While working from home offers several perks, such as time flexibility, it also comes with its own set of challenges. With household chores and parental duties disrupting work routines, it’s challenging to stay productive and accomplish work tasks for the day.
Fortunately, there are simple yet effective rituals that can help supercharge your productivity as a working mom.
Take a look at these helpful habits to stay productive and sane while working from home.
1. Nix the sleepwear
Pajamas and casual dresses are comfortable and convenient to wear, but donning sleepwear may keep you from being productive. While it’s unnecessary to dress as formally as you would for office, getting out of your sleepwear can make a huge difference.
It signals your brain to wake up, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.
However, it’s important to note that getting “dressed up” for work doesn’t just mean changing clothes. It also includes taking a bath or shower, fixing your hair, and getting your personal workspace ready. If you want, you can also wear light makeup to feel extra powerful.
Remember, this isn’t just about making you look more presentable. It will also help put your mind in work mode.
Besides, virtual meetings are common these days. You don’t want to look like you just got out of bed on camera.
2. Create a morning routine to recharge mentally
Moms, especially those who are nursing infants, don’t really get the best sleep. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation has negative consequences, including irritability, mood swings, and loss of concentration.
But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
If having sufficient hours of sleep seems unlikely given your mommy duties, establishing a morning routine might help.
Drink your favorite caffeine fix, be it coffee or tea, for that quick burst of energy. You should also warm up your brain with activities that hone your skills, like reading and watching tutorial videos.
While everybody else is asleep, try to squeeze some time for yoga or meditation to strengthen your focus and reduce stress levels. That, or go for a quick run or morning workout. Exercise increases endorphin levels and blood flow to the brain, boosting your mood and alertness.
3. Eat healthily
Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is crucial when you are a working mom. You need to choose food that will nourish you physically and mentally.
Take-outs are popular staples in an office lunch. But at home, you get the opportunity to prepare your food thoughtfully. Cook meals with healthy ingredients like lean meat, fish, leafy green veggies, and complex carbs.
Also, choose better snacks, such as fruits, nuts, whole grains, yogurt, and cheese. By being prudent with your food choices, you’re not only helping yourself — you’re feeding your family well, too.
4. Settle your children first
To say that it’s challenging to juggle work, home-keeping, and child supervision is putting it mildly. Children will likely seek your attention, especially when they know you’re around, so it’s essential to settle them first.
Make sure to fill your children’s cup after filling yours so that you can get things done with less distraction.
Before tackling your to-do for the day, give your kids some quality time and prepare everything they could possibly need.
If you have two or more kids — or infants that need more attention — consider hiring a babysitter. An extra hand can work wonders, especially if you have crucial tasks that need your undivided attention.
5. Set ground rules
Many people easily misunderstand remote working, particularly those who do not have firsthand experience.
Remember, working unsupervised doesn’t give you the green light to do whatever you want. Rather, it requires you to be responsible and disciplined enough to manage your own time and productivity.
So, it’s crucial to establish clear ground rules for you and your family members in the same household.
If you have older kids, use signals informing them that you are busy and cannot be disturbed. For example, leave a sign outside your door that says, “MOM IS WORKING” or “MEETING ONGOING.”
If you know your kids will find it hard to fight the urge to disrupt you, leave a chalkboard outside your door. Tell them to write down what they want to say, and reassure them that you’ll read it once you’re free.
This way, your children will not be burdened with trying to remember what they needed later. It will also help you better understand their needs, particularly the ones you’re not filling, and prepare for the next time.
6. Create a to-do list
It’s easy to get lost when you pile up responsibilities both at home and at work, so a to-do list comes in handy. Working from home means lessened supervision from your bosses, but this doesn’t mean they’re not keeping tabs on you and your productivity.
To-do lists give you an idea of whether you’re being productive or wasting time on non-essential activities. By listing down all your tasks for the day, it’ll be easier to manage your time and track your progress.
The trick is to categorize your tasks according to priority. Put crucial projects on the top of the list and work on them at the earliest possible time.
Then, designate more time for more complex tasks, and tackle the least essential activities last. Remember that remote work entails self-accountability, so prioritize and schedule your tasks accordingly to avoid further stress and problems.
7. Allocate time for household chores
Household chores are unavoidable when you’re working from home, so make room for them in your schedule. Once you’re done listing down all your critical work duties, make a list of your domestic responsibilities as well.
Plan your day’s activities thoughtfully, considering the amount of time each task requires to finish. Establishing a chore routine will help you run the house more efficiently.
Keeping things in order also prevents unrest at home, especially when you have kids. If you have too much on your plate, it won’t hurt to seek help from other family members. Your partner or older children may be able to help you with the household chores.
8. Take short breaks
It’s common to take breaks at the office to relax your mind, but it’s an entirely different structure at home.
Even when you’re supposed to have a break, you tend to keep yourself active and busy thinking about work.
Your break time often gets tangled with your tasks, increasing your stress levels. Sitting for hours on end also hurts your posture and increases your risk for back pain.
Don’t let stress get a hold of you and take your well-deserved recess.
A good strategy is to take 30-minute breaks after 90 minutes of work to refresh your mind and regain focus. In the meantime, you can have a light snack, listen to your favorite music, or have a power nap.
Whatever you do, keep your mind off work during designated break times.
If you experience back or leg pain, perform a couple of stretching exercises to loosen up tight muscles. You can also reduce or avoid these symptoms altogether by maintaining a proper sitting posture while working.
9. Engage with your colleagues
For many people, the lack of social interaction is enough to cause undue panic and anxiety. You get to mingle and socialize with people at the office, and the exact opposite is happening at home.
Remote working can get lonely, so you need to devise creative ways to stay engaged with your colleagues. Luckily, there are several video chat applications that teams use to interact with teammates virtually.
Participate in these sessions outside of regular meetings just to catch up with your friends. Keeping engaged with your teammates, even virtually, will help make you feel connected and prevent burnout.
10. Maintain a proper sleep schedule
It’s tempting to binge-watch your favorite shows at night, especially if you know you’ll just work from home tomorrow. But the thing is, this can greatly compromise your time for rest.
Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule is imperative if you want to perform at your best. It will give you more energy, put you in a better mood, and keep you productive the following day.
So, save the binge-watching for the weekend and establish bedtime routines that will help you doze off quickly. Start by setting an exact time for bed and try to get at least six hours of sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, avoid using your gadgets a few hours before your bedtime. You can also try yoga, meditation, or mindfulness activities to prepare your mind for rest.
Balancing work, housekeeping, and parenting can be a painstaking and draining responsibility. By establishing a sustainable routine, you can manage your days better, stay productive, and accomplish milestones.
Remember, working in less-than-ideal environments under challenging circumstances helps build resilience. Take this opportunity to grow as an independent professional and homemaker. You’ll be surprised at all the positive things these trying times can bring you.
About the Author
Catherine loves learning and is passionate about personal and professional development. She is the founder of Upskillwise and spends much of her time researching new skills and reviewing online courses. When she is not sitting at her desk, you can find her on her yoga mat, which is always the place she feels most inspired. You can follow her @upskillwise