By Allison Rice
More and more studies are emerging regarding the best way to incentivize employees to make them more productive and happy. From rewards and recognition programs to bonuses and perks involving both time and money, the simple truth is that the more motivated we are, the harder we work.
And who exemplifies self-motivation and hard work better than female entrepreneurs and professionals who are also work-at-home mothers? Whether you are blessed with a career that allows flexibility to work from home or are just starting your own business, there are certain principles to observe if you want to conquer the dual arenas of “work life” and “home life.” Here are five fundamental doctrines of the most productive and happy professional moms who work from home.
1. Learn to Love Lists
The List is the efficiency-expert’s number one tool for staying successful.
You won’t forget things. How many times have you gone to the grocery store without a game plan and gotten everything except what you actually needed for dinner that night? Not fun and not efficient.
You can prioritize and monitor your progress. When you have a million tasks to accomplish each day, few things are as satisfying as checking items off of your list. And when you can see a map of your day right in front of you, it makes it easier to do what you want to do when you want to do it and know that at the end of the day, it’s all getting done.
You can clear the clutter of your mind by writing down an item and then moving on to another topic. It’s made its way onto paper – it’s not going anywhere. Unless it gets lost in the wasteland that is your office; which brings us to our next point…
2. Play the Part
I know: one of the perks to working from home is NOT having to dress up in a corporate suit every day – in addition to the boatloads of cash saved on dry cleaning! However, studies have shown time and again that recreating a working office environment plays a major part in your daily productivity. This means:
Get dressed. There is a happy medium between your pajamas and a pencil skirt, so find it. Not only do you send your brain that much-needed jolt to get it out of schlumpy-mode, but you also alleviate some of the stress that comes with being unprepared when clients and visitors drop by unannounced.
Keep semi-structured hours. Much of the attractiveness of a work from home set-up is the ability to set one’s hours; however, try to maintain some sort of routine within your flexibility. This will also make it easier for your body to adapt a natural rhythm for work-time and relax-time.
3. Keep it organized
Organize your workspace, whatever it may be. Not only do you feel more on top of things mentally, but you also don’t waste precious minutes rifling through stacks on your desk. It also sends the message to the rest of your family that mommy has professional commitments in addition to the seventeen other hats she wears and helps them to respect your time spent working on those obligations.
4. Keep it separated
Whenever possible, try to create a workspace that is entirely separate from the rest of your home environment. Even if you do not have a dedicated home office that you can barricade yourself in – and close the doors to keep everyone else out – try to avoid setting up shop in your bedroom or living room where it will constantly beckon to you.
5. You’re only human, after all
Regarding the equal pull of work and family on female entrepreneurs and professionals, a wise woman once said, “It’s not about ‘finding balance.’ It’s a juggle.”
The idea is that once you stop trying to maintain an inherently impossible balancing act between your work/personal lives, and recognize the fallacy in that logic – that no one person can be everything to everyone at the same time – you will find more freedom and balance than ever before. Naturally, you will manage all of your responsibilities better because you are no longer confronted by that nagging pressure to attain simultaneous perfection.
The characterization of juggling is more appropriate (and more forgiving) because although everything is still in constant motion, you only have one item in your hand at one time and you need only devote your attention to your various obligations in individual stages rather than all at once.
In short, it’s about dropping the “all or nothing” attitude and embracing moderation. When you are spending time playing with your kids, actually be present with them instead of allowing yourself to be distracted by the 10 emails sitting in your Inbox. They will still be there when you’re ready to tackle them but now your children will feel valued (and thus, less clingy!) and you will be able to hand them over without the guilt and turn your focus to your work. Win-win!
What are some of the other practices you’ve developed along the way to feel more happy and productive when working from home? Do you have any other tips where your children are concerned?
Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of customized pens to order and other promotional products to grow your business and thank customers. Allison regularly contributes to the Promo & Marketing Wall blog, where she provides actionable business tips.