Productivity

Ep 109. Organize Your Day So You Can Work and Play

work and play
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Hey friends! Welcome back! I am so excited to start answering your questions on The Purpose Gathering Podcast with one of my listeners, Beth. If you’d like for me to answer any of your own questions in future posts, follow this link to record a message for me and be featured in an upcoming episode!

Beth, thank you so much for your amazing question! I cannot wait to dig in and share with you some really practical steps for what you can do to organize your day. Beth shared a few different questions:

How do you find time to work on your business while homeschooling and having kiddos at home?

Beth, I have to be super strategic about it. If I don’t schedule it in, it just won’t happen. Next, she asks:

How do I stay focused on my business and not work till midnight?

Can anyone else relate to the late-night editing sessions and just cramming work time in whenever you can? Beth, I have three words for you. Boundaries! Girl, boundaries!

Today, I am going to get in to the nitty gritty and give you some really practical ways to organize your day when you have work to do, school to do (if you homeschool), and of course we need play and rest time as well. It’s something that I feel like is never mastered. Schedules are changing regularly so you really have to be okay with the fact that things will change and evolve.

Step #1: Data

The first thing that you need to do when you are thinking about organizing your day, is to start with the data. In order to get this data, you need to start tracking your time. I know that when people hear this, they don’t want to do it. It does take a little bit of time, but I have been diligently time tracking for the past four weeks and it does not take as much time as you might think. I actually now am super into it and I want to time track because it’s giving me so much data for me to make better informed decisions. It’s showing me exactly what I’m spending my time on.

When you do time tracking, you want to be diligent about writing down what specific task you’re working on.

Remember to write the date, the amount of time that you spent, and then what exactly you were doing. You don’t have to get super specific. But you do want to make sure that when you go back and review your time tracking sheets, that you can remember what is it that you were really working on. The way that I do this is that I actually set myself a 15-minute timer. Then when I time track, I am just counting up how many timers it took. So, if I sit down to work today, I set my timer for 15 minutes, when that timer goes off, I track that 15-minute task. I say 15 minutes I spent on emails, and then I set the 15-minute timer again and I move on to the next task. If I didn’t complete the task, I might set a second timer.

Now I’m working in 15-minute chunks of time and it’s really helping me be more productive, but also be more strategic.

When it comes to time tracking right now, I’m only talking about tracking what you’re working on. I don’t have time to track the rest of my life right now. I just like to have a general idea. So if I want to know how much time it’s actually taking us when we sit down to do school, I might set a timer and see how long is school going to take us to do today. That way I can start to kind of get a clearer picture of how much each thing takes. Then that gives me a better idea of when I go to sit down and do that lesson next time, I know how much time I have to plan.

As a homeschooling mama Beth, and those of you that are listening, if you homeschool as well,  and really honestly, just in general, you don’t even have to be homeschooling for this to apply, but things never really go as planned and sometimes things take longer. Sometimes things don’t take as long as you thought and so it’s really all about being flexible.

Step #2: Pinpoint Work Blocks

Now that you’ve started to time track, you can see what are the tasks that you’re actually working on. Step two is going to be pinpoint the work blocks that you need. Now that you have your time tracker, and I recommend doing this for about two to three weeks or even a month if you can, because you’re going to have some things that happen just on a monthly basis, or maybe things that happen every now and then. They might not happen every single week, but you’ll start to get a really clear picture if you time track for a full month.

You’ll also start to see patterns in what you’re working on and so you can kind of lump everything together. You can categorize tasks under admin work or under client work. Things like editing the photos, client communication, that type of thing.

You can also think about how much time you are spending at shoots, or how much time you are spending creating content for Instagram, Facebook or your blog as well as how much time you’re spending on inquiry calls.

I think it’s really important is starting to batch these tasks into specific time blocks. I also want you to think about things such as your schoolwork blocks, your personal work blocks and if you have household workbooks that you need to be taking care of. Think about your life as a whole  because we know as moms and as business owners, our lives are not two separate worlds and they overlap all the time. It’s very messy and so we have to take all things into consideration. Even when we’re thinking about organizing our day for our business.

Step #3: Create an Ideal Schedule

The reason why I say your ideal schedule is because we know that life is unpredictable. We know that kids’ schedules are unpredictable, things happen, things change, just life in general changes. We have to expect that and we have to be prepared for that. One way that I really love setting myself up for success is leaving margin for flexibility. It’s really important that as you’re creating this ideal schedule, that you are leaving some space in there for nothing.

The one thing that I’ve learned over the past, almost 11 years of being a mom and a business owner is to expect things to take longer. But also to give yourself way more time than you thought you needed, so that you can rest in between.

Remember, scheduling things back-to-back is the number one way to burnout, to becoming anxious and overwhelmed.

I have really had to rein in the things that I know I can do versus the things that I really have the capacity to do and so it’s really important for you to do the same.

Even though you can do everything doesn’t mean that you should and you have to think about at what cost. At what cost are you doing all these things for yourself and for your kids? The hustle mentality is so ingrained in our culture and I think it’s really hard to just have nothing booked on your schedule. But I promise you, the more that you do this, the more addicting it becomes to just have less scheduled and to have less on your plate.

Beth, it is so funny that you came to me with this question because I ask this question of myself all the time. It’s not an uncommon question and I think it’s a question that we’re going to continue to ask ourselves as homeschooling mamas especially, because it’s just ever changing.. It’s really hard to be flexible when you also have a business and you’re like, I have to be somewhat structured in my business. Sure, I can be flexible at home, but when I’m in my business, I can’t do that.

Step #4: Set and Stick to Time Blocks

It’s important that your ideal schedule starts to take shape with these time blocks, so that you can start to begin to see how much time you are spending working.

You know your kids best Beth and so you know, when they are more ready to learn, so you’ll have to place your work blocks around those things. For me, what my schedule looks like is that I sort of need days where I’m only focused on school, and the kids and household things. Then I need other days that are just dedicated to work time, because it’s really hard for my brain to go from school mode to work mode and then back to mom mode.

It’s really hard for me to go in and out of those zones.

What’s working for me right now is if we do school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, then all of my major work blocks would happen on Mondays and Fridays.

  • Monday – Major Work Blocks
  • Tuesday – School
  • Wednesday – School
  • Thursday – School
  • Friday – Major Work Blocks

That just gives clear separation in the days, so that I know if we want to go do adventures, or take a field trip with our homeschooling group, that Tuesday through Thursday are the days that I am flexible to do those adventures. If anything else lands on a Monday or Friday, I get to decide at that point if I want to swap my days and change my work block day to a Tuesday.

Now of course, I do work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but I don’t plan on that. I will have some time in there that’s earmarked for work, but if I don’t get to work that day, it’s not a stressor, because I know that the things I absolutely have to get done will get done on Mondays and Fridays.

I have had to be really strategic and strict about the homeschool time blocks.

When I do set up these expectations with my kids that, hey, we are going to be doing school from nine to noon, I want to make sure that I’m not trying to just cram everything in and so, I have a tentative schedule. I know what I want to get done that day, but if we don’t get it done, instead of extending our day or adding more time after lunch or something, I will just be okay with the fact that it didn’t get done and push it off for the next day.

Keep in mind to be creative with these time blocks. For me, my work blocks look very different and it really just depends on the week.

The Sunday before a new week is when I like to plan out what’s going to be happening throughout the week and I will have some time blocks that are already set in stone.

On the weekends, I have a work block that’s my CEO time where my husband gets to hang out with the kids and I go to Starbucks and I get a few hours to work there. So, these are the strategic ways that I kind of fit work blocks into my week, and they are set work blocks. Maybe the times will change, but they happen every single week and it’s something that I can look forward to.

I think also utilizing screen time, if you allow that in your home can be a time block for you. We have very strict screen time boundaries for my kids, where I only let them watch screens by themselves one day a week and it’s usually only for about 45 minutes. So that is one of my time blocks as well. You can really get creative about what your kiddos are doing during this time block and just make it something that is a routine..

But the really important thing I think I want to drive home is just to be flexible.

Yes we may have these boundaries and these guidelines in place, but also just know that things might change and that’s okay. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur, and we get to call the shots. The one thing I do want to caution you is that make sure that one is not getting pushed to the side more often.

For me, I have to be really careful that I’m not like, guys, Mommy has to work, so we’re skipping school for the next five days and then vice versa, I can’t do that with work either. I can’t be like, well, I’m just not feeling it, so we’re just going to go on vacation for the next week. We could do that, but I can’t do that every week, so just be really mindful of that balance. Setting aside that time on the weekend to just look ahead at what’s coming up is key. This helps you to figure out much time you need, where to fit these time blocks in, what would the ideal schedule be like as well as determining what you will be okay with if something doesn’t go right.

ACTION STEPS

I hope this was helpful for you Beth. I hope everyone else reading this, that you’re able to take some nuggets of wisdom and apply this to your own life when you are organizing your day so that you can work and play. Remember!

  • Get the DATA! Start tracking your time.
  • Pinpoint work blocks
  • Create an ideal schedule, leaving margin for flexibility!
  • Set and stick to time blocks, based on your family’s needs.

As always, Mama, I am here rooting for you and you are not alone on this journey.

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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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