Tell me something mama, what’s the most important thing you need to succeed as a busy mompreneur?
Determination? Patience? Savvy business skills? A passion for what you do?
Those are all great answers and every one of those qualities can help you absolutely nail it when you’re growing a business. But, there’s something even more important you need plenty of: time.
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Why Time Management Matters If You’re a Busy Mompreneur
I won’t lie; starting an online business, ramping up a side hustle or launching a blog isn’t easy. There are sooo many things you need to do to lay a rock-solid foundation. And it doesn’t always get easier once your business starts to take off either.
Running a business is hard enough, but it can be even harder when you’re a mom. Because there’s just so much to do, right?
There’s cooking and cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping and spending time with the kids and taking them to soccer practice and church and scheduling playdates. You might be doing all of that on top of working full-time while trying to launch or grow your business. And oh yeah, you need to sleep too. 🙂
You feel like a hamster about to fly off your wheel and it’s freaking overwhelming.Bottom line, hoow you manage your time matters if you want to get ahead as a busy mompreneur.
What Happens When You Don’t Have a Plan for Managing Your Time
1. You lose focus.
Distractions are everywhere, and they can be the death of you when you’re trying to pull double-duty as a mom and a business owner. You sit down at your computer to work and an hour later you’ve gotten nothing done because you’re too busy watching Tasty videos on Facebook. (I mean come on, sometimes those videos are like a train wreck and you just can’t look away.)
Planning out your time each day keeps you from getting sidetracked by shiny things that aren’t helping you get ahead at home, or in your business.
2. You’re less productive.
So we all want to be more productive, right? You want to feel like you’re killing your to-do list every day, otherwise what’s the point?
The problem with that mindset is that it’s not always realistic when you’re a busy mama. Your days may be full from start to finish and you might not get to everything on your list in one day. Or two, or 10.
And that’s okay. It shouldn’t be about conquering a to-do list. The important thing is to be intentional with your time so that you’re productive where it matter most.
3. You miss opportunities.
The early bird gets the worm and so does the busy mompreneur who’s paying attention. When your time management strategy is to have no strategy, you could miss out on chances to do things that benefit your business.
For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve signed up for webinars or free masterclasses, only to miss them because I forgot to pencil in a block of time for them in my schedule. That’s a pretty small thing but constantly learning is part of growing and maintaining a business. But because I wasn’t on top of my time, those learning opportunities passed me by.
4. You end up stressed out and frustrated.
I so know what this is like. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re off the pace. It’s that feeling that kicks in when you’re running late to soccer practice or you still haven’t made it to the grocery store after being out of milk for two days or you haven’t gotten a single work-related thing done yet and it’s nearly noon.
That kind of feeling does nothing for your mood and it can totally zap your motivation to do anything. Having a plan and a routine to your days won’t totally erase that feeling but it can cut down on how often you hear the voice in your head telling you you’re behind.
5. Something suffers.
I can’t be everywhere and do everything for everyone all the time. Neither can you, and really, that’s not what we should be aiming for as moms and entrepreneurs. Trying to do it all only stretches you thin and inevitably, something falls through the cracks.
Managing your time means you can cover your most important bases without feeling drained. And it can help you get better results with the things you’re giving your attention to.
How to Make the Most of Your Time as a Busy Mompreneur
Okay, so you know what wasting time doesn’t do for you. Now let’s talk about how to make time your count.
1. Start with a planner.
It sounds simple but a planner can be huge for mastering your time as a busy mompreneur. I use a traditional 12-month paper planner to write down what I’m working on each day. I suggest checking out different planner styles to see what works for you. Here are a few you might want to try:
- Erin Condren’s LifePlanner™
- inkWELL Press’s liveWELL Planner®
- Lara Casey’s PowerSheets Goal Planner
- Ruth Soukup’s Living Well Planner
If you’re not the write-it-down type, you could also try using a planning app like Todoist. There’s a free version but the premium version is less than $30 a year. If you’re in full-on business scaling mode, the Business version is designed for looping in the members of your team.
Of course you could stick with something simple, like Google Calendar. It’s not super fancy but it gets the job done when you need to keep track of mom stuff, kid stuff and work stuff all in one place.
2. Ditch time-wasters.
I’m not afraid to admit that Facebook is hands-down my biggest time-waster. It’s so easy to just scroll, scroll, scroll the minutes away and never get a thing done.
Think about where you might be wasting time in your day. For example, it might be in your morning routine when you’re trying to get the kids ready for school, or in the evenings when you’re making dinner and picking up the house.
Breaking down your day using a time tracking app is a good way to find the weak spots in your schedule. If you need something easy to use that’s free, try Toggl. If you’ve got a slightly bigger budget, RescueTime is another solid option.
Or you could just go old school and keep a time diary where you write down what you do throughout the day. It’s up to you. The method you use isn’t as important as figuring out what you’re wasting time on. Once you do that, you can start reshaping your days.
3. Break up your to-do list.
To-do lists are great until they become overwhelming. If you have too many things to do, either at work or at home, you might just feel like walking away from your list altogether.
The problem is that nothing gets done that way. Looking at your list differently can help you get over the mental hump and start making progress.
The key is prioritizing what’s on your list.
Ask yourself what the most important things are that you need to get done that day and what can wait. Then, consider how much time it’s going to take you to do each one. Look at your schedule to see how much time you actually have available, then assign specific blocks of time for each task.
And don’t get caught up in trying to do everything perfectly, ’cause ain’t nobody got time for that, literally. Pick the most critical things you need to focus on for that day, do the very best you can with each of them and move on to the next item on the list.
4. Batch tasks.
Batching isn’t a new concept but it’s one you should be familiar with if you’re struggling to use your time to its full potential. All it really means is grouping similar activities together and doing them in the same window of time.
If you’re a freelancer writer, for instance, you might batch answering emails or editing or sending out pitches to your editors. If you’re a blogger, your batch list might include a block of time for writing blog posts, another for drafting and editing them and another for creating Pinterest images.
Batching works because it keeps you zeroed in one tasks that have a related theme. You’re not switching back and forth between things that are completely different, making you more efficient because it’s easier to stay on task.
5. Pick the right frog to eat first.
“Eat the frog” is a piece of productivity advice that says you should always start your day by doing the thing that you don’t really want to do first. By getting it out of the way, you can theoretically de-stress the rest of your day.
So, that’s great advice but…. here’s what I do instead. I go for the quick win right out of the gate.
If I have three stories to write and four hours to do it, I start with the one that’s going to take the least time. Then I move on to the next shortest one, leaving the big stuff for last.
This works for me because I’m the I-work-better-under-pressure type. But that might not be the case for you. Bottom line, do the thing first that’s going to get you motivated to do everything that comes after.
6. Stop multitasking.
Here’s a nice little truth bomb for you: multitasking doesn’t work. Humans just aren’t wired that way; we’re better at getting things done when we’re focused on thing at a time. But as a busy mompreneur, it can be hard to break out of the multitasking mentality.
So here’s what I suggest: set a timer for 20 minutes and commit to doing just one thing until your time is up. Take a quick break then reset the timer and pick up where you left off. This is called the Pomodoro Technique.
By doing one thing for a set window of time, you can train your mind to get in the habit of working on tasks quickly, without distractions. Focustime is a helpful tool for tuning out white noise when you’re working online or from your phone. (It comes included when you upgrade to a RescueTime Premium account.)
7. Think ahead.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: planning ahead wins the day.
The longer I run my business, the better I get at this, although I still struggle sometimes on the mom side. I haven’t worked weekends in over a year but it’s still hard for me to downshift from work mode to mom mode and figure out what we’re doing when Saturday rolls around.
Thinking and planning ahead can help you out with managing the big things and the small things. It can be as simple as writing down the things you need to do the next day the night before or prepping all your meals for the week. Just remember that if you’re planning something for way out in the future, to leave room in your plan for any curveballs life might throw at you.
8. Get the kids to pitch in.
Running a household and running a business at the same time is pretty much one of the hardest things ever. The great thing about being a busy mompreneur is that you’ve got built-in helpers in the form of your kids.
My kids do their own laundry, take care of our pets, clean their rooms and help with yardwork. That’s probably not a lot compared to what other kids might be doing but every little thing they do that I don’t have to is huge.
It’s not just the housework that kids can get involved with either. There might be ways that you can get them to help with your business.
If you have an older child, they can keep younger ones occupied while you work. Your teenager son or daughter could be your go-to source for tech support or social media advice. Even younger kids can help with things like filing or sorting.
Just remember when you’re delegating tasks to keep them age-appropriate so you don’t have to go back later and spend time redoing something.
Everybody has something in their business that they see as tedious, or a household chore that’s just one big time suck. If you’ve got one or both of those things going on, outsourcing is a good way to free up valuable time in your day.
What you outsource depends largely on your budget. Not every mama can afford to hire a maid and a virtual assistant and a lawn care service, while sending their clothes to the dry cleaner every week and having pre-made meals delivered daily. (And if you can, I want to know your money secret!)
If you can only outsource one or two things, pick the ones that are going to give you the best return on your investment, in terms of money spent vs. time saved.
10. Make the most of kid-free time.
If you’re a busy mompreneur who’s doing it all, sometimes you just need a break from your kids. That could be when they’re in school if you work from home or while they’re spending the night at a friend’s.
My kids are with me 100% of the time so I have to get creative about finding kid-free moments when I can concentrate on what needs to be done. For me, that’s the two hours a week we’re at soccer practice and the two hours a month when both kids take a homeschool art class.
You might have a bigger window of kid-free time to work with or a smaller one but the key is to make the most of it. Pick one or two things that will have the most impact business-wise or at home and work on those during that time.
Don’t commit all your kid-free time to working or cleaning or catching up on laundry, though. Take some of that time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to rest and recenter before you jump back into busy mompreneur mode.
Do You Have a Stellar Time Management Tip to Share?
Being a mom boss is completely awesome but it can also be exhausting. That’s where better time management becomes your best friend and these tips can help you cut down on the chaos in your day.
Do you have a killer hack or tip for keeping your schedule in check? Leave me a comment and tell me about it.
And remember to share this post with another time-crunched mompreneur if it helped you!