You should see my task list. Really.
When I worked outside of the home, my first 15 minutes every morning once I arrived at the office were spent planning my day. I have read various books on time management and organization to increase my productivity and ensure every spare second of my was spent on a useful task.
Then I had a child.
Now, from the time I wake up until the wee hours before bed, I spend my life as though I am standing back staring as my entire day is occurring in fast forward right in front of me. Let me first say that if you are willing to take on the task of working from home with a small child, you need to develop a totally different mindset and type of organization than that of a traditional day at the office.
Client unexpected – you can often control. Toddler unexpected – you have absolutely no control.
I want to share with you some tips I have learned for goal setting and time management to transition to a work at home type of lifestyle.
- Plan your day the evening before while your family is in bed. This is the best time to work on planning because it is often the only time you have peace and quiet.
- Rather than planning by the time, plan in blocks of time. This particularly helps out if your child is very small and not attending school yet. Rather than saying “I’m going to spend from 8-10am sending emails,” opt for a goal such as “I need to spend 2 hours today sending emails.” Often us moms get 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there, so it is easier to set aside blocks of time to get things done throughout the day without setting ourselves up for failure if we don’t achieve our goal during an allotted time period.
- Incorporating business tasks and household tasks is okay as long as you stay focused. I often complete a business task and throw in a load of laundry. I find that incorporating both into my daily routine allows me more time of an evening to spend with my family. I also spend a lot of 15 minute time periods reading books and building blocks. It is nice to have variety throughout your day!
- Don’t overbook yourself. This is something I have a hard time with. I tend to write down 40 tasks for myself to complete in one day calling it a “goal” even though I personally know it is far out of reach. Don’t bite off more than you can chew in one day.
- Prioritize. If I’ve learned anything from reading time management books it is to prioritize. I use colored highlighters to prioritize my daily goals. I list out all tasks and highlight them in the color of priority they are, completing the highest priority first. This plan also works well if you have to add the unexpected to the list. If something comes up, simply add it at the bottom and highlight it with the corresponding priority color. I choose 3 colors indicating high priority, medium and low. What I don’t complete, I then add to the list for the next day.
- Take a lunch break. No matter what I have going during the day, I make sure to take a lunch break everyday at noon for an hour. This is my “me” time during the middle of the day where all work related activity is turned off.
Now that I’ve told you some of my tips for goal setting and time management for the mommyfied, please share some experiences of your own. I am interested to see how other moms plan their days and set their goals to be realistically achieved.