Silver Lining: How I manage my time as a work-at-home parent

October 5, 2015

How I manage my time as a work-at-home parent

I thought I was good at time management before I had a baby. I worked in a high-energy job, where I was constantly surrounded by people and on a down-to-the-minute schedule (teaching fifth grade is the craziest and most fun job in the world!). When you're a teacher, you have to manage every single minute of your workday.

When I started staying home with my baby and pursuing some of my work-at-home ventures, time management took on a whole different meaning. All of a sudden, I didn't have lunch at exactly 11:52, or five things to do in the next half hour, or that parent meeting I needed to wrap up by 3:15 so I could get out to bus duty by 3:18.

I had all day to get things done, and that was somehow much harder. My day wasn't structured, and my baby dictated my (often irregular) schedule. It was a rough transition, and I had a really hard time managing my time for the first few months.

Nothing is worse than sitting down at the end of the day, trying to relax, only to realize you forgot to switch the laundry, or you didn't do that project, or you never sent that email you tried to draft while feeding your baby lunch.

Today I wanted to share time management tips that have worked for me as a work-at-home parent.

Stop multitasking
I mean it. The truth is, 98% of the population can't actually multitask. They can just switch back and forth between tasks really quickly, and we all think we're better at it than we actually are. (source) Instead of trying to answer that email while feeding your toddler, do only one thing at at time, which brings me to number two on my list:

Productivity bursts
Productivity bursts are when you set short time limits to be 100% focused on a certain task. Any time you have a 5-20 minutes, set one specific goal and focus all your energy on it. Don't allow distractions, don't look at your phone, just get that one thing done.

I'm always saying, "Siri, start a timer for 10 minutes," and then surprising myself by finishing whatever I was doing in only seven minutes because I was so focused on it. If I'm watching Netflix and playing with my baby, it literally takes me two hours to fold and put away a load of laundry. If I'm doing it in a productivity burst, I can get it done in twelve minutes flat. Good thing too, because laundry is my least favorite, and it just got a lot faster!

Anything less than two, you do
Throughout my day, I'm always thinking, "Oh, I need to make that appointment," or, "Oh, I need to fill out that google doc." When a lot of those little things pile up, it makes me stressed out and less productive.

So here's the rule: if it takes less than two minutes, do it now! It's easy to make that one phone call, or start the dryer, or walk the garbage out to the curb while the kids are playing. On the days that I take two minutes or less to do the small things, I accomplish a lot more and am significantly less stressed.

(Obviously, if you're in the middle of a productivity burst, this doesn't apply! Finish your burst and then take the garbage out.)

Know when to hire out and when to delegate
This stems back to the big problem that work-at-home parents face: when you're trying to do two things at once, you end up less focused on both of those things, with only small bursts of time in which to be productive. It's hard to work through big ideas when you only have twenty minutes at a time. If you're feeling like you never have a solid block of time to get things done, it might be time to find a part-time daycare option, or scale back your work hours.

When I go do a photoshoot, I am significantly less productive if I'm halfway focused on the shoot, and halfway focused on making sure my toddler doesn't fall onto a cactus. It makes sense for me to leave her with a babysitter while I go do the photoshoot. Find the balance that's right for you.

Schedule relaxing time
Now we get to the fun part! As parents, and working parents at that, it's really easy for our days to become long and stretched thin and exhausting. The antidote: schedule some "me time" at the end of the day!

I love to paint my nails, eat my favorite snacks, and flip through some magazines for quality relaxation time. I picked up these magazines at Albertsons, and if you have an Albertsons near you, you can take $1.00 off participating titles (PEOPLE®, InStyle®, People StyleWatch®, Real Simple®, and Sunset®) with this digital offer until 10/18/15 while supplies last. For me, this is a time when I purposefully put the to-do list down and focus on relaxing and recharging.

Your turn!
How do you manage your time when you work from home?
Anything I should add to this list?
And what's your favorite thing to do for me time?

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and PEOPLE® and Real Simple® Magazines but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #BacktoMeTime

1 comment:

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