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WAHM Guide: Learning to multi-task

One of the basic rules of working from home is to set up your office in a space where you’re not going to be distracted by all of the…distractions in your home. And while that is true, this rule is more so that you can shut out the rest of your house when you need to: the reality is that for at least part of the time when you work from home, you’re going to have to get really good at multi-tasking.

The reasoning for this is two-fold: working from home means you have more flexibility with your schedule – so you can run a bunch of errands during the day if you’re willing to put in some extra hours at night. It also means that your work is pretty much always staring you in the face since, you know, you work out of your house. You also have to factor in that when you’re working from home, you’re probably either working directly for your own company or at least on a 1099 basis. This means that you are responsible for not just your own work, but also all of the billing, accounting and other back end work that goes into running a small business. Basically, realizing that your hours aren’t going to be a corporate 9-5 and learning to be great at multi-tasking will help to ensure that you maintain a better work/life balance.

The biggest piece of becoming a multi-tasking pro is to make lists. Personally, I make lists for everything – on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I run separate lists for my business, my blog, errands and things that need to be done around the house. Making lists will help to keep you more organized, keeps a running list of pertinent tasks at the forefront of your mind and motivates you to keep getting things done (crossing things off of your list can be oh-so-satisfying!).

You can also mix tasks throughout the day. For example, I might throw together a crock pot meal in between phone calls, carry the baby with me while I vacuum or run through my emails when I’m up with the baby at night. Yes, you do integrate “work” into “family time” every once in a while, but it’s really the only way to stay on top of your productivity and efficiency when you’re running your own business (or essentially running your own business, if you’re 1099’d). When you spend a little time mixing business and home life, you’ll save yourself a lot of extra time closed off in your office at the end of the night. Just remember to carve out some FAMILY ONLY time every once in a while to get away from the office sometimes!

Finally, it’s important to remember that not all tasks are things you should be putting on your “multi-tasking list”. Focused projects, conference calls and writing emails are all things that you need to give your full attention to – to make sure you’re not making mistakes in your work. Smaller list items that don’t require direct concentration – replying to tweets, throwing in a load of laundry, scrolling through and categorizing emails, etc. – are the types of tasks that you can do simultaneously without negative implications.

Follow these tips and not only will you strengthen your multi-tasking skills, but increase your overall productivity throughout the week!

Have a topic or question you want answered about working from home? Email me your thoughts – I’d love to hear what’s on your mind! And you can read more about working from home here.

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