As an entrepreneur and mom of five, I have learned through trial and error that it’s just not possible to do it all. But with strategic use of time and energy, we can absolutely achieve success by doing the right things at the right time. If you’ve ever wished for a few more hours in the day, or wished you could clone yourself so you could get more done, I hope these strategies will help you achieve your goals and gain more peace!
1. Decide what is actually important to you
The first step in being more productive and saving time is gaining clarity on what is actually important to you. This is going to look different for every mom out there—and could include working full-time outside the home, working part-time while the kids are in school, running a business from home with small kids at your feet or working inside the home full time. Whatever is most important to you, get clear on it and write it down, and design your life around what matters most. You might consider using post-it notes to get clear on your unique purpose, or do a test like StrengthsFinder to help clarify your unique gifts. I also love the book Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy for writing out a life plan and establishing these priorities.
After you’ve clarified your purpose, ask yourself if you could you use technology or other methods to automate tasks? Here are some examples from my life—they might appear like small tweaks, but in the course of a day they can really save you a ton of time.
- Automatically direct emails to staff who might need them so you don’t have to read / address them all. For example, my accounting staff automatically get any emails with the word ‘invoice’ tagged to them.
- Pre-schedule regular appointments. Rather than trying to scramble to find an opening in your schedule or theirs, or wait on hold for several minutes, create recurring appointments ahead of time for things like the dentist, esthetician, dog groomer, etc.
- Automate grocery shopping. I just discovered Walmart’s grocery pick up service where you shop online a day or so in advance, pull up to an assigned parking spot, and the bagged groceries come to your car and get loaded into your trunk. Grocery shopping used to take me anywhere between 30-60 minutes, more if I had children with me, and now I have it down to a 15-minute science. Huge time and sanity saver!
- Plan your meals every week. I waste so much time thinking about what to make for dinner! Instead of staring blankly at the fridge, consider planning your weekly meals. This helps get everyone excited about family meals, and makes grocery shopping more efficient as you really can create an organized list.
What of your normal everyday tasks could you delegate to someone else? I did an exercise recently where I listed literally everything I did in a day, and I realized that the majority of it could be done by other people, including my children! While it requires giving up some control, what are areas you could delegate to others so you can be freed up to do things only you can do? Couple of things in my life that have been really helpful in saving me time:
- Cleaning. I have an amazing team of women whom I have hired for cleaning services.
- Laundry. While it is a grown up that does the washing and drying and folding, I get my children to put the clothing away. It requires some supervision, yes, but it means it actually gets done (as opposed to sitting in bins in my laundry room for a week!)
- Anything someone else can do in my business—including graphic design, accounting, blog post formatting, etc.
What do you currently do that you simply don’t need to do anymore? This one might take some serious reflection, but this aspect is key in living a more balanced life. A really great book to read on this topic is Greg McKeown’s Essentialism. It explores the notion of the pursuit of less, but better. This is the book I come back to again and again when I need reminders of what I should be focusing on.
5. Batch create
I use this strategy a lot in my business and in my personal life. The concept behind batch creation is to take a similar task and produce a lot of it at the same time. It works because your head is already focused on that task, and if there is any set up involved it is all ready to go! In my life, I batch create the following:
- Blog posts or other quiet writing. I schedule this when I have a stretch of childcare so I can focus in quiet on getting great words out.
- Meetings. I typically schedule all appointments in one day, and on these days I dress well, make sure I go to bed early, and focus on being present to people.
- Social media. I used to be a full on social media addict. It took up so much room in my life and was having such a negative impact on my family that I decided to go off it for 30 days. I now check my feeds twice a day, and that’s it. I use it with intention and purpose rather than aimlessly scrolling, and the time and space this behaviour shift has created in my head is pretty amazing!