Juggling work and home life can be tricky when you work outside of the home, but when you are a work-at-home mom, these boundaries become even more blurred. Managing everything can feel like a full-time job in itself! But don’t worry – with a little bit of organization and planning, you can manage your time effectively and still have plenty of quality time with your family. These time management tips for work-at-home moms will help you stay organized and on track.
It can seem like an elusive dream to have your cake and eat it too by being a work-at-home mom. It’s common to feel frustrated or overwhelmed trying to manage your house and also having a productive workday. If that is you, and you are struggling to find a balance between working at home and your personal life, then these time management tips can help!
Time Management Tips for Work-at-Home Moms: Balancing Work & Life
Are you a mom who works from home? Are you constantly feeling like you’re not doing enough? Do you feel like you’re always behind on something? Balancing work and life can be tough, but it’s not impossible. Implementing some of these time management tips will help you get organized and make the most of your time.
One caveat, it does take effort to set yourself up for peaceful productivity and your family will have to learn new boundaries but it will definitely be worth it. Keep in mind there is a learning curve for everyone in your large family to get used to a new balance. Be patient with yourself.
Develop a Daily Routine for Balancing Work & Life
This top time management tip might make you groan. Part of the reason we work at home is for flexibility, right? We don’t want to be tied to a schedule! However, having no schedule or flying by the seat of your pants won’t do you any favors in your pursuit of balance. Establishing a routine each day will improve your productivity. Depending on your family logistics though, you can make a distinction between a daily schedule for work-at-home moms and a daily routine.
What’s the difference between a routine and a schedule? A routine follows a rhythm. A schedule is tied to the clock. If you have some freedom in your day then build a routine that allows you to flow seamlessly from one task to another.
You might start the day with coffee and breakfast and even some light meditation. I’ve found a five-minute meditation session can make all the difference in how my day goes. Then you transition to a work task followed by a quick walk around the block, and then back to work on a new task. You will want to build a daily routine that allows time for meals and breaks. Getting up for a few minutes of exercise or a quick walk will keep your mind fresh and focused on your work goals.
This productive routine doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule. Think of it more as a rhythm to your day. You don’t have to schedule out by the exact minute, but rather a loose routine of what needs to be accomplished each day. Consider how long each task should take you and really focus when you are working.
Set a time for you to be finished with work each day as well, so you aren’t feeling the need to return to your desk throughout the evening or after the kids are in bed at night.
When thinking about your daily schedule, allow for some flexibility, as things do happen. Life gets in the way sometimes, and you never know when you might have a sick kid, or your Internet goes out, or some other disruption. However, by following the routine on most days you will notice that you are getting more and more tasks knocked off that never-ending to-do list. These disruptions won’t be quite as frustrating as they once were.
Keep a designated workspace
In the quest for work-at-home mom balance, it is ideal to have your work area away from the rest of the house. This lets you “leave work” even when you are a work-at-home mom. Your workspace doesn’t have to be large or extravagant. A small desk in the corner of a room works just as well. One trick I like to use to remind myself that it is my workspace is to hang up a little sign or wall art. It reminds me to focus on my time management and to keep that work-life balance.
Get up and leave this area during your breaks and meals. I work mostly from a laptop but it stays in my workspace. Only use this space for work. This way you don’t feel like you are always at the office during family or “me” time. You’ll eventually train yourself to recognize that area solely as a place to be in work mode. Your family will also learn to respect that space as your focused area, reinforcing the idea of balance for work-at-home moms like you.
Minimize distractions during work time
If you are able to implement some of these time-saving tips for moms you will soon have a productive and balanced work at home life. However, productivity doesn’t always mean that you’re working on something important 24/7. Focus on quality, not quantity, with your time. When you are working, you are being productive, checking things off your work list, and using your time effectively. You then have the freedom and flexibility for designating time to relax and participate in leisure interests as well.
Minimizing distractions will help you focus on that quality, productive work time. Turn off the TV. Close social media. Don’t make other plans during dedicated work time. Avoid letting yourself get sucked into Netflix or spending an afternoon shopping with friends and missing 1-2 hours of scheduled work. You’ll end up working extra during your “home” time and throwing off the day if you don’t take your schedule seriously.
This goes for your family and friends, too. If you don’t take your routine seriously, how can you expect them to respect your work hours? Set boundaries with the people around you, and they will soon learn your routine.
Some people find background noise helps them focus. You can listen to “coffee shop ambiance” or classical music on your favorite streaming service
Set Your Phone to Not Available
Speaking of distractions . . . I often joke my whole life is in my phone. It’s such a useful tool and also the biggest enemy for productivity. It may be the greatest distraction of all for everyone – especially when you’re trying to focus on your work-life balance.
We feel the need to be connected at all times – and that can result in poor time management and productivity. A quick check of emails can lead you down a rabbit hole of Facebook, Pinterest, a game or two…before you know it, you’ve been on your phone an hour and got nothing else done.
Let your close family and friends know your work schedule, and don’t hesitate to put your phone in another room or shut it off during work hours.
If distractions from social media are your biggest downfall, there are several apps or browser extensions that can help. Offtime is available on both iPhones and Android. It has parameters for work, family and me time which really helps you separate the different sectors of mom balance.
No Woman is an Island
Most of the time moms, in general, feel the need to do it all. Sometimes it feels like it’s your responsibility to work, tend to your family, make sure that chores are taken care of, and run the errands. You want to contribute with an income, but you also want to be a dedicated mom and partner. However, it’s virtually impossible for one person to do it all.
Delegate chores to your partner or to your children. If this is a struggle for you, check out the books Fair Play and Manager Mom Epidemic. They will empathize with your struggles and also leave you with action steps to help with the delegation.
Even young kids can help put away laundry, clear the dinner table, or pick up their toys. And sometimes, the kids or your partner may even want to help with the business. Use a family chore chart or brain board to keep expectations and tasks clear. Ask for help when you need it and take advantage of the help when it is offered. You don’t have to do it all alone.
Time-saving Tips for Working Moms
Truly saving time or freeing it up may be the best way for work-at-home moms to find that desired work-life balance. Although the Covid pandemic wreaked havoc and made moms’ lives harder in so many ways, there are some online and pickup options now available to us that will help save time.
Scheduling a grocery delivery or even a pickup will save at least an hour of valuable time each week. Many stores have online options with low or free shipping costs so you can avoid extra shopping trips.
Set up your bills to be automatically drafted when possible so you aren’t spending time running these errands. If you ship items from your home as part of your business you can print the labels at home and schedule a pickup directly with USPS.
If your partner is working outside the home, have them do smaller errands for you on their way to/from work.
Take advantage of anything that lightens your load and fits your family’s lifestyle. Delegating the tasks you hate the most will help you save time in your daily schedule.
You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup
With all the hustle and bustle of managing your time and work-at-home schedule, moms tend to overlook the most important person under their care – themselves! Your body and soul need fuel to keep running and to maintain a good work-life balance.
Remember those breaks and meal times we talked about above? This is a part of taking care of yourself. In addition, include a little “me” time into your weekly schedule. Taking care of yourself is vital to time management for work at home moms. This time might include a bubble bath, a pedicure, 30 minutes of fun reading or time to exercise, etc. Work will be there when you come back. If you take care of yourself you will find that your work hours will be more productive.
A solid work-life balance is possible when you keep your boundaries in place and delegate when you’re able. Disruptions will happen but with the right tools and mindset in place, you will be able to have productive work hours. Let me know which time management tip for work-at-home moms has helped you the most!