As a work-from-home mom with only 1-2 days per week devoted to an 8-hour work day, I have to be so, so careful and intentional with my time. Over the past year I’ve had to implement a few somewhat basic, but nonetheless necessary, routines into my life. I’m not a very “good habit” person by nature, so these practices took me a bit to get used to and actually benefit from, and I’m nowhere near mastering these. That said, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned for making the most of working from home, especially when your time is very limited (whose isn’t?).
1. I like to plan for my day the night before, and prepare what I can ahead of time. Because I have some form of childcare on my full-time work days, I have to be ready for the kids to either go to nana’s house (diaper bags packed, clean clothes ready, etc.) or for their babysitter to be in the house. When our babysitter comes over, I try to make sure everything is in its right and proper place so she can easily care for them (socks in the sock drawer, craft supplies organized, refrigerator somewhat manageable, etc.). Making sure these things are in place the day or night before helps SO MUCH with my morning efficiency, and enables me to get started with work immediately rather than frantically take care of child-related things and start work late.
Sometimes this planning the night before merely means looking my work schedule the night before, or thinking about the next day’s dinner, or figuring out if I have to leave the house for any meetings or appointments. This helps prepare me for the next day rather than being surprised or caught off guard by something early in the AM.
2. For most mornings, regardless of whether I have childcare that day, I try to start my morning off right. When I implement simple, regular practices into my morning routine, it’s amazing how productive I am and ready to tackle the day. I try to wake up before the girls, work out (it’s just a 15 minute workout), get dressed, and make the bed, all before heading downstairs. I’ve never been one to habitually make my bed every day, but since being married, I’ve tried to make our bed every day. This simple habit sets the tone for my day: today is going to be a beautiful, productive day. And anytime I return to my room throughout the day, I enter a peaceful oasis (until the mound of clean laundry is piled on the bed, but piling laundry on a made bed is drastically different from piling laundry on a un-made bed).
After these simple tasks, I go downstairs, put the kettle on for coffee, and then quickly neaten anything around house that was left undone overnight. These days, I’m quite nauseous in the evening, so my early morning usually includes the dinner dishes from the night before. Then, I make my coffee and sit at the kitchen table (my favorite place to be in my home) and check emails and take care of any pressing work tasks before the girls wake up. Naomi usually wakes up first, and wants to eat right away. We have a little one-on-one time in the morning before Zoe wakes up, and this is a favorite part of my day.
3. This might seem obvious, but I’m SO much more productive when I make lists and religiously use day planners. Although the majority of my work involves embracing technology, I have yet to transition to an electronic calendar/planner system. I’m a pencil and planner typer of girl. I was recently introduced to the Erin Condren brand (and got to attend a super fun party in DC and meet a few brand representatives other DC-area bloggers), and the Erin Condren LifePlanner™ is my new favorite. It’s literally the most well thought out and intentional planner I’ve seen, and I’m obsessed. Her other lifestyle accessories are super fun to work with and use to help keep my day and our crazy schedules organized. What I love most is that Erin Condren products are customizable and there are designs for every personality, and ALL the products can be personalized with your name/initials/monogram! When we received our first Erin Condren LifePlanner™, it came with some of the most fun sample stickers, and Zoe thought they were for her. I had to gently explain that this batch of stickers were “mommy” stickers 🙂 Using a beautiful, intentional planner dramatically improves my work productivity. If you want to add some organization to your life, use the code GETSOCIAL15 to receive 15% off your Erin Condren products (the code expires 7/31/17 and cannot be combined with other offers).
4. If I give myself a certain amount of time to complete (or get as far as I can) a particular task, I’m a million times more productive. Sometimes I’ll only have two hours to work (when the girls are napping in the afternoon), and I can accomplish more in those 2 hours than I would working a distracted 8-hour day. I try not to get distracted during this time. No emails (unless it’s emails I’m working on), no pinterest, no Facebook (!!!!), no texts, nothing else.
5. Maintain a regular schedule and hours. This goes hand-in-hand with the above tip. Because I only have limited time available, this time has become my regular schedule and hours. I wrote about our childcare situation in this post, and since implementing these regular hours, I’ve been incredibly more productive working from home. I have 1-2 days per week that I’m full time working and available. The other 3 days per week I catch up on emails as time allows first thing in the AM, during the girls’ afternoon nap, and in the evenings. Because I try not to work when I’m full-time “momming” (especially on my computer…I’ll pull props or plan a moodboard with the girls around), I find myself much less conflicted with feelings like “I should be working right now” or “I’m ignoring my kids so bad right now and being a bad business owner too.”
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading these tips and tricks. Please share whatever tips you’ve found to help make the most of working from home. And thanks to Erin Condren for sponsoring this blog post, and to all of you for supporting the sponsors who make my blog possible!
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