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If you’re anything like me, you spent much of your summer stealing time to get work done as you balanced time with the kids and building a business! You envisioned the day when the kids would head back to school, and you could finally accomplish everything on your to-do list. You thought that the back-to-school season would make it a breeze to maximize productivity and get #allthethings done.
And then it happened. The kids headed back to school, you got to work, and you still couldn’t catch up! You tried to accomplish everything and somehow seemed to fall further behind.
How could this be? What was wrong? How could you get ahead of home and business responsibilities and best maximize productivity while the kids were in school?
I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to constantly try to play catch-up. And that’s why I’m sharing my top five ways for work-at-home moms (or dads) to maximize productivity during the school day!
How to Maximize Productivity as a Mom
My most important responsibilities are to my family. While I am working to grow my business to benefit our whole family, I have to make sure that I get everything finished that needs to be accomplished for our home. My husband and I also want to make sure that we are teaching our boys the skills they need to be successful later in their lives.
To accomplish these things, one way I maximize productivity is to involve everyone in maintaining the home. We work together to clean the house so I do not have to spend the entire school day cleaning. The boys (ages 3 and 5) are responsible for picking up their toys. They also help do their laundry and put it away. We have them help with meal prep and clean-up. When our whole family works together, the chores get finished much more quickly than when I try to do them all myself. Plus, they’re learning skills that they’ll use throughout their lives. It’s a productivity win and parenting win!
Another thing I do to be more productive as a mom is meal planning and prep. I spend time each weekend figuring out what meals we will eat during the week, making the grocery list, and grocery shopping. When I’m on top of things, I love to do a batch of freezer meals, so all I have to do is pull the food out of the freezer the night before. Then I throw it in my Crock-Pot or Instant Pot, and dinner is done. If you are looking to get started with freezer meals, my friend Mary Ellen of Milk and Honey Nutrition has a few ebooks for sale. You can check them out here. There are also tons of blogs on the topic. If you’ve never done a batch of freezer meals, it will truly change your life!
How to Maximize Productivity at Home
Working at home can be a challenge. It is so easy to get distracted! I will get up to walk to a different room for a quick errand and find something else that I HAVE to do immediately (like organize the silverware drawer??) By the time I get back to work, it’s been an hour and I didn’t even do the errand that sent me into the other room in the first place!
One thing I do to maximize productivity is set a daily schedule. My three-year-old son goes to a Mother’s Day Out program from 9-1, so those are my working hours. I do not use that time for housework. I don’t run errands during that time. I use my weekly Trello board (you can grab a FREE copy here!) to put that schedule in writing. I love to be able to check things off my list as I complete them, so my errands go into the personal or home times and my work items get laid out in my work time. As I complete them, I check them off with the Tasks for Trello Chrome extension. Between the time I get back from dropping off my son at school until I leave to pick him up, I only work on my business schedule items.
Another thing I do to maximize productivity when I’m working at home is to use a designated workspace. I do not have an office, so my desk is in our formal living room. Our house is not huge, so the other end of the living room/ dining room combination is our sons’ playroom. I have my desk facing the wall, so I am focused on working. I do not look at the toy room, because I don’t want the disorganized toys on the shelves to distract me. I am in there to work, so I work!
How to Maximize Productivity in a Small Business
As a small business owner, you are responsible for all areas of your business. It’s not like traditional jobs where you become an expert in one area and that’s what you spend 95% of your day doing. For me, this means that I can easily get distracted and work on lots of things, but I accomplish next to nothing!
One way that I’ve found to prevent that and maximize productivity for my business is to do batch work. I am definitely most effective when I focus on one task at a time and complete several of that task. I set aside specific days to complete batches of the tasks I have to do for my business. I use one day a week to batch schedule Pinterest pins for the Pinterest accounts for which I am responsible. I create any graphics I need on one day. All of my writing for my emails and posts also happens all at once. I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical of the idea of batch scheduling at first, but it really does increase my productivity!
A second thing that I do to maximize productivity for my small business is to clearly define systems. It’s much easier to repeat processes over and over when I have clearly defined what they entail and I can easily access all of the information that I need to have to complete my tasks. For my blog process, client onboarding, and expenses, I use Trello boards for my systems. You can read more about those boards here. For my Pinterest tasks, I use Tailwind for scheduling pins, Canva for design work, and Google Drive for maintaining client information. All of these different systems work together to help me get the most done in the few hours I have during the school day.
Additional Ways to Maximize Productivity
Here are some additional tips to maximize productivity, whether you’re a Work-at-Home mom or not!
- Get away from the phone – This is a challenge for me! When I’m working, my phone is in the other room. I have the ringer on so I can answer the phone, but I try not to have it by me while I’m working.
- Don’t multitask – I close all of the windows on my laptop except for the one I’m working on. This helps me focus on the task at hand.
- Set a timer – I use the Pomodoro technique while I work. I use the timer on my microwave for tracking my time, so I have to get up to turn it off! If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro technique, you can read about it here.
- Move your body – I have so much more focus and energy for work when I am active! I wear a fitness tracker to make sure I’m getting in the movement I need to stay healthy. I use my break times to walk or jog around the house (my kitchen island is a great track 😉).
- Drink plenty of water – I am a water fanatic, and it makes such a huge difference in how I feel. I have a 32 oz bottle that is with me at all times. I drink the water while I’m working, which encourages me to move my body (previous tip) during my breaks because I have to pee! #tmi #sorry
There you have my top 11 tips to maximize productivity during the school day. These tips have helped me find the time I need to work my small business. I hope they can do the same for you. To help you with this, I created an infographic with all my tips. Click on the image below to grab it now or subscribe in my sidebar to get it in pink!
What about you? Do you have other tips to share with fellow work-at-home small business owners? Please share them below or on my Facebook page!
Until next time,