As work at home moms, we have many hats to wear. Heck, moms of any type (stay-at-home, work-at-home or work-out-of-the-home) do. But working at home has its particular challenges, especially when it comes to staying on task and being productive while at the same time being attentive to your children.
Personally, I struggle sometimes. On some days, I just want to snuggle and play with my kid, while on other days I’m in “the zone” working. Neither of those is sustainable. Here are five apps—my essential apps—that help me strike a balance between my work/mom roles.
Evernote is my go-to app for just about everything. I use the desktop version, web clipper and Android versions. One of my favorite ways to use it is to store my son’s art. My toddler scribbles and “colors” often, but the refrigerator can only hold so many pieces of paper. I keep my favorites up for a while and snap pictures of them when I take them down. I love the fact that I can share certain notes and folders with my husband (or anyone else).
I also use Evernote to store research for my writing projects, seasonal to-do lists, ideas for our house, confirmation numbers for our bills, and just about everything else that I’d like to keep. I use the tagging feature, but I’m not meticulous about it because the search function works well for my needs. I find the premium subscription to be helpful because I take pictures of my scribbled notes often, and with premium, you can search for texts within documents. That feature is a lifesaver.
I use two Pomodoro timers on my phone. The first is my favorite, and it’s called Clockwork Tomato. It’s my top pick because you can set the timers to whatever you want. Although the Pomodoro Technique recommends working for 25 minutes and taking a break for 5, starting with just 10 minutes on a task I dread works better for me. My second choice is Pomodroido. It’s free, and you achieve higher levels as you complete more pomodoros.
Can I just admit here and now that I suck at cleaning? It’s not something that comes naturally to me. Unlike other people who have a natural tendency toward order, mine is toward chaos. I look at a messy room and sometimes feel overwhelmed about where to start. Motivated Moms provides me with an easy checklist to complete every day. It addresses all areas of the home and keeps it tidy enough to be manageable without being too much of a time suck.
Although Trello’s primary function is as a project management tool, I use it to manage work, personal and household projects. The visual experience of dragging something from my Today column to the Done column is extremely satisfying.
My columns are set up as follows:
- Today – things to do today
- Incoming – things that need to be sorted into one of the other columns
- This Week – things to do this week
- This Month – things to do this month
- Next Month – things to do next month
- Later – things with due dates past the next month
- Done – things that I have accomplished today (gets cleared everyday)
- Waiting on Payment – completed projects that I need to invoice
Trello also gives you six different colored labels to use on your cards. I’ve assigned one to each of my major clients, one to my personal writing and one to household projects.
Play around with the setup until you find one that works for you. I found this article helpful when I first started.
When I plan to spend five minutes on Facebook or 10 minutes on a forum, that small allotment of time can stretch into hours if I’m not careful. I use Stay Focusd to help me do just that—stay focused on what I need to do. I’ve set it to 60 minutes a day for Facebook, Twitter and my favorite forums combined. Once I reach 60 minutes, the sites are blocked until midnight. You can set the time to whatever you want, but I found that anything less didn’t give me enough time to post and interact.
What are your essential apps for increasing productivity? Share them in the comments!
This post originally appeared on ProductiveWAHM.
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