Tired all the time. You could probably write a book on how to stay awake, if you could stay awake to write it. And if you had time, you might even want to write on “Time Management for Work-at-Home Moms.”
I am certainly not an expert on this. I’m writing because I have found one little strategy that works for me, and I want to share it with you.
And because I know what it’s like to be a busy mom. Running between a child who needs you, the washing machine, the phone, and … maybe the bathroom after the other sixteen things.
As if just being a mom wasn’t busy enough, you also need to make money.
Maybe you have a work-at-home job already. Or maybe you’re looking.
If you ALREADY HAVE a Work-at-Home Job that you love, read on.
If you are LOOKING FOR a Work-at-Home Job, click here.
There’s Got to Be a Better Way to Get ‘er Done
I’m going to assume that you pretty much know what you need to get done. It’s just a matter of fitting it all in.
You probably know all the standard solutions — prioritize, make lists, delegate, reevaluate, get enough rest.
But you try to do all that. And sometimes it’s still just so overwhelming. Especially when you get to the end of a day and think, WHAT did I actually get done today?
Well, here’s the Big Idea: SPURTS!
What Do I Mean by Spurts?
Have you ever heard of interval training? It’s a method of exercise that is much more efficient in less time.
Instead of just jogging or doing the elliptical machine for 30 minutes, you go all out for 20-30 seconds, and then lighten up for about a minute and a half. Then repeat 7 more times. There may be variations to this, but that’s the main idea.
So am I saying to clean hard for 30 seconds??
No. But just keep that concept in your head.
Here’s what I mean …
Categorize Tasks by One Significant Difference
The difference you’re going to look for is this: mental focus.
Some tasks take a lot of focus and concentration. Compare this to running hard.
Others tasks are mindless. Compare this to just taking it easy, but still moving forward.
And some are in the middle.
If you already have your list of things to do, put them in three categories. Focus, Middle, and Mindless. (You could think of your own creative names for these lists.)
You would actually want to do this twice — once for family/household responsibilities, and once for business tasks. So you would have six lists altogether.
Now you can prioritize each list like you would normally, putting the most important or most impactful things at the top. But the fun thing is… throughout the day you can switch back and forth between lists, depending on the situation.
When you’re able to concentrate, focus hard on something near the top of the focus list.
When you can hardly think to call your kids by their rightful names, get your body moving on a task that takes no thinking, so you’ll have a chance to collect your thoughts while you’re getting something accomplished.
Interruptions won’t quite feel as much like interruptions. And when you get to the end of the day, especially if you’ve switched tasks many times, you won’t feel like you didn’t get much done. You’ll know that you kept going, you kept moving forward, just at varying speeds. And you DID get things done!
Don’t Get Too Hung Up on Priorities
One other part to this that is Very Important…
Just because you have prioritized your lists, does NOT mean that you have to do those tasks in order.
In some cases, thinking too much about the order of things on your list could cause you to get less done.
You might be waiting for one child to finish three math problems so you can get everyone in the car and go to the store. You get frustrated that everyone is not ready to go out the door at the exact same moment, so you start saying, “Hurry up. The others are all ready.” That makes your child lose concentration on the math problem. It not only takes him longer to get done, but you yourself are not getting anything done in the meantime.
Another alternative here is that you lighten up, and forget about “shopping” being the next thing on your list. You remember (without even looking) that somewhere on your mindless list is “sweeping.” So you pick up the broom and get that done while you’re waiting.
Another Real Life Example
Let’s say you’re feeding your baby. It would be hard to type when you’re doing that. But, depending on your baby’s disposition, it may be easy to do some creative thinking or planning. You can be very active mentally during this time, and have a lot of thoughts all ready to type down as soon as the baby lays down for a nap.
When you do get to the computer, consider how much time you might have. If it’s a couple hours, take full advantage of the opportunity to really get into your project.
If you won’t have much time, just get the ideas out of your head and onto the screen, whether sentences make sense or not. Then if you still have time left to unscramble the sentences, great. Otherwise, all the words will be there in the computer’s memory waiting until you can sit down again.
The next time you sit down, you may be watching the baby with one eye and one ear as she plays on the floor, while you type with two hands and half a brain. In this kind of situation, you can put things in order that you have already typed down. It takes a little focus, but not so much that you’ll get flustered if you’re interrupted. You could easily stop if you needed to, and get back to it later.
So Here’s What it Boils Down to…
When you need to devote all of your attention to something, whether it be housework or business-related work, do that at a time when there won’t be any other distractions.
When you’re doing something that takes some of your attention, but not all of it … or when the situation is such that you could easily be interrupted, do something that takes a little thought, but not intense concentration.
When you’re doing a mindless chore, if possible, engage your mind in a creative way that will benefit either your family or your business. If that kind of mental creativity isn’t possible, enjoy the time when you don’t have to think. It’s okay to give your mind a break once in a while, too.
Distinguishing between tasks according to the degree of mental focus needed, and acting accordingly, will lessen your frustration level, help others around you to be more relaxed, and make it easier to get more done.
But… All Work-at-Home Jobs are Not Equal
There are some work-at-home jobs that will be more easily merged with family and household responsibilities than others.
Jobs that require talking on the phone can be challenging to fit into this strategy. But if there are others parts of your job besides talking on the phone, it would be easier.
Making and selling crafts would probably fit well. Some steps in the creation process don’t take much concentration. Others do, depending on the type of craft. If you sell your handiwork online, that should be pretty easy to work around other responsibilities. A little clicking and typing here, a little there. Save the heavy thinking for time when you can focus.
Direct sales has different aspects to it. When you’re talking with a customer in person, of course you’ll have to focus on them. But so much business nowadays, even in direct sales, is done online — Facebook messaging, placing orders, getting training, etc. So, depending on the type of product you’re selling, and the company culture, this could be conducive to working in spurts.
Having a job that involves a lot of writing would be a very good fit for this. I love to write. It seems like I’m always thinking of something I want to write down. The “spurt” approach works very well for me. I can be working in the kitchen, and thoughts just start coming together in my mind. I quickly go type them. Then somebody needs my attention. Eventually I’m back in the kitchen again, with more thoughts forming.
How about you? Let me know in the comments below how this might (or might not) work for you.