Being a work-at-home mom may sound like an ideal situation. You have the flexibility to work around a family schedule while still earning income. In theory, it’s perfect. But the reality is usually something much different. Work-at-home moms can still feel hectic and torn in several directions at once. Moms need to maximize their time and energy. Here are some tips to help.
1. Know Your Family’s Rhythms
When designing your day, consider both your peak work hours and your children’s needs to find a focused work time. My peak work hours are before lunch. Once I eat lunch, I’m ready for a nap. So, I schedule the work that requires the most mental energy before lunch and save the work that doesn’t require too much focus for the afternoon. Fortunately, when my kids were little, they were in sync with me because they could entertain themselves well in the mornings, but by afternoon, they needed more attention.
2. Set a Schedule
While one of the benefits of working at home is flexibility, the reality is that routine is crucial to working effectively and efficiently. Yes, you can take time away from work to care for a sick child when needed, but you can’t expect to earn a full-time home-based income during nap time. Schedules give you and your children structure and routine. Everyone knows what’s going on and what will happen next. Unlike traditional jobs, working at home situations allow you to design a schedule around the family, so you can work an hour or two before the kids are up, an hour at nap time and two hours after bedtime if that works best for your family. In my case, I worked until 1 p.m. and then I spent the afternoon with the kids, returning to work in the evening while my husband entertained them.
3. Have a To-do List
Having a schedule only works if you know what tasks you need to complete during work hours. Otherwise, you’re likely to waste time finding a task to start or socializing on Facebook. Because time management is crucial to work-at-home mom success, you should be able to sit at your desk and know exactly what tasks need to be done.
4. Use Systems and Tools
Streamline your work by finding ways to limit the time they take. For example, schedule social media posts, so you can set it and forget it. Web-based tools such as Evernote and Dropbox make information, idea and document storage fast, easy and accessible from several digital devices. Voice recognition software (standard with Windows) can allow you to give voice commands such as “Open Word” and dictate documents, email and even online search.
5. Get Help
There’s no rule that says children, spouses or hired hands can’t help a mom out. Hire a student or older woman to watch your kids a few hours a day to get focused, uninterrupted work time. Ask the kids and your spouse to help with housework or hire someone to come in a clean. Get a virtual assistant to take care of busy work like social media, email and PR.
Working at home offers many benefits over working outside the home, but it doesn’t eliminate the need to use time efficiently. In fact, because working at home has more distractions, time management strategies are essential to success.