How to Stay Organized & Productive While Working at Home

~by Haley Lynn Gray~

When you started your business, you figured that you’d be able to have the best of both worlds: throw in a load of laundry between clients and do the dishes between conference calls. Now that you’ve been home for a while you’ve seen that it’s not possible to keep both the house and your business organized at the same time, while the laundry stays in the washer for days and the dishes are piling up.

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It’s actually far harder to keep organized working from home than at a traditional work environment since it’s inevitable that home life and work life will blend. While you need to find separate time to do your housework just as if you worked outside the home, staying organized while working at home can be easier if you keep these few tips in mind.

Create a To-Do List. To stay organized, making to-do lists is absolutely critical. It’s up to you when you make your lists, but you need to make about 20 minutes every day (either at the beginning of your day to review work that needs to be done (or do it the night before for the following day). The to-do list is a real, tangible reminder of what is on your agenda for the day and what needs to get done. Keeping this list in front of you throughout the day will help you stay on track.

Do One Thing at a Time. Even if you are a great multitasker, focusing on only one project at one time will ensure you are doing it well and effectively. If you are doing two projects, a blog, a Skype chat open with a client, and on a conference call all at the same time, you are not going to be doing your best at any of them. So, focus on just one thing so you produce quality work.

Be Sure to Take Breaks. It seems counterproductive to take breaks at home since you are self-employed and need to get as much work done as quickly as possible, you’ll find you’re most successful if you take small breaks throughout the day. It gives your brain a few minutes off from work-work-work, and can actually help with your energy, productivity and creativity. If it helps, add the breaks at specific times during each day to your daily schedule.

Don’t Touch That Housework. You put your bowl from your cereal into the dishwasher and notice all the other dishes in the sink, so you spend 15 minutes cleaning the kitchen. Then you notice you’re out of kitchen towels, so you think you’d better throw some laundry in the washer now before you forget, but then you see that your son’s soccer uniform is dirty, so you need to do that today, too. Before you know it, you’re in your child’s bedroom cleaning up, it’s 9:30 am, and you haven’t touched your work for the day.

You may have started out innocently doing housework, but over an hour has passed, and so did that urgent email from your client for a last minute adjustment to a project. It may make sense to do housework because you’re at home, but it’s easily the largest distraction of working at home. If you feel like you need to do housework, add it to your break times or do it before and after work.

Have Some Flexibility. You’ve followed the other suggestions and your work-at-home environment seems to be more organized and predictable, then all of a sudden your youngest child falls ill and needs to stay home from school. When you’re a work-at-home mom, this will happen and you’ll most likely be the one to take care of her. It’s up to you to figure out how to balance it all, and when days like this occur, you’re just not going to be as productive as you usually are. Adjust your to-do list for that day and the next accordingly – and realize that is one of the best parts of owning your own business. You can adapt your life around your family and work when your child is napping or in bed for the night.

What do you do to stay organized & productive while working from home? Let us know in a comment below!

 

Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray

Haley Gray
Haley Lynn Gray

Haley works with female entrepreneurs. The only problem? Many want their business to grow so that they can make money to pay the bills, send the kids to dance lessons, and be able to spend quality time with the kids.

Haley works with her clients to create a strategy plan for their business – so that they can make enough money to spend that quality time with their family, pay for their children’s lessons, pay bills, and not worry about where the next client is coming from.

Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She offers Business Coaching, Business Plan Development and Strategy Sessions for entrepreneurs. Whether you want to get a new business off the ground, or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.

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2 Comments

  1. Aleksandra | | Reply

    I really like this list, although in my case, housework activities can be really helpful. For an example, I tend to do some small housework around the house for 5 to 10 minutes, just to clear my mind off of work for a bit. It helps me a lot!

    • Susan McGuire | | Reply

      Hi Aleksandra, thanks for your comment. It sounds like you found a way to combine your “break” with housework. I also like to take housework breaks, not only for a mental break, but also so that I don’t sit at my computer for too long, and to get some physical activity. I also get up and stretch regularly.

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