So you want to work from home. But, how will you “balance it all” and still be highly productive as a work from home mom? I get this question on a daily basis from my business mentorship clients. Many of them are hoping to transition from a full or part-time position outside of the home, to a work from home scenario in order to spend more time with their babies. I totally get it, and last April, I was there too. After 5 years in a phenomenal (and flexible) position as a web marketing specialist, I quit my full-time job to be 100% self-employed and work from home with the babies.
Now that I am self-employed, I have plenty of client projects to keep me busy, but I’m also far more productive than when I was working full-time for a company due to some important processes I have put into place. I feel a sense of balance that I was not able to attain previously. Here are a few of my tips and how to be highly productive as a work from home mom.
- Get rid of cable. Let’s face it — there’s nothing good on TV anyway, so why bother letting it suck precious time away from your work or family? We’ve actually never had cable, and I am so happy that TV shows don’t take time away from my productive hours. We have a few shows that we like to watch on Hulu during a slow weekend, but I never ever have the TV on during the day — read books with your kids, do an at-home workout, and plan fun activities outside to energize you for the rest of the workday.
- Keep a to-do list, a tickler file, and a “someday maybe” file. I learned this process from David Allen’s “Getting Things Done.” I try to keep my inbox fairly clear, and if an item requires more than two minutes of focused time, I add it to my to-do list. If it’s an item I need to address in a week’s time — I’ll move it to the tickler file. And a “someday maybe” folder is perfect for items that I would like to work on weeks or months from now. When I move emails into my to-do list, I am able to stay focused on my immediate task at hand and take other miscellaneous tasks out of my mental space. As moms, we’re tempted to thing about 5 things at all times — so a good process like this really helps!
- Use Google Apps. Oh my goodness — I would be completely lost without Google Apps. I block out almost every hour of my day on Google Calendar, send my clients appointment requests, schedule my workouts and “me-time,” and even keep track of my husband’s miscellaneous commitments so I am sure not to double book. I utilize Gmail and/or Google Drive documents and spreadsheets for all of my client communique and tracking.
- Check social media pages 2 times per day — max. This one is HUGE! I meet with mentorship clients all the time who aren’t sure why they can’t seem to be productive as a work from home mom, but yet I witness TONNSSSS of posts from them via social media each day. Hello — I’m a digital marketing specialist, but even I stay off of Facebook as much as possible. It’s a time sucker!
- Set your phone on silent or “do not disturb.” I discovered the “do not disturb” feature on my iPhone a few months ago. Honestly, I will never go back to keeping my phone on during the day. It’s amazing how many little interruptions were sabotaging my productivity during the day (text messages, social media notifications, miscellaneous phone calls). During my office hours at home, I keep my phone on this setting so that I can focus on projects. I check my notifications and voicemails after an hour or two, and then can respond accordingly. This is also great in the evening when we are enjoying family time.
- It takes a village. Frankly, I’m not going to try to convince you that I can maintain “balance” without a LOT of help from others. I have two phenomenal girls to watch the kiddos which is an enormous help. I take the kids to my friend’s house on Tuesday and Thursday mornings so I can get a few hours of work done. I also have someone come to the house on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings so I can work and/or conduct video conference calls with clients. Even a few hours of focused working hours in my at-home office is a significant way to boost my productivity and cut-back on hours spent working in the evening. I also have a gal who helps clean once or twice a week. AND … we can’t forget my wonderful hubs who is the main cook in addition to an amazing co-parent supporting my career aspirations and goals.
So, there you have it! Work from home, and enjoy the balance and wonderful scenario that I am privileged to experience every day. Feel free to email me with questions about my business mentorship program if you are interested in starting your own business from home. My one-time consults are well worth the small fee, and the ladies who transition to my full mentorship program are excelling. It’s very exciting to see a fellow mom be able to quit her full-time job away from the home and work from home with her baby by her side.