Note: This is an UPDATED post from 2013.
Managing your time!
With a preschooler and a toddler it can become a challenge to manage your time while trying to run a business and be a mom.
So how do you manage your day as a WAHM?
That seems to be the million dollar question. It varies from day to day, so the answer is to do your best.
1. Work around your child's sleep/eat/play schedule.
The number one thing I heard when starting my own work from home business was work after your kids go to bed. That's great advice, it really is. But when you have a newborn or active children or you're just EXHAUSTED, that doesn't work.
So, I found that is best to schedule naps during your most productive part of the day (if your kid is a good napper). For example, I am really productive in the mornings so when my kids were babies they would nap at 10:30. Now I just make sure to plan activities they can do independently so I can get a little bit of work accomplished.
When my boys began napping later and later and eventually settled on a 1:00 nap time. That meant I had to make my most productive part of the day shift.
2. Sort your to-do list
I try to find what tasks can be done during different times during the day.
I sort my list into a few different categories: Before the kids wake up, during nap time, during mealtimes, during playtime and after they go to bed. I give tasks a priority.
Sometimes I might have to make a quick phone call. This would happen during a meal time when I can feed the baby while on the phone and then quickly return to focusing on him.
During playtime, it might mean that I need to jot an outline for an article or marketing campaign. This usually doesn’t take a lot of my time and I can get down to the business of being a playmate.
3. Use technology to your advantage.
When I left the newsroom I left my smart phone behind. I saw it as a very expensive distraction. But as I was running a business I realized a wireless device would help me as I followed my sweet baby from room to room keeping him happy while I kept my client’s happy.
I broke down and bought a refurbished tablet and later when it was time to renew my cell phone contract they gave me a free smartphone. My data plan only changed my monthly bill by whopping $3.
If I have a minute when my child is distracted by a book or a toy, I plan a client's social media schedules or read through and answer emails. Then I tuck my device away where it will be safe from curious fingers and I return to blocks, or books or trucks or whatever adventure the toddler mind has planned for me.
But a tip: Technology is meant to make your life easier. It is made to be controlled by you. Not the other way around.
4. Give yourself a day off.
Working from home means it's easy to just do one more thing, which can quickly add up to hours and hours of extra work, usually free work.
For me my time at home with my son is precious and I want to protect it as much as I can, meaning there are days I just don't work. Or blocks of time I don't work because we are doing special things together. Our morning snuggle time before nap is sacred. Our library time each week is a treasure. And our afternoon time playing on the floor in his room cannot be interrupted. Those are my rules.
5. Show yourself some grace.
Be gentle with yourself. Remember how I said I was okay when certain things on my to-do list didn’t get done? These are my priorities. My children are clean, fed and snuggled with and read to. Dinner is planned or ready. The house did not burn to the ground. No one went missing today. My hair is clean by the time Jason gets home from work. (Okay that last one is less of a priority than it probably should be.)
I have also come to love my quiet time before the day begins before my son wakes up. I like to take my cup of coffee and my Bible and sit on the couch and spend just a few minutes alone. I have found when I don’t have that time the day feels more cluttered. Remember, you can’t do this alone, you weren’t designed to.
6. Set your future goals.
I want to grow my business so I can continue to be at home with them. I have no idea what that business will look like, but I am paving the way for five years down the road.
I have a notebook that I use to jot down ideas and goals. I highly suggest doing this and keeping it in a secret place. Sometimes my goals are just sacred.
What about you? How do you manage your time?