Finding ways to be more productive is the holy grail for mom bosses.
You want to start an online business or grow one you’ve already launched, but there just never seems to be enough time. Or you’ve been daydreaming about starting a blog but you can’t squeeze in an hour to do it.
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And let’s face it, if you can find the time, you may be too exhausted to focus.
Well, duh. That may not be much of a revelation if you’re grinding it out every day, raising a business while you’re raising kids.
But it doesn’t have to be a constant struggle to get it all done.
The question is, what does it really take to be more productive when you wear all the hats?(Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may earn a commission if you click and make a purchase. I only promote products and services that I know and trust.)
It Starts With Habits
Listen up, mama, I’m going to tell you a secret. If you want to be more productive, you have to change your habits.
Habits define our everyday routines. They’re what our lives are built on. They shape how much we’re able to get done from one day to the next.
Think about your to-do list.
How much of what you plan to do actually gets done? How much gets pushed off for another day because you’re too tired or stressed from managing your mom duties to tackle it all?
I’ve totally been there.
There have been days where I’m able to get a half a week’s worth of work done between 9 a.m. and noon. On those days, it seems effortless to be more productive.
And I’ve had days where it’s 9 p.m. before I’m even sitting down to my computer to start working. On those days, I just want to wave a magic wand and start over.
It’s frustrating, right?
It didn’t hit me what I was doing wrong until I read Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit”. Then, BOOM — it all clicked. I was struggling to be more productive consistently because my daily habits sucked.
Why Habits Matter If You Want to Be More Productive
The main idea of Duhigg’s book is that our habits drive our success.
With the right habits, you can lose weight, be a better parent, get rich or just get more done every day.
Habits operate on a loop. There are three parts of the loop: cue, routine and reward. If you want to understand your habits — and change them — you have to understand how the parts of your individual loops work together.
To do that, you identify the routine, then you work backwards to figure out what the cue and the reward is.
But how does this help you be more productive as a mompreneur?
When you change your habits, you learn to master your time and get waaaay more done. And that can be absolutely HUGE for your business.
But changing your habits is freaking hard. It’s scary to try rewire your brain to think differently.
The good news is, you don’t have to completely hijack your life to do it. Supercharging your mompreneur productivity starts with some simple — but powerful — habit shifts.
How to Be More Productive as a Mom Boss
To really be more productive, you have to start with a big picture look at how you structure your days.
Go over every aspect of your day, from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep. Write it all down so you can see at a glance how you’re spending your time.
- Are there any patterns you see?
- What’s a regular part of your routine?
- What tasks do you dread the most?
- Which ones do you look forward to?
Make it as detailed as possible. This is the blueprint you’re going to use to reshape your habits.
Ready to get more productive and start getting shizz done as a mom boss? Here’s how I took charge of my habits, and how you can do it too:
1. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
I am not a morning person.
I know there are some moms out there who are getting out of bed at 4 or 5 a.m. and getting in three or four hours of work before their kids get up.
That’s not me. But if that’s you, let me applaud you for your superhuman ability to function before the sun is up.
For me, a normal wake-up time is 7 a.m.
I’m not getting up super early (and probably never will) but on most days, I’m able to knock all my work-related tasks by noon because I’m getting up at the same time every day.
Having a routine is my secret weapon for dealing with mornings.
From 7 to 8:30 is my time to shower, get dressed, have breakfast and have a few minutes of quiet time before my kids get up. I’m in front of my computer by 8:30, ready to work on whatever it is I have scheduled for that day.
I’m able to get up at 7 like clockwork because I go to bed at the same time each night. Bookending my days this way lets me squeeze more out of my waking hours.
And, I don’t have to force myself out of bed every day because when the alarm goes off, my brain knows it’s time to get into work mode.
2. Visualize your daily routine.
I’m a BIG believer in visualization.
The idea is simple. When we see things clearly in our head, we can bring them to life in the real world.
Sounds super corny, right? I used to think so too. But visualization helped me buy a home and grow my freelancing writing income to six figures so I don’t scoff anymore.
Visualizing can also help you be more productive. Here’s how I do it:
Every morning when I wake up, I send out a big mental ‘thank you’ to the universe. Then, I do a quick run-through of what my morning, afternoon and evening will look like.
It takes a minute or two but the payoff lasts all day long. Seeing the day from start to finish in my head makes it easier to execute and get things done.
This is something Duhigg talks about in his book. He describes how Michael Phelps used a routine that involved visualization as part of his Olympic training.
He would visualize the race he was about to run and play the tape over and over until he could literally do it with his eyes closed. (At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Phelps got water in his goggles during the 200m butterfly final and snagged a gold medal while essentially swimming blind).
Give it a try. Take five minutes a day to get into your head and think out your day. Don’t be surprised if you start to feel more productive right away.
3. Unload your mental clutter before you get down to work.
It’s hard to stay focused on your business (or anything else) if you’ve got a bunch of other random thoughts floating around in your head.
I need to pay the water bill. I feel super bloated this morning. Wish I could take a nap. Will it ever stop raining? You get the picture.
When you’ve got all these unimportant thoughts junking up your brain, it takes your attention away from the thing you’re supposed to be doing.
An hour or two goes by and you’ve made hardly any progress. Now you’re behind AND frustrated.
Offloading all the fluff before you start working can help to keep the white noise at bay and be more productive once it’s time to work.
I set aside 15 to 20 minutes before I start working to write in my journal. What bills I need to pay, what kind of mood I’m in, what kind of dreams I had or how I slept, things that are bugging me. It’s just one big brain dump.
Skimming off the clutter means I’m more focused by the time I’m ready to start working. And doing this every day helps me automatically shift into work mode when it’s done.
4. Keep a done list to go with your to-do list.
I love making to-do lists.
Notice I said making them. The doing what’s on them? Not always so much.
Making to-do lists gives your days structure. It also create a sense of urgency. But, they can be a major source of anxiety if you’re not getting around to doing everything you’ve planned.
The easiest way to keep that anxiety from destroying your day is keeping your to-do list short.
Pick three or five tasks and make those your main focus for the day. If that seems too overwhelming, just stick with one or two.
Remember, there’s only so much you can get done when you wear the mom and business owner hats. And having a long to-do list doesn’t help you be more productive. If anything, it just ups the stress factor in your day.
I like to keep a “done” list, to go with my to-do list. At the end of the day, I note everything I was able to do during the day. That includes stuff I did for my business and everything else that kept me busy.
Exercised for 45 minutes? Returned our books to the library on time? Went to the bank? Recorded my calories in MyFitnessPal? Got through homeschool without anyone crying? It all goes on the list.
So what does that have to do with being more productive?
For me, keeping a done list helps me stay accountable and track my wins. That’s huge for me on the days when I don’t get as much done work-wise as I’d like.
Seeing everything that I was able to do in any given day gives me a push. It puts into perspective just how much I do as a mom and an entrepreneur. And, going over my done list motivates me to attack any of those lingering to-dos the next day.
Bonus tip: Make your to-do list the night before.
I mentioned that I love to-do lists, right?
One thing that I discovered in my quest to be more productive as a business owner and a mama is that timing matters when you’re making your list.
It’s kind of like grocery shopping. Taking time to write a shopping list and really think about what you need and the meals you want to cook keeps you focused once you’re cruising the aisles.
Walking into the grocery store with a list that you spent five minutes on is a good way to end up with a cart full of stuff you don’t need and blowing your budget. Or worse: forgetting half the things you came to get in the first place. (Been there, done that.)
I used to approach my to-do list for the day that way. I’d spend five minutes in the morning scribbling out everything I need to get done. And for the rest of the day, I’d be in a complete frenzy trying to cross off everything on the list.
Then I realized that wasn’t how I wanted to start (or complete) my days. And my panic-to-get-it-all-done routine didn’t make me any more productive.
So I shifted gears and started making my to-do list at the end of the day.
Now, every night I grab a Post-It note and write down the most important things I need to do for the next day. I slap it on my calendar page in my planner for a quick refresh when I sit down to work in the morning.
It’s a little thing, but it’s been a big help in keeping me focused each day. I can quickly prioritize the items on the list according to what’s most or least important and get down to business.
What Are You Doing to Be More Productive?
Changing your habits to be more productive as a mompreneur takes time but you can do it. Starting really is the hardest part. But once you get over the hump, you’ll wonder how you ever did things any differently.
There’s no magic number for how long it really takes to form a new habit. (James Clear has a great post explaining why you shouldn’t buy into the 21-day habit forming myth.) The more consistent you are, the easier it is to stick with it.
If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of making several habit changes at once, pick one to start. Make changing that habit your main focus, then work on adding the next one.
Track your progress to see how you’re doing. If you’re a bullet journal devotee, adding a habit tracker page is a simple way to do it. You can also use a free app like Habitbull keep tabs on your habit streaks.
Do you have a productivity hack or tip that’s made your mompreneur life easier? Tell me about it in the comments.
And if this posted helped you, remember to share it with another mama who’s chasing the boss mom dream!