As a work-at-home mom, it’s so easy to let time get away from you and finish the day feeling like you didn’t accomplish anything. I used to end my days saying, “What did I do today?” I’d remember the meals, playing with my children, a few phone calls, and the websites I visited, but I never felt like I made a dent in the endless to-do list.
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As a virtual assistant, freelancer, and blogger, I’m under a lot of pressure to make sure I use my time wisely while making sure I don’t neglect my family. It’s my goal to be more intentional with my days, so I do my best to set myself up for success.
Use a Planner/Task List
Whether you use an online planner or paper planner, make a task list. I use a combination of both as I don’t like to limit myself. I recently discovered Workflowy and use that to write some of my to-dos and map out big projects. If you haven’t heard of it, you’re missing out. “WorkFlowy is an organizational tool that makes life easier. It’s a surprisingly powerful way to take notes, make lists, collaborate, brainstorm, plan and generally organize your brain.” – Workflowy.
I like to think of it as a great way for brain dumping.
I like writing my task list the night before so I can hit the ground running in the morning, but others start their day planning. Do what works for you. A list is so important to make sure you don’t forget anything. If you’re in need of a new paper planner, one of my favorite planners is the Passion Planner. It’s way more than just a planner. Sure, it’ll help you stay organized and get more done, but it also helps you define and break down short and long-term goals and incorporate them into your daily life.
Now keep in mind that a task list is useless if you don’t hold yourself accountable so write it down and stick to it!
Use a Dedicated Office Space
I make sure that wherever I am, I can always get work done. So I’ve set up office spaces on the primary levels of our home. If my kids decide to play downstairs, I can be down there with them and get work done.
If they want to remain in the living room, I can use my laptop on our writing desk and also be productive.
My kids also know that when mommy is at her desk, she’s working and shouldn’t be bothered. Sometimes they forget this, but oh, well. You win some; you lose some.
Getting Dressed and Ready
Isn’t it amazing how much more you get done when you got your hair did? Start your day with a good shower, do your hair, apply some makeup — for me that’s moisturizer and lip gloss — get dressed and just witness how that boosts your motivation to get sh*t done.
I know that when I just roll out of bed and do the minimal, I can barely concentrate and just want to turn on Netflix.
It’s like I’m stumbling around in a fog and the shower just helps to clear my thoughts.
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When I need to tune out the noisy family, yet still remain near them, I rely on my super handy headphones.
I play some Pandora, fire up the laptop and check off those tasks. There’s nothing like knocking out a blog post listening to Eye of The Tiger. Bluetooth, noise-canceling headphones — you need a pair!
Use Time Blocks
Time-blocking is something I discovered awhile ago, and I love it! According to Fast Company, “Time-blocking is essentially organizing your day in a series of time slots. Instead of writing a list of tasks that take as long as they take, with a time-blocked approach, each of these time periods is devoted to a task or tasks. It immediately lets you see where you’re being unrealistic about your time and keep yourself focused on what you’re supposed to be doing.”
I mean doesn’t this strategy just sound incredible for setting you up for success?!
I set a morning block to catch up on VA emails and handle tasks in our project management system. I have another block for social media-related blog tasks. Then I have a content-creation block, and so on. I’m finding this helps me to get more done and feel more accomplished rather than just staring at an endless to-do list.
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Set a Timer
I love using the Pomodoro technique to hold myself accountable to difficult tasks. If you’ve never heard of it, the Pomodoro technique is a time management technique that has you working in 25-minute sessions separated by short breaks. There are lots of free apps you can download on your phone to try this out. When I know I’m working against the clock, it reduces goofing-off time.
Take Breaks as Needed
To operate at your best, you need to take breaks. If you’re just keeping your nose to the grindstone all day, you’re going to burn out. Taking breaks helps you recharge, refocus and even gain new perspective on the task at hand.
And if you want to be an overachiever, take your breaks outside. A breath of fresh air can do wonders for you. Working at home is a marathon, not a sprint. You gotta stop and take care of yourself.
I want you to start implementing any one of these strategies asap and report back with the changes. You can even start small and just schedule in those much-needed breaks.
So which change are you going to start doing right away? If you’re already doing one of these things, let me know how it’s working for you in the comments.