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Regain control with Productivity
Ok, so this week’s content feels a little self-indulgent to me. But I have to get over that quick smart if I plan on providing you with some ways to improve your productivity as a Biz Mum, particularly if you work at home.
Trust me, I get it. I know how hard it is to get stuff done and feel like you're progressing in your business when you’re doing it all on your own, or maybe you’ve got a partner or VA but really, the demands of mum life throws an extra spanner in the works for us as business owners.
Name Your Responsibilities
One thing I highly recommend you do before we get into the productivity tips is that you take a bird’s eye view of your responsibilities.
Get clear on what it is that you ACTUALLY have to do each week. I did this exercise myself and I’ve shared it here so you can see what I mean.
Let’s start with a very simple snapshot of some of the tasks that need doing here at MWH just to keep our heads above water, without actually getting anything “new” done.
Now, when I say “new”, I do have to be kind to myself and remember that we are putting out NEW stuff out each WEEK and that’s not the thing that I’m referring to when I say “new” stuff. What I’m really talking about here is the stuff that keeps us operating and relevant on a daily basis. In other words, these thing that I’m about to list are my MUST DOs. Without them, I’m pretty sure we’d be screwed. Now I’m fortunate that I run this biz with my husband. He’s my audio guy and my tech support but here’s some of the daily tasks that I have specifically as my responsibility. You may be able to relate to most of these task and for the ones that you don’t relate to, you can replace those with the to-dos that are fundamental to your biz staying afloat, week in, week out.
So here we go:
- Planning and writing the weekly email broadcast
- Writing copy for the podcast
- Planning, writing, creating social media posts AND THEN posting and interacting on social media (3 platforms, 2-5 times a day on each, 7 days a week)
- Responding to emails
- Making time to learn to develop my own business skill set
- Reaching out to potential guests for the podcast
- Writing a blog post
- Creating a freebie to help support my audience
- Building my bank of photos for social media and the blog – styling, taking and editing photos.
- Recording the podcast
- Preparing my podcast guest
- Following up with my podcast guest
Then there are these…
- Creating ways for the MWH community to CONNECT – Cue the Facebook group! If you haven’t joined our PRIVATE Biz Club on FB you can do so here. Mums With Hustle Biz Club
- Checking in with individuals from the MWH to see how they’re going
- Connecting with others for collaboration (other ways) through a phone call or email
- Creating my paid products – yes, they’re under construction!
- Content creation
- Learning how to grow my biz on other social media platforms
- Staying active in the other Facebook groups I’m a part of
- Looking at ways to grow our biz, PR, VA… this research takes time!
- Attending a face to face meeting
Anyway, I know you get my drift. There’s a lot and you’re in the same boat too. You’ve got your biz and you’ve got limited time.
Grab a pen and paper and jot down all of your MUST DO’s. Don’t get fancy about it. This is just a brain dump.
Having passion will only get you so far! We need progress to keep that momentum and keep us motivated. So how do we achieve that, ESPECIALLY when we have little people who we want to spend time with and a household to run.
One of my major learnings about being a start-up is how incredibly difficult it is to switch off.
When you have your own business, it’s hard to switch off because there’ll always be something you could be “doing”. This was the same train of thought for me as a teacher. You’re never up to date BUT you need to set some boundaries for yourself around this.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of staying up pretty late hustling away working on bits and pieces but that’s not every night and that’s really only when I have a deadline to meet. A classic example of this was launching MWH. If you’ve been with us from the beginning you’ll know that we started our social media in advance of our launch. I was posting content and getting you to click the link in my bio and that would take you to a landing page which gave you a very brief insight into what MWH was going to be. I think it was something like 2 sentences. It was brief. There was a box for you to enter your email address to become part of our mailing list and then there was a timer that was counting DOWN!
Everybody knew when we were launching and it still makes me cringe when I think about all that goes into a launch but that’s a conversation for another day.
The point of this story is that we pulled all-nighters.
A lot of them.
Months of them.
Our countdown timer was holding us accountable.
You, were holding us accountable!
So we put in manic hours. This however, isn’t something that you want to sustain. It’s unhealthy and overworking can actually lead you to become unproductive!
Fast forward to 6 months later and we are finally getting our groove and that’s all thanks to:
I’m going to spend the rest of this post sharing 3 productivity tips with you that have helped to get me feeling less overwhelmed and help us see progress in a very short window of time!
The first thing is accepting my reality. I have a toddler. I work from home. I have two 6 hour days where I can work on my business (child free). That’s it.
I don’t think I need to go into the random nature of toddlers but just real quickly for those peeps reading this, who don’t have children – kids aren’t predictable. They sometimes refuse the nap, they get sick, sometimes they’re clingy, so really, they are the bosses a lot of the time and they set our work hours. At the same time, we wouldn’t change any of that for the world! These little blessings are the reason we started our businesses in the first place. It sets a great example for our children when they see us working on a passion and taking risks. But a major draw card of having your own business as a parent is the flexibility that it gives you when you’re littles really need you. I think it’s important to remind ourselves of those two things sometimes.
Onto my 3 productivity tips!
1) Get preppy:
You are most productive when you plan your list the night before. I know some people roll their eyes at this because they see it as yet another task they don’t have time for. This is a mistake. Your to-do list is a smart investment of your time that will reap massive rewards for your little effort. Writing your to-do list at night is even better. Your subconscious will process this list as you sleep, reducing overwhelm when you wake up.
Like most emotional things, it’s better to get it out of your head than leave it in there swirling around, getting messy and stressing you out.
If you’re waking up and winging it, then it’s a bit like cramming for an exam. You’re going to be a scatter brain. You’re going to feel like you're constantly switching between tasks, checking emails left, right and centre, checking your social media and trying to retrieve your invisible to-do list from your head – the one that you didn’t write down.
When we see people just winging it, they tend to forget to do some of those important tasks all together and then they end the day feeling crap and getting into a funk about how they didn’t get anything done and how it’s so much easier for others to get ahead because blah blah blah…
This is getting into dangerous mindset territory and this is the negative place we want to avoid because it’s not going to help you be productive but it will kill your passion and progress. So, get preppy and start prioritising the to-do list.
It would be great if you could build this into your night routine but if you’re life is hectic and unpredictable just write it down anywhere you can. I’m a classic for writing mine on a post it and sticking it on my desk for the morning. I also love to sit and prep my list on my own MWH printable to-do list that we gave away a couple of months ago in the free Biz Kit (you can access the current and future FREE Kits here).
I’m going to be real here and say that it’s not always realistic that I get that nice time to sit and plan on my pretty paper or in a nice book. Honestly, sometimes I type it single handed into Evernote on my phone, in the dark while I’m breastfeeding my son at night. Sure, it’s way better to physically handwrite the list but it’s not always possible for me and I know it’s better out than in so I type it. If I do get a chance after my son’s gone to bed I’ll try and quickly scribble my to-do’s down on paper and leave it on my desk before I head off to go about the rest of my night. The key here is JUST WRITE IT DOWN. Don’t get fancy with your paper and your process. Don’t get fancy by going into so much detail.
Over thinking and over preparing is just a way of getting fancy about procrastinating.
I think I heard Michael Hyatt say that on one of his podcasts and it really stuck with me.
I’ll say it again.
Over thinking and over preparing is just a way of getting fancy about procrastinating
2) Protect your time:
By this, I mean eliminate, or at the very least minimise your distractions. In order to do this one, you need to keep it real with yourself. Be honest. What are your go-to distractions? Take inventory of all of those things that keep you from doing what it is that you need to be doing. Is it online shopping? Is it google? I know a lot of serial Googlers, hubby included! Just take the time to think about what you’re go-to distractions and procrastination tactics are.
Once you’ve identified them you can begin to eliminate or reduce them from your precious work time.
I know for some, it’s emails. For me, it’s social media and housework. It’s even my to-do list. So what do I do?
Once I’ve done my social media post for that part of the day I turn off notifications or do not disturb. I put my phone out of reach. I turn the volume off on my laptop and I work in my office, with the door shut (so I don’t see the mess) or I work outside, or even at another location, like a park or a cafe. I choose the task that I’m going to work on and I hide the rest of the list so I can simply focus.
If google is your distraction but you need your browser open to do your set task, just have one tab open! You’ll have minimised the chance of getting distracted by last night’s shopping cart or reading that awesome blog post you started reading but meant to come back to. Know what your distractions are. Eliminate them and protect your time.
3) Learn to love working in small chunks of time:
This one really links back to what I said earlier about accepting your reality. Yes, it can be a real frustrating thing to feel like you’re not in control of when you work and it’s hard sometimes when you’ve got all these creative juices flowing, you’re in the zone and you just want to keep smashing those to-dos because you’re WINNING right now and then you have to stop. For whatever reason. It’s time to do the school run. The cat threw up on the rug. You need to get dinner on. Your baby woke up. Things happen, especially when you work at home and especially when you have kids BUT flicking the switch on our mindset about the way that we view working in small chunks of time can have a tremendous effect on your productivity.
We need to learn to love the little chunks because research tells us that working in small blocks of time is the way to boost productivity and get results! Think about it. If you’ve ever worked in a corporate job you’d know what it’s like to sit at a desk for countless hours. Not fun.
I’ve learned to block out my day into chunky bits of about 45 minutes. During this time I work with laser focus (I’m protecting my time remember). I have my task. I have my timer set. Literally! Seriously, set a timer and watch yourself get to work. I’ve done this at school as a teacher for years and it’s amazing how productive even the most challenging of learners can be when they know there is a time limit and when they know there is an end to that task!
So you get to work, with your timer on, counting down, and the 45 minutes is up. What do you do then? You get up and take a break for 15 minutes. YES! It’s good to press pause. Again, the research tell us this. Having a break will boost your productivity! So have a stretch, grab a coffee, go outside and daydream, do a quick 15 minute HIIT workout, check your social media, do a meditation, paint your toenails, unload the dishwasher – hey, this time is yours. It’s time to have a brain break and refresh and it’s a reward for your laser focus (alright, maybe it's not a reward if you chose to unload the dishwasher but that’s your choice). Just pay attention to the timer and get back to work, either continuing on the task you had been working on, or if you’ve completed it, move on to the next thing.
When I started breaking my day up into small chunks of time I was able to get way more done but remember, I was also coming into the situation all prepped and ready with my realistic list of to-do, and I protected my time by eliminating distractions.
Because I know productivity is the winning ticket to momentum, I want to give you a tool in supporting you to implement what I just shared. This Productivity Plan Worksheet helps you delve into taking action in the 3 areas that will make you most productive. Enter your details to grab it now.
Print it off, fill it out and keep it visible in your workspace. New habits take time to develop and this worksheet can help you take the first step. Enter your details below to download!
If there’s something that I’ve said here that’s got you thinking about how you can improve your productivity, take action on that thing. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and unbalanced, take a moment to breath and just concentrate on doing the next thing that you need to do, rather than EVERYTHING that you need to do. You’ve got this! Believe that.
Until next time, if you are loving the Mums with Hustle content, do me a favour and share this post with your friends via the social share buttons. That’s going to help more people, just like you, to find our content so they can learn along with all of us too. I’d really appreciate that!
Cool. So that’s it from me, I hope you stay productive and keep hustling!
As the founder and CEO of Mums With Hustle, I have the best day job in the world: teaching entrepreneurs how to grow their beautiful businesses online. When I started the business, that was everything I wanted, but since then, it has grown into something much bigger. Now, I get my joy from helping women find their zones of genius within a community that truly celebrates their success. I truly believe that when women choose to band together, we can do anything - and if you feel the same, there’s a place in the MWH community for you.
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