Juggling both raising a family and growing a profitable photography business at the same time can feel impossible.
Do you ever find yourself feeling like you have to choose between being a great mom, a present mom, the mom you always imagined you would be?
Or being an amazing business owner who totally crushes it every day and checks off all the to dos? I used to think I just needed more time, but that didn’t help me. I quickly realized in order to be more productive, I had to be really strategic about how I spent my time.
In today’s episode, I am so excited to be talking about one of my absolute favorite topics and that’s productivity. I’m going to share with you my top six productivity hacks for maximizing the time that you do have, even if you feel like you don’t have that much. For the question today, I want you to answer it right after you’ve finished reading the blog. So, reach out to me over on Instagram @thepurposegathering, or on TikTok @AshleyFreehan and answer this question: What do you struggle with the most when it comes to time management? I can’t wait to hear what you have to say and hopefully by the end of this blog, you will have some incredible new ideas to start implementing to help with time management. So, let’s jump right into these six most effective productivity hacks.
Hack # 1: Time Tracking
I’ve talked about this a lot on my podcast, so I’m not going to go super into detail about it. However, I wanted to share with you a really cool new app that I just started using a few weeks ago called Toggl. Right after I talked about time tracking in Episode 109, I found out about this app. It has a mobile app and then it also has a desktop version with a Chrome extension. What’s really cool about this is that whenever you want to start time tracking, so whenever you sit down to do a task, you just hit start and then you can hit stop when you’re done. It tracks your time for you and then you can write what task you were doing. Then you can even assign a project tag to it and so you know what category basically that task was under.
I have been using this for a few weeks and it is incredible to see the data. So, if you are not time tracking yet I highly, highly encourage you to start.
You will see incredible insight into where you’re wasting time and where you should be investing more time.
Be thinking about income generating tasks which would be like visibility opportunities, getting in front of new audiences, marketing strategies and campaigns, sales calls, things of that nature. You need to start shifting where the majority of your time is being spent. I have several complimentary episodes about time tracking and time Blocking below!
- Ep 109. Organize your day, So You Can Work and Play
- Ep 53. These Five Mistakes are Sabotaging your Productivity
- Ep 36. Maximize your Productivity with Minimal Time
Hack #2: Task Management
This one is huge! I can’t tell you how many people I talked to that don’t have a system for tracking all the things that they have to do. They just try to remember it and it stays in their head. This is going to be the number one reason why you feel so stressed and overwhelmed all the time because you just are hanging on to all of this information and our brain is really meant to process information. It is not supposed to be a memory bank that stores a bunch of information.
It’s really important that you have a system in place for where all of your tasks will live.
I do go into a bit of detail about this in Episode 36, but to give you just a little bit of a brief overview. You’re going to want to make sure that you have a list of all the items that you do on repeat, which is going to be your master to do list. And then you have a master task list, which is going to be all of those sort of one-off tasks that just pop into your mind and need to be done like every once in a while. When you are planning out your week, you use this master to do list and master task list to assign what days and time blocks you’re going to be completing those tasks.
Now, it’s really important that you make a plan for what tasks you want to accomplish.
If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while you know how much I love talking about being the CEO in your photography business. Every business needs a CEO and you are yours. Hate to break it to you, that is the truth. You have to learn what that means for you and your business and you need to think about the future and where is your business going. Have a big picture profit plan of what you want out of your business because what a successful business looks like to me might be very different than what a successful business looks like to you.
You first have to define what success looks like for you and your family and then you need to create a plan for how to get there.
I have a series towards the beginning of this year, all about planning your year, How to Plan for the Most Epic Year Ever, and then how to break that down into quarterly planning. So, if this is something that you really struggle with is thinking big picture for your business check out Ep 92. and Ep 93. These episodes will help you create a plan for your business for the year, and then also help you learn how to execute that business plan. Because there’s no point in having a plan if you don’t actually take the steps to put the plan into action.
The final thing that I will say here on this point is to create tasks for everything and when I say everything, I mean everything! You need to have checkoffable tasks in order to be productive in your business. You cannot just put something on your to do list such as create client blog post, because we all know that creating a blog post has many different steps. So, it’s important that each step of that creation process gets turned into a task in your task management system.
Hack # 3: Creating a Connection Routine with Your Kids
Now, before you pause and think that doesn’t sound like a productivity hack, hear me out because it absolutely is. and it’s one of the most beneficial hacks that you will ever find. I promise you, if you implement it, it works and if it doesn’t work, it just means that you need to implement it for longer before it starts working. Remember, our kiddos have an innate need for attention. If you’ve listened to any of my other parenting episodes, this should become so familiar to you that you are starting to memorize it.
If you haven’t done this yet, and you’ve heard me talk about it, and you are waiting, or you just keep forgetting about it, take a quick pause.
Go set an alarm in your phone and don’t turn the alarm off ever. Just keep the alarm on repeat every day to do this connection time with your kiddos.
It will become a habit for you. Kids need attention and they if they don’t get it in a positive way, they will act out in a negative way to get attention. You want to front load this connection with your kiddos before they act out in a negative way and you can do this by giving your kids 10 minutes of one-on-one attention before you start a work block.
Now I understand that you might have more kids than I do and I don’t mean do this before every single work block, I just mean do this before your first work block. Giving your kids this window of attention, where they don’t have to compete with their sibling, they get every single ounce of your one-on-one attention for 10 minutes, and they get to choose what you do. Now the only caveat here is that it has to be some form of connection like playing, reading or snuggling. It’s that actual attention where you’re spending time together.
Spending that time with your kiddos gives them this positive attention in advance, so now they don’t have to seek that negative attention anymore.
When you sit down to work, they are going to be so much more compliant and they’re going to allow you that space that you need to work.
Our kiddos usually bug us during work blocks because they didn’t get that attention that they needed from us. So, I also recommend that you do shorter work blocks with attention in between. So it might be that you’re going to work for 50 minutes and then you’re going to go and play with your kiddos for 15 and now this would be all together as a group. Or you’re going to just take a little bit of a break and grab a snack or play Simon Says or Hide and Seek for a few minutes just to give them that hit of attention in between. But I promise you, if you give this a try, and you stick with it, and you are consistent, you will see a huge difference in your productivity, because you’re not being interrupted by your kids every other second.
Hack #4: Eliminate Distractions
Now I don’t mean to throw your kids out in the backyard forever, right, because our kids can be extremely distracting. But if you implement hack number three, these distractions are going to be much more minimal from your kiddos. By this, I mean turning your phone on to airplane mode or anytime things pop into your brain as you’re working, you don’t stop and go jump into a different task because you’re afraid you’re going to forget. You’re going to add that task to your master task list and then you’re going to assign it to a day when you’re going to get back to it. Or you’re going to set an alarm on your phone to remember to do that task, because it’s very important to your overall productivity.
Next, I recommend turning on some calming music. If your kiddos are older, you can probably put in headphones and get away with not listening to their every move. If your kids are younger than you might not want to wear headphones and be aware of what’s happening. But this calming music just helps sort of drown out what’s happening in the background, and just gives you that calm sense of peace while you’re working. I also think it’s really important to just get used to tuning out the noise.
I used to believe this lie that I had to work in silence, but that is not an option for me anymore, especially now that we homeschool and my kids are home with me a great majority of the time.
I’ve just really had to adjust and learn to work when it’s distracting. I also think it’s important to just be flexible right. When we are working from home and we have kids, it’s unrealistic to think that we can eliminate all distractions. So, we do have to be flexible and strike a good balance in setting boundaries and ensuring that you don’t start to ignore your children.
Now with that, I will say whitespace is extremely important. If you are scheduling too many things back-to-back and you don’t have whitespace in your calendar, that is when I’ve noticed the most bitterness and resentment comes out, because you’re stressed because there is a time crunch. I have scheduled things so close together that I didn’t leave room for any distractions. So, I think that’s important for productivity to leave whitespace, don’t schedule things back-to-back and just expect that things are not always going to go according to plan perfectly.
Hack #5: Regularly Journal or Brain Dump Your Thoughts
helps you process all the things that are going on in your mind. So similar to hack number two, which was creating a task management system, this hack is all about just processing. Sometimes your brain is so overwhelmed that you don’t even know what tasks you have, because you can’t even process. So, this brain dump and this journaling is just writing everything on your mind out on paper. Not editing it as you go, just literally writing everything and anything that comes to mind. Then once you’re done, that’s when you can start to edit and make some sense of your scribblings.
Why I suggest you do this on paper is because there is a very different set of processing that happens when you are writing versus when you are typing. So, give this a try and if you are not someone who likes to write, don’t think of it as writing, just think of it as processing. Once you’ve done this, you can go through and start to pinpoint what are the things that you need to do.
Maybe there are some things that are just constantly on your mind because you don’t have a system for them.
So that would be a task that you can think about, or that you can add to your task management system. Create a system for blogging and give yourself some space in your calendar to think through those things.
I do this on a regular basis, especially when I’m extremely overwhelmed and I can’t figure out why. So, if you ever get to that point where you’re like, gosh, I just have so much in my head. I feel like I’m so behind, I will never catch up and you start to completely spin out of control, this is when you need a brain dump. Go ahead, schedule it in if you have to, or just go for it. But I promise you, it’s so helpful for your productivity.
Hack #6: Schedule No Workdays
It is so extremely important that you give your creative brain a rest. This is a really hard one for me to say because it’s a really hard one for me to live out. But I know that there are some of you that need to hear this and there are some of you that are like me, and tend to be on that workaholic spectrum, where we love work so much that we have to have boundaries, or it can be dangerous. So having my kids at home and being a homeschool mom has really forced me to be strategic because I don’t have as much time anymore. My kids need me obviously in a different way and it has been extremely eye opening for me to have these built-in breaks because they’re home with me.
Creating days where you don’t work is built in rest and it’s also that built in whitespace that we talked about.
I think as creatives we go, go, go so often that we don’t give ourselves any time for that creativity to blossom.
We are constantly in work mode; it feels like we’re going from kids needs to client needs to spouse needs to household needs and there’s very little buffer for our own needs. So, it’s really important that we take the time to pour into ourselves. It’s funny how little time we really truly need to pour into ourselves. If you just start small, take it one step at a time and have the space and the capacity to do the things that you want to do. It really genuinely increases your productivity in other areas when you take care of yourself first.
Alright, Mama, I feel like I could talk to you all day about productivity, and how important it is to be strategic about your time. But just to recap, the six most effective productivity hacks are:
- Time tracking and time blocking.
- Task management and creating a plan.
- Creating a connection routine with your kids.
- Eliminating distractions and being flexible.
- Regularly brain dump and journal out your thoughts
- Schedule in no workdays and stick to it.
I hope that you have found value in today’s blog. Be sure to answer the question: What do you struggle with the most when it comes to time management and which of these productivity hacks do you think will be most helpful for you?
As always, Mama, I am here rooting for you. And you are not alone on this journey.
- The Purpose Gathering Side Hustler to CEO Group Coaching Program
- Join our Facebook Community
- Time Blocking:
- Creating a Plan
- Connection Routine
- Eliminate Distractions
- Find me on Instagram: @thepurposegathering
- Passion to Profit Challenge!