Now that my husband Graham is back to work following a layoff, it seems as though my days are even longer and more quiet than usual. I love that my professional time is increasingly mine these days to manage, but sometimes it’s hard to stay focused on building my business and staying in touch with my customers when what I really feel like doing is eating brownies and watching episode after episode of the Wonder Years on Netflix.
I remind myself that we are not paying for daycare so that I can watch television all day, and try hard to stay focused. There are a few things I do to help keep myself on track work-wise so I can be productive when Nate and Graham are both out of the house. Here are my top three pieces of advice for work-at-home moms who need to stay focused on work during the day while the kids are at school or daycare.
1. Make lists. I noticed a couple of months ago that I was waking up really early in the morning and was unable to fall back to sleep. As soon as I woke up, a switch in my brain would flip on, and I’d start running through all of the things I needed to accomplish later that day. I described this to a friend of mine, who recommended I start keeping a notebook for my ideas and lists of tasks. This was great advice, and now I keep not only a daily list, but a weekly list of appointments and tasks that I can fit in and around my appointments and errands. Now, if I wake up early, I just think of that list and I can go back to sleep, secure in the knowledge I have everything written down.
2. Shut down. When I really need to focus, I close all of the program windows and browser tabs on my computer that aren’t in use for the task I’m tackling right then. I switch my iPhone over to silent mode and flip it over so I won’t be distracted by any visual notifications. When I need to stay focused, social media can be a real distraction for me, so I eliminate it from my surroundings until I’m ready to take a break.
3. Prioritize. When the list of items gets too long to accomplish in one day, I start moving things up and down the list. For example, I can send out product samples another day in order to meet a deadline today. I do the tasks that require my undivided attention during the day, and save housework and other jobs that require less focus for the evenings. Laura Watt, owner of Cubits Organic Living agrees.
“Do not do laundry when kids are out! You can do that with them or with your partner or have [him or her] do it.”
Smart advice, Laura!
Do you work at home or run a home-based business? What’s the best method you’ve come across for staying focused?