My Top Shortcuts, Hacks and Timesaving Tips for Busy Working Mums
Work At Home Mum (WAHM). For many, those words conjure up a dreamy world where you make your own hours, work on your own terms and your hardest decision is deciding whether to go Ugg boots or just socks with your trackies.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, any WAHM worth her salt knows that, no matter how rewarding, the vibe is a lot more crazy chaos than dreamy flexibility. It's flat out hard work, and it takes time and dedication to figure out how to make it work for you.
I've tried to lighten a little of that work for you, by sharing a few tools and tips that can help you get started. If you're ready to take back control of your time as a WAHM, then read on!
Okay I'm gonna start off unconventional, and say the BIGGEST timesaving hack I have found is to know yourself. We are all different. Our brains work differently. Knowing your strengths and your weaknesses will make a major difference in how effective you are in your work life. Having all the tools in the world won't help if they don't suit how you work.
Are you a details person? Or do you love the big picture? Does bullet journaling thrill your soul? Or does even the idea of all those dot points almost make you wanna mouth vomit? Knowing how you tick will help you pick the right tools.
There's debate about whether behavioural and personality tests help or not in the workplace. I think that they help, because they make you think about yourself…. and ANYTHING that increases your self awareness and emotional intelligence is a good thing.
Don't use them to put yourself in a box, but do use them to get a better understanding of how you work. Especially under pressure, because – HELLO, that's the constant life of a WAHM.
Some you might find helpful (as opposed to buzzfeed surveys to find out what flavour of milkshake you would be):
- Myers-Briggs Personality type Test assesses how people look at the world, I cousin whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. Find out more at www.myersbriggs.org
- DISC Assessment (DISC stands for dominance, inducement, submission, compliance. This one is focussed on evaluating behaviours)
- Winslow Personailty profile – help assess career success and happiness (helpful when you're making big decisions)
(I should add that some of these tests need to administered by a professional who has completed training, for you to gain the most benefit from them.)
Organisation and Project Management
Okay, once you've got the self awareness sorted, what's next? Some way to categorise, prioritise and organise all that stuff that always needs to be done (in a way that fits you and your personality)!
I'm gonna be unconventional (even old fashioned) again and say my favourite tool is still my A4 PAGE A DAY paper diary and a pen! I love the action of physically writing things down – it sparks my thoughts, gets my head in the right space, and gets my work juices flowing.
But – when you get to project management level, or just working through a goal from beginning to deadline, apps can be a lot of help. I haven't used all of these personally, but here's a list I looked into to get you started! These apps all help you manage projects and tasks, and people, and manage and share work (and you can find them all in the App Store):
If you love visual planning and mind mapping, why not check out Mindly? It helps you plan and create using visual mind maps and looks kinda fun.
Of course, if you want to start simple, your electronic calendar is a great simple tool – you can add in dates, deadlines, reminders and to-dos and you'll get alarms to help you stay on track. Simples!
A full year at a view wall calendar is also a good investment – it's a great way to start looking at your year in three month blocks – perfect for seeing the big picture and planning ahead. I got mine from the Makers Collective (ww.themakerscollective.com.au).
Prioritisation and Focus
Okay – so you've got your project management tools sorted, but all the apps in the world won't help if you can't prioritise your time, cut procrastination and focus. Here are some tools to help you decide what needs doing when, and then help you do it!
The Eisenhower important/urgent principle*. This sounds big and complicated, but it is basically a way of breaking down tasks to see what really needs to be done and when. Perfect for when you feel ‘deer in the headlights’ frozen when an avalanche of jobs all land on your head at once. Check out the basics here – www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/
Once you've got your priorities sorted, try to write a list for every day – keep it realistic and doable – some say you should aim to focus on only 3 main priorities every day.
The Pomodoro technique** – basically working in concentrated short blocks of time. Sometimes our work, when viewed as whole big scary pile – can seem so overwhelming! Especially when there's so little time available to us in a day. But 25 minutes feels manageable, right?
The Pomodoro technique gets you to set a timer for 25 minutes at a time and work with focus on one task, until the timer goes off. Take a 5 minute break before jumping into the next block.
After 4 blocks (if you get that far with kids around!), take a longer break. This is great for ploughing through lists of jobs, especially ones you've been avoiding! I just use my timer in my phone, but you can download apps, like the Focus Keeper, which you can use for this too. Just search Pomodoro timer in the App store.
Of course, for this method to be successful, you need to stay focussed and on task. Need some things to help you tune out all your distractions?
Try Noisli *** – this is a background noise and color generator ideal for working and relaxing. I love the rain sound!! Find it at www.noisli.com.
If you need a little help with distractions on your phone or other devices, you might wanna try something like the Freedom App. It's designed to work across all your devices, and block distracting websites, notifications and apps that distract you from your work.
A couple of areas I haven't covered are programs and apps for accounting and bookkeeping (because I'm totally not qualified to advise you on these – ha!) and social media scheduling apps and websites, because I think they require a whole blog post on their own (plus I don't use them, whoops!).
The apps and ideas I've covered are just the tip of the iceberg, but I hope they give you some ideas to try and really help focus your efforts in establishing your biz routine, especially if you're just starting out. I'd love to hear what works for you, or even if you have other tips, shortcuts and methods I haven't covered here! Comment below or get in touch and let me know!
*Credit to Cassie Nguyen (Eighteen fifty-One) for introducing me to the Eisnenhower Matrix
**Credit to Ami Williamson (Damn Write) for introducing me to the correct name for this technique!
*** Credit to Zoe Arpin (Mums with Hustle Facebook group member) for introducing me to Noisli.
Lover of colour, words, puns, pattern clash and donuts. Definitely not a perfectionist. Keneena Fanning is the sole creator, maker and doer at Kablooie Store, her micro fashion label full of big bold happy pieces. Kablooie Store’s vision? To create fun fashion pieces for you and your child that look fabulous, and make you feel deep-down happy!
A wife and mum of three, Keneena has worked previously in economics, strategic financing, and project management, and holds a business degree in economics and resources management. True story.
Now, in between dreaming up new colour clashes, sewing and packing orders, and snapping flatlays, Keneena finds joy in the happy chaos of family and church life, loves to exercise and dreams of one day doing one handed pushups. Followed by a pepperoni pizza.
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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