Upon the arrival of our first daughter, my heart melted. The desires of a corporate job flew out the window, as I was in love with the idea of being a stay at home momma. Spending time with Jenny was amazing, but we began to feel the stress of a single income.
Work at Home Organization
As a computer programmer, I had the privilege to continue my skills and make a little money on the side, all from the convenience of home. It’s been over twenty years, and I’m still a stay-at-home-work-at-home mom. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that have tremendously helped me keep my sanity, my relationship with my family, and dinner on the table.
Set a Schedule
Setting up a schedule for when you work is pretty simple. It takes a piece of paper and a pen. However, it can be more of a challenge to set a realistic schedule and make sure that you are not setting yourself up for failure. As you set up your initial schedule, establish in your mind that this is a work in progress. Be willing to make adjustments and shifts as necessary, and always be on the lookout for things that you can eliminate during this season to maintain margin.
Also remember that just because you set a schedule, life still happens. Be flexible in your schedule and go ahead and plan in time each week for catch up or re-evaluation.
Maintain a Schedule
Once you have a good working flow established, the keeping of the schedule is what becomes critical for getting it all done. This requires more than just a piece of paper. Over the years, I have used a combination of Steno pads for daily to-do lists and my own On the Go planner (yes, I really do use my products!) for keeping up with work flows and deadlines.
I’ve also learned the importance of communicating with my husband or kiddos my schedule and availability. This helps with expectations and disappointments and allows for the rest of the family to understand the many hats a working mom wears. It also shows them practical ways they can help, whether with my work or with family needs.
Organized Work Space
I have found it helpful to keep all of my work related papers and “stuff” in one area of the home. I’ve had an office in our living room, kitchen, laundry room, and now in a separate room. Regardless of where it is in the house, keeping it clutter free and well organized keeps me from losing precious time trying to find that important document that has become buried in the chaos of normal family life, whether it’s the kids’ playroom in a box of toys or amid the accumulation of teen clutter!
Invest in Your Office
Women who work in the corporate world spend thousands of dollars each year on suits, lunches, and gas. If you have an office you are running out of your home, go ahead and invest in the organizational containers, planners, and products that can help you make the most of your time and space. It will save you time, effort, and even money in the long run.
If at all possible, I try to keep the paper at bay. By utilizing Google docs, I can scan and save just about anything. Utilizing a good keyword, tagging, or titling system, you can have any document within seconds. Obviously, some things just have to be in print. But, if you minimize the paper and organize the electronic well, you will save yourself a great deal of time, energy, and space.
Plan for Pick Up
I’m a pretty organized person, but at the end of a busy week, my office can look like a tornado hit it. Planning for a thirty-minute pick-up or tidying of the office allows for me to walk into another week with fresh hope of all that I can accomplish. Taking the time will prove worth it when you see your productivity soar.
The longer I have worked at home and stuck to my guns on schedules and organizing, it has gotten easier and more joyous. However, we stay-at-home-work-at-home moms need to remember to give ourselves grace as we shoulder more than the average bear!