This is a guest post from Suzanne Brown of Mompowerment.
If you’re the typical working mom, you’ve got a lot on your plate. You’re trying to move everything forward and you would love to be better at the juggle. Yep, I know exactly where you’re coming from.
I have two unrelated businesses. And I stop my work-day at 2:15 each day to grab my kids. I generally hop back online to finish up a bit of work after the bed time routine for my two young boys. Basically, I must be intentional and efficient with my time to get everything done in about 25-30 hours each week.
I’m sharing some of what helps me and the women I interviewed for my two books to give you ideas on getting better at balancing all the things. To start with, keep the following formula in mind:
Being Efficient = Productivity + Time Management + Staying on Task
Shift your effort to being more efficient. In the formula above, we have three elements. Productivity is making the most of your time and time management is planning and controlling your time. These two areas won’t matter if you don’t stay on task. It’s helpful to look at all three of these areas to maximize your efforts.
Understand your productivity style. Understand how you work to see how to make the most of your time. And I’m talking about when and how you work best.
Some of us are most productive first thing in the morning. Some do much better after two cups of coffee. Are you maximizing your most productive time of the day? To figure out your peak productivity, take a moment to notice when you naturally hit your groove. It’s easiest to do this on a day or two when you don’t have meetings so that you can observe your natural tendencies.
The second part of this is to consider how you use your time when you’re working. Look at time blocking or batching where you do similar types of tasks together. You can hit your groove faster and for longer. Pomodoro technique might be perfect for you if your day is choppier. You work for 25 minutes and then take a break for 5.
Time management Tetris. Remember that game where you guided pieces together, so that there weren’t any holes and then each line would disappear? (Please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers Tetris!) When it comes to planning and controlling your time, using this same strategy of no holes in your schedule is helpful. This might help:
First, plan the night before. Take 10-15 minutes each night to plan how you’ll use your time the next day. Grab links for articles you’ll use. Put in a few titles on your PPT slides. Figure out what you’re working on instead of creating your plan when you should already be working.
Second, create your to do list and prioritize your tasks. Break down big goals into smaller goals. See which smaller goals are doable in 10 to 20-minute increments. This can be even more the case if you’re doing the naptime or a side hustle. You want to know what to work on when you have the time. That could be nap time or it could be because you get to the pick-up line at school 10 minutes early or a meeting starts 10 minutes late. These smaller increments help you keep moving things forward, even more so when you find unexpected pockets of time.
Improve your focus. Technology enables us to do our jobs. It can also interrupt our non-work time or allow others to constantly stay connected to us and provide interruptions. There are all sorts of tools to help limit your time on the internet or access to specific sites. If you’d like technology to help you stay on task, you can find pretty much anything you want online and many of the tools are free or have a free version. If you need help with organizing to dos, consider project management tools like Trello, ASANA, or Slack. Each is different, so choose which one meets your needs.
Finding the right mix of tools, resources, and overall approach to work-life balance is incredibly helpful. See what meets your needs. Try out the free versions where applicable to see if it works for you and experiment. Sometimes you’ll figure out what works based on trial and error.
Boundaries can help you stay focused. And remember that boundaries can help you stay on task as well. They’re not only about work vs life. They can divide up your calendar differently, so you set aside work time and aren’t in meetings all day. As an entrepreneur you can designate meeting times or even meeting days.
Engage your tribe. Don’t forget that you can always talk to your tribe about what you’re looking for and see what they use. Ask them to keep you accountable if that helps. Support each other. We can do this individually, but we can definitely do it better (and maybe faster) when we are all supporting each other.
I’ll leave you with a final thought. You have the power to create the toolkit that enables more of the work-life balance you want. You’ve got this!
And now for the really cool part? Do you want to win a copy of Suzanne’s book, The Mompowerment Guide to Work-Life Balance: Insights from Working Moms on Balancing Career and Family? You know you do! Well, you’re in luck, because Suzanne is giving one away to 1 lucky Creating My Happiness/ Busy Mom Collective fan! Here’s how to win:
- Follow Suzanne on your social media platform(s) of choice
- Tag Suzanne in a post that shares your favorite way to balance (or juggle) working and motherhood – her handle everywhere is @mompowerment
- Use the hashtag #busymomcollective in your post
- Tune into Suzanne’s FB Live on the Busy Mom Collective Facebook Page on Oct. 19 at 9:30 am (EDT) to find out who won!
Suzanne Brown is a strategic marketing and business consultant and work-life balance speaker, strategist, and bestselling author on Amazon. She empowers working moms to create the balance they crave with small changes that make a big impact over time. Check out www.mompowerment.com/motivation to start uncovering why you want to make changes in your life so that you’re working toward the right changes in work-life balance. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two young boys. You can find her latest book on work-life balance for working moms on Amazon.