4 Ways Being a (Working) Mom Has Allowed Me to be More Productive
This year I am celebrating my 10-year anniversary of being a small business owner. 10 years of late nights, long hours, ups, downs, and everything in between. Before my toddler, Ryeson, came along 3 years ago, I didn't care about being productive... I would work all hours of the day with no thought about “work-life balance” – I mean, my job was in wine and food. It was all work and fun. Even when I started dating Jeff (my now husband), striking that balance wasn’t a priority. But after having Rye, we both knew we had to make several changes to how we balanced our work, our baby, and our own lives. Jeff works for an IT company, so he has the typical 8 - 5 job, but my hours have always been less rigid.
Forcing Myself to Put My Phone Down
I now make it a point to put my computer and phone down during family time. It's an ongoing struggle because my iPhone is basically my lifeline. It's how I create content for my clients, my grocery list, my baby monitor (so I can watch to see if Ryeson is wiggling around in his bed or sleeping), and my workout buddy (I love the SEVEN app). I am also a former social media addict, having been under the impression that if I didn’t respond to people RIGHT AWAY that I would somehow miss out on something exciting.
But, you know what? My business (and my life) hasn’t imploded since putting the phone down more. In fact, it's made me more efficient with my time. You know the saying about the goldfish and how they will grow to the size of the container they are in? Our businesses tend to do the same thing – but it takes work to get there.
Tips For Becoming More Productive As a Mom:
1. Set your hours. Especially as a small business owner. And stick to them.
Like I mentioned before, I used to work late into the night on my projects. With no time restraint, I would find myself rewriting a certain line in a press release over and over again, or stressing out about which word to use in a piece of content. Now that I have a finite number of hours based on when Ryeson is in school, I'm able to be OK with only writing something once or twice. I don’t stress about the little details as much because I don’t have the time. This doesn’t mean that I produce poorer quality – what it does mean is that I don’t stress out about it as much!
I like having a routine during the week. I drop Rye off at school. I come home and do a quick workout, then I make a smoothie or have breakfast. And then I get started with work. Before Rye goes to school, I don’t even check my email because I know I can’t get to it until later anyway. Now that I pick up Rye four days a week, I have a set time at which I have to stop working. And Jeff and I are working on not picking up our phones throughout the evening until after Rye has gone to bed.
2. Plan your goals ahead of time, and spend the first half of your day focused on your main priority before any little tasks.
Planning ahead is another way to ensure that your time is spent more efficiently. It’s essential that you spend a few minutes on a Friday or Monday morning and plan out the week ahead so that you know which goals are the most important for your business. Even more essential – making sure to set aside time first thing in the morning to get those goals done, before all the other fires or meetings derail you from your original goal.
3. Taking time off actually makes you a better worker (and parent).
When you're stressed, your work and family life suffer. It’s a simple fact. Taking time off to enjoy your family helps for a few different reasons. It lets you recharge and come back ready to jump headfirst into work. And, if you choose to go on a vacation during your time off, booking your travel gives you something to feel excited about! I just booked a 40th birthday celebration in Mexico for my husband and we are so excited; even though we’re three months out, just the anticipation of going is enough to give me something to look forward to.
4. Have a Plan B in place.
This is such an important one, because as parents we have to have a Plan B for when our kids are sick or there’s a smoke day and school is out. Just having an idea of how things could play out makes it a little easier. Talk out what a scenario would look like, so it’s not just you having to take off work every time.
Making sure I plan ahead definitely increases my efficiency while the toddler is in school. And because of that, I am simply better at my job. I may have less time, but I know how to use it more wisely. Being more productive with your time means finding what makes sense for you.
Creating Habits Leads to Long Term Change
These 4 minor changes have the ability to create habits for being more productive in your work and home lives. And just remember - take some time to reward yourself because becoming more productive as a mom (or any parent) is not an easy task in the beginning. But, it is soooo worth it!