My Best Productivity Tips For Work-at Home Moms


Three young children. Home management. Freelancing. Like most moms, I’m busy. All the time. Back in the day, I knew how to be a super-productive teacher and graduate student, too.


But trying to transfer workplace productivity into home management and freelance work left me feeling like the perverbial hamster plugging away on that blasted wheel.

So I made some changes.


I kept the good habits, and did away with (and still doing away with) the old. When I allowed my writing to turn into part-time freelancing work, my system needed an overhaul. I’m still tweaking things, but here is what helped me.


1.Get ready for the day at the start of the day. This advice comes from my mom. I don’t always follow it, I’m never sorry when I do. Whatever getting ready means for you – do it before the kids get out of bed. You’re all set when your doorbell unexpectedly rings, or you remember last-minute that it’s your job to take snacks to ball practice.


2. Shorten the appearance process. If you wear makeup, and if you have hair, learn to fix them both in under 5 minutes. Sometimes this means not washing hair. Forget the 5-minute face. 3-4 minutes tops means you can do it on your way out the door.


3. Improvise. If it’s been a couple of days since you made it to the shower, and you have to run an errand, just put on workout clothes. The people in the checkout line will get it. You smell because you’re training for that 10K. Even if you’re not. (And a little sweat smells a thousand times better than an overdose of perfume).


4. Stop over explaining/trying to reason with your children. When possible, answer their questions regarding permissions to do this or that with a yes or no – nothing else.


5. Don’t compare yourself with other parents. It’s okay to learn from them, but don’t, under any circumstances, allow them to intimidate you. I include this as a productivity tip because I’ve wasted a precious lot of time comparing myself with others. Learning to break that habit has saved both time and energy (not too mention sanity).


6. Keep a variety of  food in the fridge you can pull out fresh.
My favorites include sugar snap peas, dried fruits, cherry tomatoes, pasta/pizza sauce, fresh bell peppers, roast beef, grilled chicken, and sandwich fixins. Rock-solid frozen casseroles have nothing on these foods when it comes to putting together a nutritious and convenient meal in a pinch.


7. Use a tickler file. Here is how to start.


8. Work from Context lists rather than To Do lists. I learned about making a different kind of lists from David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD). Revolutionary. For me, anyway.


9. Use short batches, or intervals, of time. It’s hard for me to start on a big task when I don’t know how much time I can commit to it. But that shouldn’t let me off the hook from doing certain tasks when I only have a few minutes. This article on highly productive people from Yahoo Shine! calls it “balancing your workload.” Have tasks you can do while kids are getting shoes on getting to the car, or a list of  phone calls you can make while you’re in the car rider line at the end of the school day. These little batches of work add up over time.


  1. Hi Rhonda,
    I just found your blog and can’t wait to look deeper into it. The first post caught my eye because, like you, I’m always looking for ways to get it all done. I was pleasantly surprised to not find the usual productivity hints here. You know, I can only try so many planners, schedules, and meal plans. But you hit on those little foxes that sneak in and steal little snippets that turn into big chunks of time.
    Looking forward to reading more.

  2. Thanks, Carol! I wanted to the tips to be real, and not the normal kinds of productivity tips. :) Reigning in the little “snippets” of time helps me out a lot.

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