my thoughts on balance, time management, and getting shit done

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so here is the thing, a lot of people write about time management and task management and finding balance and the secret to productivity… so i am not going to try to re-invent the wheel here or attempt to give you a solution to your ‘too much to do and not enough time problem’.

what i am going to do is share with you a few things i have figured out this past year and share a few posts that i thought were awesome. maybe there will be a gem in here that clicks for you.

1. screw balance

yep, i am so over feeling guilty that i don’t have work/life balance. i love working. and when i am not working, i love chilling with my kids. that’s it. my house is kind of a disaster, i don’t really make time for ‘me’ things. and that is ok. my work IS my ‘me’ thing.

this post from danielle laporte changed my life. thank you danielle for giving me permission to delete every ‘how to achieve work/life balance’ post that come across my desk. my life is unbalanced and i like it that way.

oh, and the moment i make my profit goals i am hiring a house cleaner. now that is some serious motivation.

2. change my mindset

we all have just 24 hours a day. the difference between me floundering around trying to get shit done and some other biz mama who is getting interviewed by oprah is turning my ideas into plans. i can say ‘oh i would love to do that one day!” or “i hope my biz grows big enough to make a proper wage” but if all i do is hope and never actually make a plan to get it done, my time is really wasted.

i love this post from tara gentile – it has changed the way i think about my time and my priorities. i don’t want to waste time on ‘bizzy work’, i want my time to be spent wisely. i want goals, not hopes.

3. do one thing a day

my to-do list was insane: must dos. want to dos. probably should do but i hates… it was so overwhelming! and there was stuff on that list for months without ever really getting tackled. so i changed it into a notebook full of post its instead. this way i can categorize things (do now, do later, pay some one to do); i can break a huge task into bite size chunks; and i feel like i can put ideas on to post-its without feeling overwhelmed seeing them on that to-do list.

with my book of post-its in hand,  my mantra now is ‘do one thing a day’.

i love this idea from julia bickerstaff – whether you call it your 15 mile march, or your one thing a day. i find this is especially helpful if i have a big task; i can break it down into smaller chunks and do one thing a day until it is done.

4. start the day with a task to make a sale

i can be very ‘busy’ all day doing all sorts of jobs for my biz, but in the end if i am not making money i am not really in biz. i like this post from clare lancaster – make your first task of the day one related to making money.

5. i need time to create

as build a little biz has grown (and as my family has grown with a new baby last october) my own little biz (photography) has been put on hold. i love writing and i love talking with other women in biz, so i feel very fulfilled. but i realized i was missing doing the creative, visual stuff. and i hear from lots of women who are so busy working on all of the business stuff they lost the joy in whatever it was that got them started in biz in the first place. so schedule time in to do the stuff you love.

marie forleo calls it NNT - non negotiable time. for me that is creating.

6. schedule my rocks first

this post from jess van den describes this nicely. i look at the week ahead and schedule my rocks first and then add in pebbles wherever i can. for me my rocks are time to create, a marketing task related to making money, andy priority post-its and client work. 

i actually divide my post-its into 2 categories – one for those bigger 'rocks’ and one of smaller ‘pebbles’. sometimes i can get through a few extra pebbles if my kids get invited for a play day or hubby comes home early, and that just feels like a bonus!

7. put my blinders on

marie forleo, in one of her B-school videos, suggested that women often underestimate how long it takes to do a task and wow, did that resonate with me. for one, i am a perfectionist so i tend to spend a long time fiddling and tweaking things. now i am working on walking away when things are good enough and i find that no one even notices the (imagined?) imperfections i would have fiddled with.

the other thing is that i am easily distracted by all the shiny things online – i am on my laptop for nearly every aspect of my work and often get sidetracked into email, social media, skype etc. so i am working on setting myself a time limit for a task, keeping my blinders on so i don’t notice imperfections and shiny things and just get it done!

8. get my family on board

i realized that without the support of my family i was never going to get anything done or move forward with my plans. i love this post from heather allard. when i started to make my work more transparent, i found i was able to schedule more time to work without feeling guilty and with more support.

i say things like “mommy is going to work now” and then i kiss everyone goodbye and close the door to the office. or i will say to hubby “i take care of the kids and house while you earn money, now i am going to earn money” and then i plop the baby in his lap and let him know what he can cook for dinner. putting an emphasis on the money i earn and how it is used in our family helps too.

9. systems & tools

again, there are heaps of tools around that can help you manage your time, free up time, or make better use of your time. this is what works for me:

  • buffer app – i can easily add posts and articles to my twitter feed to share them without having to bookmark, schedule, or remember. my own twitter feed becomes a list of great resources I can add to the toolbox on the weekend.
  • facebook scheduling – now that we can schedule posts right on facebook (and i use the buffer app for twitter) – don’t get so distracted by the shiny things. i can set certain times to be on social media and save the rest of the time for my other tasks.
  • email systems – i have set up a system for my email involving filtering emails, using folders, and setting certain times for responding to emails. i still look when my email beeps but i don’t get sidetracked reading and responding. and i have common responses saved and ready to use in my replies.
  • systems for the house - such as ordering groceries online, hiring help for the jobs i detest, changing my mindset about housework and getting the family to help more.

10. it’s a work in progress

i am ok with the fact that i haven’t figured all of this out yet. i have 3 small kids, a hubby who works a lot of hours, and no family where i live to help out. i have 3 business websites, along with their corresponding facebook pages, newsletters, and group forums. managing time and tasks is going to be an ongoing challenge as my life and business evolves. and that is ok.

just like i am over feeling guilty about work/life balance, i am also over feeling guilty about managing time and getting it all done. you know what? it will all get done. eventually. (click here to tweet this message.)

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