Last Updated April 4th, 2019

Working At Home Means Knowing When To Say No

Working At Home Means Knowing When To Say No

Do you feel respected when you tell family and friends that you work at home? While some do, others don’t. This is because some people assume that work at home moms or dads are available to them all day. It becomes extremely important to know when to say no when you work at home.

The image many people have of what people do when they work at home is unrealistic, although it has improved as remote work has become more common. Nonetheless, some will picture you lazing about, not really getting anything done for the day, maybe playing with your kids or pets.

Odds are that they have no idea what the reality looks like.

Explain Work At Home Reality

When you’re having a lot of trouble with someone who makes demands of you during your work hours, it helps to explain the reality of working at home.

  • You aren’t free to watch their kids.
  • The time you can spend texting, chatting on the phone or in person is limited or nonexistent.
  • You really do have to get things done.
  • Yes, you do have a schedule, whether it’s a personal preference or a professional obligation.
  • Your work at home time is precious, and sometimes hard to find.

When To Say No

People generally feel free to make demands of people who work at home that they wouldn’t consider making of other people. They want your time or services. They don’t understand what you do or how important it is that you keep working.

yes or no

Some people will just come up to you and ask if you can (fill in the blank, but keep it clean) for them. Maybe it relates to what you do at home or maybe they just want a babysitter for their kids. In any case, it’s probably completely ignoring the value of your time.

These are the things you may have to learn to say “no” to.

  • Working for free. Exposure to their hoped-for audience is not payment.
  • Watching their kids for no pay, unless it keeps your own kids busy.
  • Idle chitchat during your work hours. Just because they have time doesn’t mean you have time.
  • No, you won’t (fill in the blank. Are you still keeping it clean?).

Yes, sometimes you can decide to give someone a freebie. If you do this, make sure you explain what you normally charge and that you won’t keep doing it for free. Build respect for what you do at home.

But They’ll Be Angry At Me!

Yes, some people may be angry when you start saying no to them when you used to do things for them. That’s not your fault. It’s theirs.

If you want to work at home successfully, you can’t let people walk all over you, demanding time you don’t have to spare.

Hopefully, most people will be accepting when you say you can’t do things you used to do. But if someone is angry at you, don’t give in. Don’t let them walk all over you. Stand your ground.

Besides, are they really a good friend if they get angry at you for needing to work?

Consider saying no as a form of self care. You’re cutting down on the stress caused by trying to combine work with whatever others are asking of you. It’s not selfish.

You Don’t Have To Answer The Phone Or Door

When people call you on the phone or come to your door while you’re working at home, you may feel an obligation to answer.

work at home reality

You really don’t have to.

Build the expectation that you won’t answer the phone or door when you’re busy. This won’t be easy with some people, but others will be quick to understand that they need to respect your work hours the same as if you worked outside the home.

Set your smartphone to its Do Not Disturb mode when you need to work uninterrupted. Turn off the ringer of the house phone, if you have one. The only phone you should be hearing from is any phone related to your work.

I don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers very often these days, regardless. They’re mostly spam or fraudulent calls anyhow. I look at the caller ID and decide if it’s worth the trouble or if it should just go to voicemail.

I strongly recommend getting a Ring or other video doorbell when you work at home. Not only will it help you see who’s at the door, but it can also help you spot when deliveries come. Not all delivery people ring the bell, so having a doorbell that will alert you anyhow is nice.

The ability to see who’s at the door without leaving your desk can be a huge help. If you need quiet because you’re working on the phone, you can turn the sound on your phone or other devices connected to the doorbell off.

Build Respect For Your Work Hours

Overall, you need to build respect for your work hours. The more you show that you respect these hours by refusing distractions, the faster others will learn to respect them and you.

Talk to people who interrupt your work hours about the times that you are able to just sit and talk. Especially if you have young children, your work hours may be sharply limited. You cannot tolerate losing too much work time.

Others will assume that it’s so easy to work at home that they can interrupt you freely. Sure, it’s easy for some people, but most of us have to work hard at our remote jobs or online businesses. Most people don’t get the big bucks for just a few hours’ work.

When To Say Yes

when to say yes

Just because you need to be careful about agreeing to do favors when you work at home doesn’t mean you should always say no. There are times when yes is a perfectly reasonable answer.

Volunteering

I like volunteering at my kids’ school when possible. It’s a good way to keep up on events happening at school, and I get to see the kids. My youngest still loves seeing me there. It’s also a bit of social time for me with other adults.

But I do not volunteer for everything that comes up. I choose my times. If I’m too busy, it’s a no.

I also make sure my husband takes on his share. Our youngest is doing Destination Imagination (DI) this year, and he’s the appraiser for one of the challenges. Every team has to supply appraisers, so this is an important time for us as parents to step up and volunteer.

What we don’t do is assume that I’m the one who handles all the volunteer work just because I have a more flexible schedule. DI appraisers attend training on weekends, and most competitions are on weekends. Short of making Global Finals, it’s as easy for him to handle as it would be for me. This year it’s his turn.

We also volunteer at a local animal shelter. Once again, it’s fun, a nice break from my work routine. It also helps that we do this on Fridays, which is one of my less productive days due to the kids’ school schedules. Some of the time I lose volunteering would have been spent picking kids up anyhow.

Don’t let volunteering take up too much of your productive work time. But when you want to do it and it fits in your schedule, go for it!

When It’s A Part Of A Commitment

There may be things in your life that take up time you’d rather spend working that you can’t get out of. In some way, you’ve already committed to it.

For example, what activities are your kids in, and what do those activities demand of you?

My older two kids do archery, and my youngest does Destination Imagination, as mentioned above. While neither of these require much of time time most of the year, competitions for both happen in the spring. Often, they involve a bit of travel.

Having both of those hit at once can be a bit hellish on my work routine. Even the regional competitions can be a 1-2 hour drive away, depending on location and traffic. As they start early in the morning, we often opt for a hotel stay rather than getting up at 4-5 in the morning and trying to make sleepy kids compete.

While these mess up my work routine, that’s something I accepted when allowing my kids to participate in these activities. They can’t be on these teams if they don’t compete, and they can’t compete if we don’t take them there.

When You Can Afford The Time And Want To Do It

make it happen

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing favors for others when you want to and it won’t interfere with your work.

Since I don’t need quiet when I work, for example, I often let my kids have friends over while I’m working. This was especially useful when they were young enough to want someone to play with all the time. If a friend came by, they were it. Otherwise, my kids wanted me.

That made it practical to sometimes help other parents out by having their kids over. Sure, I had to get snacks for the kids sometimes, but otherwise working was often easier with an extra kid or two in the house, not harder. Weird, but true.

These days, the school my kids go to is far enough off that I drive to pick them up. I also sometimes end up driving some of their friends home. As this adds less than 10 minutes to the trip, I don’t have a problem with it. It also means their parents are willing to do favors if I need them.

Remember That You’re Fortunate To Work At Home

Even with these challenges, make sure you make the most of being able to work from home. Enjoy yourself. Talk about what you do just as other people talk about their jobs. Enjoy the ability to be closer to your family, even when you have to sacrifice and work more hours at home than you’d ideally like to.

You’re very fortunate. You can do something many only dream of. Earning money from home is something very, very special.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated March 4th, 2019

How To Have A Productive Day When You Just Aren’t In The Mood

How To Have A Productive Day When You Just Aren't In The Mood

Just about no one feels like going to work every day, even when you love what you do. Sometimes you just want a day off. When you work at home that’s often possible, but it’s not always a good idea if you’re serious about earning a living. How can you push yourself to have a productive work at home day when you’re really not in the mood to work?

Consider the cause.

Why is it that you aren’t in the mood to work? What’s making it so hard to have a productive work at home day?

There can be a lot of reasons why you just aren’t in the mood to work on certain days. You might be tired from staying up late from a sick child. You might be sick yourself. Maybe you’re having a frustrating time with your current project. Or it could be that it’s such a beautiful day that you’d rather be doing other things.

Another reason why you might be procrastinating is because you don’t really want to work on what you ought to that day. Maybe it’s something new and you’re nervous about how it will go. Maybe it’s a part of your job or business you don’t really enjoy.

Whatever the reason, acknowledging why you aren’t in the mood to work on a particular day can help you get past the problem. It can start you on the path to more productive thinking, so long as you don’t start dwelling on the negative side of things.

Once you know why you don’t want to work, remind yourself of why you do what to work. What do you expect to get out of the work you do today?

What about depression?

If you have a constant issue with motivation to get things done, you may also want to consider whether you’re suffering from depression or other issues that you should discuss with your doctor. Anyone can have these issues, and it’s important to get help for yourself if you need it.

It took me a long time to get to where I could talk to my doctor about my anxiety and depression, and it did not go well the first time. He just told me to get more exercise. Sure, exercise can help with mood to an extent, but it’s not a solution for depression. It was like a slap in the face to be dismissed so offhand on an issue that I had struggled to bring up.

My new doctor is much better and is working with me on figuring out what will help.

unproductive day

Do a quick work out.

While exercise won’t take care of the problem if you’re clinically depressed, it can help if all you need is to get moving.

A quick walk around the block or a bit of time on any exercise equipment you may own (I have a Total Gym that has come in handy at times) can improve your mood. A bit of exercise can satisfy that need to feel as though you’re procrastinating, yet make you more productive in the long run.

Take days off regularly.

Don’t try to work seven days a week, every week. There may be times that this is necessary, but it shouldn’t be your life. Take time off every week, especially when you can do things with your family.

Time off is important. Your brain needs to rest. You need to have fun and stay connected with your family.

Write a to do list.

A to do list can help you quite a bit when you aren’t quite in the mood to work. Use it to guide your day’s work, so you have no doubt about what you most need to get done that day.

Break big tasks into smaller ones to make it easier to check things off. It’s easier to be productive you if continue to see that you’ve made progress. If a task is too big, you may not feel like you’re getting enough done when in fact you’ve done quite a bit.

This can be especially helpful with unpleasant or difficult tasks that you’ve been avoiding. Rather than staring at a huge chunk of “I hate doing that,” you see the steps necessary to get the task done.

to do list

Take breaks.

Taking regular breaks from work is something you should do even when you are in the mood to work. There are good reasons why employers are required to give breaks, after all. A break refreshes your mind, and you may get more done with breaks than you would without breaks.

A break should be something more than continuing to sit at your computer. Get up. Do something entirely different from what you’ve been doing. Have some fun.

The Pomodoro technique is one method I’ve mentioned in the past. You set a timer for 25 minutes or however long you want the chunk to be, work that entire time, then take a 5 minute break. It’s a great help when you’re struggling to find the time to work at home, as it breaks things down into chunks you can deal with.

Tell someone else what you plan to get done today.

Sometimes internal motivation just isn’t enough. You need to have an external push to get things going. Tell a friend or family member what you’re going to get done, post your goal on your Facebook wall, or otherwise tell someone what you’re going to get done today.

Knowing that others expect you to reach a particular goal can give you that extra push. Who wants to explain why you didn’t reach that goal you shared? Just don’t waste too much of the day updating people on your progress.

It can be helpful to have an accountability partner. Your spouse may be able to help, or you can ask a friend to help keep you on track. If they also work at home, you can help them be more productive too.

Start with a small job.

What’s one of the little things you need to get done, something not all that overwhelming? Maybe just a 5-15 minute job. If you’re having trouble getting in the mood for work in general, it may help to do some small thing, insignificant in itself, that will get you to do any work at all.

It’s often easier to keep working once you have started working. You’re past that mental “I don’t want to” block.

productive work at home

Remind yourself why you’re working at home.

Sure, you know why you’re working at home, but do you really think about that reason or just take it for granted? Inspire yourself by thinking about why you do what you do.

Are you home for your kids or to care for an aging parent? Maybe it’s because the opportunity fell into your lap and you went for it. Possibly you work at home because it’s better than dealing with people face to face all the time.

We all have our reasons for working at home. Keep them in mind when it’s hard to be motivated.

Consider a change of scenery.

Sometimes it’s hard to get in the mood to work at home because you’re tired of staring at the same walls every day. Maybe you’re tired of being alone at work.

If your work permits, consider a change of scenery. Anything from working in a different room to the yard or even at a coffee shop or coworking space can help.

Don’t worry about motivation – just get to work!

Feeling motivated to work is all well and good, but sometimes it’s irrelevant. The only thing that really matters is that you get to work. You can grumble to yourself about how little you want to be doing things so long as they still get done.

You are the only thing that is stopping you when you say you don’t feel like working. There’s nothing and no one holding you back. If you can get past yourself, you can accomplish a lot.

I know it’s not always that simple, or at least it doesn’t feel that way. And yet, that’s what many people have to do when they work outside the home and work where their boss can see them. Mood doesn’t matter. You get things done because that’s your job.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated January 9th, 2019

How To Defeat The Procrastination Monster When You Work At Home

How To Defeat The Procrastination Monster When You Work at Home

If you want to successfully work at home, there’s a monster you must defeat. No, not the cute monster you call your child, at least not every time you want to work. I’m talking about the procrastination monster that gobbles up your work time in such insidious ways.

Defeating the procrastination monster when you work at home isn’t easy. It has many disguises. Some are almost irresistible.

Discover the Monster’s Lair

First, you must figure out where your monster comes from. What makes you procrastinate? There are many possibilities when you work at home.

Other Adults

Other adults can be the worst when you’re trying to work at home. They don’t always understand that it’s the same as working outside the home. You have to teach them to respect your schedule and needs.

Children

Procrastination monsters love hanging around your children, and there’s only so much to be done at some ages about the procrastination children cause. You’re usually best off finding ways to work at times your kids are less likely to need your attention.

Social Media, Email, etc.

Procrastination monsters love your computer too, especially if you go to sites such as Facebook, Pinterest or anyplace where you can connect with friends or play games.

Whatever you do that leads to procrastination, do what you can to avoid it. You may not be able to entirely avoid the things that make you procrastinate. If you market on Facebook or Pinterest, for example, sometimes you will need to go on those sites, but need to find ways to keep your visits effective.

social media distraction

Think About Why You Want to Do What You Want to Do

It’s not enough to know what makes you procrastinate. You need to know why you want to work. What makes this important to you?

You work to earn money, for example, but that’s only the most obvious reason. Try to be more specific.

  • Why do you need to earn money?
  • Why this job or business?
  • What do you like about the work you do?
  • How badly does this need to get done?
  • What happens if things don’t get done?

Plan to Defeat the Monster

The procrastination monster has difficulty interfering with a well planned day. Set goals, know what tasks you need to get done, and what times you do your best work. Commit to getting them done and avoiding the things that make procrastination easier than working. Make your goals something you can reach in a reasonable time as well as longer range goals. Daily goals have as much a place in your plans as annual goals.

Many people find it helpful to write their goals down. There’s something about checking things off a list that can be very motivating.

monster

Get An Accountability Partner

Consider finding an accountability partner. It’s much harder for the procrastination monster to get you if you have a friend to help you keep on track. No one likes to say “I wasn’t productive today” to someone who really cares how well you did.

Your accountability partner doesn’t have to live with you. If you have an online friend who also works at home, you can motivate each other to be more productive.

You can have more than one accountability partner. In fact, if you have goals in different areas of your life, it can even make sense.

You might have one person who helps you keep accountable with your work life, for example, and another who encourages you to keep going to the gym or taking walks so you keep fit.

Close Extra Tabs And Programs

How many tabs do you really need open on your browser when you’re working?

It’s easy to have too many tabs open. Maybe you checked your email before working, and there’s something you’re watching for.

Don’t keep those extras open while you work. Whatever extra tabs or programs you have open when it’s time to start working, close them.

This especially includes anything that might distract you.

If you want to check your email or social media during your work hours, set a timer or alarm for when you will allow yourself to do so. Don’t just check these things on a whim – have a plan. They’ll interfere less with your productivity that way.

Get Rid Of Clutter

While your home office should be comfortable and decorated to please you, that doesn’t mean you can have all kinds of stuff all over your desk.

Get rid of the clutter!

Your home office desk should not be the place where you bring in the mail when it’s delivered. Your kids should not bring you the papers they need signed for school there. These will only make a mess of your desk and distract you from working.

Find a better place for these things and anything else that tends to clutter up your home office.

art clutter

Work Your Best Hours When Possible

I’ll say this straight out – I am NOT a morning person. I often see people say to get up early to have a productive work at home days, and that’s a huge no for me.

I just can’t do it.

Nights after most of the family has gone to bed, on the other hand, work great. My focus is better, even though I’ve also worked through much of the day. I often finish off blog posts at night.

I’d probably stay up later, but I do have to be functional enough in the morning to get the kids off to school.

Whatever hours work best for you, make sure you include them in your work routine as much as possible. There may be times when you can’t work your preferred hours, but do the best you can.

You’ll likely find it far easier to be productive this way.

Try to set up a regular work at home schedule. Not only does this give you a routine that can help your productivity, but it also gives your friends and family a schedule they can respect. The more seriously they see you taking your work, the more seriously they will take it.

Use The Pomodoro Technique

I’ve mentioned the Pomodoro Technique in other posts. It’s a solid method of time management that I think is well suited to working at home. It’s also helpful in ensuring that you remember to take breaks, which can actually increase productivity.

I like to use breaks to get a little housework done, exercise, or play a game.

If you haven’t tried this kind of time management technique, I strongly suggest doing so. Doing short bursts of more focused work can be highly effective.

computer snake

Keep The Kids Busy

As children are a major distraction, you need to plan ways to keep them busy. You can even combine this with the Pomodoro Technique and tell them that they can’t bother you until the timer goes off.

The difficulty of this depends on how old your kids are. Mine are all in school, so I have hours every school day that they aren’t home (unless one is sick, of course).

When they were younger, I had a variety of ways to keep them busy as I worked at home. They had places where they could play near me, and permission to interrupt as necessary.

Now that they’re older, I do most of my work when they’re at school, and continue it into the night.

I take a break during homework time as my youngest often still needs help, and it’s so hard to focus on writing when she’s coming up with questions every few minutes. This lasts until after dinner, even though her homework doesn’t take all that long.

Know Your Limits

How often do you try to do too much during the day? Have you ever noticed how discouraging it is to fail to reach your daily goals day after day?

Stop it!

Make a to do list for yourself each day, but keep it reasonable. Don’t expect more of yourself than you can really handle.

Start your to do list with the things you absolutely need to get done. You can add lower priorities for any extra time you have after finishing the things you really, really need to get done, but you don’t have to. Odds are you’ll find a way to use the time regardless.

Feel Free To Move Around

One of the great things about working at home is that you may have a lot of flexibility in where you do your work. So long as you don’t have to have a wired connection to the internet or the phone, and you don’t have privacy issues to consider, you may be able to switch where you work as you please.

Get out of your home office sometimes and work someplace else. This can be the coffee shop or coworking space, in the yard while the kids play, on the couch, or wherever suits you at the time.

Don’t let this change in scenery keep you from reaching your goals for the day. These places still need to be somewhere that you can work effectively.

Review Your Progress

Take a look at how you’re doing. Are you reaching your goals? Is the procrastination monster winning or losing? Some things are going to work for you. Some things aren’t. Looking at your progress can help you figure out what still needs to change.

Review your progress regularly. What works at one point may not work in the future for you.

Consider A Focus App

If you find you need more help defeating the procrastination monster, consider a focus app. There are quite a few available for different platforms. These can help keep you on track while you work.

computer monster

Remember That We All Struggle With Procrastination

You may feel as though you’re all alone in your struggles with the procrastination monster. You aren’t. We all struggle with it to some degree.

All those things I’ve listed as causes for procrastination? Yeah, they give me trouble too. Some days more than others.

There are times when I just can’t focus. Even when I know exactly what I want to get done, and truly mean to get it done, focus can be a problem.

It takes a ton of self control and practice to stop procrastinating, or even to minimize it. And some days will be worse than others.

Some people have it more difficult than others. If you’re struggling with ADHD as well as the usual challenges of working at home, you may want to consider if medication will help.

If It’s Just Not Working…

Some days, working at home just doesn’t work out. If your schedule permits, it can be best to just take those days off.

I have days where it’s next to impossible to get anything done. Things keep coming up.

If it’s bad enough, sometimes I give in and don’t even try to work the rest of that day.

It’s one of the things I love most about working for myself. I can decide which days I have off, which means I can take an unplanned one off, and make it up later if necessary. No fuss.

You don’t have to take the entire day off just because a part of it isn’t working out for you. A few hours doing something completely unrelated may be just what you need to regain your focus and get back to work.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 24th, 2018

Where Do You Find The Time To Work At Home?

Where Do You Find The Time To Work At Home?

If there’s one thing that’s hard about working at home, it’s finding the time to actually work, especially if you set your own schedule. It’s way too easy to get distracted if you aren’t strict with yourself and truly dedicated to the work you’re doing. Even with that dedication, however, it’s sometimes hard to find the time to work at home.

One of the most effective ways to find time to work at home is to recognize the time that you’re wasting during the day. We all do it, and some downtime is certainly necessary. Working at home successfully, however, requires a different balance.

Deal With Time Wasters

If you take a really good look at your daily routine, you may find some serious time wasters have worked their way in. Be honest with yourself and figure out how you’re going to deal with these so that you can have enough time to work at home.

TV Time

The time you spend watching television is perhaps one of the simplest to limit or give up. It’s not productive, and you may find that there are a number of shows you can give up with minimal regret in order to earn a living from home.

You may not need to cut back on all the time you watch television, but the more you do cut, the more time you can spend on more productive activities.

When you miss your favorite shows, you can always try binge watching from a streaming service when you don’t need to work. Sometimes that’s even more fun than watching them as they come out, because you don’t have to wait for the next episode until you get caught up.

Then again, you have to avoid spoilers, which is difficult if the show is popular.

wasted time

Online Time Wasters

The internet is another place where many of us waste a lot of time. Checking email, forums, and social sites takes more time than it has to. They’re fun and you can tell yourself that you’re being productive when they relate to the work you’re doing.

The key here is to keep things under control. Don’t check your email or favorite sites for hours on end or over and over again throughout the day. Set times and time limits for these things. They’re tools, and used correctly they won’t suck up excessive amounts of your day, but benefit you the way they should.

Checking your business stats can be another time waster. There are times when it’s perfectly appropriate to check your stats throughout the day, but much of the time you can keep a much lighter eye on things. Stats only need to be frequently checked if there’s something you’re looking for in them, such as how a paid campaign is working out.

I don’t mean ignore your stats, of course. You do need to know how things are working for you. Many times you are just fine looking things over once a week or so.

Online research for new posts or product ides can be a danger as well. It’s very easy to get sucked into reading more than you need on a particular topic or get dragged into something unrelated but fascinating. Pay attention to how much time you’re spending on such things when you’re trying to have productive work hours.

Other People

Other people are often huge distractions when you work at home. It takes time to teach people to respect the work hours you need.

Some you can’t help but pay attention to, such as children who need your attention at that instant. You just have to deal with those situations.

Make changes in when your kids can interrupt you age appropriate. If your job doesn’t require quiet, for example, you might set an infant up right next to you. A toddler might have a play area nearby. Then as your kids get older, you can teach them when they can interrupt your work and when to let you be.

People who call you on the phone or drop by for a chat or the spouse who hasn’t learned to respect your work hours may be another matter. You want to be social and pay attention to the important relationships in your life, but you need to have them respect your work hours from home as they would respect your work if you were elsewhere.

time passing

Clutter

Clutter is a time waster in that it slows you down when you can’t find things. Think about how much time you spend looking for something that should be right at hand while you work.

This is why it’s important to have a dedicated home office space. At a minimum, try for a desk that no one else is allowed to touch or put things on. Better is a room with a door, but I know that isn’t possible for everyone.

If necessary, consider a home office that is also a guest room. That’s the compromise I had to make. It works fairly well, as I get the space I need to work most of the time, but we still have a private room when guests sleep over.

Whatever happens, try not to let your home office space be where all the junk goes when you’re cleaning the rest of the house. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a fast cleaning because company’s almost there. Find a better space to put the stuff that just needs to get out of the way. The treadmill, perhaps.

Whatever your work space may be, keep it organized. The easier it is to find the things you need while you work, the less time you waste on looking for stuff.

How To Get Your Time Under Control

If you’re struggling to come up with productive time for working at home, you must come up with a plan to help you. You have some ideas of what’s causing the problem, now comes the time to fix it.

Set Time Limits

For certain activities, set time limits. This is particularly important for things that get your attention for longer than they should, such as social websites. Set a timer if you need to and stop that activity once it goes off.

Some people like to use the Pomodoro Technique when working. This is where you set a timer for 25 minutes and work on a single task. When the timer goes off, take a short break. After 4 pomodoros, take a longer break, 20-30 minutes. Repeat as necessary.

You can change tasks between segments, of course, or if you finish something before the timer goes off. Just make sure that you focus on a single task at a time. Multi-tasking really doesn’t work.

planning schedule

Have A Schedule

Many people find a written schedule of some sort to be extremely helpful. Know what you need to get accomplished each day and about how long you intend to spend on it.

For example, you may need to write a blog post, create graphics, schedule out your social media, interact on social media, and so forth on a given day. Create a schedule for each day that works with what you need to get done and the best times for you to work on it.

A schedule can also help you figure out when the best times are for things such as running errands, doing housework and so forth. Try to schedule these things when you’re less likely to be productive in your work.

Here’s a sample of how you might set things up:

  • 8-8:25 a.m.: Research blog post.
  • 8:30-10:55 a.m.: Write blog post.
  • 11-11:55 a.m.: Continue writing or move on to create graphics, as necessary.
  • Noon-1 p.m.: Lunch
  • 1-1:55 p.m.: Schedule social media and use the remaining time to interact with followers.
  • 2 p.m.: Family time.
  • And so on.

You can further break your schedule up into segments with the Pomodoro Technique or other time management techniques as needed.

The point of creating a schedule is to make it easier to know what you should be doing throughout the day. You don’t have to figure it out in the middle if you’ve planned it out already.

If your schedule is fairly routine, you can make it well in advance and add in changes if necessary. Otherwise, it’s probably most helpful to make it at the end of the day before, when you know what needs to happen next.

set goals

Plan With Your Family

Talk to your family about your work needs. Find ways to fit their needs with your own.

The younger the children are, the less they’ll be able to help you with this, but you can still figure out when you can work while they’re young. Naptimes, after bedtime and any time the kids are in school or elsewhere are good times for you to work.

The main thing you need them to understand is what your work schedule looks like. This is especially important if your work at home schedule is determined by an employer and you can get into trouble for starting late, quitting early or stopping anywhere in the middle.

But it’s still important if you’re self employed and simply need to get things done.

If your family is always interrupting you when you’re working, it’s time for a talk. Explain why you need their cooperation.

You can make finding time to work at home easier on your family by also planning when to spend time with them. Plan outings. Game nights. Whatever it is you like to do as a family. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to be fun.

Do your best to stick to the plans you’ve made with your family just as firmly as you stick to your work schedule. This way, your family sees that you’re serious about working when you need to work, and having fun with them when you said you would.

Make The Most Of The Time You Have

Sometimes, the best time you have available to you to work at home won’t fit into any schedule. It’s up to you to take advantage of these times.

The baby falls asleep for an unexpected nap. The kids get an invitation to play at a friends’ house. The kids are so busy with each other that they don’t need you.

Whatever the reason may be, if you have time for a quick bit of work, take advantage of it.

It doesn’t matter if you know you’re going to be interrupted. There are lots of things you may be able to do with just a few minutes available to you.

Of course, if you have a work at home job and a schedule, you may not be able to take advantage of such times to get things done. That’s okay. Maybe you can take it as time for yourself instead. Alternatively, if you’ve been considering starting a home business, it’s time to investigate the ideas you have a little further.

How Have You Found Time To Work At Home?

Now I’ll throw the question out to you. What has worked for you? What hasn’t? How have you found the time to work at home?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 29th, 2018

How Do You Balance Housework And Working At Home?

How Do You Balance Housework And Working At Home?

Do the dishes distract you when you’re working at home? Housework that needs to be done takes away from your work hours if you let it. But is that a reasonable expectation of an at home parent? How do you balance housework and working at home?

There are a lot of challenges to working at home. You have a lot to get accomplished in the day and many distractions. It’s easy to have very high expectations of what you will accomplish on a particular day, and it’s not always realistic.

This is where the flexibility of some work at home opportunities becomes a disadvantage. You can set up your own schedule, and that means people start expecting more of you in the home and at work.

Worse, you probably feel guilty at times for focusing on work rather than on keeping a clean house. You’re home and you may feel like it’s a part of your job to keep that house clean. Traditional duty of the stay at home parent (especially moms) and all that.

But being at home should not mean that it all falls onto your shoulders. You need to look at what the appropriate divisions are.

What Are Your Work Hours?

How many hours you work at your home based job or business can play a role in how much housework is reasonable for you to do. Working a full time work at home job only differs from working a full time outside the home job by the length of the commute.

If you work part time from home, you may be able to spare more time for housework, of course. How that works, in reality, depends on what else you have to get done during the day. Don’t forget a little time to set yourself up for a productive work at home day.

Some of what you can take on around the house as a work at home parent may depend upon what time you work. If you have to work at the time dinner is normally made, you can’t be expected to make dinner every night. Someone else will need to handle it.

work vs cleaning

Does Your Income Matter?

Many a work at home mom or dad may feel as though they should take on more household work because they don’t earn that much yet.

Maybe your job doesn’t pay that well. Maybe your home business hasn’t taken off yet. But at this moment you earn significantly less than your partner.

Do you need to make it up by handling more of the household chores?

Personally, I would still count more by hours worked than by income. I’d rather have a partnership count these things by effort rather than dollars. In the end, you’re all contributing, right?

Another problem with taking on extra housework if your income is on the low side is that you put too much of your energy into that, and too little into improving your income. Taking on that extra housework can tire you out.

What Other Chores Are You Taking On?

Housework is often not the only chore that a work at home mom or dad takes on regularly. When you’re dividing things up, you need to consider everything that each person does.

I drive my kids to and from school each day, for example. We don’t live close to their schools, and while walking to and from would not be impossible, it would be difficult for the kids and very time consuming. Driving them makes more sense, even though it takes a chunk out of my day.

Chores like that have to be done by the person who is available since they must be done at certain times. Schedules are often planned around such things. It can more than make up for the lack of a commute for a work at home mom or dad.

kid cleaning

How Do Want The Housework Divided?

How to divide the housework can be challenging for any family. People don’t always agree on how clean everything needs to be.

Get your spouse involved. Get the kids involved. Don’t let all the housework fall on one pair of shoulders. It’s important to talk about these things so that no one feels as though they’re carrying an unfair share of the load.

The division of chores with children depends on how old the kids are. The amount of housework I have to do has greatly decreased as the kids have grown. They can handle quite a bit.

But when the kids are young, they’re often more hindrance than help. When you can spare the time, it’s still a great idea to let them help, so that they learn how to do the job. It will pay off in the long run.

Some of the division may depend on what each person prefers to do, so long as everyone feels the division is fair. If one parent prefers yardwork to housework, and that takes an equal amount of work, there may be a good division right there.

Figure out what you will do at which times. Housework that needs to be done can be scheduled just like anything in your home business.

How well all of this works can tell you a lot about how supportive your spouse is of your working at home. If you both work a similar number of hours, yet you’re at home and expected to do a significantly larger chunk of the housework, you may need to have a talk to make sure that what you do is being taken seriously. Sometimes it’s not. Other times it will just be that your spouse hasn’t quite realized how much work you’re doing.

Pick The Right Time

Knowing when to do housework when working at home is key to keeping it from messing with your work schedule. There’s a right time and a wrong time to do things.

The wrong time, of course, is when you should be working. Laundry days are probably the worst for interfering with working at home – it has to be moved so often. Any chore you can save for when you aren’t working gives you more time to work on the things that earn money for you.

The right time to do housework is outside of your working hours. You can do little bits during your breaks, but isn’t it better to take an actual break for you sometimes? Save the housework for when you can get more done. Try these tips to help.

  1. Clean the night before – If the dishes are done after dinner, and the clutter put away before anyone goes to bed, there’s much less temptation to clean during the day.
  2. Make freezer meals – Plan out some meals that you can make ahead of time and put into the freezer. Seek out recipes that can be frozen and then put into the crockpot, pressure cooker or oven when you want to make them. This saves a ton of meal prep time if done right.
  3. Get rid of stuff – The more stuff you have, the more mess you have. Declutter your home and you’ll have much less cleaning to do.

computer vs laundry

Know When To Let The Housework Go

There will be times when it makes sense to let some of the housework go. You won’t be able to handle it all, all of the time. Life gets in the way.

It’s common for things to be on the messy side when children are little, for example. Unless you’re very strict about toys being put away immediately, kids are super messy creatures. Odds are that you won’t be able to keep up with their abilities to make a mess.

A crisis, either within the family or your work, can also cut down on how much housework you can handle. If you suddenly add 10-20 hours a week to your work schedule, obviously you won’t be able to do as much housework.

Depending on your family, you may have to deal with the house being a mess for a time. The other possibility is that the other members of the family pick up the slack. That won’t work every time – a family crisis can make it harder for the entire family to keep up.

Is It Worth The Expense To Hire A Maid Service?

If your household income is high enough, sometimes it makes a lot of sense to hire a maid service. This won’t take care of the daily chores but can be a huge help with the bigger cleaning jobs.

The decision to hire a maid service can depend in part on how you value your time versus money. How does your hourly rate compare with what the maid service costs? If it gives you more time to work, a maid service can be good for your income.

Of course, if you can’t resist cleaning everything before the service comes, you may not want to hire a maid service. Make sure it will save you a good amount of time and effort in keeping your home as clean as you want it.

Talk About It If Things Aren’t Working Out

It’s common to find that whatever balance you agreed upon for housework won’t always work out. We’re all human.

Try not to let resentment build.

Instead, sit down and talk about what’s happening. Discuss solutions you can agree upon. Make job lists if they’ll help, or set up a calendar. Find something to make it easier for everyone to do their share.

If all else fails, hang a sign like this one:

and see if everyone gets the hint. It might be worth the smiles, especially if you have any Harry Potter fans in the house.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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