When I first became a mom, I thought I had discovered the holy grail: I could maintain a career working from home!
It sounded amazing—like the perfect integration of work + life that I always dreamed about.
The problem, though, was that for me, it just wasn't working.
I slowly realized that for me, getting focused work accomplished at home with my little one, (even if I have a babysitter with him in the next room) is nearly impossible.
I've realized that at any moment, my child will want me if he knows I'm in the next room. And it takes herculean restraint not to step out the door and give comfort when I hear the cries. I've also had a few too many phone calls while my son screamed bloody murder and beat me with a stuffed animal. #goodtimes
Does any of this sound familiar?
But here's the amazing thing I've discovered: a Mom with only three hours for her work can accomplish more than most people do in a traditional work day.
So if you want to get more accomplished and make headway, you might need to step out of the house and get some focus.
I've started to work outside the home, and it's made all the difference.
Here's 3 ways to get quality work done as a busy mama.
Get out of the house!
“Work from home" sounded totally enticing to me, until it happened. I found that staying inside my house was actually detrimental to my efficiency at work.
Thus, leaving the house for an alternate workspace helped create a separation in my mind that this was really “work time."
But here's the upside: No one works faster or more efficiently than a mom with a time limit.
In other words, you don't have to be gone too long to get a lot accomplished. I often encourage moms who are starting a business to carve out two mornings a week to step out of the house with her laptop and get working.
Two mornings a week hopefully doesn't feel too overwhelming on the heart or the wallet, and carves out much needed space to get something done without disturbance.
Most mamas I talked to are amazed by what can be generated by stepping away from the home space.
Find a space that works for YOU
Once you've committed to stepping out, the question is where do I go?
I've discovered that different spaces work for me for different reasons. When I'm writing I must be in a coffee shop.
I don't know if it's the coffee or the hum of voices that help me focus, but words flow through my fingers in the coffee shop atmosphere.
For my DC, NYC and LA Mamas, Le Pain Quotidien is my favorite place to eat healthy food, drink organic coffee and work alongside other people with laptops.
But when I meet with my community manager and we dive into our events, content and social media strategy, we love to work out of the Grind, a great coworking environment for entrepreneurs.
The space is full of light, innovative people…and good coffee.
With Vanilla Almond milk, we get a lot done.
Best of all, you can become a member at no cost and simply pay a day rate.
This allows me to go when it works and never feel like I'm losing money if I don't make it in; an important feeling for a Mama starting her work life again.
Believe in your dreams—and value them
If you tell yourself that what you're working on has no purpose in the world or you downplay it when you talk to people (“oh it's nothing, just something I dabble with on the side"), well then that's how it's going to feel.
Even if you can only give six hours a week right now to your idea, OWN the importance of that time and what you're creating within it.
If you don't believe in the power of what you can create, even as a busy mom, then no one else will, I assure you.
At the end of the day, it's the quality not the quantity of your output.
I would rather give six focused, productive hours a week to my ideas than fifteen that are distracted, noisy, and ridden with tears (mine and my child's).
As women, sometimes we even question if it's good to leave our children in the hands of someone else to pursue our own ideas.
Here's what I've decided: Spending time with the caregivers has made my son more well-rounded and more open to people in general.
But most importantly: I want to be a model for my son.
I want him to know what a woman looks like who runs after her passions and creates something.
I also want him to respect me as a woman and I think it will translate to the respect he has for the woman he will partner with one day.
Lastly, I want you to know that I understand how hard this juggle can be. Sometimes it all works and some days it. just falls. apart.
Having the compassion for yourself to begin somewhere, and to have confidence in the mark you're making on the world—at work, and at home.
Randi Zinn is founder of BeyondMom, a NYC-based resource helping mothers find wholeness and wellness.