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Time Management Tips as a Mom and an Entrepreneur
Guest Post by Mom Blogger, Kristine Beaves
Being a mom is challenging enough, but throw in a drive to build a better life for you and your family through entrepreneurship and you’ve got a perfect storm of battling priorities. How do you manage it all?
The biggest worry I hear from fellow moms is how to handle being an entrepreneur and still find time to be focused on their kids.
While every child is different and our circumstances as moms may not be the same (1 child? 5 children? Day job? Have help with the kids? In a partnership or single? Multiple kids? Kids get along or fight constantly?), there are some methods you can use no matter our differences.
If you need help implementing the methods below, the Get Chaos Organized for Mom Bloggers course is set-up to help you find balance in your life, be more present with your kids, and create a flexible plan of time management tips within your schedule that fits your unique life as a mompreneur.
Timeboxing is generally used in limited the length of time you spend on tasks. With the invention of smartphones, we all have easy access to time management apps and calendars.
But, the only tools you need are ways to track your timeboxes (even just using a spreadsheet or post-its) and a stopwatch for time boxing (one likely came loaded on your phone).
The Benefits of TimeBoxing
Procrastination. We all do it. Each and every one of us have a hard time tackling hard or challenging tasks without some sort of resistance.
Timeboxing is a way to ensure you make at least incremental progress toward a goal by focusing all of your energy on a single task at one time.
This method increases your efficiency, boosts your motivation (which tackles endless procrastination and “analysis paralysis”), creates a routine or rhythm to your day, and sharpens your focus.
How To TimeBox Tasks
First, estimate the amount of time (what is optimal?) any given task will take you. Then, test! Set an alarm or countdown timer when you start and try to complete your task before the time is up. That’s it!
It’s amazingly simple and effective.
Even if you have never done this before, your first try will show you how you stay 100% focused on your task and end up getting more done than you expect.
Some call this urgency psychology. Think about the last time you came across an offer online that had a countdown timer – did it make you want to read about whatever was being marketed? Did it create a sense of urgency not to “miss out”? The sense of urgency behind having a timer will push you to accomplish more in less time.
Plus, you can timebox everything in your life from business to kids to general life:
- 15 minutes: catch up on emails, take part in a Facebook Group share thread, or folding laundry
- 30 minutes: making meals, keyword research for a blog post, or reading a book (for business or pleasure)
- 45 minutes: power clean (by priority areas first), fill your Tailwind queue for 2 weeks, or network on LinkedIn or by commenting on other blogs
- 1 hour: being present with your kid(s) or writing an article for your site (after keyword research)
After you have timeboxed a task and completed it, determine if you need to update the time required (more or less time).
There are some tasks that will be hard to timebox like blog posts which differ greatly in complexity depending on the type of post you are creating. For these, I suggest creating multiple time boxes based on the type of post you are going to create. Some simple examples:
- 1 hour to write an “opinion” post (like a round-up/“listicle”)
- 2 hours for a “staple” article (1,500+ words)
- 4 hours for an “epic” post (5,000+ words)
These times for you may be different based on how long it takes YOU to write.
Being a mom is chaotic at times. While you can’t manage everything with timeboxing, by using this method every day you are more capable of handling the unexpected.
Things will come up. You will be thrown off your schedule.
But, by creating blocks of time in your schedule for your time boxes, you allow more flexibility when things do come up.
For example, you set aside 1 hour after lunch to do blogging or specific business tasks. Then look at your prioritized list of time boxes to fill that hour. Since you didn’t have a firm schedule for when to get specific tasks done, you can switch gears much faster when things do come up and reduce the risks of feeling like a failure (which puts you in an endless fear spiral).
As moms, multitasking is definitely needed. As a mompreneuer it’s a requirement.
But, allowing yourself to “ping pong ball” between tasks wastes the valuable time and energy you have every single day.
Think about it – every task not only has various time frames but also uses completely different parts of your brain. How exhausting do you feel after doing 7 tasks that don’t relate to each other?
Why Batch Tasks
The key with batching is to gather similar tasks together to be more efficient and focused.
Here are some examples by general categories:
- Analytical: budgeting, business reporting, scheduling/planning
- Creative: designing, writing, crafts
- Physical: shipping, moving, playing (with kids, etc)
- Social: customer service calls, meetings, play dates
While some of these are hard to batch together (like social), each represents a set of tasks that can be grouped for better focus.
Taking the above (generalized) categories, here are some examples of items you can batch:
- Complete keyword research on your next 4 blog posts (analytical)
- Create 4-6 marketing and/or social media/blog post images (creative)
- Do your blog reporting, business/blog planning, and your budget (analytical)
- Go grocery shopping, run errands, and drop off packages to be shipped for your business (physical)
- Return all phone calls for your personal and professional life (social)
There are a million tasks you can combine into groups to get more done in less time.
Each mompreneur will have unique items on her daily to do list. Think hard about your ongoing tasks and how you can do similar tasks at the same time.
The key to batching is saving time, not batching for the sake of batching. Try different combinations of tasks to see what actually saves you time!
Maybe you are really great at switching quickly between creative and social tasks – plan to create images or write then head on over to a social gathering or return customer service calls. Sometimes it’s more a flow of information in your mind than it is a hard line of items you only do at one time.
When you first start batching, you may find it challenging since it may feel like you are getting LESS done.
But batching is like a snowball rolling down a hill – it starts off small (and unimpressive) and gets bigger and faster as it rolls along.
Combining The Methods
I highly recommend setting aside time once a week to:
- Re-evaluate your goals (and priorities)
- Create a schedule (of time-restricted items for the week, like “day job” hours, preschool for your child, date night, and anything else “scheduled”)
- Then insert time blocks by category (like blog, business, kids, relationship, cleaning, cooking, and any other type that falls within your daily life)
- Evaluate tasks you can combine to batch together
- Add, update, or maintain time boxes for your common tasks (creating content, marketing, customer service, etc)
While it’s easy to talk about these methods, it can be hard to stay motivated to maintain time management without a plan.
Create a calendar of your schedule (tasks and events that are actually scheduled, like school or meetings), then add in a plan for the rest of your time.
List out your priorities and goals (in everything) and make those the guide to your plan.
Always remember to plan items that are for YOU, not your business, not your kids, not your relationship – just you.
By managing your time, you can more effectively live the life you want as a mom and entrepreneur: follow your passions, follow your heart.
Still need help? Learn more about these methods and so much more in Get Chaos Organized for Mom Bloggers.
Please note that much of the content in the lessons are targeted directly at bloggers who are moms.
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- How to Create an Easy-to-Follow Blog Content Strategy (that works)
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Blog: Blogging About Momming
Bio: I’m a blogger, virtual assistant, wife, mom to 2 amazing boys (ages 1 and 4), and chaos manager. I help moms (and general bloggers) cut through the crap and reach their goals.