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This year, working from home, whilst schooling from home, has become mainstream. Now, more than ever moms are in need of some superhuman time management skills. I can’t say I am unhappy about it (whilst I most certainly am unhappy about the circumstances; loss of freedom, and the projected 50% unemployment in South Africa, oh my!).
“The idea that our society is best served when family members separate in the morning, to do things they generally don’t enjoy, could be the biggest fallacy ever imprinted upon humanity”
I am with Jason, above, I believe keeping the family unit intact for the majority of the day is a step in the right direction for the world, and I would be interested to know, in the comments below or in a private message, what your experience with this has been and whether you are looking to continue working from home, no matter whether the government enforced prohibitions are lifted or not?
According to my own bit of research sampled from my social media bubble, it seems like working from home brings it’s challenges, yes, but the biggest challenge seems to be juggling childcare.
I have some experience in this area and would like to share my personal tips – they may not work for everyone but I hope you take something from this that will better your home environment and leave your days with moments to fill with joy.
A lot of people ask me how I get it all done, the truth is I don’t, I am just good at time management and prioritizing the right work. I have run my own business which has been my sole income as a breadwinner for 4 years now. There is no magic formula for finding pockets of time in your day where you can fit more in, but with a bit of intentional planning and a small mind shift it is definitely possible to earn an income from home whilst educating children.with a bit of intentional planning and a small mind shift it is definitely possible to earn an income from home whilst educating children Click To Tweet
Disclaimer: we unschool, which means that educating my children requires a lot less planning but is no less hands on or less time consuming.
Here are my top time management tips
1. Create a time stewardship mantra or affirmation
Let’s start by moving from a place of lack to a place of ‘I have an abundance of time’. You can do this by creating a mantra or affirmation or vision which you can stick above your desk and repeat it to yourself often throughout the day.
A few examples;
I have all the time of the world.
I always get to do all I want to do.
Time gaps open up for me every day.
I always have all the time I need
The more I focus on the present, the more time I have at my disposal.
Time always adjusts to be whatever I believe it to be.
2. Check your attitude around time management
“The only difference between you and the victim is the attitude with which you enter the water.”
I often think of this line that Kevin Costner says in the movie ‘The Guardian’, which is actually from the US Coast Guard Manual. It makes it so clear that everything is about attitude, right? If you have an attitude of a lack of time… and that you are not managing… and that the children will not allow you to work… then yes, that is going to be your reality. But, if you go through your day from a place of an abundance of time, then your reality is going to bend to fit.
3. Be selective in what you work on
No one is superwoman here. It is impossible to get it all done. I don’t get everything I want to do, done. I just get everything I need to do, done. Understanding the difference between these two types of ‘to-do’s’ can make or break your time management.
- PRIORITIZE TASKS BY URGENCY & IMPORTANCE
Now is the time to boot those pesky time wasting, non essential tasks. Start prioritizing your tasks by urgency and importance. Prioritize everything, so you’re always working on the most important stuff.
- GET ORGANIZED
Set systems in place so that your business continues to run when you are not there.
– use an appointment scheduling tool like Acuity or Calendly. You get a digital secretary who handles schedules, appointment bookings, and reminders.
– use a client relationship management tool for onboarding clients, contract, invoicing and so on.
– spruce up your autoresponses & canned email responses by addressing your FAQ’s.
– schedule blog & social media in advance using a tool such as buffer or coschedule
4. Keep your work schedule flexible
Spend an intentional and concentrated amount of time on your big ticket income generating task for the day, and allow the rest of the day to ebb and flow. I have lately started waking early to get this item ticked off before the kids even wake up for the day. This leaves me with a lot more freedom for the rest of the day, and I am therefore not frantically trying to get things done whilst the children need me.
“be a maker in a morning, a manager in the afternoon.”
When working around children, the biggest cause of frustration for yourself and them is to try and force them to do anything when they don’t want to. The trick is to work when they are engaged in a task of their own, be that a game or toys or perhaps it is on their devices. Once I see that they are settled and fed and sorted, I bootleg it over to my desk and get a few things done before they notice and need me again.
Paid work comes before everything else, except my children. It does come before their need for clean laundry or a clean house though as those needs are not vital. What defines vital needs with your children will differ according to your families set of values, but for me they are good food, being parented peacefully, a good amount of direct attention and my interest in their passion projects. I feel like it is a really good thing that they see me doing meaningful (valued) work throughout the day, which provides for us too and it isn’t something I need to only do when they are not around.
5. Work when you’re most productive
To do this, you need to be aware of when your high-energy times are and try to schedule time blocks during these times. Then, make sure you’re working on the most important things on your to-do list during these times.
I am most energetic in the evenings as a night owl but I try to not leave any urgent client work for this time, otherwise I find myself getting very frustrated with my children if they do not want to fall asleep at normal bedtime that night.
Instead, I get up early to do those important tasks and leave a lot of my design work that has a more flexible due date for the evening when I am feeling my most creative anyway.
6. Get enough sleep
This is not directly related to time management, but in my experience, as a self confessed night owl, it can be all to easy to sacrifice on sleep when you are trying to do it all. It is never a good idea. Read Arianna Huffington’s “Sleep Revolution“ if you need any motivation to start winding down earlier in the evenings.
Make sleep sacred, your mental health, your body and your children will thank you – nothing brings on cranky mom better than a lack of sleep. However, if you do have a bad nights sleep, try shake it off, feeling tired the next day can be a mindset that just needs a reset.
7. Start tracking your time
Track your time to see where it goes. As it turns out, you may not be working as much as you think… Download my favourite free time tracker here, and put it to use. A mini tip : I always leave emptying my inbox for after my creative work, otherwise I can get stuck in there for hours!
I truly hope these tips help you juggle it all. As I mentioned above, I believe that the family unit remaining intact for the majority of each day can only be a good thing, and that the world will be a better place if we all figure out how to get this virtual working from home thing + home education thing right. With this vision of a better world in mind, I am offering free training in August. Sign up below for my Productivity Challenge especially created with you in mind.