As work at home moms, we have many hats to wear. Heck, moms of any type (stay-at-home, work-at-home or work-out-of-the-home) do.
Being a work at home mom is hard. I’m not going to lie to you. But it’s absolutely one of the best decisions I have ever made…. that doesn’t mean there aren’t days where I question my sanity! 😉
It is especially hard during the holidays when there is so much activity going on! People are shopping. People are decorating. Advertisers are spending money. Many of us start ramping up our efforts as soon as school gets back in session.
In addition to our professional goals and obligations, this is also the time of year we feel the most pressure personally. We have holiday gatherings to attend, shopping to do, school programs for the kids, decorating the house, laundry and more. With of all these things going on, many entrepreneurs get themselves stuck.
I always find it fascinating to read about how other people spend their day, or what their typical schedule looks like.
I can’t be the ONLY
stalker nosy one out there, right?
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Although the flexibility of working from home sounds enticing, most people don’t think they have what it takes to be disciplined and productive in a home office. They worry about becoming distracted by family, neighbors, Facebook and even the laundry.
And most moms are busy enough with their household responsibilities—they can’t imagine how they would squeeze in time for work.
Personally, I find the rewards of working from home FAR outweigh the challenges of staying productive. (I’m working in my yoga pants right now.)
If you are a work-at-home mom or are considering becoming one, with a little planning, you can stay productive and keep your home business moving this holiday season. And you’ll still be able to enjoy that family time and festive activities!
Here’s how I survive and stay productive as a work at home mom during the holidays!
Treat it Like a Real Job –Because it is
Many of us have worked outside the home before. We wouldn’t show up to a job in our jammies with our hair all a mess. We wouldn’t show up and leave whenever we “feel” like it. We wouldn’t spend all day doing nothing and then try and scramble after midnight to get everything done.
Treat your work at home job like any other job. Get dressed in the morning. Fix your hair. I’m not saying you need to be a beauty queen, but hanging out all day in jammies isn’t very productive. Though I will admit, I am TOTALLY still working on this one… I may or may not be writing this in my jammies with my hair a mess. Work in progress, right? 🙂
Create a Schedule
Yep. It’s on nearly all the productivity lists… and for good reason.
Everyone is more productive when they have a schedule, so take a good look at your work deadlines and plan out your weeks. Set aside a specific time slot for your business instead of working only when you feel inspired, or if you have the energy, or whenever the kids are occupied.
Even if you can only devote an hour a day to your business, it’s important to know exactly when that hour is and what you intend to do with it. You can accomplish a great deal in 60 minutes of focused work. But if you try to steal five minutes here and 10 minutes there, you’ll likely find yourself stuck in the same place for weeks.
Take 30 minutes at the beginning of the week to establish your top priorities for the week. This is not about writing a to-do list. This is a chance for you to focus on your goals for your business, your family and even yourself. Write down your priorities for the week then carve out time on your calendar to work on those tasks.
If you take Sundays off, do not even check your email on Sundays. Also, don’t feel guilty taking days off for holidays. Everywhere is closed on Christmas, you deserve a break too.
Determine Your Best Work Time
One of the advantages of working from home is that you have the potential to work when you are most productive. Try and schedule your work when you are most likely to be efficient. If your mornings are too busy and you work great late at night, go for it!
Maybe you like to work hard during the week so that you can truly shut off the computer and enjoy your weekend, or vice versa and like to work on the weekend when your spouse can watch your kids. Just determine what best works for you and use it to your advantage.
Clean Up Your Workspace
Clutter kills productivity. Your to-do and shopping lists are buried somewhere on your desk.. right?! You can’t find your keys in the chaos and you needed to be across town five minutes ago… Ugh! Clean it up!
Whether it’s “eat the frog” or start with the simplest task, just get started. I’m the worst at finding distractions to keep me from the job at hand. But, I usually find once I get started it doesn’t take me nearly the time or effort I anticipated. Getting started is the hardest part.
Know Your Limits
Seriously, I’m not very good at this one yet. I think that I can write four articles a day sometimes. I can’t. I’m pretty fast, and technically there is enough time for me to write that many, but my brain shuts off after two most days.
Another part of knowing your limits as a work at home mom is learning to say no which brings us to…
Say No Without Guilt
Holidays are crazy. If you are invited to seven ugly Christmas sweater parties, or Suzy Somebody asks you to bake dozens of cookies for the holiday bazaar, learn to say no.
Now, if those are activities that you enjoy and can fit into your schedule then, by all means, say yes! I love to bake, and I am quite fond of anything obnoxiously Christmasy. 🙂
But if you need those hours to work, say no and feel no guilt about it. You are making an income for your family. Often work at home moms choose a job that they are passionate about. You do not have to feel guilty for choosing your passion over something that will take your time and energy but give you nothing in return.
Make Sure Friends and Family Respect Your Job
This is a huge issue a lot of work at home moms face. No one would ever tell a bank teller to bake 6 dozen cookies during her workday, but because we are at home it is obviously fine to interrupt us. It’s not okay.
Explain to your friends and family that you have set work hours, just like any other job, and if you don’t have set work hours set them! I think that it can be hard for some people to understand what we do all day as work at home moms, so explain it to them!
Making clear that you have an actual job to do and that you’re not just on facebook all day in jammies helps to get that respect from friends and family.
Establish Boundaries to Eliminate Distractions
This is where most work-at-home moms struggle. They flow back and forth from mom to businesswoman all day, never sure which role they should be playing. You know what I’m talking about—you’re working on a project and your child wants you to play a game, so you try to do both at the same time. Or you make empty promises that you will play the game in 10 minutes.
When you set boundaries like designated workspace and specific office hours, it gives you the freedom to concentrate fully on the task at hand—whether at work or play. But you have to honor those boundaries by not taking personal calls or answering personal emails while you are working, and by putting your phone out of reach when it’s time to be with your children.
Your family will appreciate the boundaries. They’ll learn to recognize when mom is working and when she is available rather than constantly having to compete for her attention.
Especially during the holidays, we try to convince ourselves we can handle it all –and then some. Why put yourself through that? If you are spreading yourself thin, you aren’t giving your best to anything. Not your family, not your clients/blog and not yourself.
Delegate where you can. Hire a little home business help if you don’t have an assistant already. Assign some of the holiday cooking, cleaning or shopping to a family member. No one cares how much you got done if it was all done poorly. Be realistic with your time.
Working from home often brings the illusion that you can do it all. The fact is, everyone needs help and there will come a time when you need to ask for it. Maybe it’s from your spouse, asking them to watch the kids when he gets off work so you can finish up a project. It could mean hiring a babysitter to watch your kids a few afternoons a week so you can hole yourself up in your office to get solid work done.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean that you never need time to work alone, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Find Tools That Work For You
Working from home means that you probably rely on technology more than the average employee. You telecommute, handle most work on the Internet and converse via email rather than in person. There are tons of tools that will help you track your time, schedule event, record mileage and even exchange contact info easily at networking events. If you have a need, there’s most definitely “an app for that.”
Be Mindful and Present
With all of the obligations and opportunities that come this time of year, it’s important to stay centered. Not only do our inner thoughts and feelings directly impact our productivity, the last thing you want to do is wake up January 2 feeling guilty and depressed that you didn’t allow yourself to enjoy the time you spent with your family and friends during this joyful time of year.
Regardless of whether you are wrapping gifts with your children or doing some last minute shopping with your mom, be present.
Be mindful of how you are allowing yourself to feel and treat others. Embrace every moment. Clear your internal clutter and chaos and the external will follow.
Be Sure to Enjoy the Holidays
Bake some cookies with your kids. Watch your guilty pleasure Christmas movie cough cough A Christmas Carol. Visit Santa and go look at some Christmas lights.
Chances are, you are a work at home mom to be able to be with and enjoy your family. So do it! It can be really easy as a work at home mom to never stop working because there is always more to do, and it’s right there.
It’s so important, though, to put the laptop away sometimes. Take a whole day off to just relax and have fun with your family. They are what it’s all about! Have some holiday fun, and you’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle your next to-do.
How do you stay productive during the holidays? Do you take more breaks, or try to keep a strict schedule? Let me know in the comments!