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Work-at-home mom's guide to getting things done

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

While the kids are away...

Summer's over and the kids are headed back to school. Now it's time to make the most of your free time while they are away. Smart changes will help you get more done during your kid-free time.
Mom working at home

Goodbye juggling work and kid time, balancing parenting with your to-dos. Goodbye trying to make sure your kids are having plenty of fun while you also get plenty done. Goodbye higher temperatures, lazy afternoons and evenings catching fireflies.

School's in session — and for work-at-home moms everywhere that means it’s time to shed the freewheeling days of summer in favor of getting things done again.

So, how do you get back into the flow of things, work smarter and still enjoy your days? Work-at-home moms spilled their secrets to work smarter.

Make work a place you “go”

You get up, get the kids off for the day and then... what? Instead of letting work and personal blend together into a continuous flow, make work more official with a routine — including a start and stop time.

“Have a transition from home to work — perhaps walking the dog and when you return home you're at ‘work.’ Or, when you pour your first cup of coffee and take it into your office. Anything that you do the same every day that separates home from work,” says Eileen M. Tanner of Washington, a media director.

Your family will thank you for it.

Get dressed

No, really, we mean it. Besides the fact that the whole neighborhood doesn't need to see your PJs at the bus stop, there’s a certain mental shift that comes with actually getting yourself ready for the day and to be most productive, you really need it.

“Don't wear your pajamas every day. Take a shower. Fix your hair. Put on some makeup. Just as if you're going to work,” says Tanner.

Besides, it’s helpful to be all ready to go when asked to do a surprise video conference at 1 p.m. — rather than sitting there in your Snoopy jammies with bedhead.

Be a goal getter

Do you hear that? It's the sound of quiet — and it can lull you away from the work you need to do. So head it off by setting daily goals — or at least making a to-do list. If you were in the office, you would want to be sure you accomplished certain things during the work day so that your time is productive. The same goes for working at home too.

“Set goals. Determine the number of tasks you're going to complete before you leave your office to put the clothes in the dryer,” says Tanner.

Stay motivated

Motivation? It matters. A lot. But you have to figure out what is motivation for you. It’s different for everyone. Perhaps it’s being a successful woman who only works a limited amount of hours a week or being able to dedicate after school time to the kids.

 “Bottom line is first to figure out what motivates you — some people are motivated by checking things off a list, others by novelty or competition — it helps to get clear, so you can use it. I'm really motivated by being available to talk after school,” says Elaine Taylor-Klaus of Georgia, CEO of ImpactADHD.com.

Be disciplined

Valerie Cudnik, a graphic designer in Virginia, has worked at home for years and says that self-discipline is essential.

“I don't know that it's so much a matter of 'motivation' when it comes to staying focused on the work. It's about self-discipline. And it's no different for moms to dads to single people. Some people just need supervisors, else they slack off,” says Cudnik.

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