Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission, if you choose to make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.
Moms juggle so many tasks and responsibilities every single day. If you work from home on top of caring for your family and home, you know that time management is key. If you aren’t spending your time wisely most of the day, you probably aren’t getting much done. And I know if I’m not getting much done or feel like things are piling up, I start to get in a serious funk. Then the funk makes it harder to get things done. Making small, manageable changes can keep you moving, productive at your job, and really help the whole family be happier and calmer.
Read on to discover some very helpful time management tips for work at home moms can successfully manage their day, work, and family!
Set Up a Schedule
How can you make the most of the 24 hours in a day?
First to have to keep track of what’s going to happen, what needs to happen, and have a plan when sh..stuff happens. Unfortunately, we can’t add more hours to the day. So we have to make the most of the hours we have.
Time Blocking Strategy
Having a loose schedule of how your day should go can help keep you on track to make the most of your time. Start by outlining things you know absolutely have to happen, including meals, errands, nap time, after school pick up, wake time, and bedtime. Be mindful to not over or underestimate how long it takes you to drive the kids to dance class.
Concrete Time Blocks vs Adjustable Time Blocks
Fill in times to work around the unmoveable tasks. Once you sign the dotted line, you can’t change what time dance or soccer is. But there is some adjustment for meals, chores, errands.
For example, out our house, practice starts at 4:30 and is 7 minutes away without traffic. But I stop work at about 3:45 to make sure the kid has had a snack and packed her stuff, to help with hair if needed, to grab a snack myself. We’re both less stressed and frantic, which also (usually) helps us get out the door on time.
After I’ve dropped her off, I’ve scheduled 15 or minutes to pick up the house, start a load of dishes, rotate laundry. I can get more done in those few minutes with no one home. And it helps my mental health to have a straightened up house when we get to the evening section of the schedule.
Filling Time Blocks
Sticking to a schedule lets you know what needs to be accomplished so you aren’t just winging it every day. In your work blocks, jot a note of what task you’ll work on it that time. So not only can you see how to fit in your work hours but also the actual things that need to happen. One block may be the time you answer emails and phone calls. One block could be when you work on a project.
Stick to Your Schedule
Schedules only work if you follow them. Once you set a schedule framework and put it into practice for a week or two, it’ll become automatic to know what’s happening when and what’s next. Having a clear plan and routine helps calm our nerves and brains.
What happens if you get off schedule or something urgent happens? It’s ok. Since you have the basic size and task lists for your “blocks”, it is much easier to make adjustments are necessary. These are not concrete blocks. As you get used to the schedule and as your work and life evolve, so will your blocks and routine.
Important Bonus Tip to Help Get Your Family On Board
Create physical copies of your schedule. Sit down with your family for an informal meeting. Show them the schedule, how their activities fit in, when it’s family time. Also, point out to them your work blocks and set expectations. “This block is a do not disturb block. You may knock on my door is it’s an absolutely, positively, legit emergency. Other than that, write it down and you can ask me later. This block is a flexible block where you can pop in for something quick.” Then post copies of your schedules in visible places around the house. This will help establish routines for your entire family. Knowing what’s coming helps everyone. As a work-at-home mom, your house is your office. Letting your “office mates” know what’s going on will go a long way to make things run smoother.
Work when you’re most effective
There’s a popular meme that asks if you are an early bird, a night owl, or an exhausted pigeon. Exhausted pigeons usually end up that way because they are trying to do all of the things, all of the day. Most people naturally fall into one category or the other.
The Early Birds Who Work Early Mornings
Some people are early risers, and like to get started the moment they jump out of bed. To be fair, not all “morning people” leap out of bed, ready to immediately conquer the world as Super Mom. But they do function better in the mornings, with more mental clarity, creativity, and focus. These work at home moms may find it best to wake up an hour before their children so they can get in some work before the day even begins for the rest of the family.
The Night Owls Who Work After Dark (and Bedtime)
Others may get more done once everyone is asleep at night and the house is quiet. This is me. My brain is sludge in the mornings. But once the sun sets, and especially when everyone’s gone to bed and the house is quiet, my brain is going 100mph. The trick to working from home at night is to make a firm time to “clock out”. It’s easy to get into a project and lose track of time with no interruptions. Make sure to stick to your time block for work AND for sleep!
If your kids are still around naptime age, take advantage of that time as well. To navigate time management for new moms, “sleep when the baby sleeps” is still important. You need rest! Don’t give in to the pressure or temptation to work every time your little one sleeps.
Pay attention to when you are most productive, and schedule your work time during that time frame. This ensures you are making the most of the time by working when your mind is clear and engaged. Being productive is like working double-time. You aren’t as distracted, and you get so much more accomplished. Working during your productive times is one of the best time management tips for moms!
Prioritize Your Work Tasks and Home Tasks
Just because you are keeping yourself busy doesn’t mean you are necessarily being productive or managing your time well. How many times have we been in constant motion, jumping from one thing to the next, only to stop at the end of the day and think, “Did I even get anything really done?”
Quality Over Quantity
Look at your schedule and figure out what needs to get finished TODAY. Narrow down the 3 most important tasks of the day. Focus on your most pressing tasks first, so you can knock them out.
How do you decide which work projects or tasks to make a priority?
Some factors to weight when deciding what makes the short list:
What work tasks or projects have a deadline?
Which action items are going to actually move your business forward?
Which activities are going to be “Income producing” activities? Make that money, ma’am!
Priorities are important. Even if you only get one big task done a day, that’s better than three not so important tasks. Anything else you get done on top of your priorities list is just a productivity bonus. Cha-ching!
Identify and Eliminate Distraction and Time-Wasters
Your phone dings. Next thing you know, you’ve been scrolling for an hour.
The worst thing you can do when you are a busy work at home mom is get distracted! This can throw off your entire schedule and end up with you wasting 2 hours on jumping from reel to reel or playing digital whack-a-mole “answering this real quick” while the laundry, dishes, and work deadlines are left looming over your head.
Do a Time Audit
“Where did the day go?!” To see where your time management for working at home needs improvement, you need to know what’s happening now… and not working. It’s hard homework and usually zero fun to dig into how you’ve been spending your time. But it’s necessary.
Either write down what you do and when you do it for every little task for a few days or use an app to track your activity. Be honest with yourself! No one else has to see it. Now look at the list and see what are your biggest time-wasters.
Knowing Is Half the Battle
Simply identifying where your time and energy is going can be a huge step to getting back on track. Once you identifying the activities, apps, games, phone calls that are likely to distract you, remove the temptation.
When you are working, close all social media and even turn off the TV.
Use free Google Chrome extensions to block your biggest time wasters, like social media.
Move apps that tend to suck you in to secure, hidden folders so you really have to work to get to it. Turn on “Do Not Disturb” on your phone and adjust your settings so only the truly important notifications catch your attention.
But What About My Job IN Social Media?
If you work in marketing or a job that requires you to look at social media, the struggle is real! Set timers for your social media research and scrolling time. Listen to music or a podcast that keeps you focused on the task at hand.
Work at Home Moms Deserve Recess, Too
Don’t burn yourself out, though. You should schedule breaks into your day and give yourself the freedom to enjoy these distractions during those times only.
Set a Timer
Challenge yourself to get things checked knock out your tasks efficiently by timing yourself. Within your schedule, you can create time blocks of 15 to 20 minute increments for work. Once the timer goes off, take a 5 minute break. Get up and move. Stretch, take a bathroom break, refill your water, maybe even grab a snack.
What can I do in 15 minutes that will move me the most?
You’ll soon find that working in these short stretches trains your brain to get more done in the same time than if you just sat down with no time limits to work. Play around with the length of time. Preference and productivity comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
Timers and alarms are always helpful for starting and stopping your time blocks. Don’t save them just for work hours. Use timers to help your children develop “time awareness” about how long different activities should take and actually do take.
Brain Dump Often
Sometimes it’s not our surroundings that make us unproductive, it’s our own minds. If you are juggling a huge mental load or a gazillion different things, it’s extremely hard to focus on one thing effectively.
On a regular basis, sit down and take at least 10 minutes to do a brain dump. Get all of your ideas, thoughts, feelings, and even to-do lists out on paper. If you journal, you may find it helpful to do this often. Want to start journaling? Check out So You Want to Start Journaling.
What am I forgetting?
When we have a lot going on, thoughts tend to get stuck on the “Don’t forget” treadmill and jam up moving forward. Simply writing it down tells your brain that that thought is safely recorded and helps release all the jumble your brain is trying to hang on to. Clearing the jam makes room for fresh, focused thought and is helpful for getting back on track.
On the flip side, writing everything down can help you spot patterns and inspire new ideas.
Enlist Help When You Need It
There’s still only 24 hours in a day. Sometimes, even with masterful time management and productivity, it isn’t enough to get everything done. There are so many things moms have to do to keep everything running smoothly for their work, their home, their family, themselves.
Do you know the one secret ingredient most Super Moms have in common? The ones who appear to have it all together while building an empire? They have help. They aren’t doing it all alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Ask or hire your family members or friends to watch your kids a few hours each week. Maybe you have a sibling or a cousin who’s interested in your side hustle and would love to help! A mother’s helper is another option, as they come to your home to watch your kids while you work undistributed. Tip for homeschooling moms – talk to a fellow mom about trading hang outs. One day the kids hang out at your house. One day they hang out at your friend’s house. If the kids are older and self-sufficient, you don’t have much extra work and your kiddo is occupied and having fun. If the kids are younger, make that day a “day off” from work to pull out the crafts and games and enjoy playing.
How often do you hear yourself saying, “never mind, I’ll do it myself”?
You have to let that go. It’s hard, I know. Oooooh how I know. Also remind yourself often that “your way” is not the only way for things to get done. Like loading the dishwasher like the Tetris champion that you are. The dishes will still get clean even if the plates are on the “wrong” side and the bowls are on top.
Delegate household chores to your partner and older children to free up time in your schedule.
And if your husband loads the dishwasher like he’s never taken geometry, bite your tongue and enjoy your clean dishes. (Can you tell what I struggle with yet?)
Helping out with things around the house teaches kids teamwork, responsibility, accountability, etc, in addition to taking a load off your plate.
Some tasks in your business can also be done with the help of your kids and partner.
Sometimes kids and even partners can feel like work is taking you “away” from them. Including your family in some work tasks and projects, when possible, safe, and responsible, can help improve your overall work-life balance as it helps them understand what you do and why you do it.
Setting a regular routine and list for chores is a time management for moms win by freeing up some of your time with the actual tasks and chores AND setting the expectations and responsibilities frees up the time and energy of deciding (and arguing about) who is going to do what.
Consider hiring a Virtual Assistant to help take some work tasks off your plate and free up time to work on big picture, CEO type projects. How much more money could you make working on growing your business in the few hours you spend each week doing administrative work?
What all can a VA do for you? There really isn’t much they can’t do. Different VAs usually specialize in different industries and tasks. Lake Murray AdminOwl has a list of services on her site that can give an idea of what all a VA can do for your business.
Another area to consider outsourcing is pay for housecleaning. It doesn’t hurt to get an estimate. It may fit better in your budget than you think.
Time Is Money.
Remember to Take Care of You, Too
It can be easy to look at your schedule and think about everything you need to do for your family and your job. However, you must include yourself when thinking about all the people that need your time, attention, and care.
Mothers should put self-care first on their list.
Schedule in some self-care time, whether it be a bubble bath, 15 minutes of sitting outside enjoying a cup of coffee each morning, or reading something (not work related) for 20 minutes each night. Get enough sleep!
When we’re tired, it’s harder to be organized and do things well.
You can’t manage your time efficiently if you are constantly running on empty.
Make sure you are happy and healthy the same way you make sure your family is. Sit down and eat when your family does, take rests and days off as you deem necessary. You need to recharge your batteries so that you can properly take care of the home!
Time Management as a Work at Home Mom is Manageable!
Time management for work at home moms isn’t as difficult once you have a solid schedule and routine in place. It just takes a bit of practice, patience, and diligence! What’s the one thing you can do this week that will get you on the path to making the most of your time and energy? If you have a great way you manage your time or make your days more productive, let us know here or on our Facebook page!