One of the best things you can do as a work at home mom is plan out your day. I do this on a night for the following day. It’s been the best way to be the most productive on a morning.
There are a lot of people who will tell you to plan out a whole week. I plan no more than a day in advance, and there’s a reason for this. I’ll get into that reason while I share my seven top tips for planning your day as a work at home mom.
1. Find a system that works for you
This takes some trial and error. It certainly did for me. I’ve still not 100% found a planning system that works for me, but I’m trialing some systems that are certainly proving to be beneficial.
While some business coaches will tell you that you should plan an entire week, I don’t find that all too productive. I prefer to plan a day at a time. On a night, I’ll get the following day set up so on a morning I can jump straight into my diary. When I tried to plan a week, I’d get behind or something would throw me off and I’d get uber frustrated.
There are some elements that are planned for a week or a month at a time. This is when I plan out my blogging titles for something like the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.
2. Have a working schedule in place
Know your business hours. When will you be at the computer? When are you looking after the children? When are you fitting in the housework? Your scheduling is separate from the daily planning system that you need to create.
I have an Ideal Day Calendar. This changes now and then depending on if my amount of clients changes or if I’ve started working on other projects. However, I try to stick to the Ideal Day as it’s the optimum working schedule.
3. Have wiggle room in your schedule
While you want to avoid the interruptions, there are going to be some things that crop up that you can’t change. It could be an emergency at school or (if you’re in Ontario right now) a strike day in five days time that you need to replan for.
You want to make sure your work at home mom plan has some wiggle room. This allows for distractions and upsets. It means you don’t get stressed when you’re pushed by back an hour in the day.
I often find computer problems distract my day. Just the other day, my keyboard suddenly stopped working. I thought it was the batteries but had to go to the store to buy some more. I changed them just to find out that actually, it was the computer that needed updating! Yep, I wasted an hour with batteries (the mouse was still working so that’s why I thought batteries at first) and a computer update!
4. Set yourself deadlines
When you start out as a work at home mom, having the freedom to do your work whenever you want can be daunting. You end up putting tasks off. There’s always another day, right?
The problem is tomorrow never comes. You need to give yourself a deadline to meet for each of your tasks. This is especially important for bigger projects, so you can break up your tasks and make the whole project more manageable.
When you have clients, they’ll likely have their own deadlines. Set your deadlines ahead of theirs. I like to set a deadline three to five days before the client deadline. This allows for some emergency to crop up and I can still get the work done.
5. Consider blocking your time
I find that the best way to plan my day is to block out my time. I’ll do one task for an hour or so. This could be writing the blog posts, even if they’re for individual blogs, or it could be editing work.
Time blocking helps to streamline processes. I keep the same “hat” while I’m working, allowing me to remain focused on the task at hand. I don’t have to keep switching between mindsets, which disrupts the flow. I certainly get way more done than I would do trying to do everything at once.
Tracking time is also important as a work at home mom. You can track your blocked time.
6. Add in breaks
Something that many work at home moms forget is to set some time for breaks. You need to give yourself a lunch break and you’ll need to allow some social media time or some time to step away from the computer.
The Pomodoro Technique recommends five minutes every 25 minutes. You can get a Pomodoro Technique stopwatch to help you stick with this.
I’ve never found this really works for me. Instead, I have a variation. Every hour, I’ll take a 10-15 minute break. This usually involves taking the dogs out for their walk because they need it (I have two huskies). Or I’ll get some housework done, like put the washing machine on. Sometimes, I use the time to check social media or Mumsnet.
7. Write your work at home mom plan down
Whatever you do, however you do it, make sure you write it down. You can do it in a diary or you can opt for everything to be on some app. Writing your plan for the day down is the best way to make sure you stick to it.
There’s something about writing it down that helps to make the plan stick. Plus, we can check it if we’re not sure what we need to do next. This is a great way to avoid forgetting something the following day.
I have checkboxes to scribble out whenever I complete a task. This is my way of noting how much I’ve done. And it’s great to see the items disappear once by one.
What do you do to plan your day as a work at home mom? Share your tips in the comments below.
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