Working from home is a true blessing. On the downside, we need to learn how to draw the line between work and housework and the line between family time and personal time. Here are my 5 tips for working from home to help you draw those lines and be more productive.
Looking back at 2014, the first words that come to mind are ‘time management’. It was tough. But, somehow, I managed to process and ship 790 Etsy orders, design, and style my first wedding event (that only took me six months!), and I was still able to take care of my home and my family. I am not saying it was all perfect, but we survived.
If you work from home you know how hard it is to focus on one thing at a time. For instance, I am sitting in my office designing a party package, crave another cup of coffee, and the next thing you know, I am unloading the dishwasher. ‘Sidetracked’ is my middle name.
So if you too are a working stay-at-home mom, these tips will help you work from home more efficiently.
Top 5 Tips for Working from Home
I have learned the hard way, but I have gradually developed routines that have helped me along the way. Here are my top 5 time management tips when working from home.
1. Don’t Work in PJ’s
Whether you run your own business or work for someone else, give yourself and your work the treatment and status you both deserve, so dress for the occasion. Here is the tip: just because you are working from home doesn’t mean that your work is less important than other jobs out there. You don’t have to wear a suit and heels. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in, but please, don’t wear pajamas.
Staying in pajamas sets the wrong mindset. Take a shower and get dressed before sitting in your home office, even if you don’t have to leave the house that morning or that day at all. You will feel refreshed and energized, and if you do have to go somewhere, you are all ready to go.
Running an online business might require you to host video-conferences, and you will want to look your best!Yes, I work from home. No, I don't work in my pajamas.
2. Learn to Prioritize
The famous to-do list. It is the most simple yet most powerful tool in time management. This is one of my tips for working from home that I take seriously. Always keep a notepad handy and write down daily all the things you wish to accomplish that day.
A productivity app like Trello works well too. Whatever method you decide to use, make sure to prioritize.
Be realistic and write down only the things you can fit in a day when you are working from home. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a long to-do list of things that you won’t be able to accomplish in one day. It’s better to have a shortlist of important and relevant things to do that can be checked off at the end of the day than a long list of things that could wait a couple of days or so.
As you learn how to manage your time when you are working from home, you will be able to fit more tasks on your to-do list.
3. Outsmart your Smartphone
Smartphones are possibly the best invention yet. I can’t live without mine. For the working stay-at-home mom, especially, smartphones are our source of inspiration for all things! However, sometimes they can work against you when they should be working for you.
When you are working from home, it’s easy to get lost browsing your phone. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you work from home while still using your smartphone throughout the day.
- Use productivity apps, they are great tools to help you keep track of finances, make to-do lists, etc.
- Sign off from social media apps. If your work from home doesn’t need you to be signed in all the time, do yourself a big favor and sign out of Facebook or Instagram. Notifications are a big distraction. Yes, you can turn them off but, you will think twice about clicking that icon if you know you have to sign in again. Trust me on this one!
- Whenever possible, use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature. Depending on your smartphone model and make, it could be a built-in feature in settings, or an app.
- Use the Reminders app. You can choose when and where to be reminded of something. Using a voice assistant app such as Siri on an iPhone makes the task easier.
Related: How to Declutter Your Smartphone
4. Schedule Your Tasks
Scheduling certain tasks is a great tip for the stay-at-home working mom, or for anyone who works from home, for that matter.
I mentioned how making a cup of coffee sidetracked me one morning, and I ended up unloading the dishwasher, leaving my party package preparation halfway through. I have learned to stop this bad habit by designating a day or a time for different tasks.
Now, I unload the dishwasher early in the morning while I prepare my son’s lunch box. Or later in the afternoon right before I am ready to make dinner.
My 8:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. window is prime time! I try to fit as much work as possible in that period before our son comes back from school, and all the interruptions begin.
- Some tasks that should be done on a designated day: paying bills, grocery shopping, shipping packages, housework, laundry, etc.
- Some tasks should be done at a designated time of the day: making or receiving phone calls, checking emails, helping kids with homework, checking social media updates, unloading the dishwasher, etc.
When you choose a time and a day to perform determined tasks, you stop multitasking and learn to manage your time better. This takes me to my last time management tip:
5. Stop Multitasking
Last but not least, here is a working from home tip you should never ignore: Stop multitasking. Multitasking is ineffective for humans.
Even though I despise the word multitasking, I will use it here in order to make my point clear. If you have been criticized for not being a ‘multitasker’, you are not alone. Been there, done that.
For years, I worked for corporate offices. My team of colleagues and I were continually multitasking. I can only remember the constant interruptions to make phone calls, pull and print out reports to put out someone else’s fire, last-minute meetings, or even having to leave the office to visit a client.
It was the most frustrating time of my professional life. I slowed down my work, trying to complete several requests at a given time. My work quality wasn’t up to my standards because I wasn’t giving 100% of my focus and attention to one particular task.
It has been proven that switching back and forth between tasks is not only unproductive but inadequate for the human brain.
Only computers can multitask. ‘The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done, ‘by Dave Crenshaw is a good read.
Set your mind on one and only one thing. Your train of thought will stay aligned. Without switching thoughts, working tools, or even places, you will save time and effort. The quality of your work will improve, too.