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How to Multitask Effectively When Working From Home

Work-at-Home moms need to know how and when to multitask.

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Multitasking for Work-at-Home Moms
Jack Hollingsworth/ Getty

For many work-at-home moms, the art of multitasking means learning not only how to multitask but when to do so. Most of work-at-home moms find themselves in some circumstances when they must multitask but also in situations when it's just not a good idea.

So learning to multitask effectively means developing the wisdom about when to multitask. Here are some tips on how and when to multitask.

Combine complex mental tasks with only simple physical tasks.
Note the word simple. Driving, for example, is neither a simple nor a purely physical task, so it shouldn't be combined with other complex mental tasks. Examples of the simple-physical/complex-mental-task combo:

  • Think out a multifaceted problem in the shower or while walking the dog.
  • Fold laundry and talk on the phone.
  • Catch up on work-related reading in the doctor's waiting room.
Respect your family and colleagues.
Nothing is more annoying than talking on the phone to someone whose responses to questions are preceded by long pauses punctuated with the tapping of a keyboard. So don't be that person. Give your colleagues your full attention when you are speaking to them.

And the same goes for your family. Children of WAHMs can get the idea that you work all the time, especially if you continue to check email or talk on the phone while you are playing with them.

One of the important rules for working from home is to work when you say you will and not to work when you say you won't. Occasional work/play overlap is OK, especially if it is adding playtime that you wouldn't have had. But setting boundaries between work and home helps children understand their place in your work environment.

Stay focused.
Multitasking can lead to a scattered approach and a stack of half-finished projects. Don't let the desire to accomplish more than one thing derail you. One downside to working from home is that home has a different set of distractions than the office.

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