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1. Work On the Go
Always be ready to do some work when you’re out and about. Take your laptop and charger, notebook and pencil, whatever you need to get some work done if you find yourself with some free time while you’re out. I like to take my laptop to the park or chick-fil-a and work while the kids play. Anything I can use my iPhone for, I do. Answer emails, type notes, write blog posts (like this one). I answer emails while waiting in lines, make phone calls while driving in the car, and write blog posts while patting the baby to sleep. All about multi-tasking! Something that is also helpful for me is taking pictures of info I need. I have a bunch of files at home that I can’t easily bring with me, but if I think I might need info from one of my files I just snap a picture of it with my phone.
Get yourself some childcare, mama.
Sign up for a gym membership that includes childcare. Get your workout in and spend some time working before or after your workout. This is much easier when you have older kids that only nap once a day. I’m finding this impossible with Everly because she naps so often, but as soon as she’s down to one or two naps a day, I’m going to start doing this again! It kills two birds with one stone!
Find a drop off daycare in your area. You can sign your kids up ahead of time and then you’re free to drop them off whenever you need to and pay for the time they are there. Genius!
Find a friend who is also a work-at-home mama and help each other out. Swap babysitting so that each of you has some kid free time to get work done.
Use Your Husband
When your husband gets home from work let him take care of everything so you can work. One night a week or so I hand off everything to Gary right when he gets home so that I can work uninterrupted for the rest of the night. This buys me a few hours at the end of the day where I don’t have to worry about anything else or anyone else (except for nursing Everly, can’t hand that off to dad lol).
3. Time Blocking
Try to set aside large chunks of time for specific things. I like to set aside a whole day of naptimes for working on something specific, like adoptions. I don’t do anything else during naptimes except work on the task I’ve set aside to accomplish. Working in 1-2 hour chunks isn’t the easiest or most efficient way to get things done, but when you’re working from home that’s usually the maximum amount of time you have to yourself so you gotta do what you gotta do!
When you’re a work-at-home mama, prioritizing is KEY! You have such little amounts of time to work with that you really need to prioritize well. I always ask myself, “If I only get one thing done today, what should it be?” and then I work on that thing first until it’s done. That way if it’s the only thing I get done that day, I’ll be happy! I usually pick the thing with the earliest deadline or the thing that is stressing me out the most.
5. Plan Accordingly
What I mean by this is think about what you want to get done and how long each task will take, and then match that task with a naptime or two that will last the same amount of time. So if you have a bigger project that might take a couple hours and the baby’s first nap of the day is the longest, work on that project during the first nap and save smaller projects for the shorter naps.
Give yourself deadlines. My job naturally has deadlines (court hearing dates) so that helps! But I try to have everything prepared for each event (hearing, meeting, adoption, etc.) 3-7 days in advance. That gives me time to fix any mistakes or take care of any last minute issues that may arise. Early deadlines help so much because even if you miss it due to sickness, toddler tantrums, or life, you can still meet your deadline.
7. To Do List
Have a running list of things you need to get done that is dedicated to work tasks. That way when it’s time to get work done you can easily pick something to accomplish from the list without being distracted by all the other things on your to do list. Also, to do lists are a organizational staple. They help you stay on top of things so nothing falls through the cracks!
8. Calendar Everything
Write everything down on your calendar. And I mean everything. Someone is swinging by to drop something off? Calendar. Friends coming over? Calendar. Husband has a work dinner? Calendar. Every single tiny event should be on your calendar so you don’t miss a thing. I don’t know what I’d do without my calendar. Having everything written down on my calendar helps me pick the best days and times to plan on getting work done. I usually pick a day that I have nothing at all going on so there’s as few distractions as possible.
I hope these tips help you stay productive as a work-at-home mama! Have any of your own tips to stay productive? I’d love to hear them so drop them in the comments!
Natasha is a work-at-home lawyer and mama to 4 kids acquired through adoption and IVF – Laurel (7), Bennett (5), Christopher (2), and Everly (3 months). She blogs at Let’s Be Brave.