Friday, February 4, 2011

Protecting Your Work at Home Time & Space

As a work at home mom with young children, my writing time is limited and I have to make the most of the hours I have allotted to my online efforts. I've found that I am able to be most productive when my writing schedule is clearly set, family members are aware, and I make every effort to protect my work time and space -- and you should, too. It will make all the difference in your success or failure as an online writer or internet marketer.

 The first objective is to set a schedule for your work hours. Determine what's practical, keeping in mind your ideal time of day (are you a morning bird or does your brain function best at night?) and family schedules. For my situation, it works best for me to work from 5:30-8 a.m. three days a week. I also get some additional work time on other mornings if I'm up early and the kids are sleeping, but three days out of the week, my husband is "on-call" for the kids in the early hours, supervises morning routines and gives them breakfast as I finish up my writing time.

Make sure family members (down to the little ones!) are aware of your planned writing/ working time. Conversely, be fully present for them when you aren't working, minimizing computer time when it's not productive, and your kids will be more respectful of your set work hours.

You'll find that even with a set schedule and plan, you'll need to make an effort almost daily to protect your work at home time and desk/ office area from intrusion, distraction and even your own laziness. To that end, remind family members as needed that you're working, and you'll be able to talk/ help in 10 minutes, an hour -- at your designated stop time. Do not answer the phone while you're doing your work. Do not check your email unless you need something specific for the task at hand.

Keep your work desk neat as a pin -- you will find yourself much more productive when you have a clean, ordered space that feels professional. 

Avoiding distractions online -- unnecessary email checking, reading news or forums unrelated to your work at home daily tasks, and other time-wasting traps -- is crucial for your success. Keep yourself on track by writing a short list of items you need to accomplish at your next work session, after finishing the day's tasks and while everything is fresh in your mind.

I keep my daily tasks list in a notebook stored in my top desk drawer. Each morning, I take it out and keep it by my computer as I work, reminding me of what's next and giving me the satisfaction of checking off items I've accomplished.

How do you protect your work at home time and space to increase your writing income?


Sabrina said...

I think this can pertain to anyone who trying to make money online. Even though I am a college student and not a wahm I can definitely relate to what you are saying.

Currently I don’t make tons of money each month online, but I make a decent amount. In order to maintain and improve upon what I’ve been doing the key for me is time management and avoiding distractions.

Prerna said...

Excellent post, Maria. I'm all for protecting my work time and space.Like you, I wake up early and get in 3 hours of work straight before turning into mommy for my toddler. I think that's the best part of working at home, you learn about the fine art of time management.

Peg said...

Another online writer and I were just discussing staying focused and working smarted. These tips can help me get on the right track. I'm guilty of checking email, Facebook, Etsy, you name it!, when I should be working. Thanks again, Maria!

jsevenup said...

Boy, this is very timely. I have that habit of checking to FB, also. Thanks for the reminders, Maria. :)

I saw your comment on the LM5 forums about buying a three-word domain? Should you start your own or buy one already made?

Maria said...

Sabrina, that's great you're starting in college -- I wish I had!

Prerna -- Yes, those early morning hours are often so perfect for moms trying to get work done. Kudos to you for setting the time aside.

Peg, exactly -- the checking and re-checking wastes so much time. It's key to avoid distractions to see success.

J, I have always started my domains from scratch but if the domain name you most want is already taken, available for sale, and affordable, by all means, buy it.

Sharla said...

These are great tips! I try to make the expectations clear, but inevitably, I get lots of little knocks at my office door when I am trying to write! I think having clearly defined hours may be what I need to do. Thanks!

MicroSourcing said...

Keeping your work area clutter-free is a big challenge, especially when you're home-based and you feel more lax than you would be at an office cubicle.

Ben Jones said...


I agree with you. I need to do a better job of keeping my desk clean and keeping a to-do list. I think it's crucial to have "sacred" time and then leave it alone during family time.

Anna Colke said...

I just started my work at home journey today. I've been struggling with "work" space vs. "family" space and time management.

I have been loving all your posts and find so much useful information. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us. You are truely an inspiration to this WAHM!

Stacey Sudol said...

I just started my own work from home business. The kids have certainly been the biggest challenge.

I've tried getting time in after they go to bed, but this is a fantastic idea to just get up early instead.

The next step is to build a little office to keep the kids out of my work!!

Workathomemom said...

I used to have problems keeping family life separate from work. I recently set up an office in a separate room and close the door when I'm working. My son is 14year old so it helps that he can take care of himself. I am also trying to wake up a few hours earlier than the family so that I can get work done and not have to worry about distractions (a hungry kid, cleaning, barking dog, etc.) Loved the post!