It’s 1pm. My 3-year-old is down for her nap, although I can still hear her playing. The house is semi picked up, the dog is in his cage so he won’t eat a dozen tissues while I’m not watching, and my desk is clear for the moment. I make a cup of tea, sit down, and open up my planner to see what I have due soon.
5 minutes in, I hear a little voice. “Mama? MAAAAAMMMMMAAAAA?!” I get up. She wants her lovey. We search the house and find it. Back to bed and work.
The doorbell rings for UPS. The dog barks his head off while I try to quiet him before he wakes Bella up. Package in, dog calm. I’ve forgotten what I was doing and have to take a moment to remember what I was writing on.
My husband calls. “Do you know where my paperwork/card/hat/large camo thing is?” I search his side of the room looking for it and finally tell him I can’t find it. It’s ok, because it’s in his truck anyway. Back to work.
Someone tags me in a post on Facebook and as hard as I try to resist I have to click over. 15 minutes later I’m on a random blog reading a post and wondering what I was working on 9 tabs back. Bella has to potty. Which usually doesn’t include me except I forgot to empty it the last go round and now have to get up and do so. A friend texts. I get an email from an editor on a timely interview/post that needs to be taken care of.
Half a post in, Bella wakes up and that’s the end of getting any more done till this evening.
This used to be my life. Every day I’d struggle with finding just enough time to finish what I needed to without movie after movie being on, or working until late in the night. It rarely looks like this anymore, so I’ll tell you what I found that helps me focus on working from home:
- Don’t work from home. Well, lol, at least a portion of the time you should try to leave. Whether you take your at-home kids to a Mom’s Day Out or hire a sitter for just one morning a week, leave the house to work. It’s amazing how much I can get done in 3 solid, uninterrupted hours while Bella has the undivided attention of our beloved sitter.
- Turn off the “extras.” This one kills me, but I simply can’t see this: (1) in a tab for Twitter/Facebook/email and not click. I have to close the tabs while I work.
- Plan your days carefully. If the thought of plopping your kid(s) in front of a movie while you work makes you twitchy, but you have to get things done, plan the time before and after to get them out and moving. Less guilt, more productivity. Finding Nemo for the 25th time never killed anyone.
- Crockpot on busy days. If prepping or making dinner seems to throw a wrench in your afternoon, set aside the days you have to work a while as crockpot days. Throw it all in during the morning, and you’re done. No looking up at 3pm to realize the chicken isn’t thawed.
- Minimize chaos. We have a saying that, “Everyone takes a rest every day. Period.” This means I get down time to work, Bella goes in her room, the dog goes to his cage, and things shut down for a couple of hours. We can do this if we spend a good portion of the morning outside or at least 30-45 minutes before lunch getting a little sunshine. If it’s nasty cold, do a dance party inside or something to get them moving and ready to spend some quiet time alone.
- Prep your own time. When you’re done working, set up for the next time. Put your planner where you can find it, charge your computer, clean up your desk and sort papers. It will save you precious minutes the next time you’re working, and creates a space where it’s comfortable to work instead of another cluttery mess you have to look at.