Leaving my corporate insurance job and never looking back was one of the best choices I've made for myself. Since leaving my "real job" I am happier, I have more time to spend with my family, and I really don't miss getting up to an alarm clock every morning. But with the scheduling freedom that working from home often provides, there are some challenges.
When I was a mother working outside of the home I didn't have someone interrupting me at my desk to ask me for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or to read them a story. There are a lot of interruptions as a work at home mom and a lot of personal time juggling. Bringing kids to school, doctor appointments, helping with homework, bringing the cats to the vet. All of these things happen during my "work day" so I am often working much later than 5:00.
But over the years and as I've grown and gotten even busier, I've been able to adopt some time management tips that have helped to make my days run a little more smoothly.
Prioritizing tasks is most important but is something that I really struggle with. I have to remember that what I want to do isn't always what needs to be done at that moment. So, in order to prioritize tasks more efficiently, I make three lists:
- Urgent - it is overdue, due soon, or there will be consequences if it isn't finished in a timely manner.
- Important - it needs to be done, but it isn't urgent.
- Not important - these are the things that I want to do, but they can wait.
I have a tendency to go off-task sometimes. Once I started putting my individual tasks into lists, I have a much better time deciding what I need to do and when.
Whether I'm using a phone app or a notebook, I make lists constantly and I usually have two versions of each one; both digital and handwritten. Most of my lists are of post ideas and promotion tasks that I have to do daily. I also use lists to shop for post supplies, personal shopping lists, and other things that I need to remember to do at home. Sometimes I feel like I need to make a list to organize my lists.
Time management apps
While I still use a pen and paper for lists, apps are my go-to for reminders, chores for the kids, timers for myself so I stay on task, and a voice recorder for those times when I have an idea when I'm away from a pen and paper.
The two apps I use most often for work are 30/30 which is a task timer app. I set a specific amount of time to write posts, apply for opportunities, answer emails, and other work-related tasks. This way I am less apt to get off track.
I also love the Notebook app because I can see all of my lists and to-do checklists on one screen or use a photo as a note. I love this app for when I am on-the-go or away from my notebook and have an idea. Most of my best ideas are hatched while I'm in the shower or driving, so as soon as I get out of the shower or car I write myself a little note in my app.
For home, Mothershp (that is not a typo) and Chore Monster are two great apps that work together. With this, I can assign chores to my kids and enter rewards and allowances based on a points system. This way I don't forget what the kids have done at the end of the week and I can reward them accordingly.
I also use a simple reminder app so I don't forget appointments, when a project is due, parent/teacher conferences, or to pay my credit cards. Alarmed has been my lifeline when I get busy and forgetful. I use this app almost every day.
Computer programs to work smarter
Google Docs is a daily go-to. I use Docs for everything from keeping track of my to-do list, shopping lists, and things that need to be organized for work. Simply put, I wouldn't be able to do my job without it.
Another good site for organizing your life into neat little buckets is Trello.
Planners and notebooks
There is nothing wrong with being a little analog. Research shows that the act of writing things down makes it easier to remember. I have found this to be true. I love to open my planner and see my whole month laid out for me in a way that can't be done with an app.
The same goes for my notebook with lists that I make for work or home. There is usually duplicate info in an app, but using a notebook makes everything easier to see.
Make time for yourself
Seriously, you're no good to anyone if you don't carve out a little time for yourself. Whether it's while the kids are in school or after everyone has gone to bed, it is important to get some Me Time and practice self-care every day.
Take a bubble bath, go for a walk, read a book, start to binge a new series on Netflix. Whatever you like to do that makes you feel recharged, find time to do it every single day.