One question I get asked regularly is, “How much time do you work every day and how do you stay so productive?”
The short answer: I typically work four hours a day Monday through Friday...and sometimes even less. And the reason I stay so productive is simply because of how I manage my time.
I dive deep into the nitty-gritty, long answer about my productivity habits (and how you can adopt them, too) in my Top Program. But I know not everyone is able to make that kind of investment, and I want you to be able to make these time management shifts now.
So, today, I’m sharing with you the top four practices I use regularly that all working moms who are busy juggling #allofthethings can do to start being more productive ASAP.
These time management tips are going to be a game-changer for you or any mom out working or running her own business.
I view these habits as the four cornerstones that really allow me to stay productive with the very limited time that I have to work. They also prevent me from trying to do 20 different things all at the same time (which I’m sure you know all about!).
This tip ties naturally into my favorite topic — weekly planning! If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you probably saw this one coming. But it’s so important, and this issue is one I see again and again.
When I do my weekly planning, I have to identify where my real available time is in my calendar.
I’m a mom, so in the morning from 6 am to 8:00 am, I’m in full-on mom mode. I'm dragging a very grumpy middle schooler out of bed. I'm packing lunch. I'm making breakfast. I'm driving to school.
That is an hour and a half that isn’t an appointment on my calendar, but it is time I’m unavailable. I can’t work on my business or anything else during that time.
It’s important for me to know this, and it’s important for you to recognize your unavailable time, too.
You need to have a crystal clear view or system that tells you what the most important things for that precious working time are.
This way, when you have that window of time to work, you don't waste the first 20 minutes of it trying to figure out what to do. Because, well, you literally don’t have time for that! I personally use Trello as a holding place and each week, I put the most important things directly into my weekly plan.
I know I fall victim to this, too. I can create an amazing plan, but sometimes you're just not in the groove.
So, where do we go? We pick up our phone, right? And we start doing mindless scrolling on it. All of a sudden, an hour is gone!
Once you have decided when you are working, I encourage you to use your mobile device to your benefit by actually imposing boundaries for yourself on your phone.
What do I mean by that? I have set times of the day where my apps on my phone or my entire phone goes dark so that if I pick it up, I have to actually enter my code. And this saves me from the time-suck that is mindlessly scrolling my phone when I’d planned to be working.
What we're looking to do here is to bundle up a set of tasks, responsibilities, etc. — whether it's for home or work — that make sense to lump together, so you can create systematic routines for doing them.
For example, my system for how I process my email. I have to check multiple email accounts, and I have a set processing system for checking them. I know how long it takes me, and I do it twice a day every day.
I also have systems for my home life. I have set routines for breakfast, lunch, homework time, getting the school bags packed, getting out the door, etc. There are a core set of things that I am doing inside each of those everyday routines that just helps everything run more efficiently.
The other real benefit of having routines is if I'm doing one of those routine tasks and I see another task pop up, I am not tempted to get distracted and stop what I'm doing to handle it, because I know how I'm going to handle that later today in another routine.