10 Bloggers Reveal How They Accomplish It All (most of the time)
Raise your hand if you feel you aren’t productive with your time management? How about as a woman? As a wife? What about as a mom?
You have a stain on your shirt, a run in your hose, hair is a chic “messy” topknot (read mom bun) and you have a post it note on your backdoor reminding to your grab your child’s coat.
Okay. Maybe that was tad too specific and totally about me, but you know what I mean! Being a woman, a mom, a wife, a lawyer AND a blogger is hard.
I have often felt like I was totally unproductive. I look up and its 9pm and I have no clue where my day went. I’m not saying every day is like there, but man I feel like there have been many a day where I am frazzled to no end and feel like a chicken with his head cut off.
Do you feel like that sometimes – or ALL.THE.TIME?
I thought I would reach out to some of my beloved bloggers and mama bloggers and ask them: how do you do it?
I asked 15 bloggers this question:
What are your best productivity tips for women who are juggling everything and feel like they’re getting nothing accomplished?
From business tips to home tips, these women give you the best information to help you feel accomplished every day.
“I think my best advice is to prioritize what's important and cut back on the things that are less important. I've found that letting blogging take a backseat sometimes works better for me than struggling to push something out that isn't genuine or is rushed. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to be awesome at everything because when you spread yourself too thin, it takes a toll on everything, but especially on you. Then you end up being decent at a lot of things, instead of being amazing at a few important things. Maybe this all changes when my daughter gets older, but for right now, that's where I'm at and I'm totally ok with it.”
I put everything into my phone calendar. It gives me alerts when I need to post things, when I am busy, what events we have for the girls and when we have more free time. I try to link to my husbands basketball schedule too, so I don't double book anything.
Another thing that I do is schedule "me time" way ahead of time. I book out three hair appointments (so for many months ahead of time), so I know that is my time. I sneak in manis when my kids are napping and my husband can watch them.
I work out at lunch because staying fit and healthy is important to me, but I don't have the time at home right now.
I multi-task. I answer emails/IG messages when I am cooking and something is simmering. I do the dishes in between cooking our meals that way I don't have as much to do at the end and I can hang out with my family more.
Write out a list of all your to-do tasks the day before, so you can make sure you have enough time to do them all. Or at least try to do them all.
“I honestly don't feel like this often, as I say "no" to a lot of things when I or before I start to feel overwhelmed. I've learned that I can't do it all, and we aren't called to do it all. I know I'm currently being called to serve my job (even though it's inside the home) as Brandon's wife and Walker and Knox's mother for "such a time as this" (Esther 4:14) and in the last few years, I cut back on things that take my time, efforts and energy away from that. (E.g. contract work, volunteer commitments). That's not to say that I don't take time for myself, but I've noticed that I start to get overwhelmed when I try to do too much that strays away from my "job." There are days that I've said "no" to play dates with friends because we have done too much that week and we needed some time at home in our jammies; there are days that I've said "no" to dinners out with girlfriends because I was simply too tired and felt like I wanted to be home; there are times I've said "no" to sponsored blog posts because I know they'd take up far too much time and energy -- and for what? “
She also shared her daily list of items that helps keep her productive:
Doing one load of laundry per day. I use Shout Color Catchers so I don't have to sort the laundry and with four people in this house, it's been a time saver.
Utilize outside resources: Instacart, Amazon Prime, etc. I have my groceries delivered weekly via Instacart and don't have to haul my children into a store (time suck vs. time saver); I have random things delivered via Amazon Prime so I can save money and also not get my kids out for one random thing; I have Brandon's dry cleaning delivered via Bibbentucker's when they need to be cleaned -- all things I'm okay with having delivered because it saves me time and allows me to do something else! I also have a housekeeper who comes once a month to deep clean my house, and that's been a huge help! They also go to preschool two days a week to give me some time to myself that I never, ever get that allows me to run errands, work out, get my nails done, etc. alone.
Start my dishwasher every night and unload it when the boys are eating breakfast. I get something done and get to visit with them in the process = win-win.
Wake up earlier than the boys, shower and get ready for the day before they're awake. I don't have to feel guilty about putting them in front of the TV (or worry what they're doing while I'm showering) while I get ready and once they're awake, we can just start our day and go! And bonus that I get to get ready without 708 interruptions.
Lay everything out the night before. And I do mean everything: clothes, socks, underwear, shoes, bowls for oatmeal, vitamins, etc. Anything to save a few minutes each day.
Fill up with gas at the beginning of the week to save time from having to do it during the week or on the way to/from school.
Use nap time and/or school time to my advantage: pay bills, fold laundry, blog, prep dinner, clean around the house, catch up on emails. (Yes, my five-year-old still takes a nap!)
Implement a schedule and try not to deviate from it. Having a schedule helps us all know what e are doing, what we plan to do and what we need to do, and seeing it all written out really helps calm me when I start to feel overwhelmed.
“I feel as though as women we think we have to do it all and do it all perfectly. In the two years since having my son I have realized that it's just not possible without crumbling to our knees in a mess of emotions feeling like we are failing at everything. My best tips are:
to wake up 30 minutes early and use that time for YOU. Workout, drink coffee alone, read, watch a show whatever.
I have a child who is in school 3 days a week and I try to use those hours as my work hard time. On the days he is home with me I try my best to spend time fully engaged with him as much as possible.
But of course there are days that just doesn't work out and I feel like I am failing him, my job, my husband and myself. Usually in those times I ask myself what can wait. Can work? Can laundry? Probably. Those things will always be there but babies don't keep. I also use my husband when he is home to be the fully engaged parent when I need to get other things done. I try to remind myself at the end of the day my son won't remember if laundry was put away but he will remember that we did ring around the rosie 30 times in a row.”
“1. GET ORGANIZED FIRST. You can't be productive if your mind is constantly scattered. Use a planner and WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN - Write all meetings, appointments, extracurricular activities, sporting events, parties, and anywhere else you could possibly have to be on the same calendar in your planner. That way you can see a snapshot of your entire month at a glance. Make a master to-do list by category of every single thing that you need/want to do. It will be long but don't get overwhelmed. At least it's on paper now and not in your brain. From there, make monthly, weekly, or daily (or all of the above) to do lists that are specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic. You need to make sure these are realistic goals so you don't set yourself up for failure each day. Once you get your life in order and see what you want to accomplish, then it makes it easier to know how to go about getting things accomplished.
2. Start getting stuff done and crossing things off of your list. It's very satisfying.
3. Don't try to do a ton of things at once. If you're responding to emails, do only that for a block of time and then move on to something else. Clothes to put away? Designate a block of time and do only that until its done. Don't get distracted by other things while you're working on your task.
4. Stay motivated. Turn on great music that amps you up while you clean/organize/declutter/work on projects. That will make it more enjoyable and it will give you more energy to accomplish your tasks. Follow inspiring people on Instagram who have common goals. When you see them accomplishing their goals it will probably give you that kick in the butt to accomplish your own.
5. Rest and give yourself grace. Mommas wear more hats than anyone else and it's easy to get burned out! Know your limits and let yourself rest and enjoy life. Sometimes you can't and won't get it all done and that's okay. There's always tomorrow and the world isn't going to stop turning just because the laundry didn't get folded.”
For more on organizing your life and how Lindsay does it, you NEED, I mean MUST read here post here.
“Lists, lists, lists! I would be lost without lists. I am super forgetful, and I need to write things down to remember. I love lists because it helps me organize my thoughts, prioritize, and then there is that wonderful satisfaction of crossing an item off as you complete it. Of course, the real key is to just get to it. You can have the best list, but if you don't act on it, then it doesn't really help at all! One thing I like to do when knocking things off my list is to set a timer. As soon as that timer goes off, then it is time to get busy! If my list is really long, then I will continue to give myself little timed breaks. I find it just makes the whole process a lot easier and more balanced. And realistic, which is another thing I think is important when trying to juggle it all. I have to be realistic about what I can accomplish. Weekdays are often less productive for me, just with working, so it would be silly for me to think I could get every single thing I want done in one evening after work. But by breaking my lists up, giving myself specific times to work on things (and making sure I still have some time to relax), then it's much more reasonable. To sum it up, what works for me is making a list, setting realistic expectations, and then just getting to it!”
“How do I make it all work? Honestly, I don’t think I have strict guidelines to follow but what we do works for us if that makes sense. You have to shift your mindset because at the risk of coming off overly confident – I never feel like I’m not accomplishing what needs to be accomplished. Do I get overwhelmed? Of course! (my friend gave me the best post it note: Stop me before I volunteer again) with a husband that is usually never home you sort of have to kick into overdrive. You may think I’m about to say something along the lines of get an early start or stick to a schedule…nope. I’ve always wanted to get an early start. I’m not against it, it just never happens. Stick to a schedule? Yea right, things are always popping up! However, our saving grace is a daily to-do list and my oh-so basic planner and dry erase calendar in the kitchen. I try and log everything I possibly can for the month in both of those places so that everyone knows what is going on. I’m also a night owl so anything I can get done the night before (think: school lunches, my lunch, projects, clothes, meal planning prep, blog posts, design prep) I do it before settling down. (cue the wine ladies) Laundry and home stuff? Pick a designated day! This works so well for us. Thursday, for example, is the day for laundry and (deep) cleaning and then guess what? It’s done! Doing it that way leaves me enough time to focus on whatever project or renovation the hubs and I are currently tackling on his days off and the weekends. Learn to unplug when necessary, get some extra ZzZz if you can and surround yourself with a great support system because with all of those things in your corner, you’ll never feel inadequate. Kicking life’s butt might be exhausting but you’ve got this! Just take it one day at a time and find the best routine that works for you! (cue more wine)
“I'm no stranger to juggling the world, especially when my husband is deployed (like right now). But, here's the thing; I know I can do it. Like many women out there, I'm used to juggling many workloads and balancing many hats. Women typically aren't just "stay-at-home-moms" or "working moms." I'm a mom, a wife, a homemaker, a businesswoman, a freelancer, a full-time employee and, when my husband is gone, I'm the head of our household.
The biggest thing that helps me get through the day is starting with a list. I love lists, and I love a good journal to write my lists in. Each morning, I list the must-do tasks in order of priority, then start my day. That journal comes with me everywhere every single day. As I finish something, I cross it off. There's literally no better feeling than completing a task in my journal, and at the end of the day, even if my workload has increased, I can see what I've accomplished. It's about the mindset. Set yourself to tasks one by one and complete them :)”
“If you're like me, there just never seems to be enough hours in the day! I have to do lists that are miles long and sometimes I feel like I'm always playing catch up. I certainly don't ever pretend to have this whole life thing figured out, but I do have some tips that I rely on when I feel myself going a little crazy.
What do I do?
Breathe. Take a step back and take some deep breaths. You can literally stop right now and practice-- take a deep breath in through your nose letting your stomach fill and your chest rise, hold, and release through your mouth. Do it again. And again. Then again. Doesn't that feel good? I noticed that I hold my breath a lot. I hold it while I put on makeup, when I'm doing the dishes, when I'm doing something with my kids...it's terrible! Breathing is such a natural thing but sometimes we need to observe it to feel better instantly. You could take it a step or two further and meditate. Even 5 minutes really helps me. I will pull up You Tube and literally search 5 Minute Meditations.
Focus on one thing and and finish the thing. When overwhelm actually hits, it can be almost paralyzing! I will ask myself (per Oprah) What is the next right move? And then act up on it. Often times fatigue sets in because we do not finish things. We start, get distracted, pause, start something else, go back to the first thing and so on. (Am I right mamas?!) Whatever it is that keeps popping up into your head, maybe a Dr. visit you need to schedule, the dishes in the sink, a blog that needs to be written, just do it. You will feel SO much better when the THING is completed! Kudos for when you accomplish multiple things!
Schedule fun! You need to do this for yourself, with your kids, with your spouse, with your friends. Wherever you are not seeing enjoyment, put it on the calendar! All work and no play makes life harder than it should be! We are meant to live life to its fullest and be blissful creatures. The more you laugh and smile, the easier it is to deal with the not so great parts of life. Get the pedicure. Go to breakfast with a friend. Plan a date night out!
Use a planner. I find great success with a daily/hourly calendar. I fill it out the day before and literally on my busy days, refer to it and it keeps me on track. I have friends who swear by Google calendars and even their phones. Have it in writing some place helps so much! Plus, you can literally read off the list when asked, "What did you do all day?" I swear by the whole, "Fail to plan, you plan to fail," motto.
Give yourself grace. I'm notorious for beating myself up for not being 'perfect' which is silly because none of us are perfect. Some days you may slay your makeup, your mom game, your wifey status and killed it making money. Others, you barely survived the day and everyone ate fast food. It's all good. Don't stress over small stuff and do pat yourself on the back when things go well! Celebrate the wins and learn from the losses.
Sweat. I recently made myself the commitment to going to the gym as a non-negotiable. All that means is my health and some time alone to take care of ME is that important, I owe it to myself, my family and my friends to be the very best version of me. I may just go and walk for a half an hour on the treadmill, but it's still something! Maybe taking your dog on a walk could be your thing, or taking your kids swimming. Do some free workout videos on You Tube. Whatever your pleasure, get your 30 minutes a day in. You'll see HUGE changes.
Have an attitude of gratitude. I find it extremely frustrating when I'm around negativity. I get into my funks, but most of the time I do try to stay positive. Now, I'm not saying you should not feel the emotions. There are times when you may be sad or down, but I mean on the day to day. If you feel yourself slipping into the comparison game or being grumpy, stop and list 3 things you are grateful for. Then do it again the next day, and the next. You can't be grateful and unhappy at the same time. The "problems" you have now were probably things you once prayed or wished for. See the good.
No excuses. I am a firm believer that making excuses is not only a huge waste of time, but also a huge waste of life. I've basically gotten to a point in my life where I don't want to hear my OWN excuses and I sure as heck don't want to hear yours! We all have problems, issues, this happened, that's wrong, he did that, I don't have this...get over it. I will literally stop myself and say, "no excuses, I just didn't do bla bla bla bla" whatever it is that could potentially have an excuses. You either do or you do not do. That's it. So just do it!
Sleep! Oh my word, how much do you love sleep? I just adore my pillows and sheets and soft cozy comforter and bed. I don't remember the last time I slept past 7am but I bet it would be amazing! I didn't realize how much sleep affected me until I had kids. (duh) I look back on how few hours of sleep I got when I was teaching full time, driving an hour to and an hour from work, and going to grad school, plus trying to spend time with Joe--no wonder I weighed more, was cranky and terribly addicted to caffeine and sugar. I notice my body does best with 7-8 hours of sleep and I rarely stray. If I do, we all pay!
Find your tribe. As women I think we try to do it all by ourselves. We are multitaskers at heart and really try to do all the things. Don't. Just do the very best you can and then find some other women, preferably all different ages and get together with them. Recently my book club has grown and the energy that we gave each other the last time was so beautiful. As moms we all think we suck, are doing it wrong and that everyone has their act together but us. In reality? We are all hot messes, just hiding well. I'll be honest, we talked about books a little, but more than anything we talked about our post-pregnancy bodies, our marriages, our worries, our hopes and just let our guard down and enjoyed time bonding. Women are beautifully complex creatures and when you find the right group, magic happens. Trust me!”
“I will say my best tips are automating as much as you can and coming up with a format or plan that works for you so that you don’t spend too much time on the how did I do this and instead jump right into the actual content. I also tend to share mostly things I love which helps because it’s not hard to come up with ideas for that!
My other secret is time blocking and putting timers on my phone and doing my best to stick to them! I fail miserably some days while other days it really helps me accomplish some things!!”
And last, but not least, here are my tips (though I feel like I will sound like a broken record).
Delegate! I am truly blessed in the awesome husband department and I have delegated those household chores that I am just not that good at to him. So, my husband is in charge of the laundry, the trash and the grocery shopping. That takes things I do not like and just am not good at off my plate and allows me to do things I excel in: meal planning, playing taxi driver to E, and general house cleaning. If laundry were left up to me it would never make it back into the closet or drawers. But my husband, he cannot stand clean clothes in the basket. Win, win for us.
Plan. I am a planner and so is my husband, just about different things. I am a short-term planner, i.e., dinner for the week, weekend activities, vacations, etc.. My husband is the long-term planner, i.e., retirement, investing, financial goals. So, we do what we know best. If I left meals up to my husband, we would eat tacos every night or eat out. If he left the financial planning to me, we would own stock in shoes and by stock, I literally mean my shoe stock would be HUGE!
Ask for Help. This is a big one and one that was not easy for me at first. I am a type-A, do it myself or else it won’t be right person. And then came E. Now, I ask family to watch her when I need a day away, I set-up carpool for gymnastics so neither mom had to leave work early every Monday, and I know when to ask my husband to step in to give her a bath or deal with a tantrum when I am at my wit’s end. I also ask for help from other moms when needed. At dance, I teach the class, so I have to ask mamas to take E to go pee if she needs to and while I teach twirling, one of the other mamas takes her to get a snack and in turn, that single mama knows she can drop her daughter off on a weeknight or weekend if she needs a night out or a chance to clean the house.
Let it go. Yup, channel your inner Elsa and just let go of the idea that everything has to be perfect. My daughter can go to school with mis-matched clothes and its ok! Her Valentine’s Box can be store bought, you can miss the spring hat parade and still be a good mom. Ladies, let go of the mom guilt and realize YOU ARE DOING GREAT!
I hope you found some helpful tips & tricks, or perhaps you realized that we are all in the same boat and just surviving as best we can. But do me a favor and check out each of these ladies’ blog and leave them some love.