If you’re wondering how to be more efficient as a mom who works from home, this post is for you. It explores the importance of giving yourself a break and highlights 23 tips that I’ve used to increase my productivity.
- Talk to Your Partner
- Make Lists
- Find Ways to Be Active
- Lean on Your Tribe
- Invest in Help
- Prioritize a Healthy Diet
- Don’t Neglect Sleep
- Use Technology
- Celebrate the Wins
- Focus on the Most Important Clients/Jobs
- Work in Batches
- Give Yourself a Night Off
- Plan Something to Look Forward To
- Encourage Self-Play
- Stick to Your Guns
- Make Your Workspace as Productive as Possible
- Be Transparent with Clients
- Get Hands-Free Headphones
- Start the Laundry (and set a timer to move it!)
- Avoid the Comparison Game
- Don’t Be Afraid to Take Your Baby to a Meeting
- Cook for Leftovers
It doesn’t matter how many moms you talk to and articles you read — somewhere in the back of your mind, you think you’ll be able to do it all. Raise the baby. Run the business. Maintain friendships (in-person). Stay-in-shape. Cook dinner. Fold laundry. Clean the house. Be a good wife.
Want to know my secret to doing it all? I don’t.
And the days when I try, are the days when I fail miserably. Momma — you are not a failure if you feel like you’re never getting it all done.
Is your baby fed, clothed, and generally happy? Then you’re succeeding. Are you fed, clothed, and generally happy? Then you’re a rockstar.
It is completely unreasonable to think you’ll bring home the bacon, change the diapers, keep the house, and meet all your personal goals. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day or hands attached to your body.
Literally, as I typed that last bit into my phone one-handed, I wrangled a garden shoe from my baby’s mouth. And inevitably — I will do so at least five more times while we take these precious moments to get out of the house and sit on the deck.
In my fear of losing myself, I set some personal goals. I knew they were big. But, I took great comfort in setting them and working towards them. In achieving them.
One of those goals was to publish two blog posts a month — every month.
I published zero posts in July.
The excuses I have for ‘failing’ range widely — from work to personal. And while I can ‘justify’ why I came up short, the reality is — I came up short. Here’s the other reality: for the first seven months of Pepper’s life — I met that goal. I published at least two posts a month, while working full-time(ish) and raising a baby with hardly any help.
Momma, sometimes those personal goals are going to need to take a backseat. That doesn’t make you a failure. That makes you human. And, in my humble opinion, that makes you strong.
Because sometimes, putting your goals second (or last) is what it takes to put your family’s needs first. And oh, how HARD that is. How insanely difficult it is to want a thing, work on a thing, and put it aside.
So now that we talked about the strength it takes to not get it all done — let’s discuss some strategies that can help you be as productive as possible.
23 Habits, Tips & Productivity Hacks to Being an Efficient Work-from-Home Mom
1. Talk to Your Partner
This is huge. This is also easier said than done. And if I’m being 100-percent transparent, for me this meant reaching a breaking point. It’d be nice to tell you that we sat down over a glass (or two) of wine and discussed how I was struggling and how I needed help.
The truth is less attractive. It might be for you two. But when the conversation comes — have it. Snuggle in real close. Be honest. Look for solutions. Let your partner be your partner.
2. Make Lists
But lately, what I’ve loved most is how lists help me prioritize what’s important. I tend to put EVERYTHING on my list. This helps me take stock of all I do — reinforcing my sense of self-worth.
It also helps with time management, because it lets me identify the things I must do. This helps me understand and be realistic about what I can do. Baby necessities come first — always. Then work deadlines.
Fun family outings. Personal goals. Get-togethers with friends. These all have to take a backseat. And that’s hard. But that’s the season of my life right now. And a list let’s me see why that’s happening.
3. Find Ways to Be Active
Nothing has been more essential to my mental health than being physically active. This doesn’t look like it used to. Lifting. Basketball. Hard cardio. Hot yoga. These are all things that are pretty hard to do while juggling a baby. And as a stay at home mom who’s also trying to find to run a small business, I can’t use nap time to workout. I have to work.
So for now — being active and working out has required finding new ways. It means being creative and adapting to my constantly changing circumstances.
Initially, I did dance workouts. For a while, Pepper was happy in our Hop Skip and I could ride the elliptical and do squats.
In the recent months, my workouts have shifted to hiking while babywearing in my Osprey Poco Plus. I’ve also started incorporating a lot of band work, which I can do intermittently during self-play.
Working out with a baby is the perfect solution for new moms who want to get their body moving. This post includes an upbeat baby workout playlist, exercises to do while holding a baby, and workout moves to keep your baby entertained.
4. Lean on Your Tribe
I can’t say this enough — lean on your tribe. Whether your people have babies or not, those friendships are essential. Sure, staying in touch probably won’t look like it used to. Pandemic aside, girls dinners, happy hours, and even walking dates are just harder with a babe.
Keep trying. There are so many ways to stay connected. FaceTime. Text messages. Social media. Emails. Phone calls! Those relationships are gold. Don’t neglect them.
Even when you don’t feel like it, put your hands on your belly, take a big breath and laugh. Let it roll out of you. Let the smile wash across your face.
This is something I forced myself to do when I started taking lots of self-portraits. And I noticed a personal shift. Each time I laughed — even when it was forced — my mood improved.
The experience has made me firmly believe that laughter is a miracle medicine. It improves your mood, which improves your productivity.
6. Invest in Help
Delegating simply piles my sh*t on someone else.
Is there anything wrong with someone else doing some of my tasks? Absolutely not. I just think we should all acknowledge the act of delegating for what it is — help.
And help is rarely free.
That’s really my issue with the idea of ‘delegating.’ There’s this idea that delegating lets you can shift the work with zero cost to you. Even if you’re asking your partner to take on some new responsibilities — there’s a cost to that. It might not be monetary in value. But there’s still a cost.
I think it’s also important to note that ‘help’ isn’t always investing in manpower. ‘Help’ can be tools — physical and digital. Here are four of the ‘tools’ that may help you be more productive:
1. Robotic Vacuum
These AWESOME vacuums can be programmed to clean your floors and put themselves away. We haven’t bitten the bullet on one just yet, but it’s going to be my next big purchase!
This simple change to your shower routine is HUGE! IT can substantially cut down on how frequently you need to deep clean your shower. (We use a DIY version: 1 part vinegar + 2 parts water + 6-7 drops essential oil.)
3. Photo Sharing App
Grandparents and friends are likely to want pictures and video updates of your little on the regular. Texting, emailing or snail-mailing pictures to loved ones can be time-consuming. A photo-sharing app (like a shared Apple photo album) allows you to quickly and easily share with everyone — in a more private format than social media.
4. Work Tools
I’m a cheapskate. And in some ways, this has served me well. In other ways, I look at the cost of a lot of digital work tools, gulp, and go on with my DIY self. (I’m still using the same accounting spreadsheet I built in 2011!)
BUT…I have also learned since having Pepper how investing in the right tools (even if they’re expensive) can make me much for profitable.
For example, SEMRUSH starts at $1,200 a year. It’s made me more than 2-times more efficient at SEO research and optimization — which is essential to my job. In one month, the time saved paid for the whole year’s subscription!!!
It’s taken some creativity, a lot of coffee, and some fabulous tips from fellow mommas — but I’ve cobbled together a collection of solid strategies for how to work from home while raising a baby. So pull on your leggings. Grab your coffee. We’re doing this thing.
7. Prioritize a Healthy Diet
But, I have become acutely aware of how my diet impacts my immune system. When my eating isn’t 80 percent(ish) on track, I’m much more prone to be sick.
As a momma — nothing kills my productivity more than being under the weather. Baby girl does not understand sick days.
8. Don’t Neglect Sleep
9. Use Technology
Right now, I’m sitting in my living room. Pepper is playing with a toy and looking at the shadows she’s casting on the wall. And, I’ve outlined this entire piece and drafted over half of it — from my phone.
While not every task can be done from a personal device (like a phone or tablet), a lot can. That’s one of the beauties of technology. Take stock of what you can do from your phone during spare minutes and save those tasks.
Resist the urge to surf Facebook and Instagram during the times. Get some work done.
One app I really love for this is Google Docs. Unlike Apple Notes, Google Docs tracks your version history — so if you accidentally delete your work, there’s still a record of it. LIFESAVER!
10. Celebrate the Wins
Did two sets of leg raises? WIN!
The ‘piddlyshit’ of living (as my mom likes to call it) takes time and can so often be overlooked. It shouldn’t be! Celebrate it. It’s a win!
11. Focus on the Most Important Clients/Jobs
Only you can ultimately determine what criteria you use. But no matter how you slice it — you only have so much time. So make sure you’re putting it where it needs to be.
12. Work in Batches
I used this philosophy on and off for years — I don’t know why! Because when I implement it, I’m EXPONENTIALLY more efficient. Working piecemeal, one tiny bit of a project here, another tiny bit of a project there, means constantly having to adjust my mental status and get up to speed.
Working in batches lets me eliminate this ‘getting up to speed’ time so I can knock a tone of work out in one sitting.
13. Give Yourself a Night Off
In order for your brain to fire on as many cylinders as possible, it needs a break. Give yourself a night off. You’ll be shocked at how much more you get done when you do work.
14. Plan Something to Look Forward To
And that monotony can weigh on you mentally. One way to break from the status quo is to literally break from it. Plan something fun. This might include:
- Driving to the beach for the day.
- A picnic in a new park.
- Virtual cocktails with a friend.
- An actual vacation.
- Walking with a mom friend.
- Getting a cup of coffee, from a coffee shop.
15. Encourage Self-Play
It’s something I worked really hard to encourage. It has meant watching her play during her lost fun and happy times, by herself, and not engaging with her. It’s meant letting her struggle, when she can’t quite reach something. And, it’s meant having to ask family who do visit to do the same — which can be very difficult for grandparents.
16. Stick to Your Guns
Will they get it right away? No. But at the most basic level, a baby is an animal. They respond to negative and positive feedback. They will also keep testing your limits.
Stick to your guns. Don’t want the baby playing with dog toys? Then every time they do, you need to stop them. Don’t want them chewing on shoes? You need to stop them.
17. Make Your Workspace as Productive as Possible
When I finally plugged that baby in, I realized I was the crazy one. That extra screen makes me WAY more productive. The ability to see multiple documents and/or web windows at once cuts down on constantly clicking between the two
18. Be Transparent with Clients
That being said, tiny humans are unpredictable. Being transparent with your clients about realistic deadlines and any hiccups that arise helps build trust.
19. Get Hands-Free Headphones
Trying to hold a phone can be difficult. So too is keeping a baby from grabbing wired headphones.
Hands-free headphones (like AirPods) make it easier to juggle a baby and a call. I’ve taken more than one client call this way. One thing I always try and do though, is mention that we have a ‘helpful’ assistant present so folks know I’m also juggling Pepper.
This can help them be understanding of any background noise. It also reinforced that I’m working really hard to help them while also taking care of a small human — a fact which is even more important to remind them of during the COVID pandemic when childcare options are limited (at best).
You grow this baby and the entire time people open doors, carry bags, and insist you cut to the front of the bathroom line. Then you pop the sucker out and suddenly everyone’s focused on those 10 tiny toes and perfect little nose. And what you really need…is to be loved on.
20. Start the Laundry (and set a timer to move it!)
Raise your hand if you’ve had to re-wash a load in the last week because you forgot it was in the washer?!?! This used to happen to me all the time. Not only is this a waste of time, it’s a waste of resources.
To cut down on this avoidable (but understandable) hiccup, I’ve started to set a timer on my phone. It’s surprisingly easy to ignore the beeping washing machine. I have a hard time ignoring my phone alarm.
21. Avoid the Comparison Game
It’s said that envy is the thief of all joy. For me, this has proven true. Especially when things are hard, seeing other women apparently be so effortlessly happy and put together just drags me down further.
Social media is often the biggest culprit of this. So to avoid the trigger, I simply mute accounts that I notice are making me yearn for a ‘different life.’ When I’m in a better place, I unmute them. But until then, why take the extra punishment? Especially when those ladies are probably facing their own struggles!
22. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Your Baby to a Meeting
I have clients who want (and expect) face-to-face meetings. I don’t have a fairy godmother or stand-by nanny. Pepper comes with me. I tend to wear her, which keeps my hands free and her (mostly) happy.
PLEASE NOTE: During COVID, you should never feel like you have to take a face-to-face meeting, whether you have a baby or not. That being said, I have done a few interviews outdoors while wearing Pepper. I felt completely safe and having her in my Osprey Poco Plus meant that she couldn’t wander over and touch people she shouldn’t.
23. Cook for Leftovers
Hands down, the best way to reduce this time (without shelling out tons of money on pre-made meals) is to cook extra. Leftovers are gold! I almost always try and have one dinner feed us twice, cutting my time spent on feeding the family in half.