15 Tips to Be Productive While Working from Home
Today we are going to talk about one of those things that feels impossible to reach- being productive while working from home. It is something we all seem to chase but never quite reach. Why is it so difficult to be productive while working at home? Is it because our kiddos are jumping off the walls, needing something every five minutes? Yes. Is it because we are pulled in all different directions and focusing on one thing is too hard? Maybe. Is it because we get distracted by doing the laundry, “quickly”, tidying up or some other household task? Probably. All of the above and more make being productive while working at home incredibly difficult. Add in everything from last year and this year and it really is amazing we are all still working at all.
I have always struggled with being productive while at home, although it’s something I truly enjoy. I love the idea of working from home while being able to care for my kiddos and have the flexibility should something pop up. I mean that’s something most moms really want right?
So how do we keep our jobs, our sanity and raise our babies at the same time? It would be super easy for me to throw together a quick list of things and push it live. But in reality it probably wouldn’t help you. That’s not really why I’m here. It doesn’t support my mission. These fifteen tips to be more productive while working from home below are things that have really helped me. I do hope that you are able to take some of these and apply them to your life, and if you can’t- that’s okay too.
One of the most important things, that I say time and time again, is that as mothers we are all different. Not one single thing works for everyone, but knowing that is where the power is.
Now, don’t get me wrong there are days when I literally can’t get everything done off my list because of some reason or another. These are just things that really have been helpful to me the past couple of years. Feel free to share what works for you in the comments. I always love to hear from you!
1. Create morning and evening routines.
Routines are SO important in order to create structure for yourself and your kiddos. A lot of times we think of our kids when we talk about routines, but they are also good for us as well. What’s important to you? Are you giving yourself time to breath, meditate and just be? Are you being intentional in the time you have each morning before the kids get up and after they go to bed? Spend some time creating a routine for both morning and evening- that includes your ideal time to wake up, what you’d like to do in what order and what your ideal morning and evening look like. An example of this- up at 6 a.m., meditate for 10 mins, shower and ready for the day, coffee and journal and 30 mins to prep for the day.
2. Wake up before your kiddos.
Sometimes this is really easier said than done. I get it. But the things that you will be able to accomplish in that little time you have alone will be so beneficial. You can spend this time preparing for the day, getting a jump start on work or whatever fits your needs. I’m telling you, being ready for the day and less overwhelmed when your kiddos get up is truly worth it. You’ll be ready to give them your attention and they’ll love it. Plus, you will feel much less stressed.
3. Get dressed each day.
I just laughed when I typed this, because duh. But how many times have you showered just to put sweatpants back on? Me too! Taking care of yourself and making time to do that is important. Feeling good about yourself will give you that boost that you need to start your day. No one feels good when they feel crummy or hate the way they look. Trust me. Put some lipstick on, throw on a dress- do whatever you need to do to feel good each and every day.
4. Get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is so important for your kiddos right? I mean how many times have you thought oh, no. my kid slept like crap, today’s going to be awful? We know good sleep makes them happy, less terrors. But we forget about ourselves too. We need sleep to function. I don’t know about you but I spent many years going to bed super late and waking up incredibly early because I felt like I needed to in order to accomplish everything. (Really it’s about prioritizing and delegating, more on that later.) That is not healthy at all and if it hasn’t caught up with you yet it will. Trust me!
5. Have a dedicated time to check social media.
Oh, social media. Such a love hate relationship right? It’s important to have one or two times dedicated to sitting down and checking your social media. If this is something you enjoy doing then carve out time for it. Otherwise a quick “check” of your Facebook turns into an hour of wasted time or more. You know how that goes. You look up at the clock and wonder where the time went. I like to put in my calendar 15 minutes in the morning and in the evening just for this to curb the constant checking. Another quick tip- don’t check social media before you get out of bed, this really can set your day up on the wrong track. Just a personal tip.
6. Plan, plan and plan some more.
Don’t have a plan? You need one. This includes setting your “working hours” and having systems in place to make things flow better when it comes to balancing work and home life. I am a planner by nature so this comes easy to me. BUT you don’t have to be. The important thing to remember is having some kind of plan is better than nothing. Start with a list of what you want to accomplish each day, review your calendar every Sunday for the week and then every morning for the day and this will make a great difference. Tip: I have a “monthly planning day” in my calendar where I sit down and review my calendar for the month, what’s coming up (holidays, birthdays, etc.) and map out what I need to focus on. This is incredibly helpful and it also allows me to stay on top of what’s coming up. Especially when it comes to things with my kiddos!
7. Have somewhere to brain dump.
THIS is everything. Seriously, have somewhere that you can dump all your thoughts and have a time set up to go through them and you will already be so much farther along. If you are like me you have so many things running through your head every second- work, house chores, kiddos, hubby needs this and so on. It’s so overwhelming right?! Having a place to get those thoughts, to-do’s and ideas out your head is one of the best things ever. You literally want to clear the clutter from your head. You can use a notepad and pen (although my favorite, not very practical for me), your recorder on your phone, watch or even have your smart device make notes for you. Just be sure that you check in on these!
8. Learn how to prioritize!
Learning to prioritize is SO important. If you can’t do this you will be stuck in an endless cycle of anxiety and frustration. Especially if you are like me. Everything on my to-do list is important. It all has the same priority level in my mind. So if I sit down with ten things I have to get done today, whether for my home or business, they are all so important in my eyes that I will drive myself crazy if I don’t get them done. Then I am cranky with my kids because I’m so overwhelmed, in tears when my husband get’s home and it never ends well. PRIORITIZE. The first key is being able to recognize what is important for the day and what’s not. This is hard but if I can do it, you can too. Start with a daily list and have your top things to get done listed first, followed by the things you’d love to get done but don’t have to, and lastly have everything else. Start from the top and work down. It sounds so simple right? Want another tip? I love the app Things, SO helpful. More on that below.
9. Set boundaries.
There’s that word again, boundaries. We think of boundaries in terms of relationships normally, but boundaries go hand and hand with productivity. So what do you need? You need a start and stop time for work. Easier said than done, I know! But having set times for when you work is ideal to stay productive, otherwise you will find yourself working at 2 a.m. every night. Now, I get kids are unpredictable and you never really know what’s going to happen. So these set hours will not be set in stone, that’s why you work from home- flexibility. Another key is communicating those times to your team, boss and anyone else who may need to know. This keeps you from stress checking emails at the dinner table, if it’s outside of those hours it can wait. Communicating your needs to your family, spouse is equally important. Make sure everyone is on the same page. That’s just one example of setting boundaries in your work.
10. Stop hitting the snooze button.
Guilty. I’m literally raising my hand. Getting away from this is one of the best things I’ve done. Just get out of bed when the alarm goes off and get ready to tackle the day!
11. Create times dedicated for email.
Email is a lot like social media, it can suck you in for hours at a time. That’s why it’s important to have times dedicated for email, just like social media. You know during that time you can hop in and check any new emails, respond to anything urgent, circle back on out emails and filter them as needed. And then done! If you stop and handle an email every time one comes in you’ll never get anything done. And you’ll need lots of wine! Tip: Get organized in your email with labels, snooze for Gmail and research Inbox Zero. I love Spark!
12. Be okay with less structure for your kiddos.
This is something I can talk about all day long. It’s so hard being a mama and working from home, because as mothers we have all the guilt. Guilt for anything and everything. I believe most of us want to be home so that we can be there for our kiddos, have a flexible schedule, pop into the school if needed, take care of them when they are sick etc. So that makes it really hard when we have to work because we feel like we are neglecting them, or working too much. But like I always say if you are worried about how you are doing as a mom chances are you are already winning. Because right there shows how much you care about your kids. So right now just know that your kiddos are okay with not having something to do every second, they will be fine with just hanging out while you get some work done. (Of course supervise as needed, especially those littles!)
13. Have a dedicated work space.
Okay, okay. So I am one of those people who thought they can work from anywhere, but guess what I’m not. Don’t get me wrong I can do work as long as I have my laptop but being truly productive? I need a workspace just for myself. With a desk, and walls and a chair. Oh, and a lock on the door for those long meetings. I think we all like to think that we can work on the couch or at the dining room table but having your own space to think and not be interrupted works wonders! You want a space that’s clutter free (less stress!), organized and helps you feel productive.
14. Protect your time and your calendar.
This one seems pretty simple right? But it’s actually the one that gets overlooked so often. This is something that I have been guilty of many, many times. As mothers we are being pulled in every direction and typically that means multitasking, running all over the place like a madwoman. We ALSO say yes to all the things. My motto was always, “Say yes and figure it out later.” In theory maybe that could have worked but in reality it does not. When you are always saying yes to everything it creates so much stress for you to do all of these things. Who wants to live their lives running around like this, most likely doing things they hate? Now, as moms we do a lot of things we don’t want to. (Laughing at this right now) But we don’t have to accept every invitation, ask or anything else. Once you realize that it’ll make things so much easier. I love to block out weekends in our calendar as family weekends or just weekends where nothing can be planned. If someone asks us to do something I just say “Oh no, I’m so sorry but we’ve had this weekend booked in the calendar for awhile now.” A lot of times we think anything that’s added to our calendar is something that we “will be doing”. Right? Blocking out space for you, your family, your mental health and just rest days is important as well. Just remember it’s okay to say no to some of the sports, the get togethers, the school commitments.. and take care of yourself!
Okay, so this is a huge one. This should be its own post. If there is something that you are doing that you can have someone else do, do that- have someone else do it. Ask for help. I know, that can be hard sometimes. But why walk around with everything on our plates, stressing ourselves out when someone else can help. Now if you are a business mama this can mean getting help in your business (virtual assistants are great!) and partnering with other people. But on the home front this could be as simple as asking your significant other to take some things over for you. This could be going over your budget to see if you can fit in anything that would make life easier (Hello house cleaner! This used to be something that was always just the dream right but they are actually more affordable than ever.) Reach out to family and friends. It’s also about learning how to simply those tasks that take awhile. Like groceries- seriously grocery pickup is the best thing ever. Sit down and make a list of tasks you hate doing, things that take you forever and anything else that comes to your mind. Then go through that and see who you can ask to help with what (and how you can simplify others) and go from there.
You are already on your way to being more productive work working at home. I wish you all the luck!
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