As a wife, mom to 4 boys 4 and under, and a small business owner, I get asked ALL of the time “how do you do it all?” Being productive as a work at home mom is difficult! Some days dishes pile up in the sink, and others our laundry pile is jokingly refer to as “clothes mountain”. My kids don’t always eat a balanced breakfast and some days I even forget to brush my teeth! #momlife
For years I struggled to find balance between all of my responsibilities. Running a business, investing in my children, spending time with my husband, and taking care of our home would overwhelm me because I never knew where to start. This lead to procrastination and plenty of unprofitable days.
After the birth of our fourth son I created an effective routine for being productive as a work at home mom. My routine now comes naturally and makes it easy to stay on task throughout the day. This system may not work for everyone, but if it helps just one mama, I’m glad to share it.
Guidelines for Being Productive as a Work at Home Mom
My two guidelines for being productive as a work at home mom are basic. Applying them makes such a positive impact on how much I accomplish in a day. Here’s what I do:
1.) Create a daily to-do list of tasks to complete
2.) Establish and STICK TO daily morning and evening routines
In this post I’ll be discussing how to create an effective daily to-do list. Next week I’ll share more on establishing morning and evening routines, as well as how they differ from a daily to-do list.
Why I Make a Daily To-Do List
One of the tasks in my evening routine is to create a to-do list for the following day. I make a list of everything that has to be done as well as a few other tasks I’d like to get done. One of the reasons I make a to-do list is because it helps me keep my thoughts and tasks in one place. I have many responsibilities throughout the day that I would forget if I didn’t write them down.
Staying organized this way helps me stay focused. When I can see exactly what I have to get done, I am able to complete those tasks easier. This also prevents me from feeling overwhelmed or getting sidetracked. I often find myself stressing over the 9 million things I think have to be done in a day. By breaking everything down into a list it suddenly becomes more doable.
Lastly, I love to-do lists because I feel accomplished checking something off! I prefer to write out my daily to-do’s rather than make a list on my phone. Nothing compares to the feeling of having a to-do list completely checked off! At the end of this post I’ve included a free printable of the exact to-do list I made and use for myself.
How to Create an Effective To-Do List
When I make my list I don’t just write down a bunch of random things. I have guidelines to help me stay on top of my household chores, work related tasks, and everything else in between. My list is separated into three categories to keep me organized: work, home, and other.
My tasks for work vary day to day. However, I have a few constants like checking emails or posting on social media that I don’t include on my daily list. I know to complete these tasks daily automatically. The tasks on my to-do list are specific to that day in order to help me stay productive. For example, adding new listings to our website or contacting wholesale vendors for our shirts and bags. It is important for me to try to allow some flexibility in this category. With four small kids at home and life in general, things come up that can alter my daily plans.
*It is important to note that my husband Anthony shares in the responsibilities of running our small business. I don’t have to take on all of the tasks concerning our business by myself. My daily routine would look a whole lot different if it were just me running the business!
Tasks pertaining to running the house go in the “home” section of my list. This includes picking up groceries, paying bills, etc. The most important part of my list is adding tasks like laundry and other household chores each day. I choose one household chore to be done per day (dust, clean the bathrooms, mop, etc.). Because I vacuum and clean certain areas of the house automatically each day, those tasks don’t make it on my list.
In addition to one household chore, I aim to do one load of laundry from start to finish. Clothes, towels, bed sheets; whatever it is, one load per day. Let me be the first to admit, laundry is my ultimate downfall! If I did this every day I would never have laundry pile up. You may not need to do one load of laundry per day to keep up. At our house, it is practically mandatory!
Tasks that don’t fit in either the “work” or “home” categories go in the “other” category of my list. Taking one of the kids to the doctor or going to Jace’s baseball game for example. I am pretty specific so nothing gets forgotten. I plan out our schedule for the day around everything that needs to get done.
- Be realistic with your goals for the day. Don’t try to tackle a weeks worth of tasks in one day. I tend to add too much to my plate at once, which leaves me feeling disappointed when I can’t get everything done. Start basic and grow from there.
- It’s okay if everything doesn’t get done! I make a to-do list as a guide to help keep me on track throughout the day. Having a list doesn’t mean everything has to or will get done. Things come up and sometimes certain tasks aren’t able to be finished in a day. I just add them to my list for the next day and keep working to accomplish them! Try to tackle the most important tasks first so that if you run out of time at the end of the day those are taken care of!
- Allow flexibility. My list isn’t written in stone. Remember, it’s a guideline to help keep me on task. I find myself removing things from my list that I’d really rather not do that day if I can help it. That’s okay! As long as I don’t put off laundry for the entire week.. ha!
I hope this was helpful to any of you struggling being productive as a work at home mom! If you aren’t a work at home mom, you should be able to apply the same principals to your day. Below is a free printable of the to-do list I created for myself and use each day.
*Right click the image below and select “view image”. You may print the file from there!Daily To Do List
Next week I’ll be sharing about my morning and evening routines that also contribute to me being productive as a work at home mom. Be sure to subscribe (click “Subscribe” under my photo at the right of the page) and follow along on social media @bournesouthern so you don’t miss that post! Feel free to leave any other suggestions below. As always, you may comment with any questions or contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for stopping by!