Summer was full of slow mornings and lots of free play time. Or it was full of boredom complaints and snack demands. Either way, the kids are back to school! And now mompreneurs and work-at-home moms everywhere will have All the Time to be productive!
Somehow, that’s not quite how it works out. It’s the “Kids at School” Time Myth.
The bus comes at 8 am and they are at school and out of the house until they return at 3:00. That is so much time to get work done! Then why doesn’t any significant work get done?
We forgot to factor in all of the other things that come along with the school year that suck up our time. First and foremost, paperwork! How do such small humans bring home that amount of paperwork nearly everyday? Once the initial paperwork is finished, then it’s the homework. Neither of these components were part of your daily summer routine.
Then there’s the meal planning because now you have to send your kids to school with lunch! And you need to think about it more than five minutes before lunch when you throw some veggies and ranch along with some sandwiches on the table. And of course the activities start now, too. So 3:00 is just the start of a whole other work day in which you get to play taxi for soccer, football, dance, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, music lessons, and the list can go on and on and on.
The kids may be out of the house for a longer period of time, but there are also additional tasks and responsibilities that come along with this time of year that make it all too easy to tell yourself you’ll get to your own work “later.” Moreover, since the kids aren’t home as much as they may have been all summer, when they are at home, they want and need more of your focused time and attention.
So how do you stay productive in your work and manage your family and home during the back-to-school transition?
The best way to start is to be intentional about focused time and multitasked time.
Let’s face it: we can’t be extremely focused all the time. We also can’t (and shouldn’t) multitask all the time. Our culture advocates for almost constant multitasking even though plenty of psychological and scientific research shows that it is not the most productive manner of working.
But sometimes it is necessary. If you aren’t intentional about when to choose each type of time and task management, you will find yourself trying to multitask with tasks that need true concentration and attempting to focus on a task when it’s clear all you have time for at the moment is multitasking.
Ultimately, you have to decide what tasks need your undivided attention, but in terms of optimizing how you can rock your business AND nurture your family, consider these thoughts…
- During dinner: If and when your family has the opportunity to sit down together for a meal, make that everyone’s focus. No phones, checking email or watching videos.
- Homework help: If you have school-age children, they will need your on-demand attention for homework help. It will actually take less time overall if you plan to just be available than if you attempt to multitask and then they need to wait for your help.
- Intentional family time: Like dinnertime, when you are having family game time or movie night, make it a point to concentrate on just that time together. Try to set up your schedule so that you can really take weekends to be with your family or actually relax together on family vacations.
- Communicating with clients: When it comes to work, your clients are your business, so make sure you are giving them your full attention what it’s time to do so. Whether it’s making sure you craft a clear email or are being attentive during a Skype session, your clients need to feel like a priority.
- Writing/creating/producing: Whatever your business may be, make sure you are devoting focused mind time and space for what’s at the heart of your business. If you are a writer, blogger or artist, create uninterrupted focused time to create. If you provide coaching services, make dedicated time to creating and producing relevant materials for your audience and for your individual coaching clients. Whatever it is you offer, a product or a service, spend the focused time to make it great.
- Self-care: Last but not least, make sure to dedicate some genuine time for self-care. Regardless of your business, women and mothers especially are notorious for neglecting the area of self-care. Focus on it. Without taking the proper time for you, you will have nothing to give to your business or your family.
- Morning rush: How can you not multitask during the morning rush? Sure, you can get as much ready as possible the night before, but something will be forgotten, spilled or cried about at some point. There’s just no focus during this point of the day once school starts. So go ahead and do as much at once as you can!
- During errands and chores: So this is my favorite “life hack” in general. Standing in a long line at the grocery store never bothers me anymore because I can steal time to check and answer emails, check on my social media accounts or jot down some blog and article ideas. I almost always listen to podcasts and do a lot of learning through them while I am washing dishes or cleaning the bathroom. And Gilmore Girls and laundry folding is my jam! (Okay, so that one’s more self-care than productivity, but you get the idea).
- Driving (safely!): Don’t go texting your clients or sending emails while driving, but listening to podcasts or recording voice notes for work ideas or reminders is okay. It’s also a great time to turn up old Michelle Branch songs and sing at the top of your lungs. No? Just me?
- Independent homework time: There will be times when your kids’ homework will be a breeze for them, or they are doing independent reading time. Now you can go ahead and multitask with household chores, bill paying, meal planning or business hustling.
I don’t believe that as an established or even a budding mompreneur that you didn’t know these things already. But so often when we are overwhelmed, we don’t take the time to think things through and be intentional.
When our to-do list is a mile and a half long, it can be easy to attempt to get it all done Right Now. I hope these lists will help you to be intentional and maximize your rock star potential for your business and your supermom status for your family especially as the chaos of the new school year begins.