How To Get More Done In Less Time: From A Ridiculously Organized Work-At-Home Mom
But I’ve had the idea to write this before I saw everyone was doing it… I just haven’t taken the time! So before I’m really out of date here…
Let’s take a look at my day! Everyone’s day is different. And every person is different.
But it helps to have a place to start. Or someone like you so you can see how it’s done.
I haven’t met a lot of work-at-home moms like myself, but I know a few who would like to do what I do. Or admire that I basically get a full-time job done in half the time anyone else does.
So…here goes. This is a typical day for me.
5:30: Alarm goes off (Yes, this kind of sucks. Or it did at first, and it does for the first 10 minutes of the day. But coming from a not-a-morning person… It’s doable. And for me, necessary.)
5:40: By now I’ve gotten myself out of bed and started working. And you know what? It’s quiet. The house is mine for about another hour. This is where I take time to answer emails and clear my plate. What HAS to happen right now that I have the brain to take care of? What easy things need to happen in order to feel like I got started with a clear day ahead of me?
6:40: David has showered, is downstairs getting breakfast, and I’m gathering lunches for those who leave the house.
6:50: David is out the door and I have anywhere from 0-2 kids awake and hungry. This time isn’t mine though, so I get breakfasts ready and get morning cartoons up and running. Hello, Peppa Pig!
And sometimes…I have about half an hour left of quiet. Or I choose to take half an hour to get a little more work done while kids play. It all depends on how we’re all doing.
7:20: About now is when I join the kids. Have my tea and something to eat. Watch cartoons and snuggle, talk about the day, fix a toy. Read on my phone. You know, mom stuff.
8:00: Even on non-school days, this is shower time. And not only that, but since I don’t drive to work, I turn on my waterproof speaker and listen to a podcast.
8:30: Time for the kids to get ready. Clothes, hair, everyone brushes teeth.
8:50: On school days we are out the door on our 10 minute walk to school. I’m busy pulling 70 pounds in a wagon…that’s 15 pounds more than the start of the school year. Meanwhile the kids have noticed, what else? A rock. A blade of grass. A bird that’s…sleeping. On the side of the road. And SCHOOL! OMG IT HASN’T MOVED SINCE YESTERDAY! (These are my days, people.)
9:15: Back at home, minus a kid. Now, it’s Brendan and mom time. What’s up for two hours? Sometimes it’s HEB, running errands, half an hour of work, cleaning or anything else that needs to get done.
But I leave at least an hour to play, do yoga, water the plants, snuggle more and get snacks and juice for this kid. Because that last one could take an hour in itself (boys). And he likes to help do things or just sit with me.
11:15 or so: It’s time to start thinking about lunch. Mainly because both Brendan and I get hangry. And we know he gets it from me because David and Chelsea don’t do that…
11:30: Lunch! Yum. All better after a few bites.
12:00: This is starting to change, but Brendan usually naps about now. He’s taken to playing in his bed for a bit first (because he’s tired and yawning but won’t sleep yet).
This is my time again. Time to work! With my afternoon tea, of course. And with a couple hours to myself, I get some small things done first, working up to the big projects. Or I’ll take 2 hours to set up a Facebook campaign or another project of that caliber. Sometimes I use the full two hours on one project, and other times I’m splitting the time between clients. It all depends I what I need to do.
1:45: my alarm goes off to go pick up Chelsea from school. This way I have a few minutes to finish up what I’m working on and get ready to go. I’ve taken to setting an alarm so I don’t get distracted being afraid I’ll be late. They don’t really have a lot of leeway on time in preschool.
2:00: With a sleepy Brendan (since I usually wake him up), we pick up Chelsea. Off home we go!
(It used to be that this time of day I still had a ton of work left, so I had to finish it up. And sometimes I still take half an hour while Chelsea does homework and the kids have snack. But since getting up at 5:30… That need is pretty much gone.)
2:10: Any errands to run with kids? Or maybe we go to the library or the playground. Maybe this is when we play outside and water the plants. Or build a tent and read books and color. Unless it’s dance class day though, this is all fun time again.
5:00: David is home! Around this time anyway. Till we move, it’s a 45 minute drive without traffic. Time for everyone to chill, and I may start making dinner.
6:00: dinner time! If we’re not watching Colbert and dancing, we’re probably all sitting at the table trying to get everyone to eat. Because; you know, tacos are either the greatest or worst thing in the world depending on who you are.
6:30: We may play outside. Or kind of pay attention as we catch up on TV. Play with Legos. Read. Talk about our days and what’s coming up. Some days it’s bath time.
7:30: This is changing too, but it’s bedtime for Brendan. Hopefully we haven’t been reduced to screaming just yet.
8:00: Bedtime for Chelsea… Time for dishes, TV, and catching up on work for me. Since right now I truthfully have too much on my plate, there are usually 2 days a week where I’m spending anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour doing things I haven’t gotten to yet. Or answering a few emails because I work with people in LA, Australia, and New Zealand. But, again… the beauty of getting up at 5:30 is that this used to be a 4-5 day a week occurrence. And while last week I worked for 2 evenings, the week before I didn’t need to work any evenings.
9:00: Time to shut off my brain. Not entirely, just from work. If I work past 9, I don’t sleep well because I haven’t sufficiently stopped thinking about work. So I’ll read, do yoga, watch TV with David, have tea or a glass of wine.. Whatever needs to happen on that particular day, I’ve begun winding down.
(If you’ve woken up at 5:30, I highly recommend trying to go to bed about 9/9:30. I don’t sleep well or much though, so I’m a crazy person who stays up late AND gets up early… hopefully falling asleep with a kid in my lap at least once a week.)
10:00: Okay, actually time to head upstairs for us and get in bed. We end the day with a little Daily Show (who doesn’t?), then lights out. Sometimes in the middle of it for me. My bed is quite inviting with a pile of blankets after having been awake for so long.
Now, a few things you need to know.
> I rarely check Twitter, and I’ve deleted my Facebook app. I still check it via Safari, because I am part of a couple groups on there, but I’m not checking all day. That saves so much time to stay out of the black hole of the Internet.
> I like to keep my headphones on me. If I need to get out of my own head, I’ll turn on a podcast. Sometimes it’s about marketing, but really I just need an outlet. The British History Podcast is a big one, and I’ve recently discovered Myths & Legends (thank you, David for both of those!).
> You have to, absolutely have to turn off notifications. The VIP folder on your iPhone’s email is a lifesaver. I only have a handful of people that I get email notifications from. The ones I know are safe.
> That said…you also can’t check your email unless you intend to work. Why not? Because otherwise I’ve put my brain in work mode. That means I am not focusing on family, myself, or work. I’m just making myself more tired and unproductive.
> What is one tool I can’t live without? My notes app. Sure, I use Asana and Google Drive to keep up with anything and everything depending on who I’m working with. But I have my basic list of what needs to get done on my Notes app. Not to mention appointments and errands. Nothing fancy, so I don’t get distracted by anything technical. A physical notepad would work just as well. But I make a list every night on what needs to happen tomorrow. And if it doesn’t happen? That’s okay! It just rolls over to the next day.
All of that, and by the end of the week I’ve worked 20-25 hours, read my book, done some yoga, made sure my family feels loved, cooked, and more.
It’s always changing! As kids get older, work changes, seasons come and go… But the chunks of time to work are what’s helpful.
Create the space you need and be flexible when it doesn’t work out that way.
And above all, figure out what stresses you out and see how you can change that. For me it’s getting work done early in the day and not getting too many notifications on my phone.
What does your day look like? What productivity tips do you have to share?