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How to stay productive when working from home?

stay productive when working from home


Did you notice the question mark in the title? Currently, I’m taking a few weeks off and I find it is almost impossible to do any work while baby RB40 is awake.  I’m talking blogging related tasks such as writing, reading other blogs, commenting, fixing technical issues, and a few other things using the laptop.

Here is baby RB40’s current daycare schedule.

Saturday – Sunday: Mom and dad are home

Monday: Dad home with baby

Tuesday – Thursday: Baby goes to daycare from 8 to 5pm.

Friday: Dad home with baby

On Monday and Friday, I can’t get anything done at all until baby RB40 goes down for a nap. If I turn on the laptop in his play area, he would come up to the coffee table and try to bang on the keyboard. He would get fussy and then move onto crying in a few minutes. I can get on the laptop for about 5 minutes and check emails very quickly. That’s about it.

How do stay at home mom bloggers do it??? I guess I can just ignore the little dude and let him cry for a while, but I can’t write anything with him wailing in my ears. It’s impossible to concentrate with him being so noisy.

Question > When will the little dude be able to entertain himself for about 10 minutes at a time? (General consensus seems to say this will happen when he is about three. Mrs. RB40)

Stay Productive when working from home

Anyway, I am much more productive on Tuesday to Thursday. Here are some of the things that help me stay focused and productive.

Work first. It’s best to start the day off right and get to work right away. If I goof off and read, play video games, or go to the store, it will be noon before I know it. If I get cracking right away, then usually I have a productive morning and that will set the tone for the rest of the day.

Productive work space. This one is a must for anyone working from home. You need a comfortable chair and an office desk in a quiet space. I’m most productive on my desktop computer in the home office. The laptop is nice, but a desktop with the big monitor and the full size keyboards greatly increase my productivity.

Try a change of location. I find that if I have a writer’s block, it’s best to have a little change of scenery. I have been going to the library because it’s a great work space. It’s quite and there are a bunch of current magazines to help kick loose some ideas. Most importantly – they have free wifi and I don’t have to buy a coffee or anything. 🙂

I’m finding out the harsh truth about being a stay at home dad/blogger. It’s not easy to do anything, let alone being productive when the kiddo is around. Regardless, I have much more fun staying home with baby than going to my day job. Although I have to stay up late to do blog-related work, I am much more relaxed and my shoulders are even starting to feel better. They have been knotted up for months and it took some physical therapy + this time off to help them get better.

Well, if you are a stay at home mom/dad blogger, please share your secrets. FYI, baby RB40 is just a bit over 1 year old now.

Read Kevin’s post on where he gets his work done at Invest It Wisely.


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{ 49 comments… add one }
  • Elaine Colliar March 23, 2012, 1:16 am

    I port the laptop to where he wants to play – I can stand at the kitchen when he is playing at the table – pop it on the ironing board when he is in the playroom – and rattle through my list when he has a sneaky cartoon time ………………… but most of all, what I do is ……………

    Get up darn early – like 4am early. I go to bed at his time and get up super early and work a cracking three hours or so until he wakes up some time after 7am.

    Any work I squeeze in throughout his day is a bonus – but the basics are taken care of in the small wee hours or after he is in bed at 7pm.

    Not ideal – but then they are not littlies forever are they?

    • retirebyforty March 24, 2012, 8:37 pm

      4am is way too early for me. I work a bit better at night.
      You’re right. He’ll be off to school someday and I’ll have plenty of time to work. 🙂

  • Money Infant March 23, 2012, 1:24 am

    Get up early before baby RB40 is up, work while he naps and stay up after her goes to bed. My daughter is 22 months old now and she can entertain herself for 10-15 minutes occasionally so you can probably look forward to getting some time during the day once baby RB40 is 2 years old or so. Just enough to check email and RSS feeds though, writing and technical work will require he be sleeping.

    • retirebyforty March 24, 2012, 8:38 pm

      2 years old will come up before I know it. 10-15 minutes window will be really good.

  • Well Heeled Blog March 23, 2012, 8:40 am

    Baby RB40 is adorable! I’m sure he “pays you back” in terms of blogging inspiration, right, right? 😉

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2012, 9:24 pm

      Thanks! He inspired this post. 🙂

  • Marianne March 23, 2012, 9:07 am

    I have the same problem. I used to be able to get a bit of work done before he got up but he’s just started getting up earlier so I haven’t been able to do that in a bit. Now I work while he is napping (right now) and when he’s gone to bed at night. The biggest struggle I have right now is that we’ve temporarily given his room to my brother-in-law and moved the baby into our room. My office is in our room and my baby is a light sleeper. Sometimes my typing- or some other noise- wakes him up and that is so frustrating. He doesn’t like it when I try to go on the computer while he is awake. He doesn’t mind playing by himself but starts fussing if I sit down at the computer. He also tries to bang on the laptop if I use that. Not gonna lie- it’s a bit frustrating right now but like everything, I’ve been realizing that everything is just a phase and this too shall pass. 🙂 Plus it’ll be great when we can move him back into his own room!

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2012, 9:28 pm

      I have been working after he goes to bed too (right now.) 🙂
      My guy usually can sleep through my typing, but I try to use the laptop while he’s asleep.
      I guess they don’t like it when we pay attention to something else. Hope it will be better for you soon.

  • Modest Money March 23, 2012, 10:06 am

    I have a hard enough time staying productive with 2 cats and no kids. I can’t imagine how much tougher it would be while trying to take care of a baby. Have you ever considered hiring a nanny to help out?

  • Frugal Portland March 23, 2012, 10:12 am

    Have another one? Then they’ll entertain each other? No idea, I’m single.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2012, 9:30 pm

      I heard that too, but I think 2 will just be twice as much trouble. 🙂 We’re pretty good with one.

  • Laura March 23, 2012, 10:18 am

    Every situation and child is different, of course, but that said, here is my solution. I have worked from a remote/home office for over 15 years now. Life was great as far as work space until my son came along. He just turned two. It is all but impossible to watch/be at home with him and work at the same time. He has begun to dislike the ‘com-pew-ter’ as he associates it with “mommy working”, i.e. not paying attention to him. I wish I had a 2-3x a day napper, instead I was gifted a child who only needs a single 45 minute nap – pretty much since birth. There are no two to three hour time slots throughout the day that I (enviously) hear other parents talk about. Since I need a quiet environment to conduct meetings and calls, I use a combination of daycare and nanny. When he is at daycare, I make sure to very efficiently use my time. As you mention, no games, videos, music, Facebook, shopping or other Internet tangents. When I have a nanny, I make sure to say goodbye to my son, tell him “Mommy is working” and close the office door. He knows that I will eventually come out, but that he can’t come into the office when the door is closed. There are some days when I have to leave my home altogether – either finding an office to use at one of my sisters’ houses or a coffee shop if I don’t have to make calls. I have found that at this age, they don’t understand “go play by yourself” and even if they are happily reading books or self-contained, it only takes the click of the laptop lid opening to lose focus, sit on your lap and want to “Taylor work too”.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2012, 9:33 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I think I’ll just have to work after he goes to bed. The daycare is very convenient, but the cost will be too high once I quit my job. The point is to be a stay at home dad anyway so I’ll probably have to put the blog and other works on the back burner. He’ll go off to school soon enough, right?

  • Soudary March 23, 2012, 10:18 am

    Love the photo!

    I am not a blogger/stay at home mom, but have had to work from home many times when my child has been ill or daycare closed.

    When they are younger (newborn-14 mos), they sleep more, so that’s when I would get work done, or plop them into a baby bjorn so your hands can be free.

    At about 18 mos, try turning on a kid show for an hour; or have them watch a youtube (shared screen) show while you work.

    At 2.5 he can pretty much entertain himself for a bit – cars, trucks, Diego/Dora (!), his iPod.

    The cold reality is a straight 8-hour work day is impossible while caring for a child, especially sick child. You will need to work in spurts and give them undivided attention throughout the day. I make a point to get as much done in the early morning, or after he’s in bed. And I’m fortunate my company is very supportive and flexible.

    Good luck!

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2012, 9:35 pm

      Thanks for the timeline. That’s really helpful. I just need 10-15 minutes stretches so I can do a few things, but he doesn’t like it when I turn on the laptop. I’ll look forward to him being able to watch a kid show. 😉

  • Elle March 23, 2012, 10:22 am

    I’ve had to adjust my blogging schedule a bit, but it seem name that babyCM has a general schedule that allows me to get some work done. I post while she’s sleeping in the morning and naps in the afternoon. When she’s awake I have a tablet that allows me to take notes, gather information, and keep in contact with clients.

    BTW you have a cutie!

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2012, 9:36 pm

      The tablet might be a good idea. I wonder if he will be more accepting of it than a laptop.

  • Dollar D @ The Dollar Disciple March 23, 2012, 10:33 am

    I don’t have a baby (yet) but I completely agree with your point about starting really early. It’s easy to wait but if you wait long enough, i think my brain goes in to “day off” mode instead of “work day” mode.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2012, 9:37 pm

      You’re right about the day off mode. If I didn’t get anything thing done in the morning, it is much harder to get going in the afternoon. I guess it’s inertia.

  • krantcents March 23, 2012, 12:36 pm

    Although I do not have kids at home, the key is settin gup a routine. Your current routine is go to work and come home, this is different. In some ways requires more discipline. It takes time to establish the routine. A couple of weeks is not enough time. Last summer, I was home for roughly 10 weeks and really developed a great routine.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2012, 9:37 pm

      10 weeks off would be great. 🙂

  • Roshawn @ Watson Inc March 23, 2012, 12:46 pm

    I have no idea either. We don’t have children yet. If I was being a wisecracker, I would would ignore him for a little bit, but I couldn’t say in all honesty what I would do.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2012, 9:38 pm

      I can ignore him for a few minutes, but if he really throw a tantrum, then it’s tough to keep ignoring him.

  • Hunter March 23, 2012, 7:44 pm

    I know exactly what you’re going through, having run a blog while my youngestvwas home 7 days acweek thankfully he is now at school all day. I would take naps when he does so that you have energy to blog late at night.

    • retirebyforty March 23, 2012, 9:39 pm

      Thanks for your input Hunter. Sometime I take a nap when he naps and it is helpful.

  • jefferson March 23, 2012, 10:12 pm

    I struggle mightily with productivity whenever I work from home.. There are always chores, or kids, or blogging, or something that seems to be calling me away from me away from the day job.

    Your “work first” option is dead-on, and I try to follow that model. On WFH days, I usually wake up at six, so that I can get a few hours of focus in before the house gets noisy.

    • retirebyforty March 24, 2012, 8:39 pm

      The little guy wakes up around 6:15am.
      I don’t know. I guess I can try to wake up earlier, but it’s tough. 🙂

      • Elaine Colliar March 26, 2012, 8:58 am

        Yup! It is – but it works and it SUCKS!!!

        There’s no working around the fact that if you are looking to be super-productive and a primary carer something has to give – I used to do all my best work as an Owl (Ex West End Stage Manager) – now I get up with the Larks, at a time when I used to be getting in – because its the only way stuff gets done.

        But soon – wee one will be in school and I can have a life that doesn’t mean crashing into bed at 9pm again……………. I may even have enough energy to start dating again (although come to think of it – that’s why I am in this situation in the first place LOL)


        • retirebyforty March 26, 2012, 12:34 pm

          I still think I work better at night. I have never been able to get up at 4am. I suppose I can try, but I don’t see it. 🙂

  • Darwin's Money March 24, 2012, 11:06 am

    I work from home maybe once a week, if I have some 6AM call to start my day or some other reason that compels me to not go in. It’s tough being home with the kids who want to see me or my wife who thinks I’m there to “just keep an eye on them” so she can run an errand. I’ve been lenient because I usually pick a light day that had fewer calls and more meeting minutes/paperwork or whatever, but if I had to do it 5 days a week, it might not be as efficient as going into the office (drive included)

    • retirebyforty March 24, 2012, 8:41 pm

      I tried working from home a few times when baby RB40 was sick and I couldn’t get anything done. It’s not a big deal because I can catch up the next day.

  • 101 Centavos March 24, 2012, 6:35 pm

    I like the notion of just being in a segregated productive zone, whether in the home or away at a library or coffee shop. At work, I have to “escape” my office and go lock myself away in order to do some continuous work. Otherwise, it’s interruption after interruption.
    When our kiddos were younger, I got myself up very early in the morning if I had work to do. When they woke up, the distractions began.

    • retirebyforty March 24, 2012, 8:42 pm

      It’s too bad the office is like that. I have the same problem with constant interruptions.

  • Invest It Wisely March 25, 2012, 5:41 am

    Don’t worry, in a few months it will be better. 😉 Think two would be better so they would keep each other occupied? Or would it be twice the headache, haha…

    I don’t head to the library as often these days cause they are having serious problems with their wifi, making it almost impossible to get anything done. However, I do recommend a space like that. Coffee shops are good for shorter amounts of time but it’s expensive to hang out there all day. 😉 Now that the weather’s getting nicer, a laptop in a nice park somewhere?

    There’s no getting around it though — if you’re going to be a stay-at-home dad, your job will be part-time at best.

    • retirebyforty March 25, 2012, 11:02 pm

      We are one and done. 🙂 I think two will be 3x the headache, haha.
      Our library is pretty nice and I’m really happy with it. I have been more productive at home lately so I haven’t gone as often. Yeah, you’re right. Being a stay-at-home dad is not that easy.

  • cashflowmantra March 25, 2012, 7:09 am

    I am fortunate that I have survived this stage in life and wasn’t a blogger at the time. Now, I am getting up early to get work done. Have you considered getting him his own little lap-top and setting him down to work like you do? You probably can’t sit him down long enough for a post, but maybe some commenting or such.

    When my now 16 yo was a baby and had colic in the middle of the night, I would pop in “Star Wars” and set him in front of the TV. It kept him quiet for whatever reason and my wife could sleep.

    • retirebyforty March 25, 2012, 11:04 pm

      I think he’s a bit young to be getting his own toy laptop. He’ll just chuck it like all his other toys.
      I’ll have to find a DVD that he likes. I showed him some Sesame Street on Youtube today and he seems to like them.

      • Money Infant March 25, 2012, 11:17 pm

        Ours loves many of the Sesame Street videos too, especially songs. There’s also some episodes of Super WHY on YT that she likes. Many Disney videos are good and she even went through a Wizard of Oz phase for a couple weeks. Another good site to try is uptoten.com.

  • Jen @ Master the Art of Saving March 25, 2012, 10:06 am

    I cannot get anything done when my kid is home. Since you still have daycare right now, my best suggestion would be to work while the little cutie is at daycare. Then you’ll be able to put out your best work and be able to focus on him when he’s home with you.

    • retirebyforty March 25, 2012, 11:05 pm

      Daycare is a life saver right now, but it will cost too much when I quit my job. 🙁

  • YFS March 25, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Doing work first and changing location are key to getting things done at home. The other thing I use is getting up early or going to sleep late to get work done.

  • MoneySmartGuides March 26, 2012, 5:53 pm

    I would think you would have to be very disciplined when working from home. When I would have time off from my 9-5 job and work on my other businesses, it was easy to focus on work when I had a lot to do. But, if there’s not a lot to do, I find myself watching an extra episode of a TV show or surfing the internet, etc.

  • Christa March 29, 2012, 10:57 am

    I found this post and comments extremely helpful. Since we are expecting our first soon, I was wondering how I’d handle working from home with a baby around. The first year or so should go fine, since she’ll sleep so much, but I’ll be in the same boat as you once she hits a year! I think I can work evenings and weekends (when hubby’s home) and nap times — but it’ll be difficult.

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