Dear Ask AFETT,
I am having a hard time staying focused while running my business from home and managing my family’s schedule. I feel as though I am failing. Do you have any tips for a frustrated mother of four?
Dear Frustrated Momboss,
As I sit here to respond to your question, my baby is on my lap, asleep, my expressing machine is humming, my cell phone is arm’s length away and my two older boys are saying “can I have something to eat please?” In through the nose, out through the mouth. This is my everyday life but I won’t have it any other way.
Being a mother and owning/managing your business can be very daunting. I, too, own and manage a business and work from home. People may think working from home is a dream. In actuality, it can be very difficult to stay focused, productive and motivated. The laundry, the dishes, the television, the desire to “take one little nap” are all huge distractions which can affect your productivity levels.
Here are some tips to help you while working and running your business at home:
Develop a schedule
Whether it’s daily or weekly, you need a structured schedule to help you focus on the tasks at hand. Setting aside specific days and times for specific tasks are key. An example of this would be:
• Monday – phone calls and emails
• Tuesday – accounting and filing
• Wednesday – marketing and social media for the upcoming week
• Thursday – day off (schedule permitting)
• Friday – household chores
You can even develop a schedule which incorporates multiple activities and days. Ensure to allot realistic time frames to each activity and stick to it. An example of this would be:
8 am – 9 am: household chores
9.15 am – 12 noon: emails and calls
12 noon – 1 pm: lunch
1 pm – 3 pm: accounting and filing
Create a daily to-do list: At the end of each work day, sit for ten to 15 mins and do a brain dump. Every little task that you need to complete should go down on paper. I actually keep a note pad and pen on hand and jut down as soon as the thought comes in my head. Best believe that there are times before the pen hits the paper that the thought is gone.
Get dressed: You may be tempted to stay in your PJs when you work from home. I highly recommend that you get up, get dressed and even apply some make up. Getting dressed will help you in getting in the work mode mind frame. Set up your work station and work from your desk or the dining table if you don't have a designated desk space. This would keep you focused and productive.
Silence your phone: When working on tasks for the day, try to silence your phone. Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram can be huge distractions which in turn affects your productivity level.
Schedule breaks: Just like any job, you need to schedule in breaks. A break for a little snack and definitely an hour for lunch. At these breaks you can always catch up on your social media.
Change in scenery: Even though you may be working from home, a little change in scenery will do you well. Head out to your local café or coffee shop to get some work done. You will find your productivity level increases.
Ok so you have your work schedule down, let’s work on being on top of your family’s activities.
Appointments, afterschool activities, assignments, projects, birthday parties (which are often) the list goes on and on. As a mother of three this list can get very long and daunting at times. Missing an activity can be the recipe for disaster. Here are some tips on keeping on top of your family’s schedule:
Have a calendar: Whether you use a desk calendar, a planner, a white board calendar, a calendar app or all four, keep a detailed calendar of all activities. Request a list of school activities for the term and enter all activities in advance. I personally use a desk calendar and a calendar app to keep on top of my schedule. I sync the two and place multiple reminders which come to my phone and as an email notifications. I recommend choosing a day (maybe a Monday) to confirm all upcoming activities.
Colour coordination: On your calendars, assign a specific colour per family member. Ensure to keep the colour assignment across all platforms. This will make it easy to recognise whose activity is coming up at a glance.
I hope that these tips help you in some way to find a happy balance while running your business and family. Please remember to not beat yourself up too much if you miss an assignment. “Miss” will just have to understand!
Remember to breathe.
AFETT is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 2002 with the goal of bringing together professional women and engaging in networking opportunities, professional training and business ideas. Ask AFETT is a column meant to address issues and concerns of professionals seeking advice to assist in progressing in their careers. Today's response was written by AFETT member Sherleen Young-Griffith, managing director, Callelujah Limited. Learn more about AFETT at www.afett.com, search for AFETT Events on Facebook, follow us @AFETTEXECS on Twitter or contact us at (868) 343-2160. Email us your career-related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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