movie or tv show
While your child is napping or playing quietly, you must have a targeted list of the things that have to get done. Use this time for work only. Start with the highest priority task first and work down through your list.
“I created a “naptime hustle” weekly planner. It’s just a simple Google Sheets worksheet where I can plan out my week. I make notes of the week’s activities and list all the work tasks I want to get done. By planning out my tasks ahead of time, it’s 100x easier to focus and get in the work groove faster.” – Hayley Rissler | Organized Blogging
14. Hire a Babysitter
Hiring someone to watch your children can be a huge boost to your productivity. This way you can have some quiet time and get a lot of work done.
There are a lot of options when it comes to this. Here are a few ideas:
- friend or family member
- mother’s day out program
- high school or college student
- part-time preschool
If paying someone is not an option, see if you can swap with another mom. Keep her kids for a few hours a week, and she can keep yours the next week.
“Get a baby-sitter one day a week! I have a babysitter every Friday from 9-1 so I can write in peace, work on my home business or do prep work for my counseling practice.” Michelle Harris | Healthy Hearts and Homes
Working from home is hard work. There’s no doubt about it. It can be so rewarding though. I love being able to stay at home with my children while helping my family out financially.
My hope that these tips that I’ve shared plus the tips of many other mompreneurs help you find some productivity strategies that work for you.