Work-At-Home Mom Time Management Tips

The idea of time management can seem like such a disgusting oxymoron to moms who work at home. I’ve been there, I deal with it every day – there never seems like enough time in a single day to accomplish what needs to be done for your work, take care of the kids, and maintain a clean home.

Your biggest ally is organization. If you can get and stay more organized, you’ll see your business success improve and your home life become much happier (and less stressful). In the hopes of helping you secure some sanity, I offer up these tips to become more organized and use your time more wisely.

One: Delegate Tasks

As mothers we get used to taking on too many things and trying to do it all on our own. It just seems easier, at the time, to try juggling your latest project with helping the kids pack their lunches and get the kitchen cleaned back up. By the end of the day, though, all enjoyment of working at home has been sapped right out during the day alongside our energy.

Get comfortable with this fact: There’s nothing wrong with delegating tasks.

Some of your household chores can be done by the kids, and you’re not going to warp them by asking them to help out. Suit the chores assigned to the ability level of your children, and you’ll see an immediate improvement in your energy level and the amount of work you can actually get done in a day.

It’s hard enough to concentrate on your work in a house that’s suffering, and a vital part of maintaining an organized home is routine cleaning. Try visiting this page by CleanSweeps ( and print their free “Kids Chore Charts” and “Kids Chore Checklists”. They look really great, and you can laminate them so that they can be posted on your children’s bedroom doors and be checked off with a dry-erase marker. Allow them all day to do the chores that need to be done and figure in their own stuff like homework. I promise, your sanity will benefit.

Two: Set and Keep Business Hours

Setting and keeping regular business hours has a twofold benefit: it keeps you motivated because you know that you will always start and stop at the same time, and it helps your family adjust to your needs.

Remember that your working at home doesn’t mean that you’re available for everything else that needs to be done while you’re working. That’s the biggest reason that I’ve listed delegating tasks first – you can’t push yourself in 50 directions at once and not expect to burn out. It’s hard for your family to remember that mom has a job, though, when she’s at home. By setting regular hours like Monday through Friday from 1-4 and sticking to these hours, you remind your family that there are times of the day when you’re just as unavailable as if you went to work for an employer.

You have to remain dedicated to keeping these hours, though. By saying that you work from 1-4 and deciding on Tuesday that you’re only going to work from 1-2 and then playing catch-up on Thursday, working from 1-7, you’re disrupting your own body schedule and placing confusion on your family.

I write down my “business” hours and post them on the side of my computer. This way, if my needs change a few months down the road I can discuss it with my family and post new hours – but they can always quickly check to see what I’m doing by glancing at my little sign. Work with your family’s schedule so that you set hours you can honestly stick to as much as possible, and then even when things get slow find ways to fill those hours with only business-related “stuff”.

If you’ve got a slow day, try doing some computer maintenance or update your client records. There’s always something you can do to further organize your business, which results in a better organized life.

Three: Give Everything a Home

If you don’t have a lot of organizational habits throughout your home yet, this might take a few steps to get done but it will pay off big-time.

Start with a room in your house – it could be your office, your kitchen, or the bathroom. I try to start small and work my way up as I’m feeling more confident, so I usually start in closets or bathrooms. Then, grab a pen and sit down where you can see everything in the room you’re in. Open cupboard doors, pull out drawers, just make sure you can really view the room in all its .. well, probably messy glory. Now, close your eyes and picture how this room would look if it were perfectly organized. Is there room under the sink, for example, for a short shelving system? Or maybe you have a closet that’s shelved and could combine like-items together in plastic bins and boxes.

The point is to visualize solutions to the clutter that is currently in the room you’re sitting in. From shelves to storage boxes to filing systems, there are solutions. If your kid’s room constantly suffers from the typical kid habit of just throwing their dirty clothes in a corner of the room instead of opening the hamper and shoving it in, try getting one of the over-the-door hampers that have a net-mesh bag. Your child can still just throw their clothes – right into the “basket” – and if they miss … well, they’re not getting out of the room without noticing the clothes they’re stepping on right in front of their door.

Once you have a short list of items that you need to gather in order to organize a room, take it with you to the department store and actually get those items. Get all of them at once, as many as you think you’ll need – and then head back home and organize the entire room. For larger rooms like the kitchen or children’s bedrooms, enlist family help. You don’t want to spend more than an hour or two organizing, but you do want to get it done all at once or you probably won’t get back to it.

After you’ve organized a specific room, make a point of showing the organization to your family. Stress where things are placed, and how nice the room looks now that it’s neat and clean – and how easy it will be to keep it neat and clean with the things you’ve done. Allow them time to adjust to the “new” room (and yourself time to recover from doing it!) and then move on to the next room in your house.

Four: Make Lists

A day-planner can be an invaluable tool. Any time that you have a new activity to do, jot it down in your planner. This way, you can keep track of the activities – projects and errands alike – that need to be done, and group them together. If you schedule things like the bills you pay in person and grocery shopping on the same day, you’ll save a lot of time.

Having to-do lists generally keep you motivated. If you want to, think of it as your own “chore chart” and list everything from house chores to specific work tasks that need to be done. I try to take this a step further and actually give myself “deadlines” for when tasks need to be completed – an hour for picking up the strung-out toys around the house and putting dishes away from the dishwasher, for example, and two hours to finish up the graphics project I’ve been working on.

If you list out your tasks and provide a place to check them off as they’re done, you’ll be much more organized. Besides, it’s a very cool feeling when your day is done and you can look at that list and go, “Wow – I did all that?!”

Five: Planning

This one is really quick and simple: Begin a habit of reviewing your upcoming work in advance, and plan for it.

In other words, break things down by the day, by the week, and by the month. Once a month, you will want to go through your house and briefly make sure that the organization systems you’ve put into place still work – that there’s nothing broken, that everything still has a home of its own. Once a week, you need to create to-do lists for each of the days in your week. And once a day, you will want to review the work and tasks that you’ve got to do the next day.

Take a few minutes right now while you’re still thinking of it and take notes about things that you can get started today. Begin putting into place some of these activities and you’ll find that you get more accomplished, and the sense of fulfillment that you find can be reward all in itself.

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