If you are like me and trying to find some kind of balance between a busy career and a busy family, there are two things that you probably can’t live without – your planner/calendar and a glass of wine and hot bath. With two teenagers, one freshman and one senior, a husband with a busy career of his own, and two brick and motar stores and one online store, life can get pretty hectic. Being task oriented and a natural organizer, always feeling like I wasn’t able to get everything done that needed to get done started to wear me out. But, after three years of owning this business on my own, I have come to the conclusion that is just how I am going to feel. Every day is a choice between what is urgent (deadline driven) and what is important – needs to get done but doens’t have to be today. But, I don’t want my life to be about checking off tasks on a to do list either. There has to be balance. This is where my productivity strategies come into play and why I wanted to spend some time sharing my top 5 with you.
- Start with your goals and roles and let that drive your tasks. As an entrepreuner, it my job to set the vision and chart the course of where we are going as a company. As a small business owner, I am CEO, COO, CFO, CMO….you get the picture. I can become so embroiled in “to do” lists that I don’t give myself time to learn, to dream, to envision, and to plan. I am a huge fan of Franklin Covey, and one of the reasons I still carry an old fashioned paper planner is because of the Weekly Compas cards that are the cornerstone of the system. I fill out this card every Sunday when I do my weekly planning, and I do it BEFORE I make any task lists. The top of the card is all about me: what are my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual goals for the week. Then, the rest of the card is divided into roles, and I always put them in this order: Home; Wife/Mother; COO; CEO; CFO; CMO; Writer. The reason I do this is because it keeps me focused on home and family first. My career can consume me if I let it, but I still have bills to pay, a house to keep clean, laundry to wash, etc., and, more importantly, I have family members that need me to be present. Once I have focused on home and family, I move on to the different roles I have at work. As the COO, I ask myself what is the most important thing I can do as the one responsible for directing the ship. As the CEO, I ask myself what is the most important management task I have this week. As the CFO, I write down my financial tasks for the week. As the CMO, I consider what marketing tasks are essential. This way, I am controlling the task rather than letting the tasks control me.
- Prioritize your tasks. Have you ever checked your email, and two hours later, you are just getting to your first task on your list. Why is email such a black hole? I truly have a love/hate relationship with email because of this. One of my mentors says, “Email is just someone else’s priorities.” I think that is true, and I have noticed that if I let myself just float from task to task without a plan, I fall into email and many other wasted time black holes. Therefore, before I walk in the door or say hello to my first customer, I write out my tasks for the day, and I make sure there are not more than seven. Then, I prioritize them according to the Franklin Covey system. A is for deadline driven/urgent tasks, B is for the important/non deadline driven tasks. Each A task gets a number like A1, A2, A3 as do the B tasks. By taking the time to consider the order in which I want to accomplish my tasks, I do better at avoiding black holes.
- Set your intention for the day. I love The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, and use it most days. I start with daily coaching that I get through an app on my phone called Fabulous. Then I get myself centered spiritually with a bible study. Next I listen to 10 minutes of a professional development book. Right now I am almost finished with Brendan Buchard’s High Performance Habbits. I then write down my thoughts and observations in my journal. Next I do a 10 minute meditatation, usually on mindset. Last, I visualize myself going through my day (and life) enjoying my staff and my customers and my day. I visualize myself tackling my to do list with peace in my heart and not with overwhelm. I also visualize myself accomplishing my life goals. This whole process takes about an hour, but I am more than happy to give myself this time to get centered in the morning before I start my day.
- Check off what you accomplish. I know this is a totally type A thing to do, but it really does help me when I know I did not get everything done that needed to be done that day. If I can look at all the things I DID accomplish, it makes me feel better about never really being able to feel totally finished. Sometimes I even write things down that I did that were not on my list too. If I was not able to complete a task, I use a forward arrow which lets me know I need to add it to tomorrow’s task list. This is also very helpful because it then becomes an A task for the next day. Sometimes, my day (or week) blows up with unexpected events, and I have a lot of arrows!!
- Put your phone away when you get home. I work hard all day. I am the first one to get there and the last to leave. Both myself and my family deserve for me to be fully present when I am home, and I am never fully present when my phone is around. I set it on the charger, and I don’t pick it up again until the next day. This may mean that I don’t always respond to emails, texts, and customer messages, but I need to give myself this time to avoid burnout.
A few other things that I do that really help is to always plan my week on Sundays, as I have mentioned previously. This allows us as a family to get our ducks in a row, so to speak, and avoid surprises during the week. Everyone knows what is going on and what to expect. If arrangements need to be made, I make them on Sunday so we are all set for the week.
These tips work for me, and I know there are so many productivity strategies available that I haven’t mentioned, so in this week’s Wednesday Wardrobing, I am going to share these as well as chat with my live viewers about what works for them as well. You can watch that video live at 6 p.m. MST today, 10/26/22. Watch live here: https://www.facebook.com/events/497432998949397