Managing time as a Work-from-home mom

Managing time as a Work-from-home mom

November 15th was my last post here. Wait, how did that happen? I thought I’d committed to writing a post a week?  Well, as it turns out, life came in the way, but I think what is more important and more true is the fact that I didn’t really manage my time very well.

Those who know me very well are gasping in disbelief, because everyone knows I am a tad annoying when it comes to deadlines and schedules. I positively turn into the Incredible Hulk if people don’t reach on time, leave on time, submit assignments on time or basically do anything on time.

Over the last 6 months (yes, I officially completed 6 months at my job today!), I’ve been juggling a full-time work-from-home job, three blogs, housework, chores, social media, bringing up my daughter, getting sucked into the vortex of homework, exams, assignments and projects and just barely managing to squeeze in some time for exercise. Oh, I’ve also been working on my memoir! Whew, that sounds like a lot when you see it all together, right?

That picture below just about says what my brain must look like on any given day; not a pretty picture, you’ll admit.

What changed, you ask? Nothing whatsoever. I am still that green monster, but there’s a trick I’ve learnt  which I am dying to share with you all, so here goes. 

There was this beautiful quote I read somewhere and  I am not sure who said it first: ‘You can’t manage time; you can only manage yourself.~ Unknown’

Suddenly, my entire paradigm shifted. I had been trying to bend time to fit my schedule when it should have been the other way around. Why didn’t I see this earlier? Such an epiphany, isn’t it?

Knowing that I have an obsession with time, it only made sense that I turned this into something productive and to my advantage. I’ve got a thing for checklists, to-do lists, schedules, planning and detail. It’s what inspires my work ethic and my personal comfort. (It’s an entirely different matter that I drive people up the wall with my insistence on order, but that’s besides the point.)

So a few days ago, I sat down and physically wrote down the various things that go into a normal workday. Now, based on the work you do this can vary significantly, but just go with me on the principle.

Managing time as a work from home mom

My daily tasks include:

  1. Working on my book
  2. My job
  3. My blogs
  4. Social media presence for work
  5. Social media presence for myself
  6. Cooking
  7. Housework
  8. Errands
  9. Exercise
  10. Time with my daughter
  11. Reading a book
Now, these are not in order of importance. What really matters is how I intended to carve out specific times of the day for each task. Given that some tasks will take longer than others, it helps to budget for extra time.
My day begins at 4.30 am. Some days, laziness kicks in and it is 5 am before I drag myself out of bed, though. So I start with what I feel would be the best at 5 am: Writing a few pages of my memoir. The stillness of the morning is very conducive to thinking and I find my fingers flying faster than they do at any other time of the day/night.
This is followed by chores and getting the kid ready for school. Soon after she’s left, I catch a bite to eat and then settle down to work. Work takes up a couple of hours, maybe more on some days. I then take a break to go for a walk and purchase some items from the grocery store. Not buying everything at once helps, since this means I get to walk every single day to the store. If I get a break, I spend it on social media time for work and intersperse it with personal social media time.
The afternoon is when I feel the most sluggish and unproductive, so I don’t force it and give myself over to either a quick snooze or just watch some TV to unwind. Once Gy is back home from school, I devote my time to her needs: homework, food, incessant chatter and more.
Dusk is when I go out for another walk and follow it up with a light dinner, some reading of blogs, replying to comments and wind down with a book before bed. I’ve stopped staying up late these days and most nights, I am in bed by 10.15 or earlier.
Obviously, this is not an iron-clad schedule. Some things or most of it will change given any single day. Five key tips that can help are:
  • Use a diary/planner to work out your important tasks for the day ahead.
  • Keep your phone in another room when you are working/writing.
  • Set a timer for social media and log off resolutely when the time is up.
  • Do not look at any screens, phones or tablets, before bed. Read a book and let the body relax naturally. You’ll sleep better.
  • Tell yourself that you cannot do it all on any given day. Let go of the guilt.
Do you manage time or manage yourself?
What do you find is the most time-consuming activity in your day?
Do share your thoughts.
*Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock

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35 thoughts on “Managing time as a Work-from-home mom

  1. Planning my tie is something I seriously need to work upon. Each day I have so many tasks left over that spill onto the next day and upset all my plans. Planning in writing sounds like a great idea.
    PS: I think you have 48 hours in your day.

  2. In spite of the concise breakup of your day Shailaja, here I am sitting wide-eyed and wide-mouthed in amazement. Thank you for those great time-management suggestions and tricks of the trade. I definitely need to work through my day to be able to write more. 🙂

  3. I've been pretty decent with time management this year with new things happening!
    But, I didn't factor in any time to write and so the blog suffered 🙁
    But, I have made adjustments and I hope that I don't neglect my blog or my stories in 2016 🙂

  4. Seeing it all down on paper really helps. I actually tick things off when I complete them, even simple tasks like 'Buy groceries' or 'Pay the electricity bill online' or 'Pick up stationery for Art project'. It's an ideal personal reward system that kicks off productivity.

    Of course I don't have 48 hours, although think how much more stress that would add to our lives. Phew, 24 is fine, thanks 😉

  5. You're welcome, EM. I know it seems like a lot to do in one day and most days I do feel overwhelmed. But I think letting go of the stress really helps. Plus you're free to work things out according to your schedule. Look forward to reading more of your blog soon 🙂

  6. So glad to hear you've made adjustments, Pixie! Yes, I think I haven't done much justice to this blog either, thanks to writing and blogging elsewhere and with the memoir as well. Some planning goes a long way, I find. Really hope this schedule works. So far, it has, so I am grateful 🙂

  7. I have sort of worked out schedule for my day with trial and error. It works well most days except when kids are home on a working day. Good tips there. It always helps to write it down and look at what are the chores one needs to get done in a day to plan better. I also plan my menus. I have to pack 4 dabbas for the kids in the morning and also plan for an evening snack apart from the two meals. Talk about time management. 🙂 I think I manage both myself and time. 😉

  8. Earlier, I was quite the lazy bones. However now, I have brought about some fresh changes in my life and schedule. But, at times, I know it is not enough. I liked your idea of setting a timer for the time spent on social media for ourselves. That will definitely help make precious time for more important things!

  9. I can completely relate to this. Over the last few months, I have felt the need for time management more than ever, and paper planners are my way of keeping my sanity. Also while to-do lists work for me, I need to get better at making realistic to-do lists. 😛

  10. Yes, kids at home on a working day can throw the schedule off a bit. I love writing it all down, so comforting, isn't it? I also prioritise based on urgency of a task. We also need to reply to e-mails and generate content from contributors, so that takes up time as well. Forgot to add that in the post 😉 Yay for you. I know you manage well 🙂

  11. I think one of the biggest time sucks is social media, especially when we spend time scrolling mindlessly. It helps if we can clearly allocate cut off times for that. I find that it greatly helps minimise time spent online yet increase productivity for our blogs/work.

  12. Awed and tongue-tied dear lady! Some great person has said, 'Only the busy find time for everything'! You fully justify that statement. Time-management is not one of my fortes…more likely a bane in my case. I totally lose track of it, when I get involved in work. Your post was a rap on the head, to start planning and managing my time more conciously and effectively. That said, I still think you are one superwoman to pack so much into 24 hours!

  13. I honestly feel that I actually waste a lot of time, especially when I scroll up and down the FB feed. I have to consciously move away and not get sucked in. I still want to devote some time to singing, prayer and meditation. Must try to do that somehow. Hope this helps, Kala 🙂

  14. Always welcome, Michelle 🙂 Such a very delightful pleasure seeing you on the blog! I think for most of us it is social media and the 'fear of missing out' that rules the roost. Once we let go of that and accept that it works as an enabler and not a crutch, we do far better in terms of time management.

  15. You wake up at 4.30 am? Get out now. We are no longer friends 😛

    I am so not a morning person. I wake up by 7-8, cook breakfast and lunch, pack two dabbas, clean the house and go to work. At work I seem to manage time beautifully and get quite a lot done in the 8 hours that I'm there. Once back home its about making evening snacks, dinner, washing, cleaning etc. I think I manage myself pretty well with the time I have. But the thing that troubles me the most is the choice between reading or writing. An hour to spare and I'm not sure how to fit in both. Maybe someday I shall ace this as well.

    But then again if I have kids, let's forget all that I said above 😛

  16. I am most certainly managing myself 🙂 because I was forced to. I think as the chores/jobs add up, it is natural to feel overwhelmed – but one thing I've found that has worked for me is – resolutely go for a walk – it really clears the mind and puts things in perspective. And focus only on what I'm doing – not multi-task. Oh deviations do happen, but things largely work out. I've also learned to let go of expectations from people, and that has been a major relief.

    Good luck to you in all that you do, SuperWoman! Looking forward to your memoir! Love & hugs

  17. He he he, I know. I used to stay up late and was almost always a night owl, especially through school and college. But that had to change because I started suffering from severe insomnia and sleep deprivation juggling too many things. Your schedule sounds way more packed than mine and with a full-time job I am sure it is extremely challenging!

    I think if you can balance reading one day and writing the next, it may help you out. You can always experiment for a week and figure it out.

  18. Yes, completely agree on the single-pointed focus. That has helped me immensely. I stopped multi-tasking and turned my attention to the current task at hand. It's worked very well 🙂

    Thanks for the wishes, Vidya. Hope the memoir is done soon 🙂

  19. I was waiting to read this at leisure and managed to just now :). First of all CONGRATS on the 6 months, the time has just flown by!!
    I love the quote, seems totally the way to go for trying to schedule our crazy days! Thanks for sharing your ephipany with us, Shailaja :).

  20. It's uplifting, both the quotation and your post. Time management is crucial, and difficult. When you work from home, you tend to take yourself for granted. Not valuing the work-time and discipline. We (And family too) need to understand that work is work, no matter if we are handling it from home. After all we have advantage of being at home and take care of everything when (actually) needed.

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