While being a WAHM (work-at-home mom) has its advantages, one of the biggest misconceptions is the belief that those of us who do it are always at home to work—quite the contrary! Many of us who telecommute, particularly those of us with children, still have to find time to take our kids to and from school, to various appointments, sports practices, music lessons, extracurricular activities, and social functions. Those events rarely jibe with work deadlines, so one must find a way to multi-task and do it all.
As I write this, I am sitting in a high school auditorium, waiting for my son’s 9th grade orientation to begin. Other places I have gotten work done include in my car (not while driving, of course!), on an airplane, on the subway, in the doctor’s waiting room, in a shopping mall food court, on a park bench, and poolside, among others. In the spirit of fellow writer, Dr. Seuss, someday I hope to add “in a box with a fox” and “in a house with a mouse” to my growing list of “Oh, the places I have written!:
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Over the years I’ve gotten a lot better about finding ways to get work done even while away from my desk. In fact, sometimes being in the cocoon of my vehicle and away from distractions proves to be more productive. Here are some tips next time you find yourself on deadline and in the dentist’s waiting room.
- Plan ahead. Keep an agenda that includes your work assignments as well as your child’s events so that you can clearly see when there are conflicts in your schedule. This way you will be able to figure out well in advance how you’re going to handle it.
- Keep a legal pad in your car and a journal in your bag at all times. Whether you’re waiting in the carpool lane to pick your child up from school, in the orthodontist’s office, or in a long drive-thru line at the bank, use your time wisely. Whip out your legal pad or journal and get to work.
- Make use of time in the car. Much of the time you’re out and about, you will probably be driving. But just because you can’t write while at the wheel doesn’t mean you can’t brainstorm. Think up new assignments or ideas for current assignments while on the go. If you need to touch base with a boss or co-worker, or you just want to bounce ideas off a friend, use your time in the car or running errands to give them a call—just make sure you use a hands-free device and common sense to stay safe.
- Use technology to your advantage. If you have a small laptop, netbook, tablet device or smart phone with data plan, you have everything you need at your fingertips. Access the Internet from your device to use websites such as Google Docs, and apps like Evernote to get work done.
- Be in the moment. Multi-tasking is great and as mothers, we’ve become very good at it. That being said, sometimes (likes when your child is sick and wants to cuddle)—it’s best to just close up shop for the day and be there for them. Know your limits and be conscious of when you’re taking something away from your family or yourself by doing too much. You may have to “recalibrate” on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis—that’s okay. If you start to feel unbalanced, take a step back, reprioritize, and see how you can make schedule changes (such as waking up an hour earlier or cutting out unnecessary visits to social media sites), so that you can do quality work and devote plenty of time to your family as well.