Besides photography questions one of the biggest questions I get asked is about balancing working at home and being a stay at home mom. I plan on tackling the balance question later but in short, there is never a balance. As a mom of multiple kiddos, I understand the struggles a lot of us face when trying to be as productive as possible and how to manage time better.
Whether you are a blogger or photographer, learning how to manage your time will help with your productivity and give you a better sense of “balance” in your life.
I love to-do lists.
I love schedules.
Some of the books I mentioned are affiliate links so thanks in advance if you purchase something and support Click it Up a Notch.
How to manage time and be more productive
No.01No checking phone/Facebook/email/Instagram the moment my eyes open.
I was the worst about turning off my alarm, rolling over, grabbing my phone to check my email and see what had happened in the world of Facebook since I had stopped checking it only moments before I closed my eyes the night before. I’m sure there are studies saying why this is a bad idea but here is why it didn’t work for me. If I started my day by checking my email and being reminded of all I had to do or even worse starting my day off with a negative email someone sent me, then it set the tone for the rest of the day. I didn’t need to mindlessly search Facebook to wake up.
One of my blogging buddies, Alissa from Creative with Kids told me about a tip she read, you should replace a bad habit with a good habit instead of trying to cut it cold turkey.
I love this idea. I purchased Jesus Calling with a short daily devotion I could read the moment I rolled over instead of Facebook. This changed my attitude for the whole day. You can even purchase a Kindle version so you can easily read it on your phone.
No.02Create office hours.
This isn’t rocket science. However, it has taken me years to put these into practice. I no longer answer emails or work on the weekends. That is my time with my family. I try my best to stop working when the kiddos get home from school. Some days I’m more successful than others. If you know what hours you can work during the day you know just how much time you have to be as productive as possible. This helps preventing sitting down at the computer and getting lost on Facebook for 40 minutes.
No.03Before I can work I have to…
When I told my husband I recently decided I would not let myself work prior to 9:30am or 10am he looked at me like I was crazy. Why did it matter when I started work? For me, I need to get my kids out the door, shower and get dressed before I sit down for the day. If I try to check email while we are getting ready for school, I lose track of time and then end up yelling for them to hurry when I was the one who got distracted. By saying I can’t check email or Facebook until that time, I am more likely to go shower and get dressed to start my day instead of waiting until 4pm. I LOVE working. I do. It’s crazy. I look forward to Mondays so I can work again. However, with that I had to learn to draw lines otherwise I would be working all the time.
I’m going to slowly phase in other tasks that need to be done prior to starting work like make the bed, do the morning dishes and maybe just maybe fold laundry (but let’s not get crazy). It is a process and right now I’m just at the shower and get dressed stage. Plus, there is something to be said about answering emails in clothes instead of your PJs.
No.04Map out my time immediately.
Before I sit and check email or social media, I write down exactly what I have/need to do that day. I write it out by hours. From 10-11am I will work on this. When I used to only write a to-do list I ended up picking and choosing what I wanted to do and then got lost on Facebook. But when my time is schedule for me and I know that from 11am-noon I need to write my newsletter and draft up a post, I have direction.
Also, I try to write the things I don’t want to do down first. Have you heard of the book Eat That Frog! I haven’t read it yet, but the idea is you get the frog first. Meaning you do the thing you don’t want to do first so the rest is easy. If you are like me, then you will stare at the thing you don’t want to do and keep pushing it back until you have fun out of time.
You can purchase The Ultimate Blog Planner to help you stay organized.
No.05Schedule Facebook posts one day a week.
As I have mentioned before Facebook is my go to time waster. I may say, I need to go write a post on Facebook and 30 min. later I’m still on there. I now schedule time Monday morning for me to schedule my posts for the entire week. I no longer need to worry about jumping on FB to post. I may hop over to check the interaction but I try to schedule all my posts in advance.
No.06Answer emails twice a day.
In the book 4 Hour Work Week the author talks about how he only answers emails twice a day. I’m not there yet. I’m trying too. In my daily, schedule I will schedule out two times a day I get on email and answer everything. However, it is a slow process. Checking email is an addition I didn’t realize I had until I said I couldn’t check it. It’s slow and I’m on the first step – acceptance. But that is a goal of mine.
Obviously, there are thousands of other things you can do to be more productive like exercise and eat right but these are just a few of the things I do and am working on to manage my time better as a work at home/stay at home mom. It isn’t easy but I wouldn’t trade it.
I struggle with this! Blogging and photography are my “hobbies.” My full time job is as a teacher (and mom). I am also not a night owl. I want to sleep. I MUST sleep. I feel like I get a lot of blogging accomplished when I am on a break from school and the occasional Burst of creativity, but it is fair to say I struggle with consistency. All goal for the new year I suppose ;) I can’t do it all even when I want to.
That is great you have figured out a time that works best for you to work. Yes, staying up late working is hard. You definitely need sleep.
I actually goes so far as to block websites I timewaste on from all computer/laptops I use at certain times of the day. I use an app to do so and it has been working great from me. I sometimes cheat and disable it but for the most part it keeps me on task.
Yes, I have done that too. Glad you found something that works!
LOVE this post. All brilliant ideas. I’ve been slowly implementing changes, but these are some things I haven’t thought of on my own. Thanks so much!
:) Good luck!
This came up on my Feedly tonight. I LOVE this. Very practical. I think you HAVE balance. I believe it is essential to success and I am always striving to stay balanced! Number 1 is what I need to work on. I love the devotional idea. I need less of my cell phone. I have felt lately that I am mentally drained because of social media!
Hope some of these tips help you this year :)
Brilliant Article!! Needed it so badly. Lovely pictures from the previous Project 365. Thank you for sharing! I feel so motivated to capture some lovely pictures :)
Courtney, Thank you for the wonderful resources. This is the best so far. I’ve recently quit my job to stay at home with my 8 month old baby and my 2 older boys and trying to find time management is crazy. This list has helped me out so much and i hope to get it into use today! thank you!!!
Courtney, Great article! My wife and I are struggling with this constantly. We work together a lot. I always want to work and it can become a bit overwhelming for her. Between our websites & two kids, we rarely get time to ourselves.
Making specific office hours will help a lot! Like your Facebook scheduling, We hope to create streamlined systems to allow for more consistency.
Thanks again & have a great end to 2015!
This is great! I get so stressed sometimes thinking of all the things I have to do. I have definitely improved over the years but there are additional things in your post I am going to try as well. It gets pretty hairy round here during peak wedding season so I am always on the look out for ways to bring stress levels down! Thank you!