Personal Time Management
Learn tips for managing your time for your family, sandwich generation and more.
Snow Day! Yeah! Oh wait… I have to work and now the kids are here ALL DAY… Sound familiar? Well here on the east coast and in 24 states across America, we are having what I hope is Mother Nature’s last blast of winter “fun”. So, that means many of us are working from home today. I thought I would share some tips on how to keep the day productive.
Snow Day Tip #1: Create a NEW to-do list just for today. You can think of things that need to get done that do not involve clients like social media, blog posting, business finance, updating your marketing plan… etc. The list should be kept short if possible… use today to have a slower paced day yet include something that will really make you feel accomplished.
Snow Day Tip #2: Sit down with the kids and let them know you are working… if they are old enough, you can even show them the list of tasks you need to finish so they can cheer you on and support you through it. It is good for them to see you working!
Snow Day Tip #3: If you do need to do client outreach, be sure to do that FIRST before the natives get restless! Let them know mommy/daddy needs about 20 minutes (or however long you need) where you cannot be interrupted… Dust off an old favorite movie, a board game or pull out the cookbook and have them choose something they would like to learn to cook. Heck send older kids out to shovel! Show them a signal you can do without words to show them you cannot be interrupted. I put 2 fingers up to my lips as in “shhhhh” then blow a silent kiss. When you make the calls… It is also a good idea with some clients to just address the elephant in the room… many will have kids home so in the beginning of the call, just mention it… “Oh by the way, if you hear some background noise, I apologize… after all it is a snow day and the kids are home. I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today.”
Snow Day Tip #4: Have some way to separate the area you work and the rest of the house… this can be a door or a screen. Here is a picture of my screen.
When my family sees this up they know I am working and have to assume they need to be quiet. This also keeps me from being distracted by what is going on around me as well.
I have a 3 part blog that addresses tips to work more productively from home. You can find them here:
Enjoy this winter wonderland today! Let me know what questions you have!
Many of my clients first reach out to me thinking they have a time management problem. Once we have our first session we almost ALWAYS find that it is something else.
Having said that I 100% believe that scheduling is important and can be done wrong if not careful. Are you focusing on Income producing activities (IPAs)? If not you are leaving money on the table. Getting those Income producing activities first will set the tone for the day. One of the tools I use is the 6 Most Important Things List.
Prioritizing your work and putting the income producing activities first will help ensure you are not pushing papers all day. What activities create the most income for you? Is it making calls, holding appointments, selling something or working on a marketing project? Each business is different and there are seasons. My recommendation is for you to sit and make a list of how you make actual money in your business… If you sell a product, set a goal to sell 1 or 2 first thing in the morning. If you offer a service, set up a selling appointment first. Try it for a week and see if your bottom line increases.
Share with me what your income producing activities are… if you don’t know… let’s talk! It could be that you are leaving money on the table!
I have been known to be a great multitasker… to the point that a former employer actually gave me 12 out of 10 on multitasking in a review and listed that as one of my biggest assets! Multitasking seems to be a necessity and a sign of the time. Mompreneurs especially need to be efficient multitaskers. But there are times to multitask and times when that is not the best or most efficient idea.
Yesterday I was making lunch for my mom and myself. Since it was a dark, dreary, and damp day I thought grilled cheese sandwiches and soup would be perfect! Now, I have made grilled cheese sandwiches many times. Through trial and error I have discovered how to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. You know, the kind that is perfectly golden brown and buttery on the outside and the perfect amount of gooey melted American cheese on the inside? I know my stove, I know exactly what temperature to set it to, what pan and what lid to use, and how much time on each side (2 minutes 45 seconds on the 1st side, 1 minute 15 seconds on the 2nd). I KNOW all this… yet I keep screwing up the darn grilled cheese sandwiches! The reason why is… grilled cheese sandwiches need to be watched, yet since I am prone to multitasking I am not paying enough attention. I figure… Hey! I have 2 minutes and 45 seconds I’ll just reply to that email really quickly or I’ll just do these few dishes while I wait. But EVERY TIME I do something else, even if I set a timer, the sandwich burns on one side or the other! However, if I stay and watch it… I can see then the edges of the butter has melted on the upper side and know it is time to flip it or I can see more steam coming from the bottom and know it will soon start to get too dark and I better flip it. When I DON’T multitask while cooking a grilled cheese sandwich… I tend to get the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. If I DO multitask at all… I get either a burnt sandwich or an “almost” perfect sandwich, but not quite.
The moral of the story is… use multitasking carefully. There are some tasks that allow it and others that don’t. You will know when multitasking isn’t working… when you aren’t getting anything finished or you burn the sandwich so to speak! Some tasks need your full attention! For example, a phone call with a client. FULL ATTENTION!! They will know if you are checking email or not fully paying attention and it will hurt your credibility or even the relationship… they won’t feel important. Scheduling time for different tasks can help you stay focused. For example, you can schedule yourself to do your social media scheduling on Mondays from 9 am to 10 am or you can schedule your bookkeeping tasks for Friday at 1 PM. Then when you think of those tasks at another time, you can say to yourself, “I don’t have to worry about that now… it is scheduled for Friday at 1pm”. Planning your schedule by including tasks can lead to feeling more in control of your schedule. If you need help with this let’s chat! I can show you how I can help!
Now go make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich… You know you want to.
In part 1 of this 3 part series there were 6 tips all about planning your work! Click here to see Part 1: Planning: There is something to be said for a routine! In part 2 of this 3 part series you saw tips #7 through #13 Click here to see Part 2: Productivity: How to Make Work Time More Productive! And now for the grand finale! Part 3! Priorities: Remember what’s Important! Tip #14 – The schedule is important, but take a break if needed. In part one we talked about creating a schedule and sticking to your plan. We’ve all had the unexpected melt down or needed to make a last minute change in plans. That doesn’t need to derail your entire day! Handle issues before they become a huge deal. We’re looking for balance NOT perfection. Go with the flow. Have multiple plans ready and be ready to make another one if needed. I have learned to be on plan “A”, but have Plans B through M in my mind if needed. If you are frustrated with your work… walk away and take a break. If your child is having a hard time, take a break and be there. Just keep trying and do your best! For me, sometimes a 5 minute break for a warm cup of coffee is enough to keep me going! Tip #15 -Let your kids learn some responsibility and independence! Your kids can and WILL grow in this time! As they get older give them responsibilities around the house. Not only will it help take some of the load off of you they are also learning really important life skills! We have a chore chart! (See below for a downloadable example) The chart varies for different times of year, but they have consistent chores to help around the house and are customized around their activities. Do they complain? Yep! But I feel it is important! It helps them to learn responsibility, commitment and teamwork. They can also learn discipline and work ethic from watching you work from home! My kids have seen me work with a migraine, with a wicked cold and even with the flu. They watch me make and keep commitments, and they watch me work when I don’t feel like it. Give them something to feel accomplished about, but remember you don’t have to hover and control them 100% of the time. I grew up in the 80’s and didn’t see my parents ALL DAY while I played outside! I know this is a different time and age… but our kids need to learn to be ok by themselves. Let them learn to entertain themselves and be ok with some quiet alone time! Let them learn how to problem solve and figure it out without running to you as soon as something doesn’t go their way. Do be tricked into the Guilt Trip! I’ve heard it before…“ Your kids need you! How could you leave them to figure it out on their own?” Trust me! Your kids will be better if they learn to be independent. They can learn to handle things on their own and will learn valuable life skills! [gview file=”http://innovativecoachingservices.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Example-Chore-Commission-Chart.xlsx”] Tip #16 – Don’t forget to take care of YOU! When you take care of YOUR needs you are filled up and in turn are able to care for others. Be sure to make the time to eat right, get enough rest, fit exercise in and pamper yourself even if for only a few moments. Make a list of things that make you happy. Then schedule some in daily! Find time to read, pray, meditate, fit in a shower, 30 minutes of exercise, plan your meals, plan girlfriend time, etc. You will feel energized and have more to give to your work and your family! Tip # 17 – Don’t be superwoman when you don’t have to be. Yes we are AWESOME! But we can’t do it all – all the time! Figure out what you are good at and more importantly what you are NOT good at! Hire help to get common tasks done or outsource to get an important task done that you might not be all that “good” at! Consider hiring a cleaning service or someone to update your website for you. Maybe a virtual assistant service like Toni’s Office Solutions could help free up your time! Check out their services here! The bottom line is, you will need help from time to time… don’t be afraid to ask for it! Tip #18 – Don’t neglect your spouse! The fastest way to get an un-supportive spouse is to alienate them! You and your spouse should be a team! Communication (and a lot of it) is needed. You should have many conversations with your spouse. Dream together, plan together, pray together, hope together, and from time to time even cry together. Know your boundaries & each other’s expectations. When does your spouse need attention? What chores can be shared? What makes them feel loved… and more importantly what doesn’t! Talk about what you need and find out what your spouse needs. Be willing to compromise. Be sure to make them feel special, appreciated and loved. I can make all the difference!
Tip #19 – Have something to look forward to! Good things come to those who wait (and work hard!). What are you working for? Take time to dream, goal set and have something to look forward to always! When you are about to reach a goal – reset a new one immediately! When you don’t have something to work toward you are much less productive. We’ve had a great time being creative having something to look forward to. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spare… there is ALWAYS something you can find or plan to look forward to! Go to a special park, cook a special recipe together, and find free community events to attend… the possibilities are endless. When you DO have funds to spare… go for a special vacation or buy something for the house that everyone can enjoy! Reward yourself for a job well done. When you are working toward something it is much easier to continue when things don’t go as planned! This is both true for YOU and for your kids! Make a goal poster – Everyone! Visually see what you are working for! Have fun with it! Tip #20 – Focus on YOUR Priorities –not others! People will always have an opinion and most are more than willing to share. What you have to do is be true to you! What is most important to YOU and YOUR family? Don’t be afraid to change your mind, reset goals and refocus priorities. You only have one life to live… live YOUR life how YOU want to! Don’t be afraid to take time to really soul search what you really want and what is important to you. Your priorities will change from time to time. When I feel out of sorts it usually means I am in some sort of transition (or need to be!) When you are true to you, life is SWEET! Do you have any Priority tips to Share? Post them in the Comments below! I hope this series has been helpful to you! Every family is different… find the combination that works for you! Cheers to productivity! Happy Summer!!!
In part 1 of this 3 part series there were 6 tips all about planning your work!
Click here to see Part 1: Planning: There is something to be said for a routine!
And without further Ado… Part 2!
Productivity: How to Make Work Time More Productive!
Tip #7 – Figure out if you are an Early Bird or a Night Owl! Get up an hour or 2 early or stay up an hour or 2 late! Make that time work for you. I am a Night owl… the idea of getting up at the crack of dawn makes me shutter! BUT I can be super productive late at night! Schedule work time in where you can be productive while the rest of the house is asleep. Either early or late! YOU choose! If you are a night owl be very careful to not work so late that you don’t get enough rest!
Tip #8 – Dress the part! I’m not saying wear a business suit around your house all day! However, PJ’s won’t make you productive… just comfy and most likely tired! Dress for successful productivity! Well at least for a pop in visitor or a quick errand! Get up, get dressed, put on your “face” and be ready to take on the day! I’ll be writing a blog post ALL about this in the upcoming days to be sure to check it out!
Tip #9 – Have a defined work space! It’s nice to be able to have the flexibility to work in the kitchen, on the couch, in bed, etc. But you will be MORE productive when you have a set place to work. It is not always realistic to have a dedicated room with a door to close… but you should carve out some space for your “office”. This is helpful (especially with younger children) to set clear guidelines and signals for your kids so they know when they need to be quiet or when you are working and cannot be interrupted. My kids know a hand signal that lets them know I am on a conference call and they cannot make noise. Make a List of Do’s & Don’ts during Mommy’s work time and share it with your kids. Maybe let them make up the signal if they come in the room and you need to let them know you are on a call. I am blessed to be able to have a dedicated office in my home, however I do not have a door. So hand signals come in handy and my kids “get it”. You will want to make sure you have systems in place so you CAN work around the house if needed. A laptop, a wireless connection, a cordless phone, and a wireless printer are all helpful in keeping going if you need to be relocated around the house.
Tip #10 – Put your kids to work for you! My 9 year old LOVES this and now my 7 year old is getting intrigued! Find small things they can do… put stamps or address labels on mailing, filling product orders, filing paperwork, stamping your info on your brochures or labeling your products, etc. Let them watch you work or set up a table in your office as their “desk” and give them small tasks to do. As they get older you can negotiate payment if you feel that is appropriate. If your kids are like mine they love to “help”.
Tip #11 – Plan special “Independent Time” Avoid the “We’re Bored!” dilemma with planned activities they can only do while you are working on something where you cannot be interrupted (unless, of course, it is a true emergency!). Find age appropriate things your children can do on their own independently. This can be educational, crafty or just plain fun! Find learning game websites, stock up on some craft kits from the local craft store, have a stack of printable pages with puzzles or coloring from online. The possibilities are endless! Be sure to pay attention to the amount of time you allot… younger kids can’t do 60 or 90 minutes, but maybe older kids can! If you need a larger chunk of time… plan something special (no more than once or twice a week to keep it special!) Find a movie/DVD and serve a “special snack”. Note: don’t plan for things that they could need your help or that they need to be supervised. These should be items they can do on their own, feel accomplished and grow! BONUS TIP: You know your kids… are they a morning, afternoon or evening kid? When do they thrive, when do they have their meltdowns. When do they need you? Look for their pattern and plan accordingly.
Tip #12 – Get your home and office organized! If your office and home are cluttered you are wasting time. PERIOD! Take the time to create systems and de-clutter! You should have systems in place to help keep your household and office running smoothly. There are all kinds of organization ideas and checklists online. If organization is not your thing…ask for help! This is something worth spending some time on to help increase productivity in the long run. I have a blog post about quick clean up tips in the works so be sure to check back for that one!
Tip #13 – Don’t be a slave to the Phone or e-mail! When the phone rings you DON’T have to answer it. That was one of the most freeing changes I ever made in my life! Of course if you are expecting an important business call be ready to answer. Use your Caller ID… you have voicemail or an answering machine… they can leave a message and you CAN call them back when it is a more appropriate time for you and your family. There are very few business emergencies that can’t wait for a better time to be handled when you are more plugged in and ready to handle the call. Same goes for e-mail… DON’T get caught up in constantly checking your e-mail. Turn off that little sound that chimes when a new message comes in. Have a system for when and how you will check your voicemail and e-mail messages. If you know when you will do it you are not constantly thinking about it wasting productive brain space. Bonus Tip! If you have a business line in your home… teach your kids to NOT answer the phone. It is much more professional for the machine to answer than a cute 5 year old. When your kids are old enough… teach them to use the caller ID… if it is their friend they can answer away. If they don’t recognize the number they should let it go to the machine. Bonus tip 2! Take the time to teach your children phone etiquette. Teach them how to answer, how to leave a message and how to ask to speak to someone. This skill will go a LONG way in life!
So there you have it! Do you have any Productivity tips to Share? Post them in the Comments below! Stay tuned for Part 3 Coming Soon!
It’s summer! YEAH! Oh wait… what do I do with the kids when I am supposed to be working from home?? Yes, working from home gives us much needed flexibility, however flexibility is very different than NOT working at all. So I’ve compiled some tips on how to get your work done and still maintain that much needed time with your bundles of joy! I’ve categorized the tips into a 3 part series called The 3 “P’s” – Planning, Productivity and Priorities! The list looks long, however not all tips will work for all work-at-home moms (and dads). So browse through them and try some that look appealing. You can always come back to try more and more until you find the perfect combination for YOUR family! Better yet.. why not let me coach you through it? Ok… Let’s get to part 1 of the list!
Planning: There is something to be said for a routine!
Tip #1 – Plan, Schedule and Plan some more! You are going to need to make a plan, a schedule and get a little creative! Write a list of ALL tasks – work related, kids related, home maintenance related, fun related, etc. Start filling in a Weekly Plan Sheet (see below) or Make recurring appointments on a digital calendar like Google Calendar or even get a large paper or white board calendar you can fill in and post in the kitchen or some common area where everyone can see it. While you will need to be flexible you need to make the schedule and routine a priority.
Once you have a plan and a schedule you must be prepared to revise it… and often! As the seasons change and as your child(ren) grow, their needs will change. There are pros and cons to every age! For example… many infants nap! Instant productivity time! Elementary age children (like my 7 & 9 year olds) usually “need you” but on a different level. And Tweens and Teens… well your main goal is to keep them out of trouble! Kids of all ages thrive on a schedule with routine. Even during the summer you’ll find more peace when you have a schedule even if it is loose. The Key is… the kids need to “know” the routine (and so do you!).
Tip #2 – Sitters, Play dates and Summer camp Oh My! An hour or 2 of dedicated think/work time can be priceless! Don’t be afraid to hire a sitter or find a way to have a few hours of kid free time each day. Find out what summer camps are available in your area or schedule play dates for your kids a few times a week. A less expensive alternative to a baby sitter is to consider hiring a Mommy’s Helper… A Mommy’s Helper is usually a child not yet old enough to babysit on their own but are more than able to help entertain the kids and do light tasks around the house. This opportunity can help them to feel accomplished and get their feet wet before they are ready to babysit without a grown up in the building. The caution here is be careful not to hire a mommy’s helper that needs too much of YOUR help! You can also trade sitter time with other moms & dads that work from home. Don’t be afraid to pick the brains of others in the same position as you are.
Tip #3 – Three Words that can change your family life = Weekly Family Meeting. – We stumbled across this idea a few years ago and it has made ALL the difference. What is a family meeting? Well once per week we sit down as a family (you could sit at the kitchen table or get comfy on the couch or floor) and have a meeting. There is an agenda and everyone participates. We start with each sharing something we are thankful for or excited about. We next go around with concerns or something we need help with. Then we go over the schedule for the upcoming week. We find conflicts or where we need to make adjustments, and figure out who is driving who to where so that everyone is on the same page before the week starts… We wrap up with assigning tasks and going over the chore charts followed by everyone sharing what they are looking forward to most! IMPORTANT: Let the kids have input! This should be a conversation! Kids support what they help create! My kids get excited for family meeting night. Now when I say “week” it’s the “family week” so if your meeting is on a Wednesday your week goes from Thursday to Wednesday. J Give it a try! It is amazing!
Tip #4 – Make Meal Time a Priority! Family meal time is important! Sitting around the table and sharing a meal is quality time at its finest. I am blessed to have worked our schedule out so that all the family sits together for 2 meals a day (in the summer 3 meals from time to time!) In the summer when you make lunch important, sit together at the table and reconnect it gives you the chance to reset for the day. Talk about how the morning went and review what they can expect for the rest of the day. Take the time to connect and for the kids to feel important. You’ll be shocked at what a 30 minute connection over a meal can do for the rest of your day! Tell them about the 2:00 call you cannot be interrupted during and what they will be doing at that time. Dangle the carrot of the next Mommy/Child time planned for the day. We all do better with something to look forward to!
Tip #5 – Plan your meals like you plan your day! Have a meal schedule… no more guessing what’s for dinner! Planning meals save both TIME and MONEY! You can go to the grocery store once per week (or even less often!) Or better yet… make the list and have someone else go for you! You know what is for dinner so you can take things out to thaw in the morning. You can plan cooking time with the kids! In our family when we don’t plan we often end up eating out or getting take out… that cost much more money and is often less healthy.
Tip #6 – Multi-Task with Care! It’s a fact that moms have to multi-task… but you have to learn to be an effective multi-tasker. If you are doing 100 things and not doing ANY of them well what is the point? Learn your limits and if things are getting crazy take a breath and prioritize.
Do you have any Planning tips to Share? Post them in the Comments below!
Stay tuned for Part 2 Coming Soon! Part 2 – Productivity: How to Make Work Time More Productive!