Instead of Puttering From Home

Twice in two days I was chatting about working from home with two moms. They lamented how I've felt so much - when they get uninterrupted time it's usually when the kids are asleep and they're exhausted. And when they do finally get in front of the computer they are overwhelmed with what to do first. So they wind up puttering around the house doing the morning's dishes or throwing in a load of laundry and all of a sudden it's already lunch time.

I know exactly how they feel. I have been there. But in the past few years with a mixture of discipline, an online course on productivity, and a book about time management for working moms I've been empowered to be able to feel like when I sit down at the computer I'm actually moving forward and accomplishing my goals.

I Block It Out

About two years ago I took a course with Chris Brogan at Owner Media where he mentioned breaking the day up into blocks. And then slotting in what tasks you had to do into certain blocks. He recommends twenty minutes blocks, but for some reason or other, forty-five makes sense to me. So I look at my time in 45 minute increments.

Since I consider social and digital media to be my job, this past September I realized I had to be as strict with my time as I would be if I were going to an office. So I took a look at a typical week and carved out a template of thirty-two blocks. This gives me twenty-four hours each week of work time and still leaves space to play with my three year old, deal with the plumber, and cook dinner. So that's thirty-two forty-five minute blocks which add up to twenty-four hours. Which is a lot of math for this girl with a BFA in Drama.

On Sundays I look ahead at the week and make sure that I have my thirty-blocks allotted for. If the kids are on a break from school, it means that I might have to work more in the late evenings. Note: In the summertime I pretty much work every night from 8-11. I can't stand it, but i do it. If my husband is in town, I might ask him to put the kids to bed so I can make up a couple of extra blocks.

Maximizing My Creative Time

Some tasks are more creative, some tasks are more mundane. All tasks have to get done.

At night, I take a look at my schedule and plan to do the creative stuff in the mornings when I am at my freshest. Mindless tasks I'll schedule for the end of the day which works best when kid-induced fatigue sets in. I don't know why it took me about two years to figure out this simple task, but I'm assuming it's because I was too exhausted to have the clarity.

FYI: I don't check email in my first block. I don't even have a block for checking email. I check email throughout the day. Any emails that I haven't read in thirty days go into a folder and get deleted.

What Works For You?

Since I'm a bit obsessed with time management and productivity I'd love to hear what's working for other work-at-home moms. Tweet at me: @annieschiff.