Ep 36. Maximize Your Productivity with Minimal Time

I'm Ashley!

My mission at The Purpose Gathering is to help driven momtogs like you level up, so you can build a sustainable business AND a fulfilling family life. I do that through authentic brand photography for mompreneurs and my signature program for mom photographers: Side Hustler to CEO.

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I’m extremely excited to chat with you about how to get the most out of your time. Because let’s be honest, not having enough time is something that every mama struggles with. I get asked about this all the time, and I know that this is something that so many of us struggle with, it’s just this myth around not having enough time. But what it comes down to, is just not knowing what to spend your time on and not actually using it wisely. So today I want to help you tackle this myth and help you maximize every second of your time. Let’s jump right in!

Step # 1: Establish Time Blocks

This is the most crucial part, because if you do not first establish and protect time blocks, you’re not going to really have any time to work. So, what I need you to do is pull out your calendar right now if you can and you need to actually set aside time to work. You have to carve out the time in your schedule and you need to try to keep it as consistent as possible. This is so that you can have a freed-up brain space and know when to expect work tasks.
I don’t know about you guys, but it is so hard for me to switch between work and personal constantly. So, if I know that I have a protected work block of time, it is so much easier for me to be productive.

You also need to figure out how you work better. Do you work better with shorter bursts of focus time, or do you really need longer bursts? Also think about if you have young kids at home, what is this going to look like. Whether this going to be during their nap time or you’re going to hire help that can come and watch your kids while you have this focused work time. Do you have a family member or a spouse, that’s able to keep an eye on those kids? Turn to them for help so that you can have your focused work time. Remember, that focused work time is very crucial, and I think this is why a lot of moms feel scattered and unproductive as they never feel like they have focused work time.

Here is a link to a really helpful episode all about working from home with kids. This will be helpful to give you kind of some tips and ideas of how you can make that work if childcare is not an option right now. I do want to just offer that as a future possibility and something that I think you should look into as soon as possible, sooner rather than later. Because the more time that you can have protected for work, it’s going to give you mental clarity and also just make you feel more productive because you won’t be interrupted all the time.

I also want you to be thinking about carving out personal time blocks as well. As a mompreneur, I need to still carve out some personal time blocks so that I don’t become a workaholic. Because for most of us, owning our own business gives us the freedom to have a flexible schedule. And if we are anchored and tied to our work 24/7, that’s not really probably the life that a lot of us wanted. So, we need to carve out those personal time blocks where we can either just have some time to ourselves to do whatever we want to do or spend time with your family.

Also think about leaving margin in your schedule; just because you have a time slot on your schedule doesn’t mean that it needs to be filled with something. And this is another pitfall that I see a lot of mamas kind of fall into, where they feel like they have to cram as much of their to do list in one day as possible, and are left defeated at the end of the day, when they only get two out of the 10 things done. So, it’s very important that you keep that margin in your schedule for things to run over, for kids to get sick, phone calls to happen. Just kind of that miscellaneous stuff that we never really think about. What about those tech issues that you have, if any of that happens, you don’t want to schedule yourself so close together that it stresses you out.

Another important tip is to keep a master to do list outside of your calendar. For me, if I keep one in my calendar, it overwhelms me, and I I never feel like I can get it done and it stresses me out. Do yourself a favor and keep that list somewhere else and only use this master to do list to help you schedule in your time blocks.

Step # 2: Create a Master Task List

This is a little bit different than a to do list, as these are the tasks that you have on repeat all the time. So, you want to make a list of the tasks that you do on a daily basis and then next, I want you to think about the tasks that you have to complete on a weekly basis. Finally, think about those tasks that you complete on a monthly basis. Then you’re going to have your master to do list in addition to this: But keep in mind this is kind of the master task list, which is that starting point.

Step # 3. Start Assigning the Tasks

Maybe you’ve probably heard the term batch working, which is basically lumping all like tasks together and doing it in one work block. For me, I like to group my time blocks by category: so, I like to work on outlining and recording my podcast in one block, then I do work on the promotional materials for my podcast in another block. This works better for me and it trains my brain and I get into a rhythm of what to expect every day.

So, start to assign these tasks to certain days so as to train your brain of what to expect. You will have tasks that change every week, but you can have a block of time set aside where you only work on a particular task and remember, this will be different for everyone. I am encouraging you all to actually do the steps that I’m walking you through. Because this is going to change your dynamic of your day and it’s going to maximize your productivity, but only if you do the work.

Now I want you to look at your to do list. I know that you have a big one, and I want you to
highlight those like items and put them into a time block. If you start to feel kind of frazzled by looking at your list and realizing that you have much more on the list than you have time blocks for, you’re going to need to start prioritizing which ones are the most important. If they’re all important, then you’re going to need to find some more focused work time and ask for additional help.

You need to get into that habit of focusing only on the things that need to be done and that are actually driving your business forward. I actually had a conversation the other day with a couple of girls in my coaching program, that goes along with my Efficient Mompreneur Course. And we were chatting through this idea of creating a CEO work block in which you only focus your time working on your business instead of working in it. I recently was introduced to a podcast called Promote Yourself to CEO by Rachel Cook, and she enlightened me and opened my eyes into this idea of being the CEO of your business. You have to set aside time to actually project and think about the future of your business and network with other people and promote to different audiences.

And it’s very inspiring and I encourage you guys to check it out at this link here. I definitely encourage you to create a CEO block in your schedule as it is going to be a great time for you to kind of reflect on the tasks that you’re doing and really get down to the heart of what is the most important. Because if you’re spending your time doing unnecessary tasks, then of course you’re going to feel unproductive. And when you’re a mompreneur, we have minimal time. So, it’s so crucial that what you were spending your time on is actually driving the needle forward in your business.

Step # 4: Eliminate Distractions

When you actually sit down in that protected time block, you must then eliminate those distractions. Set your phone on Airplane Mode, mute notifications on your computer, do whatever you have to do so that you’re not distracted. For me, when my phone is not on airplane mode, I constantly get email notifications and I feel the urge to check them immediately. You need to have a certain time of day where you check and respond to your email. I also have a really great podcast episode about Managing your Inbox Like a Boss, and so when you have time, go ahead and check it out here.

I also think it’s so important that you give yourself enough time each day to mindlessly scroll social media. And I know some of your eyes are popping out and you’re like what?! She just said we should mindlessly scroll! We all do it, so we might as well set aside time that we know we’re going to get to mindlessly scroll. Everybody enjoys kind of like a little break once in a while, especially when we have a couple of minutes here or there. But please set aside time because it’s going to happen, and if you have that time it might be a deterrent for you to do it throughout the day. Once you know that you have time to do it, go ahead and do it.

I also recommend that you set up social media boundaries. I know a lot of people, myself included, get distracted when we get on social media. I think it’s so crucial to set a up timer or at least just be very conscious of what you’re going on to do. And then if you see something that’s interesting, add it to your master task list so that you can go back to look at it later.

Step #5: Set Yourself Up for Success

The first way to do that is to give yourself a set amount of time to get a task done otherwise it will inevitably take you longer. I know this is hard because I still struggle with this, but I started setting timers and giving myself just a small container of time. And when the timer goes off, I have to stop what I’m doing and move on to the next task. Sometimes if I’m super close to being done, I’ll just set my timer for like five more minutes and see how far I can get in those five minutes and then move on to the next task. This will help you at least make progress in a lot of different areas and what it also does is it trains your mind to work more efficiently.

For me, I am constantly bouncing around from task to task and it’s so unproductive. I then started giving myself this challenge, where at any given time I need to be able to answer within three seconds what am I working on. And if I cannot answer the question, I am trying to multitask and I am unproductive. You can usually tell when you’re unproductive as well, because your brain just starts to race, your heart starts to pound a little bit and all of a sudden, you’re just overwhelmed with all the things going on in your head. Occasionally, I have to stop what I’m doing and just brain dump everything in my mind, because when that happens, that typically means you just are overwhelmed. I have an amazing podcast episode that I’m going to link for you called Save Your Sanity and Avoid Overwhelm, and it will be so helpful for you as it’s a perfect complement to this episode.

Another trick that I’m using, is that I have started to write on a sticky note what I’m working on in that moment and constantly refer back to it. That way if my mind starts to wander and I go somewhere else, I can stop and look back at the note and remember what I am supposed to be working on. And whenever something pops into my head that I need to do, I add it to that list. That way I have that master task list always running and I can pull from it when I need to know what to do. Do whatever works best for you.

So, remember with any new concept that you are learning or any new system that you are implementing, this is going to take some time as well as some trial and error. All I ask you to do is try it and that you stick with it, because this will help you really stay more productive.
Also think about minimizing how many tasks you cram into each day: three to four tasks a day is a good number to start with, depending on how involved each task is. Give yourself
room to succeed and if you over-pack your schedule, you’re setting yourself up for failure every single day and you’re going to feel like you never have enough time. But really, it’s not time that’s the problem, it’s prioritizing, sticking to your protected time blocks and making sure that you’re working on the most important tasks.

So, remember the following tips:

  1. Establish and protect time blocks.
  2. Create a master task list.
  3. Assign the tasks.
  4. Eliminate distractions.
  5. Set yourself up for success.

I really hope that you have found these tips helpful in learning how to maximize your productivity with minimal time. I want you to actually put a plan into action and walk through each of these steps.

If you enjoy today’s post, share with other mamas out there. You can reach out to me on Instagram @thepurposegathering. I always love to hear what your thoughts are about the posts. I would also love for you to send me a DM and let me know what future topics you would like to learn about.

Remember last week I spilled the beans about a secret I’ve been keeping. Next month, I’m officially launching a Mastermind Membership Community. It’s a combination of expert education and implementation in group setting that allows for members to brainstorm with each other and grow on a deeper level. The goal of this community is to provide ongoing support and accountability to service based mompreneurs who are overwhelmed and struggling in the areas of time management, productivity, prioritizing self-care and creating a peaceful home. This is something that I have been dreaming up and working behind the scenes to launch for quite some time now and I’m just so excited to share with you more details.

The actual content in this membership will be rolling out mid-January, but next month, I’m offering VIP access to my insiders and giving you access to the lowest founding member pricing. Once you become a founding member, your membership rate stays the same for the duration that you remain in the membership. By launching it to a select number of people, you will help me shape the membership as well as forming this community and making it the most impactful that it can be. If you’re interested in learning more, be sure to join the waitlist.

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your very busy day to read these posts. I hope that you will feel empowered to go out there and crush your to do list. As always mama, I am here rooting for you and you are not alone on this journey.

Join The Waitlist for the Mastermind Community! Follow me on Instagram

Complimentary Episodes:
Episode 11: How to Mange Your Inbox Like a Boss
Episode 12: 5 Tips for Working from Home with Kids
Episode 21: Save Your Sanity and Avoid Overwhelm
Promote Yourself to CEO Podcast with Racheal Cook

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My mission is to help fellow momtogs (mama photographers!) experience success in business and in motherhood. As an Arizona brand photographer for mompreneurs, I’m passionate about capturing authentic images that show off my clients’ unique personalities so they can connect with their ideal clients. And as an online business coach for momtogs, I LIVE for helping mamas experience incredible transformations that help them build a business they love, without sacrificing their precious time with their littles.

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