Do you ever find yourself scrolling Instagram, or getting totally caught up in watching a YouTube video? Or maybe you’re supposed to be sitting down to work, but you are just so interested in all the other things aside from working, and you’re just having such a hard time being productive.
If that’s you, I am so excited to share with you my favorite productivity tools in today’s post. There are so many things that I have found over the past decade of being a mom and a photographer, that have helped me just stay on track with all the things.
Hey, Mama, welcome back. I am so excited for another week with you. I love this part of the week. I just feel like I’m sitting with a friend and we have a cup of coffee. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I always drink iced coffee. Doesn’t matter what time of the year, doesn’t matter if I’m walking outside, and it’s super freezing weather, I’m still drinking an iced coffee. That’s just who I am. So we can bond over that if you drink hot coffee, it’s okay, I still love you. Or if you don’t drink coffee at all, we can still have this conversation today.
So before we jump into today’s episode, I always love to take a minute and just welcome you. I know that you have so many other things that you could be doing right now. And I’m just so glad that you have decided to bring me along for a small part of your day. So thank you for being here. And if you’re new to the show, welcome. I’m so excited to have you. And I hope that you’ll find value in today’s episode, and then go binge a bunch of previous episodes that I have.
That’s always what I’ve been told when people find my podcast is they love going back and just doing a binge of the podcast.
If you are a longtime listener, I would love for you to review the show if you haven’t yet. I don’t talk about reviews a lot. But they are super beneficial and helpful to my show. It shows iTunes and Apple podcasts that this podcast is something that people are enjoying, and it will push it out to more mamas just like you. So I would appreciate a review. And you can always take a screenshot of it and share it out on Instagram as well which will just further help spread the word about The Purpose Gathering podcast.
So thank you so much for being here. Friends, I love hanging out with you. For those of you who may not be familiar with who I am, my name is Ashley Freehan. I am the founder here at The Purpose Gathering, which is an online education platform designed to support overwhelmed mom photographers, and help them increase profitability in their business. I want them to work less and enjoy being a mama.
I am a homeschooling mama of two juggling two businesses, my brand photography business and my coaching business while only working 15 hours a week. So I’ve had to learn how to be extremely intentional and strategic about how I spend my time. And I get to share it with you on the podcast, which I absolutely love.
In addition to this weekly podcast, I have a six month group coaching program called the Side Hustler to CEO. I’ve basically wrapped up my decade of knowledge as a photographer into this program, which will provide you with a simple framework for growing and maintaining a profitable and stress-free photography business. You can check out more info about this program by visiting thepurposegathering.com/coaching.
Okay, so while you are listening to this episode, I hope that you are taking notes, even if they’re mental notes, or voice memos, as I shared in a previous episode of a way to actually apply this information that you’re going to be learning. But the cool thing about this too is that I always have a written form of every single episode over on my blog. So if you are listening to this while you’re driving or doing something where you can’t take notes, you can always come back and get the recap of what was talked about with all the links. So that is a really handy resource.
But I want you guys to be thinking about this question as you listen to this episode: Where am I wasting the most of my time?
I always want you to pause the episode. Come find me over on Instagram. I’m @the purposegathering and I want you to answer that question in my DMs. I answer every DM that comes in and I want to know what’s the biggest time waster for you.
And I hope that after you’ve listened to today’s episode, and you’ve gotten some ideas of productivity tools that I use, I want to know which one you are going to try.
Because I am so excited, I have 12 things to share with you. So I’m going to run through them very quickly. But I cannot wait for you to hear these.
1. A Regular Alarm Clock
Just a plain Jane alarm clock. I personally have an Alexa right now that I use as my alarm clock. And the reason why this helps me be productive is because I actually charge all of my devices in a separate room. So my Apple Watch and my iPhone charges in a charging drawer in our dining room, so that when I wake up in the morning, I am straight to whatever it is that I want to do for me, and I don’t get distracted by my phone, it allows me to have more self-care time in the morning. That’s more productive than just scrolling on my phone. So that’s number one.
This is one of my favorite productivity tools, because it allows me to keep everything so organized between myself and my team. Now, even if you don’t have a team, yet, this is still so helpful. And it’s totally free, which is absolutely a plus in my book.
So essentially, I have different projects based on different parts of my business. So I have a podcast board, one specifically for my photography clients, one for PR and pitching opportunities. One for my Summit, one for the CEO, master list, one for my marketing, I even have a personal and homeschool board, and a home based board that I share with my husband.
So you can get really specific here about what projects or boards that you want. And then within each of those projects, I call them boards on accident because I used to be a Trello user. But essentially, it’s a project but it’s the same thing as a board, then you can go into each project and create different sections. And you can create different tasks and assign who is responsible for fulfilling that task. And then you can set due dates.
So I really love everything about Asana in the sense that I know when I sit down to work, I can click my tasks, and I can see everything that’s due today. And everything that’s due upcoming. So it’s really helpful for me to be able to stay productive.
This is an incredible way to stay productive because it actually tracks what you’re spending your time on. So again, this is a totally free app that has a desktop version and a mobile version. And it has a Chrome extension as well.
I’m actually using it right now it’s running in the background so that it can time how long it’s taking me to record this podcast. So you do have to start and stop the timer. But it’s actually become sort of a game for me to try to beat the clock. So I try to give myself a time amount of time that I want to get something done in and then I try to beat that.
It also has a Pomodoro setting that I don’t use. But that’s essentially where you can set a timer, like 15 or 30 minutes. And then it counts down instead of a stopwatch counting up. So you can choose which one you prefer.
But it’s really helpful for you to be able to track where you’re spending your time and your business. That way you can look back after the week and see, am I focusing on proactive things that are generating income in my business and that are helping me be the CEO and seeing big picture things? Or am I working on a lot of just like busy work reactive tasks.
And so Toggl is really incredible to help you increase that productivity and make sure you’re focusing your time in the right areas.
I shared about this on Instagram a few weeks ago, and I was so shocked at how many people have not heard of Voxer. This might not really necessarily be beneficial to you if you don’t have a team yet, but I use Voxer to communicate with my team because it is so much faster than trying to type an email.
So if you don’t have a team, you can use it just for business besties. I also Voxer my business besties every single day and it’s just amazing how much you can get to know someone when your voice messaging them versus just sending an email or a text. So I love Voxer. It’s also a free app for your phone.
This is a way for you to be able to record your face and your screen or just your screen. And this is really helpful for training videos for my team. This is a way that you could actually personalize your inquiries.
So if you get an inquiry, you can send them a loom video, with your face showing a proposal or showing you know the sales page on your website that might talk about your pricing, you could give them a quick video, just letting them know how excited you are that they inquired with you. This is actually a really great way to just uplevel that client experience before they even hire you.
This is obviously a whole nother topic for another episode. But I specifically wanted to mention HoneyBook for its scheduling capabilities. So it really increases my productivity when I am able to send a scheduler to my clients, so that I don’t have to go back and forth over email trying to plan sessions with them.
Same with like phone calls, like if they want to book an inquiry call, I can send them this HoneyBook scheduler. So that definitely saves me a lot of time and back and forth.
7. Happy Planner
I used to be really big into time blocking. And I really want to get back into it. But I use my Happy Planner now more so as a way for me to store important documents, my systems and checklists, and things that I’ve created in one place.
I take all of my notes in here, and sometimes I do podcast episode outlines, but the Happy Planner is essentially a regular traditional paper planner.
But what’s really unique about it is it has a disk system, meaning that you can add and remove pages.
And so instead of having an 18 month planner, I actually only keep three months worth of of calendar pages in there. And then I add in all the rest of my personal stuff and my business stuff.
So it’s essentially like having a binder, but it’s not as bulky. And everything is more streamlined. So I have different pocket folders in there. I have a vision board that I made in there, I have my ideal calendar, like we talked about last week. I also have my budget in here, my business budget, and my personal budget.
And then I have a lot of blank note taking pages in there as well. Now I just love it, I gift it to everyone that joins the site house or to CEO program, because I think it is so incredible.
So you do have to buy a special hole punch for it in order to put your own pages in there. But they do sell like so many different refill pages and different fun things that you can add in there. So I love it and I get the big ones. So the ones that are eight and a half by 11. Like a traditional sheet of paper, they do have a bunch of classic ones.
So if you’re looking to buy them, make sure that you get the big one, not the classic, because it’ll be too small to fit your own pages.
8. Aesthetic Sticky Notes
Now, I personally don’t have any of those right now. But I see people using them all the time. And I’m jealous, like I so want some super cute sticky notes. But my cheap version of getting nice looking sticky notes is I just buy white ones off of Amazon. And so I am like such a stickler for not having hot pink and like random neon colors because it has to fit my vibe. And so I just get white ones. And I use them all the time.
So I love sticky notes for just kind of quick things that I need. Total random side note, but my kids and I fold them in half. And we use them as bookmarks. So we have sticky notes all over the house. But I think they’re super helpful.
9. Boogie Board
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of those before. But it’s essentially like a notepad that you can erase. So it’s really cool. And it’s like a digital eraser.
So I use that all the time to help me stay productive during my day. So I will write out our schedule on the boogie board or my to-do list of things that I want my kids to be able to see. So obviously I have my to-do list in Asana. But the boogie board is helpful for my kids to be like, Oh, this is what’s going on today.
You know, and I kind of put it in order so they know we’re going to eat breakfast and then we’re going to have school and then we’re going to do this because sometimes our day changes. And so even though I have my ideal week printed out and posted, It’s laminated because I’m such a laminator junkie, it sometimes changes, right?
So I have the boogie board and am able to change our schedule really quickly on that. And then when the day is over, I just can quickly erase it, and then I can start over on the next day.
10. Time Blocking
So I have a whole masterclass of time blocking. And when I was really into time blocking, I was so much more productive. And we talked about the ideal calendar last week.
But essentially, what that means is you’re going to go through Monday through Friday, and you’re going to map out each time block in your day to account for all the things that you need to get done.
So when you are planning out your meal plan, you’re going to have a time block for that when your kids are eating lunch, there’s a time block for that if you want them to tidy up after you need to include time for that.
You put your work blocks in here, you put your playtime in here, you put your quiet time, when you’re going to spend one on one time with your kiddos. Sibling time we put that in our ideal week, when our kids are going to actually play together we schedule that in so our kids know it’s a nonnegotiable.
It’s not like, “Hey, if you feel like playing with me” it’s like, “Hey, guys, it’s sibling time, what do you want to do?”
And when you preface it in that way, it becomes not optional. And then they’re like, oh, they get used to sibling time they look forward to it. And it’s not like something that Oh, I don’t feel like having sibling time. It’s like, Oh, I’m sorry, it’s sibling time, right now, what do you guys want to do?
And sometimes I have to help out with that. But I think that’s really important.
So once you kind of have these time blocks already set in stone, then you’re going to get even more specific.
So now when you have your work block, you’re gonna say okay, on Monday at 1030, my work block starts, what am I working on at 1030? And then you write that down? What am I working on at 1130, write that down, so that you can start to become aware of exactly what it is that you’re supposed to do.
And this time blocking works with your personal stuff, too. So if you have some time that you’re gonna have to yourself, amazing. I don’t ever get that. Trust me, it’s so important to have time where you’re not working, and you just have free time for yourself.
So it’s important to write in there too. What are you going to do, because I noticed that when I don’t have a plan, I waste a lot of time.
And so time blocking is one of those, one of those strategies that I think a lot of people don’t want to utilize because they feel like it restricts them. But actually, time blocking allows you to make sure everything that’s crucial and important is getting done.
That way you have free time to be spontaneous and do whatever you want, because you know that the must-haves are already taken care of.
So I actually have some pockets of time that are blocked out in my schedule that are set for like scrolling. This is kind of like get on your phone, and you know, check Facebook, check Instagram, or maybe research some things that you’ve been interested in looking up on Amazon.
So I think it’s important to have a board a personal board on Asana that has a section that’s specifically for things I want to look up. Maybe you’re doing a new project in your home, a DIY project, and you want to scroll on Instagram, or you want to scroll on Pinterest and find some ideas.
So maybe you’re gonna write that down in that list. And then when you when it’s time to scroll is what I call it the scroll time, then you’ll be able to go into Pinterest and check out some of those ideas.
I also have like a time that is set aside where I get to watch a YouTube video because I love watching DIY and design videos on YouTube.
So time blocking is an incredible way to stay productive.
11. A Time Cube
I’ve talked about this before, and I absolutely love it. Everything that I can, will be linked in the show notes so that you can check it out. But this time cube is from Amazon. And it has different numbers on it based on like, you know, 5,10, 15, and 30, I think is what it has on there.
And so you’re able to either have your time cube just be like a normal clock, or you can turn it into a timer. So there’s a little switch on the back that toggles between timer and clock.
So when you have it set to timer, all you do is flip over the time cube to that time and it immediately starts a timer. And so this is really helpful.
This helps me stay on track. If I’m doing something where I know that I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it. I’ll just give myself a set time and say ‘Hey Ash, you have 15 minutes to get this task done. If you don’t finish it, then you’re gonna have to finish it tomorrow.’
So I have to be really strict about that. But it helps Do not waste time.
If I have a counting-up timer, I usually will generally spend a lot more time on a task than if I set these timers. And just sometimes I even just repeat the timer like, I’m going to just give myself 15 minutes to get as much as I can. I’m gonna give myself another 15 minutes. And I’m much more productive in those 30 minutes than I would be if I just set that infinite timer or that infinite stopwatch.
12. Alarm Setting on Your Phone
I think a lot of people forget how simple setting an alarm on your phone can actually be.
So what I use this for is anytime I think of something, let’s say I’m like in the car driving, and I’m like, Oh, I really need to, you know, email this client or Oh, I really need to do this thing when I get home. I’ll just have my assistant Siri, set an alarm, and I will label the alarm exactly what I need.
And I’ll set it for that specific time. Because there’s so often we’re like, oh, yeah, we’ll get to that. And we don’t remember. And so I set alarms all the time to help me remember things.
So I know it seems super simple. But I promise you if you become disciplined enough to set these alarms to remind yourself, it’ll be so much easier to stay productive.
Okay, my friend, how are you feeling? I just gave you a ton of information on 12 of my favorite productivity tools, and I cannot wait to hear what you think about them.
Please take a screenshot of this episode. If you enjoyed it, share it out on Instagram @thepurposegathering and let me know which one of these productivity tools are you most excited about.
And don’t forget, you can come back to this episode on the blog and find all of the notes and information that you could possibly need.
Set that alarm right now if you’re driving so that you come back to this later. As always, Mama I am here rooting for you and you are not alone on this journey.
So to recap, here are my 12 tips favorite productivity tools:
1. A regular alarm clock
7. Happy Planner
8. Aesthetic stick notes
9. Boogie board
10. Time blocking
11. A time cube
12. Alarm setting on your phone
I hope that you have found them valuable and helpful! I can’t wait to hear how you use them.
- Asana– Project Manager app
- Toggl – Free time tracking app
- Voxer- Voice Messaging app
- Loom– Video Recording
- HoneyBook- CRM
- Happy Planner
- Ready to go all in with your photography business? Join the Side Hustler to CEO
- Ready to get your photography business on the right track? Take the Free Passion to Profit Challenge
- Local to Gilbert/Mesa Arizona (For Mom Business Owners, Extra Meetups for Mom Photographers) Join or in person membership community
- Are you lonely as a mom photographer and lacking community? Join our Free Purpose Gathering Mamas Community
- Have a question for me? Or a specific struggle you’re dealing with? I’ll address your question on the podcast. Submit your ‘Ask Ashley’ question here
- Find me on Instagram: @thepurposegathering
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