One of the questions I get most is: “How do you manage your time working from home?” As a mum who works from home, one of the hardest challenge is time management. One thing to understand and work on is to be realistic. When there are kids at home and a household to run, time won’t flow as smoothly as it might have if you were miles away in an office building. Certain allowances need to be made to achieve the balance you need and business success you seek. This might mean shortening the blocks of time in which you work and lengthening the time spent on other tasks. If it results in more getting done, then it’s all good.
Obviously, all households are different and what works best for your family might be disastrous for another. With that in mind, these tips are valuable but also general to fit into any dynamic. Here are three tips to help you manage your work schedule when your home is also the workplace.
1. Start with a plan (ideally, the night before!)
Just before I wind down for the night, I love sitting down and writing out my list of to-dos for the next day. This ensures that I start the next morning with a sense of purpose and know exactly what I have to do on the day. When there is a goal in mind, it is easier for you to track your progress.
Action: Spend the last 30 minutes of each work day planning for the next one. If you plan to work six hours a day on your business, decide on the most important tasks that need to be completed and concentrate on those. Understand that there will be interruptions (if there are small kids) so work around them accordingly.
2. Schedule time wasters
We’re all familiar with the time sinkhole that we can easily disappear into… yes, social media is definitely one of them. You can start out with the best of intentions but realize 3 hours have gone by when you’ve been pinning to your heart’s content on Pinterest. Checking emails, updating social media pages and handling administrative tasks are other time sinkholes. Productivity experts suggest not to start your day with these time wasters and to instead, start the day with other tasks that involve more active creation on your part (eg. writing articles).
Action: Assign time throughout the day for each. Use a timer! I have my kitchen timer or I use an online one (google tomato timer). Any emails that come in after that will have to wait for the next allotted time slot.
3. Keep set hours
When working from home, time just gets all muddled up. I often find myself working past lunch time and not even stopping. Time flexibility when working from home can definitely be a two edged sword – I enjoy the flexibility but I have to be extremely careful to keep set hours so I don’t end up sitting at the desk for hours.
Action: If the goal is six hours of work a day, once that is reached, knock off until tomorrow. This isn’t straight time all the time. It might be 20 minutes or an hour early in the morning while everyone is asleep or the odd hour or so around bedtime when the kids are down for the night. The key to managing time is to understand how it flows in your life.
Are you a work from home mum? What are some of your times for juggling it all?