I am a mom of four kids, I am a wife, I am an entrepreneur, I am a blogger, I am training for triathlons six days of the week, I am volunteering at my kids school and I do so many other things like all moms and all entrepreneurs do. Oh and by the way, I need a lot of sleep ;-)
And I get this question a lot: “How do you do it all?”
So in this blog post today I wrote down my top 6 time management tips, my main rules I follow to make the most of my time while still sleeping 7-8 hours every night.
Time management tip 1 - set your priorities and set up some rules
I have put up some rules for my life and I stick to them. My most important rule is that I use the time my kids are in school and nursery to work. I don’t go to coffee mornings, I don’t train anymore, I don’t meet friends, I don’t go to the supermarket or any of the other things that need or can be done and make a morning just fly by.
In order to put up this rule I had to set my priorities. My first and foremost priority is my family and specifically my kids. But secondly comes my business. Many of you might not understand this. However I love my work! And if I don’t set it as a priority I won’t be able to do as much as I do. Of course my friends are also my priority. But when I say friends I mean my close friends. For my close friends I am always there, in an emergency or to help in any way I can. However when it’s not an emergency those close friends know that I am working in the mornings and understand me, even better they support me!
Also I set priorities for what I want to be working on. Do I want to earn money with what I do each day or do I only want to do the things I love?
I have set my priorities within other areas of my business, for example existing clients always come first.
And I have a priority for each day of the week. A theme day. So if I don't get anything else done, I need to at least work on this specific task. For example on Sunday is my blog day, so I write my new blog posts.
I also set my priorities for how much I want to exercise and when I do it. I have set my priorities for the kind of things I will help with at school and for any other type of voluntary work.
And I have communicated this to all of the people that are close to me. Especially to my husband :-) And he is my greatest supporter.
Basically I have set priorities for what I want to use my mornings for, my afternoons and my evenings. When I am spending time for my work, my kids, my husband, my friends and my triathlon training.
And I don’t alter from these rules. I stick to them no matter what (almost - after all we are all humans :-))
My evenings I mostly don’t use for work. I use them for learning new things and development yes but not client work. And I push all things for the family (organizing four kids feels like a full time job already) to either first thing in the morning or night time.
I feel that so many moms tell me “Oh I really want to start a business or I really want to go to the gym or I really want to lose weight but I just don’t find the time to do it. I will start tomorrow.” And then I see them having a coffee with her friend at a cafe or going stand up paddeling or whatever it is they enjoy. I just want to make it clear: I don’t judge them at all, everyone can do whatever they want and whatever is important to them. But if it is important to you to start a business, then make the time for it and do it. Set you priorities, set up some rules and stick to them.
It took me some time until everyone around me understood that I am not available for coffee mornings during the week. But now I don’t get asked anymore. And yes, sometimes I feel I am missing out, but to be honest I am glad nobody asks me anymore because that means I don’t know that I could be missing something :).
Time management tip 2 - Shut out distraction
This is so important, especially when working from home. Don’t get distracted! Stick to your tasks! And actually it’s not only true for working, it’s true for spending time with your kids and it is true for sports and every aspect of your time. You don’t only make more use of your time because you are really present. But you are also living the moment a lot more!
During my work mornings, I try to have my phone on silent and check it as little as possible. I try not to answer when the doorbell rings. I won’t do anything around the house. (And believe me there is so much I could do.) I don't buy birthday presents or go to the supermarket. At the moment a big distraction could also be shopping Christmas presents online… But all of those things are things I have decided I will only do at night or on the weekends.
My kids have to join me and help me in the supermarket for example. When my youngest daughter was little I had my oldest son pushed her pram while I pushed the shopping cart and the two other ones ran around to get things. Every Friday morning while my husband was working. And we made this fun so the kids enjoyed it and even fought over who can push the little one. I used to think I am so much slower with them and it is so boring for them. But I realized they can now really help me and in addition it teaches them about responsibilities and real life as well. We are still doing this but now I have nobody in the pram anymore.
I use the time when waiting for my kids somewhere to catch up on Instagram and what’s app messages for example.
I don’t surf around the internet or social media unless its for work or for a specific purpose. I haven't watched TV in ages, I haven't been to the movies in years.
I am writing this blog post while watching my son's swimming competition in one quiet corner.
Again it comes back to my rules and how I stick to them.
Time management tip 3 - use your calendar and make a plan
I put everything into my calendar, including my reminders. This is not only because I will forget otherwise. I have set times for everything and if I assign a time for something I will stick to this time and it will happen. If I say ‘oh I might go for a run tonight’ I won’t do it. But if I put it into my calendar and I know every Tuesday night I will go for a run, I will do it.
Of course I also put meetings into my calendar but I actually also plan a time slot for each task in my work morning.
By putting everything into your calendar you are structuring your day and are planning time slots for tasks. It will make it easier to stick to those time slots and it simply prepares your mind.
And I don’t only put things into my calendar, I also let my husband know so he can put it into his calendar whenever it is needed. We let each other know when we have a work event in the evenings ahead of time, we both know about the schedule of the kids and my husband knows when he has to help.
Also we both train for a half ironman at the moment, so we sat down and agreed when we would train for it. Which days and times he trains and which days and times I train. We always make sure that one of us is with the kids. So on Monday night for example he goes to his running club and I am make sure I am at home. And on Tuesday nights it’s my turn. And he makes sure he comes home in time for me to go. Of course with things like this it helps that my husband trains a lot as well and understands me.
My husband and I constantly talk to each other about our schedules, we plan and put things into calendars. I think it wouldn’t work otherwise. If you are constantly surprised that things are happening or are surprising your partner it just results into stress.
Time management tip 4 - ask for help and delegate
I know, especially as women and as moms we want to do everything ourselves. And we think we can do it better than anyone else :-))) But if you want to do it all, you can’t do it all by yourself! You need help. You need help from your partner, your kids, your friends, your parents, your babysitter, a VA and so on.
I am a control freak and I find it really hard to let go of things and have people do things for me in a different way than I would have done it. And this is also true for little things like my husband making my kids breakfast a different way I would do it ;-)) However I realized I have to let go. My husband works Monday to Friday but (as we live in Dubai) I work Sunday to Thursday. So Sunday morning when the kids are in school my husband needs to help. He might need to go to the supermarket, buy the kids birthday presents, organize our next trip to Germany and so on and so forth. All things I used to do myself.
Also I have outsourced some of my work and I am working on outsourcing more. It is so powerful and once you let go it really frees up some time and is so worth the investment. Plus, be creative in outsourcing. For example my dad helps me with a few things like accounting for example. And he does it for free ;-)
I also have a wonderful nanny who helps with the kids. And I used to be kind of ashamed by it, because I often get the impression that moms (especially German moms??) think they need to do everything for their kids themselves, otherwise they are not real moms. Well I realized it is not true. And if I can afford it, I will get help with the kids. And I am grateful for having a nanny. I still try to do most of the things with the kids myself but I only have two hands so another set of two hands is often lifesaving to keep my sanity.
Time management tip 5 - let go of the perfectionist inside you
I am a perfectionist. 100%. But I have realized that I have to let go of that perfectionist inside me a little bit. I wouldn't be able to do all the things I do if I had to do them all by myself - and my way - and if everything had to be 100% perfect. I would never finish a blog post, a social media post or a design. There is always something that can be done better. But I realized often good is good enough. I use this as my mantra very often these days: Good is good enough.
Also I could not look after 4 kids if I didn't let go sometimes. I know I am a good mom even if I don't do everything myself. As an example there used to be this huge pressure of throwing the perfect birthday parties for a two year old. I tried to keep up but I also saw that my very young kids love their birthday just as much with a home made cake and a slightly less organized theme and just their best friends. In fact most important for them is quality time and not quantity.
I always thought I don't have enough time for each of them, which is the perfectionist inside me but I realized yes I have to divide my time between them but as long as they get quality time with me it's ok. They also have each other which is a blessing as well. It is not all about me :-)
So it's just about actually spending time with my kids even if it's not something extraordinary all the time. But that't ok.
Time management tip 6 - Set goals
Setting one goal at a time has helped me tremendously. I used to have these long to do lists. I had so many things and ideas in my head. I concentrated on all of them, I wanted to do all of them. I ended up doing nothing 100%. I was just jumping around with my tasks.
Since I have got just one, may be two goals for 3 months and work towards them with a plan I am much more structured. For example at the moment I am concentrating most of my time on Squarespace and website design. I really do want to learn the Adobe program InDesign for example but right now it would not bring me any closer to my goals so I am not doing it and am using my time for other things.
So this is the way I do it: I sit down and write down my most important overall goal for the next quarter. This needs to be a specific, including numbers so I can measure the results. It can also be your turn over. Then I write down the subtasks I have to do in order to achieve this goal. I divide them into the weeks I want to work on them. Now I have my to do list and I work with this list consistently.
My goal for the current three months for example is to concentrate on Squarespace only. I have created an online course on getting started with Squarespace (Squarespace Start Up). At the same time I am writing one blog post every two weeks dedicated to Squarespace and I am recording a new video tutorial for YouTube every week. I am organizing workshops to teach people live how to use Squarespace and I have added a new service to my packages. Once the course is completely finished I will concentrate on the marketing of that course and I set myself a sales goal.
The rest of the time I am using for current clients. But for example the acquisition of new clients is not my priority for these current three months like it has been for the last months for example. I hope this gives you an idea how you can structure your goals and follow through with them.
If you want to find out more, I have also written a blog post about goal setting.
I hope this blog post helped you with your time management and gave you some ideas on how to use your time more effectively and where you can let go of things.
As always please leave a comment if you have questions or suggestions, I'd love to hear from you!
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