If you’ve been around Delightfully Frazzled for a while, it’s probably not a shock to you that I’m a bona fide fan of the Harry Potter series. (I love it for lots and lots of reasons, but this is a post about time management, so I won’t waste your time with an in-depth analysis.) J. K. Rowling never ceased to amaze me with the creativity of magic in her world. One of the magical tools Harry is introduced to is called a Time Turner. It’s a device that allows its wearer to go back in time and literally be in two places at once. In the series, Hermione Granger (being Hermione Granger) uses is to take more classes at school. This Momma would use it to get things DONE- and then take a NAP.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a Time Turner to give you. I know, I’d love one too. However, as a work-at-home mom I’ve learned some tips to help me manage my time and energy more efficiently. Besides actually inventing a Time Turner (for which I would pay you LITERALLY ANYTHING if you did), here are some helpful tips to keep you focused and productive as a work-at-home mom!
Being a work-at-home mom, especially where YOU’RE the boss, is a whole lot more than just putting your stuff out there and running. Having a following on social media is important to grow our blog or business, but it doesn’t have to run our lives. Here are a few ideas to control the time you spend on social media for your business.
MAN, it’s so easy to want to do EVERYTHING as a work-at-home mom, isn’t it? But here’s the reality: if you try to do everything at once, you’re probably going to end up doing many things at a less-than-stellar level. Also, every “yes” you say is really a “no” to something else. Have you ever thought about it like that? Instead of spreading yourself too thin, focus your energy on things you know will benefit you and your work. Objectively eliminating excess tasks can save you a LOT of time in the long run!
You know better than anyone that your time as a work-at-home mom is precious. You want to spend most of the time you devote to your business focusing on the tasks that will help you the most. If you’re able, why not hire out for some of your to-do list? Virtual assistants can be hired for an allotted number of hours each week or for specific tasks, like social media management. Most VA’s are happy to work with your budget and come up with a plan that meets your biggest needs. You already do SO MUCH for your blog and business. Why not let someone support you and take some of those tasks off your plate?
This doesn’t have to be a full-time expense. Even hiring someone for a few hours once a week (or a full day every once in a while) can be a HUGE help in productivity! On Care.com, you can also hire people to help with laundry, cleaning, or meal prep– either occasionally or weekly. Investing in your business and yourself in any of these ways can be an incredible weight off your shoulders.
This one is for you write-it-down, give-me-a-visual kind of people out there. I’m right there with you! When I feel like there are a million things vying for my attention, I take a step back to put things into perspective. This simple 4-step exercise is a great practical tool to help me prioritize and focus when I’m working. (Some of these tips are similar to my Guide to Setting Priorities that I shared last week– check out that post here!)
Sit down and unload EVERYTHING you’re freaking out about regarding your business—everything you want to accomplish or need to deal with. Just get it all on paper in front of you so you can stare it down.
Now group each item on your brain dump list into three separate categories:
Next, pick up to THREE of the MOST important tasks from your Priority 1 list and expand on them. How long will each task take? Are there any deadlines you need to consider? Can you develop a series of specific, actionable steps to complete the task? The more detailed you can be, the easier it will be to actually complete the task.
Creating lists is great, but it’s time to make your plans concrete by actually allotting time to them! Take a look at your schedule for the next week. When can you commit to focused work? You can plan out large chunks of time or break down tasks into 30-minute increments if that works for you. Add these times to your planner and treat them as non-negotiable!
I’ve made this exercise into a handy dandy little FREE printable for you; you can grab that here and use it however you find most helpful!
Implementing independent play into my toddler’s routine is one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made as a work-at-home mom. Independent play is encouraging your child to, well, play independently! It took us a while to get into the habit of this, but now TJ absolutely LOVES his special play activities– and I love being able to get some work done!
If you’re looking for some ideas to keep littles busy while you get some work done, I wrote a big ol’ post about my learning independent play, as well as ideas for activities and helpful tips for implementing it. Check it out to get started! I love it so much I even wrote an eBook about it. Just Give Me 10 Minutes! is filled with 40 different easy, make-ahead activities you can share with a toddler or preschooler to both give you a break and help them learn! You can read all about it here.
Being a work-at-home mom is never going to be a picnic. However, hopefully some of these practical tips can help you get things done while still keeping your sanity (semi-) intact!
Also, if you DO have any connections to get a girl a Time Turner, let me know ASAP 😉