Agendas, planners, calendars are my favorite stationary. Since I can remember I have always made to do’s lists. There is just something about making a list and crossing items off when they get accomplished that just excites me. Are you a “to do list” lover too?
Here are some tips that have helped me keep myself on track and be productive during my designated working hours. To be more productive and conscious of my day I have had to set working hours that will be solely for work. The other time of my day will be for personal and family activities. My working hours are set to start at 10am and end at 3pm, when I have to be out the door for my final car pool run.
Tip 1: Make a to do list the day before, if possible on Sunday night for the rest of the week. This way you have an idea of what to expect for the next day or next week. I make my to do list the night before unless I know something must happen on a certain day, then I right that ahead of time.
Prioritize the list you made the night (or day) before. This will give you a better idea of how your day will look like. I always leave for last items that if not gotten to before 3pm I can tackle them while the girls are doing homework or take over to the next day.
Tip 2: Designate the morning hours for your most important task. Match your most important task to your most productive time. For many of us that’s mornings, but if your most productive time is 2-3p.m., guard that hour carefully and plan your schedule accordingly.
If you are a creative with a blog or create e-books, courses, design, illustrate, or anything that requires the use of a computer then you must designate un-interrupted time for it. For me this means 10am-noon. I have found that I can get more done during the mornings.
What to do during that time? I create blog post content and keep my editorial calendar as up to date as possible. I have two blogs, so this time is golden for me. Check out my food blog here, warning you’ll get hungry.
Tip 3: Use your afternoon for things that requires less un-interrupted time. For me that means working on my handbags and leather goods. I am either designing a new style, cutting fabrics, working on leather, separating fabric that needs my daughters attention (she hand-treats and hand-paints WLD’s fabric), or taking product photography.
If I want to listen to a podcast or some music I can do it at this time. I can’t listen to someone and write at the same time. One or the other. But, I can work with my hands and listen any time of the day. Super doable.
Tip 4: Create a team, (a community). You don’t have to know it all or do it all, ask for help. God will put others in your way that have specific traits that when connected to yours makes a great team. Having a community around you that supports you and lifts you up is of the utmost importance. Having help will either free you up of some time (like someone that helps with the kids an hour or so can be very beneficial), or help with an item of your to do list that has been taking longer than expected.
I work mostly by myself, but I know that once my daughter is home she is available for running things with or to help with product photography, (that’s one of my to do list items). For mayor decisions when lots of money is involved I like to discuss them with Mr. L, I have a great accountant that has been amazing and a business strategies that I can contact for more business detail questions.
Tip 5: My last tip and very important is: take breaks as needed. It won’t make you feel any productive or good if by the time the afternoon comes you are super exhausted or grumpy. Be good to your body, your back, your eyes and stretch a little.
I can’t be working for hours in front of the computer or the sewing machine without feeling drained. Go outside, get some fresh air, make yourself a snack; maybe a fruit salad. During the days my husband works from home I would walk into his office or he would walk into my loft space and we chat a little. My mom lives in Puerto Rico and sometimes I call her for a quick conversation. She knows I am working and respects my time, so longer topics are left for later at night if needed.
Be flexible and enjoy the process. Don’t over do your to do list, you know your limits and you know what matters most to you as a business woman (or man) and why you are doing what you are doing. For me that is being able to drop off my girls and pick them up after school. Once they are home, I cook while they work on homework (I help them, as needed) and the best part is when they can’t stop talking about their days. I love those conversations. Being able to enjoy those moments is priceless to me and that pushes me to be better with my daily schedule. The last thing I want is to be thinking about my to do list when my girls are talking to me.
Note: Please know that flexibility is very important for the health of a business and for ones sanity too. I don’t hurt myself if my scheduled is altered with a sick kid, an unexpected day spent in the doctor’s office, me being sick (click here for part of my story so you can know what I’m talking about), or any other unexpected possibility. I’m sure you can name a few of some schedule interruptions of your own.