In this post about my learning to handle time management as a new work-at-home-mom, I talked about utilizing my child’s infectious energy to keep me on task throughout the day. Now that we have the daily routine down pretty well, I’m beginning to realize just how inefficient my “office” set up actually was. So, here’s Secret #2 for WAHM Time Management!

Create dedicated office space!

It seems so obvious, but in our duplex, I really didn’t think there was enough room to create a dedicated work space for me. We had a desk set up in our spare bedroom, but with family in and out so much the past several months and the junk that continued to accumulate, it wasn’t terribly functional. I needed a place with no distractions. And all of my forgotten sewing/mending projects staring me in the face was NOT going to work.

So, I decided the next best thing would be to just work on the couch while C played or watched TV. It seemed like a good idea at the time… However, after finding myself distracted by watching My Little Ponies for the umpteenth time, I decided it was time for a change.

Clear out space

Like I said, the spare room was a disaster zone. But, this month was my last chemo treatment (hopefully… yay!), so we probably won’t have family coming so often to help take care of C. It was time to take back my office space!

Erik and I spent most of last Sunday afternoon plowing through box after box of STUFF in there. Correction: *I* spent the afternoon plowing through boxes. Erik quickly became my dedicated shredding master. We had moved so quickly the last time, I had kept bags and folders full of stuff that needed to be shredded. It just never happened, and I kept shuffling the bag around. Not anymore! Hasta la vista, papers!

We got rid of much more junk than I realized we had, so we actually had more room to work with once it was gone. Huzzah! More stuff gone + more space to create = better work space for me!

Reorganizing to “batch” tasks & supplies

Once all the junk was thrown away and the stuff to donate was boxed up, what was left got a complete makeover. We moved the desk to the other side of the room, so I could take advantage of the natural light from the window. Plus, moving the desk put me right next to our filing cabinet, so maybe I’ll actually work on filing periodically. Wouldn’t THAT be a novel idea?

So, the desk goes near the filing cabinet for ease of filing, and we also added a small cart-like shelving unit on the other side of the desk to hold papers to be shredded, filed, and otherwise sorted. All paperwork/filing items are now in the same general area of the room. Wahoo!

Any supplies I could possibly need are now stored in the same vicinity, as well, so I’m not searching all over the room – or worse all over the HOUSE – for whatever I need right in that moment. It’s a work in progress, but it’s MUCH more functional now than it was previously! (And of course, what’s a new office space without a 3yo’s half-eaten candy cane? Well, it’s *almost* my space. :))

Create a kiddo space

I managed to tetris all the boxes we still needed to store into the closet, which freed up enough space on the wall opposite my desk to create a Montessori-style “desk” area for C. She has her tablet, charger, and a whole shelf of activity trays she can pull out, play with, and put back all on her own. I have a list and several pins on Pinterest with ideas for more independent activity trays, so the plan is to switch out her activities once a week-ish, so she doesn’t get bored and mutiny on the whole “work” thing.

I should mention that nearly everything in C’s work space is courtesy of “YardSale.Dad,” as Papaw is fondly known in our family. He collects the most random stuff at yard sales and we tease him mercilessly about his obsession, but it never fails: whenever I call with a “Hey, Dad, I need…” request, he almost ALWAYS has something that will work – and often he has multiples, so I can choose the one that best suits my needs. Welcome to C’s corner, little blue folding table and Buzz & Woody folding chair! You will be well-loved here. 🙂

C is actually pretty excited about “working” alongside me at her very own desk now. Today she was “showing” me her “graphics” she created on her tablet — which really just meant she imagined she created something on the off screen. But, she was creating right along with me!

Employ that kiddo energy otra vez!

(For those that don’t speak Spanish, otra vez simply means “again.” Sometimes it still slides in there from my teaching days. :))

Getting C involved in our daily routine has helped more than I could have ever anticipated, and now that she has her own work space, it’s even better. When she sees on her schedule that it’s quiet play time, she grabs my hand and drags me back to the spare room, so we can work together.

Sometimes she still gets restless before I’m quite ready to be done, so she comes over and sits on my lap while I finish. She really loves “helping” create graphics. And other than the “everything must be purple” phase she’s in, she has a pretty good eye for a three-year-old!

Benefits for Time Management Secret #2

Work Stays At Work

It has been amazing to see how much more focused I am on teaching and playing with C during our non-work hours now! My computer is no longer sitting on the couch beside us taunting me. “You really should be working, you know. There could have been a resume order come through. You might have a comment on the blog. Shouldn’t you check before they think you don’t care??”

Ug. Computer taunting is the WORST. However, now that my computer lives at my desk in the spare room and is mostly out of sight, out of mind, C and I are finding distraction-free time to just focus on each other and grow together. I’m LOVING this benefit to creating a dedicated work space!

Work Time Is More Efficient

I knew trying to work on the couch wouldn’t be my most efficient plan yet, but it seemed like my only choice since I needed to keep an eye on C, too. I am SO glad we decided to take a chance on this dedicated office project! Not only is my time with C more focused on her, but my work time in the office is more focused on — wait for it — WORK! It’s crazy!

We head in to the spare room as soon as C tells me it’s time to work. She marches straight over to her desk to discover what activity looks best to start, and I sit down to a beautifully organized desk (for now, I kind of doubt it will stay that way) with a ready-to-go to-do list, so I can get down to business.

I’m learning what it means to do blogging activities in batches, which saves incredible amounts of time. Plus, there’s nothing (besides the sound of C singing across the room) to distract me. No TV, no kid mess in my immediate field of vision, no household distractions (like how badly I need to dust the side table or clear off the credenza, which really should have happened MONTHS ago…). None of that. Just a clean desk, a bulletin board with my inspirations and project to-do lists.

I am a huge fan of this Secret #2 for WAHM Time Management. What other tips do you have to share? I’d love to hear how other WAHMs make it all work throughout the day!