7 Productivity Tips for Mompreneurs
Being a mum means that you’re always on the go. From taking care of the house, going shopping, cooking and preparing meals to being a taxi driver for the kids. The work never ends, but it’s even worse if you are also running your own business.
Don’t you get annoyed when you hear about people that manage to have a job, have the perfect (spotless) house and even have time to do one or two side-hustles and bring in more money that way? How can they manage to do everything?
I mean, it’s not like they can add another 6 hours to their day. A day is just as long for them as it is for you, after all. But they always manage to do more.
Keep reading to get 7 tips to get more done without losing your mind:
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A while ago I did a course called The Productivity Cure by the lovely Merilyn Beretta. It took 3-4 weeks to complete and it was at a time that I had lots of projects going on and some tight deadlines. We were in the middle of school holidays as well so I needed time for the family.
I wasn’t even sure I could get enough time to do it when I signed up. Plus some of the things I was already familiar with because they’re key concepts in management anyway. So I was a bit sceptical about the whole thing.
But sometimes you need a little push to get things done. Doing the course and having a deadline to finish it forced me to make an effort and get myself organised once and for all.
One of the things that made the most difference to me was this:
1. A Goal with a Plan
One of the things we did towards the beginning of the course was to write down 3 goals and make a 90-day plan. Putting pen to paper and writing down your goal makes it more real. And writing down and prioritising all the activities you need to achieve it gives you a pathway to follow.
The goals don’t have to be business goals only, you can have personal goals as well or money goals.
This means you spend less time trying to decide what to do and you feel more in control. Or rather, you spend the time at the beginning but after you’ve decided what to do, it’s much easier because you know the steps you need to take to achieve it. It doesn’t matter if the goal is big or small, you know what to do.
The good thing about having a 90-day plan is that it seems much more achievable than a year plan. And because Merilyn encouraged us to plan both small and big tasks for the 90-days it was easy to see your progress. I found this very motivating. The fact that every week you’re ticking off some of the tasks lets you see how much progress you’re making as you do it, rather than at the end of the period.
The most embarrassing thing for me, though, was that I already knew about goal planning, so I had no excuse not to do it before. I have taught many students how to set up goals and strategies for business growth. But you don’t usually think of applying this to small businesses or side-hustles unless you have to do a Business Plan because you’re getting a loan. And we all know that we ignore those anyway…
2. Schedule Everything
Another great takeaway from Merilyn’s course was that you must schedule everything. Things that don’t get scheduled don’t get done.
I thought it was a bit weird to schedule everything for the week. I mean everything, from recurrent business tasks to house cleaning, kid’s stuff, time for entertainment, etc. It didn’t matter if they were recurrent tasks or one-off tasks. Everything got scheduled for the week. On paper and electronically.
For me, having a schedule means that I knew how to use my time and didn’t have to spend time deciding what to do apart from at the beginning of the week. It also made me do things that I never felt like doing but were necessary. So I got a lot more done. If I had a process to follow, it made me do it and I could see real progress at the end of the week because I had completed task a, task b and task c and got to the end.
Plus I included time for family activities and friends so I could have a better work-life balance.
This is very important to avoid the overwhelm, don’t just cram your schedule with business tasks or chores. Your family and personal goals are as (or more) important.
#ProductivityTip: Your schedule is not set in stone, so be flexible and rearrange things. You’re in control.
3. Stop aiming for perfection
I stopped seeing perfectionism as a virtue many years ago. When you have a bunch of projects with the same deadline, you realise that the most important thing is to complete them. It would be great if they were perfect, but most of the time “complete” is more valuable than “perfect”.
You made a mistake? So what? If you notice your mistake before anybody else does, you can either change it or let them know there is a mistake. If somebody else notices the mistake, say thank you for pointing it out and then change it.
Do you know how many times I have read books and articles saying that everything needs to be perfect or people will go away and pay somebody else? What they don’t tell you is that perfection will take you much longer to achieve than getting it done. What they don’t tell you is that most people don’t care as long as they get the service they wanted from you and as long as any issues are solved to their satisfaction.
If you’re in business to make money, the longer it takes you to complete something, the less money you are making. So stop being too critical with yourself, don’t compare yourself to others. Just do your best and get things done.
4. Use a Pomodoro Timer
Once you know how long it takes you to do things and you can rearrange your timetable, start using the Pomodoro technique.
When I am online, I like to use the timer included in Kanbanflow. It’s already set up to work as a Pomodoro and it’s free. But if you’re offline you can use your phone or a timer like this one.
The Pomodoro technique generally uses chunks of 25 minutes. During these 25 minutes, you work on one task and one task only. Once the 25 minutes are over, you get a 5-minute break. So stand up and walk around, go and get a coffee, go for a walk in your garden, do some stretches, fold some clothes… Anything, as long as it gives your brain a break.
This technique increases your focus on the task that you are doing and you end up doing more because you are not distracted.
If you finish your task before you’ve finished one Pomodoro, you can start another task, that’s OK. You can either do things that are similar or are part of a process. This way you don’t get distracted with completely different activities when there’s no need.
And if 25 minutes doesn’t work for you try 30 or 45. See what works for you.
5. Create a favourable environment
To be productive you need to be able to focus on what you’re doing. Creating a space where you can do this without distraction would be ideal. then you can close the door and concentrate. But that’s not always possible (you won’t believe how many mompreneurs make do with a tiny desk in the living room or have to work every night while everybody else is watching TV) so try to do some of the following things:
So you can concentrate on the work, rather than on how much your back aches. Also, make sure everything is handy and you have a cuppa so you don’t have to make lots of little trips to get things you need.
Declutter your environment'. Or at least, declutter enough so there is no mess in your direct line of vision. So you don’t feel tempted to get up and sort everything out when you’re not supposed to ;). (Decluttering is another great tip from Merilyn.)
If you can’t close yourself in a room and it’s too noisy, try some noise cancelling headphones' . So you don’t have to listen to the football or My Little Pony while you work. That also means turn off your mobile phone, or turn off your social media notifications and work offline.
You can use your favourite music if it works for you. But have you tried listening to music to improve your focus? The same way you listening to some music for relaxation, you can also use music to be more productive.
Do a search for Music for Concentration or Music for Focus on YouTube. You will find lots of recordings. If you want to work offline, some of these might be helpful:
Some essential oils can improve concentration, memory and alertness. If you have some basil, rosemary or lemon essential oils kicking around try them in an essential oils diffuser . I am pretty sure you already have some essential oils from a Christmas present or something. Get them out of the cupboard and use them.
6. Eat that frog
'Eat that frog' is the title of a book by Bryan Tracy, the idea behind it is that if you wake up in the morning and eat a frog, you know that that’s the worst thing you will eat that day.
Working on things that are difficult is hard. It’s also hard to work on things you don’t like doing. But they need to be done. And these are usually the things that we keep delaying and delaying. They are also the things that can make a huge contribution to getting closer to your goals and will make a big difference to your business.
So schedule your BIG TASKS at the beginning of the day. Do them then and you will have more energy to complete them. You also get a real sense of achievement as well and you feel more motivated to get on with the stuff you like.
In 'Eat that Frog', Brian Tracy explains more than 20 steps you can take to stop procrastinating. From the ABCDE method, the 80/20 rule or the slide and dice method, they all help you to figuratively take the bull by the horns, get your hard tasks done and increase your productivity.
7. Use tools
You can automate things like your social media work quite cheaply. Load your posts once a week or once a month, depending on the tool and the social media network. And ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS go for one that will requeue your past posts so you don’t have to keep uploading your own stuff over and over again, like Smarterqueue, RecurPost or Elokenz (the last two have a free plan).
Email marketing automation means you can make money on autopilot. You can even set it up with your calendar to arrange meetings for you without you having to do anything. (See my post How to choose an email provider to check which tools are good for this.)
If you are working with Gmail, you can also automate some of your email communications by using canned-responses or by adding Customer Relationship Management tools like Streak. Try their free plan to see what it can do.
Automate all the other stuff
Use IFTTT or Zapier to connect apps so you don’t have to do everything: add things to do to your Evernote, or your Trello and connect your Google Calendar and Gmail to your other tools. If you use Amazon’s 'Echo' with Alexa, connect it to Todoist or your Evernote.
Scheduling and planning tools are not just great for automating some tasks. You can use them to build systems and processes. This will save you time because you know exactly what steps to follow every time. Plus many of them have a free plan forever.
Some people can’t manage without Trello or Asana, while others love to use paper planners. The most important thing is that you find what works for you.
It might sound a bit OTT for some, but the secret to getting more done is to stop leaving time for wasteful activities. So plan everything and schedule everything according to priorities and goals, both business and personal. Create an environment that allows you to be more productive and get more done. And don’t forget to add some free-time and be flexible!
Do you have a tip that works for you? Share it in the comments.