In the first year of Eve’s life, I posted regularly on my blog, sold my jewelry on the weekends at local craft fairs, ran a small volunteer nonprofit and co-chaired our first major fundraiser, was a member of two community artisan groups, attended my bookclub’s bi-monthly meetings, spent time with friends, and had the occasional date night.
And I did it without sacrificing sleep.
(Well, most of the time.)
I don’t say this to brag, but as a way to demonstrate that it is possible to have a lot going on in your life and be productive and still be able to do things that you enjoy.
When you are a parent and want to run a business, it is essential to effectively manage your time or you are going to drive yourself crazy.
Here are my top 8 tips for managing your time better so that you have time for the things that make you happy.
It sounds counterintuitive but I find that nothing kills my productivity like having too much free time. When you are busy, you know you have limited time to get things done and it keeps you focused and distractions (like checking your Pinterest feed) at bay.
It is a fine balance, however, between being a health busy and being in that stressed-out, in-over-your-head feeling of business. It is all about finding that sweet spot where you have just enough to do to keep you focused but you aren’t so overwhelmed that you want to rip your hair out. That spot is different for everyone and it is all about knowing yourself.
Do work when you function the best
I am a morning person almost to a fault. I wake up naturally now between 5:00 and 6:00 am raring to go. However, in the late afternoon, my brain starts to slow down, and by 8:00 I’m about done for the day. Occasionally if I’m really pressed for time and I need to get something done I will work in the evening, but I typically don’t do my best work then. Conversely, There are people who are night owls and get the most done after everyone else has gone to bed.
Use your peak performance time to your advantage.
Get things that require more brain power at the times of the day that you are most alert, and if you need to do work at other times, try to do work that needs to get done but doesn’t need quite the same amount of your attention. The most important thing is to know when to stop. There is no point in trying to keep chugging if your brain is in overload.
Think about when you have big deadlines coming up and plan both your work and personal schedule accordingly. If you know you have a big project coming up, find times when you can focus your attention on it and fit your other work around it.
For example, I have a big show coming up on Wednesday, so I know that I want my blog posts for that day and the day after written and scheduled before the show so I don’t have to worry about them on those days. I have also purposely kept my schedule for Tuesday night open in anticipation that I may have some last-minute work to get done for the show. That isn’t to say I never procrastinate. But I find it incredibly stressful and that’s no fun for anyone!
Break things down into smaller, achievable chunks and give yourself deadlines
Whenever I have something big that I am working on, I like to make a checklist of all the little things I need to do to help me accomplish that project. For example, right before a big show I will write down how many more pieces of jewelry I need to make, what I need to pack for the show, even that I need to iron my tablecloths the night before.
Whether it’s writing a blog post or a book, or tackling a project for a client, make a checklist of things that need to get done and give yourselves deadlines for each task.
Work as if your deadlines are earlier than they actually are
If anything, I like to pretend that my deadline is the day before something actually needs to be done. This was often my strategy throughout school with writing big papers, and it hasn’t failed me yet. It gives you wiggle room in case something comes up or takes longer than you had anticipated.
Get away from distractions
Try to work in a clear, distraction-free area and keep things like Facebook closed, which are just begging for your attention and end up eating up your time. When you can, either turn down the volume on your phone or turn off notifications. (Nothing kills productivity like hearing that little ding that someone Tweeted at you.)
Give yourself breaks and make time for things that are important to you
Our brains and bodies need breaks. If I’m in the zone, I will keep working, but I also give myself breaks to get up and move, eat something, read blog posts for a few minutes, anything that will help my mind refresh every so often. It is also so important to find time to relax and do things that you enjoy. I make sure to find time to see my friends regularly, I read books that are completely unrelated to my business, and I go on dates with Sam on occasion. We all need to refuel, and we do that by taking care of ourselves and doing things that make us happy.
Get enough sleep
Many of us convince ourselves that we need to keep working even when we are exhausted. However, often a good night’s rest makes you so much more productive than trying to power through when you’re exhausted. Listen to your body signals — sleep in when or go to bed early when you need to instead of trying to powering through when you’re tired.
While I do consider myself a very productive person, like everyone else I waste time and procrastinate. There are nights I do end up sacrificing some sleep to get things done, and there are weeks where I don’t make self-care as much as a priority as I should. There are times where, like everyone else, I feel completely stressed and overwhelmed and like I have too much on my plate. The most important thing I find is to take a step back, give myself some time to regroup, and get myself back on track following these eight tips.
What tips do you have for managing your time? What makes you more productive?
If you liked this post, you might also want to read:
- 5 ridiculously simple things I do to stay on task
- When was the last time you lost track of time?
- 7 tips for working from home when you have a small child
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