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How to Budget Your Time When You Work from Home

Stick to a schedule, take breaks, and keep volunteering to a minimum so you don't lose sight of your work at home goals.
Woman working on a laptop in the background with a clock in the foreground.

Even though you work at home, you need to treat your day as though you are in an office or nothing will get done. Just like a financial budget, as a work at home mom you must budget your time effectively or you will find yourself in time bankruptcy.

Have a Flexible To Do List. You are working at home for a reason, so if the school calls saying your child is sick, you have to allow yourself to pick them up, just as you would if you worked outside of the home. The difference is that you can return home with your child, get them settled and finish your work, if feasible.

Go to "the office." Rolling out of bed and getting straight to work is the best benefit of working from home, I think, but even though you work in your pajamas, you should physically go to work. Make sure you set up an office which is organized and strictly used for work so you are not easily distracted with being at home.

Don’t Answer the Phone

You should only be taking business calls when you are working, not social calls from your girlfriends. You wouldn’t do this if you were in a traditional office, so you shouldn’t do it in your home office. Schedule a lunch with a girlfriend to catch up, but when you are at work, be focused on work.

Take Breaks

Make sure you take 10-minute breaks throughout the day. This may be to call a parent or teacher, swap out the laundry, or just grab a new cup of coffee. The benefit of working from home is that you can still do the laundry, but make sure it’s only for a few minutes. Regardless of what you do, you need the time to re-energize.

Plan Your Meals

Before you “go to the office,” plan your dinner for the family. Maybe you can throw something in the crock pot, or maybe you need to take meat out of the freezer to defrost. Plan ahead and you’ll save time later.

Create a Family Calendar

Whether it’s a big calendar that hangs on the wall or your smartphone calendar, make sure you know when Girl Scouts, soccer and band practices are, and schedule your work day around them. If you have to run kids around for 3 hours after school and your work isn’t done, know that you may be hitting the computer at 9 p.m. when the kids are in bed.

Say "No"

Working from home does not mean you can volunteer for every committee at the school or help extra at church. Overloading yourself with work or volunteer opportunities is not good for your budget. If you take on too many clients your work will suffer and you won’t be working from home anymore. Sure, you want to volunteer at your kid’s school, and you should, but make sure you don’t take on more than you can handle or have time for.

Stay On Task

This may be the most important of all the tips to heed when budgeting your time as a WAHM. I know it’s easy to get distracted with household chores that need to be done, but if you were working outside of the home, the chores would sit there until you got home. If you stop your work for all these minor distractions, those turn into major distractions and you found yourself not doing much work to begin with. This is where you can “break the bank” of your time budget.

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