Research shows that working from home is more productive than working in an office, but it’s does have it’s challenges. This is especially true if you have kids at home while you’re working.
One of the biggest productivity inhibitors is context switching. Context switching refers to the significant amount of time it takes for your mind to “readjust” when you switch from one task to another. Consider all the interruptions work at home moms face: our children’s needs, email and social media, and household emergencies are constantly calling for our attention. Because work at home moms wear many different “hats,” it’s easy to see how switching between different kinds of tasks happens all the time.
Related: How to Say “NO” with Grace
You can minimize context switching by:
- Focusing on one task at a time. Multitasking might seem more productive, but it’s actually putting you in a near-constant state of context switching. Research actually shows that less than 3% of people can actually multitask effectively.
- Batch similar kinds of tasks together. For example, if you have a specific day of the week when your children have other care, you might schedule all of your most focused work on that day. Shopping and running errands can be done in one afternoon rather than on separate days. You could try cooking several days worth of meals at once to save cooking time during the rest of the week. You can reduce your time spent context switching dramatically by scheduling your tasks this way.
- Minimize distractions. Turn off your phone notifications when you’re doing work that requires focus. Turn off the TV and radio – if you like to listen to music, something without lyrics will be less distracting. Make sure your family knows that when you are working, they shouldn’t interrupt you unless it’s an emergency. You can establish a “signal” that means “No Interruptions.” For example, close the door to your office, wear headphones, or hang up a sign.
- Automate whatever you can. Scheduling your blog and social media posts allows you to write a lot of content once and schedule it out for the next several days, weeks, or months. Whether you use software or delegate tasks to someone else, you’ll be spending less time getting in and out of a “flow” for that activity.
A common problem for work at home moms is balance. When it’s impossible to physically separate work and home, it’s easy to fall into a trap of constantly thinking about what you “should” be doing instead. You can avoid this line of thinking if you stop feeling like you should do everything yourself.
- Require your family to do their part around the house. Even young children can help with household chores. A family can create a lot of dirty dishes and laundry, but the old saying is true: many hands make light work.
- Have a workspace with a door. Even if you don’t work there all the time, sometimes you need to get away from everyone to do some focused work. Some moms even work from a large closet in their home!
- Keep a schedule with regular hours for work, school, and home. You’ll be able to establish a rhythm where you can focus on certain roles at different times of the day.
As a mom with a family to take care of and a job to do, you may feel like your work is never done. By following these tips and focusing on your most important tasks first, you can be as productive as possible in your many different roles.