One of the keys to staying productive and successful as a WAHM is staying organized. Leverage these 5 organization hacks for work at home moms to help you tame the disorganization beast!
When you work at home, you have countless things coming at you all day long — kids with permission slips that need to be signed, emails that need to be replied to, a spouse or partner that needs to talk, bills that need to be paid, social media posts that need to be published… On and on it goes. Without some semblance of organization, it’s easy to let overwhelm creep in and take over.
Organizing your work at home life is a key component to working smarter, not harder. Implement these 5 organization hacks and you’ll be amazed at how your productivity soars!
Ready to ditch the overwhelm and busy-ness in favor of a more productive and streamlined work at home environment? Let’s go!
5 Organization Hacks for WAHMs
1. Conquer the profusion of papers.
Even in this digital age, it seems that we can’t quite get away from endless piles of papers. The kids bring home papers from school. The toddlers draw countless masterpieces on scratch paper. The daily mail drop off brings even more paperwork. Find a recipe on a food blog that you love? Print it out.
And then there are the business-related papers. Maybe you like to print out client contracts to keep a hard copy. Or you print out transcriptions from your favorite webinars or courses so that you can refer back to them. How about those notes that you scribble while on a phone call with a potential assistant?
Wherever your papers come from, I have no doubt that they’re excessive and prone to clutter up your home. Getting them under control is easier than you think and the results on the overall organization of your home are almost instantaneous.
The quickest way to tame the paper beast is to touch each paper only one time. Whenever a new piece of paper comes into your home, take immediate action on it and deal with it right then and there. Decide where it needs to go and file it away appropriately. If there are papers that you’d be inclined to keep because they are a reminder for something in the future, snap a picture of it and email it to yourself or set up a reminder notification in your phone.
In our house, we have the “GC File” that we use for 99% of the kid’s papers. Kids HATE to hear that you are going to throw away something they brought home, even if it’s just a math worksheet. So, when we go through papers, we always have a stack that are for the GC File. (We don’t tell the kids that GC stands for garbage can…) If there are some really special papers — drawings, A+ tests, etc — that we want to save, we’ll just snap a picture of it with our phones and then add it to our family cloud photo storage.
For business papers, try to keep as many things digital as you possibly can. There really is no reason to print out things to keep a hard copy anymore. If you want to save something in a place that you’ll have access to always, use a folder in Google Drive or Dropbox. If you like to print out transcription or other learning-type papers, invest in a 3-hole punch, a big binder and some dividers. Store all of those papers there. For notes, keep a notebook or two on your desk that you use just for that purpose.
2. Maintain a Designated Work Space
Some of the lucky work at home moms among us have a physical office in their homes, with a door that closes. If you’re one of the lucky ones, be selfish with that space and don’t let the rest of the house spill over into that room. Keep the laundry piles away and fill the room with things that are essential to a productive working day.
Use bookshelves, filing cabinets, cubes, desktop organizers and any other tools that allow you to keep everything in an easily accessible yet well defined space. Take a few hours to truly organize everything in your office and then you’ll just need to maintain that organization on a daily basis, which is infinitely easier than trying to reorganize after a “clutter bomb” goes off during a busy week. Spend the last 5–10 minutes of every day making sure that you are organized for the morning — clear off your desk, throw away anything that you no longer need, put your coffee mug in the dishwasher, etc.
If you’re a work at home mom whose kitchen table, couch or local Starbucks does double duty as your office, you might think organization is impossible for you. That’s definitely not the case; you just need to be a little more creative! Find a backpack, tote bag or briefcase that you LOVE and turn that into your mobile office. Make sure it’s large enough to safely hold your laptop, power cords, a binder, a few notebooks and any other tools essential to your business. Use the different sections to hold your different items in a way that makes sense for you. Just like with a physical office space, make sure you spend 5–10 minutes at the end of each day to clean up and organize your mobile office so that it’s sparkly, shiny and ready to go for the next day of productivity!
3. Try Time Blocking
Time blocking is a powerful tool that can really transform your productivity and daily organization. But, before we get too far into the nitty-gritty of what time blocking is and why it’s so beneficial, I want to share a caveat. You HAVE to be adaptable at all times. Regardless of what you have time-blocked, know that there will always be times when another priority comes up. You have to be okay with that from the start or you’ll just get frustrated with time blocking before you even give it a genuine shot. View your time blocks as a guideline not a set-in-stone method.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get into what time blocking is and how it can be beneficial for you as a work at home mom.
Time blocking breaks your day into segments (or blocks) during which you focus on designated tasks. For example, a time blocked day can look something like this:
8–9 am — Emails
9–10am — Social media
10am-12pm — Content creation
12–1pm — Lunch and learn (read, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, etc)
1–2pm — Tackle any admin-type tasks
2–3pm — After school errands with the kids
3–4pm — Content creation
4–5pm — Emails and social media
5–9pm — Dinner and family time
9–10pm — Social media and planning for tomorrow
10–11pm — Relax and unwind
Google calendar is a great free resource for visually mapping out your day. I personally like the physical act of handwriting my schedule, so I use a planner from Erin Condren to map out my days and time blocks.
Elon Musk is a famed advocate for time blocking, although his methods of 5 minute time blocks are likely to extreme for the average WAHM…or any other mere mortal, to be honest. This article from Entrepreneur gives some good, humorous insight into how his method would work with your average person.
4. Outsource When and Where You Can
Work at home moms are amazing, but we are NOT superheroes! Try as we might, we just can not do everything, especially if we want to do it well. That’s why outsourcing can be an incredibly valuable organizational tool for a WAHM.
From home life to business life, there are a myriad of tasks that you can outsource.
For the business side of things, there are many tasks that you can outsource. If you’re in a position where you can hire a virtual assistant, go for it! That’s one of the best investments you can make in your business. Even having someone manage just 2–3 hours worth of tasks for you each week will make a tremendous difference in your productivity, organization and even the bottom line of your business by freeing you up to focus on income-earning tasks.
5. Find A Coach or Community To Keep You On Track and Accountable
Organization does not come naturally for many people. If that’s you, recognize it, accept it and then find a way to counteract it. One of the best ways you can do that is by working directly with an organization coach (there are some great options online — ask around on social media and you’ll probably get some great names) or by finding a community, such as The WAHM Collective, to help you stay on track.
The WAHM Collective was founded on the principle that work at home moms have many needs across multiple areas of their lives and that they should have an outlet to have those needs supported and served in one location. By bringing together 20 experts in their fields (who are all also work at home moms), the Collective offers a central hub for WAHMs to organize their business, family and life. From menu plans to business plans and everything in between (including live trainings specifically focused on decluttering and organization), The WAHM Collective will help you successfully navigate every area of your work at home life. Check it out today!