3 Busy Moms Share Their Secrets to Getting Things Done

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Check out these tips from 3 busy mompreneurs
Not enough hours in the day?

One of the best ways to boost your productivity skills as a work-from-home mom is by learning from others who have already paved the way. Whether you’re just thinking about which work-from-home job is for you, or you’re already running a business, there is always something new to learn that can boost your efficiency.

In the following interviews, three successful, and busy, moms share a little about their work-from-home businesses, their families, and their tips for getting things done.

 

Q & A with Lisa Tanner: Virtual Assistant, Freelance Writer, and Course Creator

Lisa Tanner Writing, Balancing Diapers & Deadlines

Can you describe a little bit about your business and family?

Lisa Tanner with her eight children

I’m a busy mom to eight kids, ranging from a baby to 15 years. After spending several years teaching in the public schools, I left the classroom to home-school my own crew. I enjoyed being home with them, but without my income, money was tight. Trying to raise a large family on a single income isn’t always easy.

So, I started brainstorming ways I could earn money from home. Writing was something I’d always enjoyed, so I decided to launch a freelance writing business. A couple months later, I added virtual assistance to my services. I also run three blogs, offer a course, and have two ebooks in the works.

How long have you worked from home?

I actually started working from home while I was still teaching. I spent four years working at a parent partnership program, where I was able to work from home four days a week. Now, I’m coming up on the two-year mark for my own business. That means I’ve been working from home for almost six years.

Do you have a set amount of hours you aim to work?

I try not to work more than 20 hours a week. Occasionally something comes up, and I need to work longer hours, but that’s my ideal number.

Do you have 3-5 top tips for productivity/time management you’d be willing to share?

1. Minimize your decisions

  • Streamline as much of your life as possible so you aren’t having to stop and think about things all day long.
  • Know what you’re going to clean each day.
  • Meal plan.
  • Have a chore chart so you don’t have to deal with kids bickering about who’s turn it is to do something.

2. Pad your deadlines

If you’re working from home with kids around, there are going to be distractions. Someone’s going to need a diaper change, or get hurt and need some extra comfort.

When you’re coming up on a tight deadline, those distractions can be productivity killers. But, if you aren’t as rushed, you’ll be able to mentally handle things more efficiently.

Always over-estimate how long a task will take you. If you get it done early, great! If not, you’re still on track even when distractions happen.

3. Use automation tools

I’m a huge fan of automation, not only in my business, but also in running the household. My washer has a delay setting, so I’ll throw a load in before bed and set it to run right before I wake up. I love the cook and hold setting on my oven, and often utilize the crockpot to cook a meal without me having to babysit it.

In your business, automatically schedule your new posts to Facebook and Twitter. Use IFTTT to move emails that aren’t essential (like those from your favorite bloggers or from competitors in your field) to the appropriate folders. Then you won’t have a congested inbox.

With a bit of creativity and some simple tools, you can let certain business tasks happen all on their own.

4.  Take advantage of small chunks of time

Have five minutes?

  • Outline a post
  • Update your social media channels
  • Respond to comments
  • Check out a blog post from an influencer

You can do so much in such a short period of time. But too many of us say, there’s only five minutes, I can’t do anything worthwhile. So we just sit and don’t take action.

Let me reassure you, those five minutes add up. They may not seem like much, but they are essential to building a business alongside your family.

Q & A with Christine Smith: Scopist and Proofreader for Court Reporters and Author

Scopist and Proofreader for Court Reporters, Meal Plan for Life

Christine Smith, Court Transcript Proofreader and Author of Meal Plan for Life
Christine Smith, Court Transcript Proofreader and Author

Can you describe a little bit about your business and family?

I edit and proofread transcripts for court reporters. I do regular work for established clients as well as fill-in jobs for reporters who are in a pinch. It’s an exciting and interesting way to work from home while managing a busy household.

Four of our six daughters (ages 11 – 24) are still living at home, and we have a good variety of activities and family projects going on at any given moment. For the past three years, we were also a homeschool family, but all the kids returned to public school this year.

How long have you worked from home?

I just started editing and proofreading this year but have worked from home as a digital scrapbook designer/store owner and author since 2005. I have done everything from being a solopreneur to managing a team of 50 designers.

Do you have a set amount of hours you aim to work?

35 hours per week is my sweet spot right now. This is an amount that I can reliably block out at when the kids are at school while still having time and mental energy for their homework needs and outside activities.

Do you have 3-5 top tips for productivity/time management you’d be willing to share?

Being on top of things is a necessity as the manager of a large family, and even more so if trying to juggle working too.

We have always prioritized family dinners in our house, so meal planning has been my #1 ninja weapon to keep my family fed and energized. I developed a complete rotating meal planning system that I wrote about in my book, Meal Plan for Life: The Almost Automatic Way to Create Menus That Fit YOUR Family and Lifestyle.

Other top tips for productivity –

  • I have gone paperless as much as humanly possible. There are excellent apps available now that allow users to use their smartphone like a scanner. I like CamScanner. I keep thousands of pieces of paper digitally safe in Evernote. This is a huge timesaver because I don’t have to hunt for lost papers or ask people to send me another copy.
  • Whenever possible, I group like tasks together. Whether it’s e-mail or errands or venturing into the laundry room, if that’s what I’m doing, I try to focus on everything that can be done within that area.
  • Whenever I am overwhelmed, I create a “brain dump” list that allows me to offload everything related to a topic without it having to be orderly or organized. Just capturing it and adding to it lets me know I don’t have to dedicate any brain space to a futile effort to remember everything that needs to be done. This has served me exceptionally well with big projects like hosting a wedding, throwing a graduation party and starting a new business.

Q & A with Carrie Madormo: Health writer, Nurse and Wellness Coach

"The Healthy Work From Home Mom" Carrie Madormo and her family
Carrie Madormo and her family

The Healthy Work at Home Mom, Wellness Shop

Can you describe a little bit about your business and family?

I’m Carrie, and I am a health writer, nurse, and the founder of The Healthy Work at Home Mom. In my work, I focus on supporting mothers to care for themselves, so that they can be the best mamapreneurs they can be. Our businesses don’t run without US, so we have to take care of ourselves.

How long have you worked from home?

I first began thinking about working from home when I became a mom five years ago. I was working fulltime as a nurse and in grad school. When I returned to work after maternity leave, I knew I needed to make a change. I began searching for ways that nurses can work from home and came across medical writing. I dove in and started taking on health writing clients. I now teach fellow mothers how to do the same.

Do you have a set amount of hours you aim to work?

I am now home full-time with my kids, because my writing income has more than replaced my nursing job. However, that means my hours constantly change as my kids change. I tend to work 2-3 hours per day. One of the scheduling tasks that has made a huge difference for me is committing to daily themes.

Rather than feeling all over the place, I now assign certain tasks to the same days each week. Mondays are for planning, outlines, and source interviews. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are for client work. I now reserve Wednesdays to work on The Healthy Work at Home Mom and network.

I often have to shift things around depending on deadlines, but having these themes in place helps me stay focused and moving forward.

Do you have 3-5 top tips for productivity/time management you’d be willing to share?

Yes! I’m always playing around with different techniques, so I’m happy to share.

It's tough being a work at home mom, and taking care of your kids and your job can be quite the juggling act. If time management isn't your strong suit, you'll definitely want to check out these tips from the experienced moms who have done it all! #timemanagement #sahm #wahm #productivityFirst, give up the all or nothing mentality. I used to think that a workout meant an hour at the gym, but now I’m happy with a 15 minute circuit at home. As mamapreneurs, we don’t have the luxury of an 8-hour workday, so we have to adapt. I think having about 2-3 hours to work per day keeps me so much more efficient and focused than I would be if I had all day. Be okay with the fact that you may just have short nuggets of time.

Then start time-blocking your schedule. There are so many moving parts to my business, that if I sit down to work without a plan, I end up feeling completely overwhelmed and not accomplishing much. I now stick with my daily themes and use Google calendar and Trello to schedule my specific work tasks. Assigning myself the task of creating two graphics for my next blog post is much better than just saying I’ll work on my blog.

Finally, take good care of yourself. When my daughter was in kindergarten, I used to feel like I had to work straight for those two hours, but I was often distracted by hunger and other responsibilities. I made the decision to spend the first hour eating breakfast, working out, and getting ready. Even though I was left with only one hour to work, I actually accomplished more, because I felt better and was able to focus. You are your business’ most valuable asset, so start treating yourself that way.

Learning from each other

Different work-from-home businesses and jobs have different demands, hours, and responsibilities, and we all manage in different ways. The more we learn from other moms, the more efficient we can become.

If you are interested in some more tips from another work-from-home mom, you’ll probably enjoy Stefanie’s 8 Actionable Time Management Tips for Work-at-Home Moms.

How do you get things done? What areas of the “work-life balance” do you struggle with? Let’s keep the conversation going…

 

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6 thoughts on “3 Busy Moms Share Their Secrets to Getting Things Done”

  1. Wow, what a wealth of information is such a small article! Thank you for sharing this with us Robin. Learned a lot especially about time management, and yes 5 minutes can be A LOT if you manage your time right!
    Feeling re-inforced =) Orion

    1. I agree, Orion! 5 minutes can be a lot if you are organised enough to make the most of it. I didn’t realize how much I’d learn by doing this interview.

      Robin

  2. Love this article about productivity tips.
    Most times people start a venture without knowing what it takes to remain or be committed to that venture to have it become productive. Tips like this are really helpful to understand fully what it takes and habits that can help you succeed in running a home based business.
    Very informative, thanks.

    1. It does have a lot of great tips in it! I love the info too. 

      I got a number of tips from these moms as I was working on putting this together. You are right about people not realizing what it takes to make their venture succeed. Time management is so crucial to keep yourself sane! 🙂

      Glad you liked it,

      Robin

  3. Hi Robin,

    I’m happy to inform you that this post is featured in the recent part of TimeCamp’s weekly Productivity Articles roundup! Find “A Smart Way To Get Things Done – Read These Productivity Articles! 13/11/17” on https://www.timecamp.com/blog/.
    Thank you for sharing these excellent productivity and time management tips!
    Ola Rybacka, SM Manager at TimeCamp

    1. Thank you, Ola!

      I had a great time searching for and deciding the moms to interview and I learned a number of things in the whole process. These are definitely tips to share. 🙂

      Robin

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