Is your head hitting the pillow at night, exhausted, wondering how you’re going to get it all done? Working from home sounds luxurious, but in reality, the lack of separation can sometimes be overwhelming. As a work-from-home mom, your “to-dos” are all around you, staring at you, screaming “Clean me!”, “Fold me!”, “Check me!”.
Whether you’re running your own business out of your guest room, managing a side hustle, or recently found yourself as a remote employee, working from home and being a mom can seem impossible. Here are some tips for surviving life as a work-from-home mom.
Tip #1: Find a Planner That Works for You
Different planners work for different people. There are a plethora of planners out there, some with sections for affirmations or goals, some are just rows and rows of dates and times, and everything in between. Ask yourself what you need, what you like, and what you think you’ll actually follow.
If the structure of a pre-made planner isn’t working for you, try bullet journaling. Bullet journals allow you to structure each day, week, month the way you need. You can change it, add things like lists or reminders, and, it can even be an artistic outlet.
Do you find that if it’s not in your phone it’s not happening? That’s great! Use your calendar or some of these popular apps to organize yourself and eliminate distractions from your day:
Set reminders or notifications; share your calendar with others if that’s helpful. Don’t forget to do what is least overwhelming. Many people merge their personal, work, spouse, and school calendars all in one, but if this doesn’t work for you, keep them separate.
At the end of the day, if a wall full of post-it notes is how you’re surviving life as a work-from-home mom, then that’s the method that works for you!
Tip #2: Just Three Things
I recently learned about the “Just Three Things” method and I can tell you it’s changed my life as a work-from-home mom! Here’s how to use it:
If you need to reorganize your child’s closet and the task seems so daunting that you keep putting it off, try it just three things at a time. You can pick just three bins, or just three pieces of clothing, or just three shelves. Organize only those things and then walk away. You can leave for five minutes, the rest of the day, an hour — whatever works for you. It doesn’t have to be three things, it can by five, or ten, whatever feels manageable to you and not overwhelming.
Use this with everything! Long day at work, but also need to order groceries, do laundry, and make a vet appointment? Tell yourself “In this hour, I’m going to do just three work things.” Look at your work to-do list and decide:
- Answer emails from yesterday
- Return voicemails
- Schedule meeting with team for next week
Then stop. Get up and do just three things around the house.
It works on a micro and macro level! As one Detroit Mom told us, “I write out daily my top three business-related must-dos, and my top three personal must-do’s. It’s a non-negotiable that I accomplish all six on that day.”
Here’s a work-from-home Detroit Mom tested and approved product to help you with your “just three things”: Daily Planner To-Do List Notepad.
Tip #3: Make a Block Schedule
In school, we have scheduled classes. At work, we have meetings and deadlines. Train yourself to do the same thing with your more flexible life. Sit down and write it out, or program it into your calendar.
The beauty of having a flexible schedule is that each day can be a little different. Is there a workout class you really like? Put it on your schedule twice a week and always go! You’ll have a week here or there you need to miss it, or move it to a different day; you’ll still have that flexibility.
Using a schedule to survive life as a work from home mom will make you feel sane, organized, and make it easier to prioritize.
Tip #4: Stop Adding Things To Your Plate
The extra tasks will find you, I promise.
If you’re anything like me, you see a free 20 minutes in your schedule and immediately think, “What can I squeeze in there?”
Yes, your to-do list may be long, but doesn’t it feel better to have things checked off at the end of the day, instead of half of your list incomplete? If you find you have an extra hour, give it back to you!
My favorite “I’ve found an extra hour” activity is to lay on the couch watching Real Housewives while eating candy. Do I feel guilty? Absolutely! But I also know that giving my mind and body a rest is vital. If we don’t put ourselves first now and then to recharge then we’re never going to tackle the rest of that to-do list.
Tip #5: Put Your Phone Away and Focus
Nothing is more annoying than being right in the middle of a train of thought and then you hear your phone “bing!”. Is it work? A new client? Your child’s daycare with an update? Nope. It’s Wayfair telling you to buy a new coffee table. Too late, you’ve already reached for and unlocked your phone, therefore, breaking your concentration and your rhythm. PUT THE PHONE AWAY.
Silence it, leave it in the other room, hide it in the drawer. Whatever you need to do to buckle down and get the task at hand done.
Science has found that short bursts of highly-focused time are more efficient to get things done! It can be especially helpful to use timers or the Pomodoro method to help yourself focus. Techniques like this help you buckle down when it’s time to really get things done, but also give your brain and body breaks. Read more about the Pomodoro Method or download this handy app (Google Play / Apple).
Tip #6: Communicate with Your Partner
“I’ll just do it” is the work-from-home mom theme. We’re already home, we might as well take care of it all, but that’s not reality. Sit your support system down, whoever that may be for you, and have an honest conversation about where you need help. You can assign certain responsibilities to each of you, or simply discuss where you could use a hand. Just because it’s on your to-do list, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the one who has to do it.
Let’s Get to Work, From Home, Mom!
Remember, not everything works for everyone…and on the days when nothing seems to work, just don’t forget there’s an army of work-from-home moms behind you, with you, supporting you! Cheers to new successes, and an excuse to go to Target to look at whiteboard markers and agenda books!