I was browsing through a popular working mom forum recently and found a popular thread that was both interesting and disturbing. In the thread, moms were discussing their work schedule - a popular topic I like to discuss as well. On the forum, the moms were describing how much of their day they spend dedicated to writing part-time and it disturbed me. A lot.
The Ten-Hour Work Day
The biggest trend I saw for most of these work-at-home moms was that they were working over about ten hours per day. They would do a bit here and a bit there throughout the day. That's nothing new for those of us who work with kids.
The work schedule tends to swell to include all of the various duties that moms perform every month, so I wasn't surprised to see that some moms start working around ten in the morning and do a bit here and there until they finish up right after the kiddo's bedtime.
What bothered me wasn't that the posters were working when they can - that's a necessity. It's that they weren't actually working most of the time they described as working time. Most of them complained about all of the time they waste surfing the web, checking emails, following social networks and procrastinating. So out of the ten hours they are "working" on and off, they were actually only getting about two hours of work done per day.
That means about eight hours of the day were stressful and wasted because they were thinking about work while not actually working.
Two hours per day is the perfect amount of time to work if you're a part-time writer - at least in my humble opinion. You can easily fit two hours of work in before the kids get up in the morning if you're an early riser or you can squeeze it into a good nap time if you're dedicated.
Most of us seem to work our two hours in the evenings after the kids are in bed. So long as your hourly rate is high, ten hours per week can be nicely lucrative as well.
The Time Problem
The problem isn't the amount of time these moms actually work that is billable - two hours is two hours. The problem is the amount of time that the moms are using up valuable brain power actively not working!
Why would a mom spend hours every day thinking about work and dreading work and doing little bits and pieces of work when she can have it said and done in the span of a naptime?
I have a feeling it's more a habit than anything else.
Your Time Challenge
The time problem seemed to be pretty common among those with kids working at home, and it's very habit forming to procrastinate and waste time. If you find yourself in a similar spot - spending all day long thinking, dreading and dabbling at work; I'll offer you a true WAHM challenge.
Challenge yourself to do all of your work at once for a change. Make a list of the things you need to do tomorrow. How long should it realistically take? One hour? Two? This isn't a question of how long it's taken you with all of the distractions - it's a question of how long it SHOULD take.
Once you have your list and a reasonable time frame, your goal is to make it fit in that time frame and not even think about it the rest of the day. Set your alarm to get up two hours before your kids do. Or block out your evening so that you have two hours after the work of the mommy day is done.
Then, when the alarm goes off or the kids go down, sit down and work. Don't play on Pinterest or read fifty blog posts. Just work. Go right down your list of things to do until they are done.
You'll be amazed at how much more productive you are and how little time it really can take to earn the same amount you were making dragging your feet throughout the day. Plus you get the rest of your day back to enjoy and be productive in other areas.
If you finish your work time by making a list of things to do tomorrow, you can do it all again the next day. And the next. Pretty soon you'll have a formidable work ethic and a schedule that is far more productive.
Just be sure to leave yourself time for marketing once you get your billable hours productive and you'll ensure that you keep that productivity level constant and profitable going forward.