MIH 036:Ten Super Productivity Tips for Mompreneurs

Listen to “036:Ten Super Productivity Tips for Mompreneurs” on Spreaker.

I can’t wait to share these productivity tips for you this week!

Being uber productive is, let’s face it: a challenge for mompreneurs.  I get it.  We’re busy. We’re tired. Life is hectic. But we also have goals, a vision, a dream. I don’t know any of us who want to see that dream die.  So the key is to keep moving, keep looking forward and moving forward, and find those things in life that help us with our forward focus.  That’s why on today’s podcast I’m bringing to you 10 super productivity tips for mompreneurs like yourself and myself- tips that I believe will help us specifically in our season as moms AND business owners and bloggers.  I am following these productivity tips as well, so my hope is that you’ll find just as much motivation from these as I am currently.

Productivity Tips for Mompreneurs

1.Get to bed and get some sleep!

Okay, I must absolutely start with the night before, because if we’re honest, that’s when our full day really begins.  The kind of sleep you get the night before determines the quality of your following day.  Get to bed early if you can, but if you have night obligations that keep you from saying goodnight when most folks are already sleeping  you’ll need to figure out a routine that works best for you so that you are getting the proper amount of sleep for your body.

Determine what that is (9 hours, 8 hours, 7 hours?) and stick with it. I know people who survive off 4 hours of sleep nightly, but I don’t recommend it. We moms need all the rest we can possibly get.

If your body is well rested so is your mind.  You can think better and make better decisions in family and in business.

2.Start your morning off right.

Now that we’ve taken care of night routine let’s focus on the morning routine. When you wake up, what’s the first thing you do currently?  This also determines the trajectory of your day. Do you normally get a reasonable breakfast?  A light snack?  You don’t have to have a full course meal in the mornings if that’s not your thing, but getting a little healthy fuel for the day first thing is not such a bad idea.  Your brain and body cells need a nice wake-up call.  For some entrepreneurs, it’s coffee or tea. I always recommend a nice full glass of water to clear the brain first, then move on to whatever makes your mornings happy.  For me, it’s a bit of protein like scrambled eggs with a side of gluten free toast buttered with coconut oil.  That’s just my morning thing. Other mornings it’s gluten free chocolate chip pancakes on the weekends.

I also have to start off my morning with prayer and meditation.  Talking to God, clearing my thoughts, reading and meditating on scripture are what keeps my days in tact for me. It’s the glue that keeps my life from falling apart.  I need it. One week a morning I join a group of women for our weekly prayer group and study session.  This has been spiritually refreshing and also helps me get motivated for the week ahead when I have the emotional support to do life with other women who are such motivators and encouragers.

3.Set non-negotiable work hours.

The thing about our lives as mompreneurs is that it can get hectic and fast.  We have to set work hours aside so that they take priority in its proper time.  Those hours are going to typically be non-negotiable so that we can be productive.   This means setting aside a block of time where we do nothing else except the work set before us.  Use whatever you need: Google calendar, your personal planner, list apps…whatever works to help you plan for setting aside time to work.  Then when it’s time to work, pour up a cup of coffee or tea or grab your glass of water, shut the door (put a sign on it if you need to), and work!

Remember, it’s non-negotiable.  You’re not going to argue with yourself about it, or with others about it.  This is your time to work.

4.Work by a to-do list.

I just mentioned Google calendar and list apps.  For me, Google Calendar has been a life saver and I absolutely don’t do life without it. I’ve heard some people enjoy the todoist app.  Others swear by the Happy Planner or iBloom Life and Business Planner.  It ultimately doesn’t matter what tool you use so long as you create a to-do list and schedule of some sort.

It’s amazing how much a check list will get you through a work day more effectively. Just a few minutes of your time to create that list and put your tasks on your calendar can really change the way your work flows.

It’s all about finding ways to increase your productivity.  Having a to-do list keeps you orderly and organized. Your list keeps you functioning within the framework of your task list.

I have found that it is difficult for me to work without a to-do list just because I need an effective way to keep my days functioning smoothly and my work life in order.  With a to-do list, I know what’s first, then next, then last on my agenda.

I always have the freedom to shift things around on my schedule, but the main goal is to have a task list so that I know what my day looks like first thing when I wake up.  I can then make it a point to tackle my tasks as soon as possible during the day – specifically during my work hours.

5.Dismiss distractions (phone, social media).

If you can get rid of distractions, you can solve 98% of your business productivy issues.  The problem with getting rid of distractions is that it’s virtually impossible to do so.  People will always ring your doorbell, give you a phone call, text you, or shout your name from downstairs right when you’ve hatched out the most awesome post title ever and you have the best idea for your first paragraph.

The best thing to do with distractions?  Dismiss them. (Not the people, just the distractions!)  Forget they exist and keep moving.  Sound harsh?  It really isn’t.  That’s why you have voicemail, email and a doorstep waiting for the next (scheduled) visit.

As for social media, turn it off while you’re working on writing and producing content.  When you’re ready to share your content on social media then it’s time to get social!

My next few set of productivity tips have to do with how you treat yourself and interact with people around you. I think this is a good chunk of what determines just how productive you are in your daily routines.

6.Factor in a good workout.

A few mornings a week I start with stretching exercises and pilates class.  A few days a week I make an early trip over to the YMCA for group exercise classes that really get me moving!

If you haven’t tried factoring in a good workout into your daily routine, give it a shot. Not only will you feel so much better (give it a couple of weeks, though!), you will be proud of yourself for making time to take good care of your body.

Also, working out helps me think better! There’s just something about a good workout in my body followed by a good brain session. I feel more invigorated and ready to hit the day when I get exercise daily- whether that’s taking a walk a few blocks around my house or going to a group exercise class or popping in a pilates DVD.

7.Set aside fun time with your kids.

Our kids are always in need of something from us.  After all, we’re mom, and we are always in high demand.

When you’ve made a solid decision to set aside time in your day only to work, if your kids are home with you, this can be a struggle. If you don’t have help, this can be even more of a struggle.  I’ve been there, and I get it.  My kids are now old enough to entertain themselves and finish up school work without my constant prodding, but when they were younger I needed an extra pair of hands involved in my life each week to keep my business life running smoothly- if I can even call it running smoothly.

The only way for me to balance out the time I spend working on business is to make sure I’m also spending some quality time with my kids: daily.  And I’m not perfect, so there are days I’m not operating at my best mode. But I really, really try to be proactive about putting aside time to put work out of my mind and only focus on enjoying the kids.

This, for me, means taking each child aside and asking her what she wants to do with me that evening.  We could play a board game, card game, do nails, or watch a favorite show together on Netflix.  Whatever they want to do. But taking time out for my kids (beyond helping them with school work) is what keeps us connected in our relationships.

Kids need this a lot more than we think.  Just spending simple time with them can make a huge difference in your relationship (and can also help you accomplish your business goals better as you receive their cooperation in exchange!)

8.Don’t forget your partner.

I admit, it’s easy to believe that your spouse doesn’t need you quite as much as your kids do. So, we tend to leave the husbands to fend for themselves as far as time together goes.  But I encourage you to not forget him and give him just as much attention as you would want in return.

If you have an awesome husband who is extremely supportive of your life work like mine is, you’d definitely not want to leave him in the dust as you work to achieve your goals.  Don’t forget about your relationship and keep the spice flowing there too.

9.Learn to say no.

As mentioned before with the idea of turning off your phone and social media, sometimes you just have to say no.  No to impromptu visits with your friends during your office hours.  No to random one-hour phone conversations with your bestie when you’d planned to finish up your digital product.

It really is okay to say no to things that keep you distracted so that you can focus on being productive. Say yes to setting aside time for your friends later on, and yes to working on your projects during your office hours now.

Another reason to say no is when you are asked to do things that you just cannot fit into your schedule.  It’s okay to say no to requests that don’t align to your values at this time in your life.  No to people that serve as distractions or that place too much demand on your time.  These are the productivity tips that will help you set boundaries for people in your life.

10.Schedule in fun time for yourself.

Don’t forget about you.  Besides taking care of yourself (like working out) you’ve got to remember to put the right foods in your body.  So…basically, no surviving on coffee and donuts right? Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and drink a ton of water.

Your body will thank you for the TLC and so will your brain and your business.

Also, don’t forget to love on yourself with your favorite music, movies or t.v. shows.  Sit down and treat yourself to a mani/pedi – either at home or out with friends at a salon.  Take a load off and curl up to read a good book in a bubble bath one evening.  Make plans to visit a jacuzzi and just chill.

The smaller things- like watching your favorite movies and listening to good music are things you can incorporate into your life daily.  If you play an instrument or paint, make sure you have time to add these valuable activities into your life.  Start weekly and then work up to daily.

For bigger things like salon or jacuzzi visits with friends- you may want to make this a monthly or quarterly ritual, something you can work up to as a big reward for all the hard work during the month.

Most of all, have fun with your life- both in work and play- and you will be a much happier person.

Did you enjoy these productivity tips?  Please let me know if they help you in your lifestyle as a mompreneur.

 

MIH 031:How to batch schedule your posts

Listen to “031:How to batch schedule your posts” on Spreaker.

In blogging, there are some wonderful reasons to batch schedule , and staying ahead of the game is definitely one of them.  Life gets busy for mompreneurs, and in order to keep your blog rolling in the background even when life is throwing some nasty curve balls at you, it’s a great idea to make sure your content keeps rolling out.  Batch scheduling is not a new concept, and you should definitely consider making this a part of your blogging routine. Now that we’ve got the “why” out of the way, let’s talk about how to batch schedule your posts.

Clear your schedule for at least one hour at a time.

When you clear your schedule for blogging- and only blogging- then your mindset shifts to one of productivity.  Think: “How many blog post ideas can I think of in one hour?”  Also think: “How many blog posts can I actually write in one hour?”   The truth is, you won’t actually know your productivity rate until you start this activity.  Go ahead and select a day and time.  All you need is an hour, and you may actually need longer as you learn how much you can accomplish.  Find someone to keep the kids, clear your desk or find a good thinking spot, and get to work.  Start planning your blog posts. Once you learn how to batch schedule your posts, you’ll be so excited you did, and you will look forward to these planning sessions.

Gather your topics.

Compile a list of topic ideas your audience would love to hear from you.  You can add in some keyword research strategy as well, finding good topics on Keyword Planner.  Write down as many ideas as you can.  Try to have a goal: say- 10 topics for 10 weeks?  Start with a goal small enough to be easily accomplished but big enough to be a slight challenge.

Write your first blog post.

Start by outlining your post.  I like 3-step how-to posts because it’s a nice number for me.  Give a topic sentence, a few supporting sentences for your outline, then fill in the juicy details.  Now title your post and go in and handle your meta tags and add your image lastly.

Find your groove.

[tweetthis]#Mompreneur tip: Find your blogging groove by batch scheduling![/tweetthis]

Don’t forget to time yourself.  How long did it take you from start to finish to actually write your post once you had the ideas at hand?  This will give you an indication of how many posts you should be able to write in an hour. Today,  I can muster about two posts per hour, not including images.  Media like podcasts and videos, of course, take longer.  Figure out what your rate is to determine how many hours you’ll need total to get your posts completed up front.  If your goal is to post once per week on your blog and you’re able to batch schedule 5 posts, you’ve already got 5 weeks of content ready to go.  This, my friend, is why it’s so awesome to know how to batch schedule your posts.  It saves you time and allows you to be so much more productive!

Schedule your posts in WordPress.

There are many plugins you can use to accomplish scheduling your posts, but you really don’t need a plugin.  Wordpress has a schedule feature already installed.  Simply click over to “Publish immediately” and edit this to schedule your post for a future date.  Plugins, however, can give you a few more options.  If you’re visual like me, you might like to see your posts scheduled out in a full month calendar spread like the one offered in WordPress Editorial Calendar.  Coschedule is a great one that offers social media sharing options as well.  Scheduling your post in advance can become as fancy an event as you like it to be.

And voila- you’re done.  You can sit back and take a week’s break if you like.  If you want, you could even schedule out your tweets and other social media shares using platforms like Hootsuite. I really believe that learning how to batch schedule your posts is going to be helpful for you.

So…are you using the batch scheduling method to stay on track, or keep up with your blogging routines? If you are using this method, how has it helped your online business?

Why it’s important for mompreneurs to keep a business routine

What does it mean to develop a business routine as a mompreneur?

So, we wear all the hats…and the shoes (think: slippers, sneakers, heels).  Now, how in the world- with a busy schedule- are we supposed to fit in yet another set of routines for business blogging? That’s why today I’m going to talk to you about about developing your business routine.

I understand, and I’m with you.  I have two daughters of my own who are very, very busy girls.  They homeschool, are involved with music and dance, and extracurricular classes- so I understand how busy we can be as moms.  We chauffeur our kids around, stay on top of their education, keep them well fed and dressed, as well as address their emotional and spiritual needs with extra support. Now, we have to think about developing yet another routine in our lives?

Some real talk! Watch the video on business routines

Take a look at this video and let me know what you think. I hope that it will be an encouragement (and motivation) to you to simply get going.  Create a plan and launch into action.


I encourage you, as a blogger, to begin developing business routines now rather than later.  Learn to fit these routines into your lifestyle so that as the patterns develop, it will be easier for you to commit to your goals daily.  They just become a part of your lifestyle.  Like tying your shoes or brushing your teeth.  You’ll get up each morning, start your day, and know when it’s time to push out another blog post, or schedule your tweets for the week…because it’s part of your business routine.  You’re already in the flow of it. I encourage you even more with this in my book.

Let me know what you think…I’m interested in helping you.  What are your most prominent stumbling blocks to creating business routines?

Mompreneur Advice on Prioritizing Your Business

In my last mompreneur video, I talked about compartmentalizing your business. It’s all about setting aside time for work and work only, rather than “bringing work home.”  If you’re still not quite sure what compartmentalizing means, watch the video then come back and read the rest of this post.

You’re a busy mom- so your next time in making time for both business and family is to prioritize.

In a nutshell, place your life in order so that your business falls into the proper place:

  1. Spiritual. Spend quality time working on the inner you.
  2. Family. Make sure your family is well taken care of before you embark on business tasks for the day.
  3. Work.  When working, make good use of your time and really focus.
  4. Housekeeping/errands.  Make room in your routine for daily upkeep of your home and running errands.
  5. More family time.  At the end of the day, it should be about family. If for whatever reason you have to pull an overnighter, let it be an infrequent occasion. Try to factor in as much regular family time as possible that doesn’t include blogging or working on your business.
  6. Lastly, never overload your plate with more than you can handle. It’s better to do a  little very day than to do more than you can possibly achieve.  So pace yourself.

How are your business/family priorities coming along? Let me know in the comments below!

Is working for free (or pro bono) worth it?

What about working for free?

In my ten years of working with clients on different web projects, I’ve noticed a trend. The more I charge, the more my time and services are respected.  The less I charge, the worst treatment I receive. That’s not to say that I haven’t done pro bono work for the sake of helping others out without a “thank you”.  Most people are typically nice enough to give you the courtesy of a “thanks”.  What I’m referring to is the overall treatment you might find yourself receiving as a result of constantly undercharging.

Here are some tips you’ll want to remember in working as an online business.

Giving back is great, but be careful not to burn out on pro bono work.

I love to give back.  But it’s cost me a lot of time, effort, and money to get where I’m going today.  I’m talking years of research, learning css or html in between my kids’ nap times, taking online design classes, paying successful online marketers to teach me what they know so that I can succeed as well.  I didn’t always have the money and sometimes I borrowed money to take a class, and paid back with interest.  I worked part time jobs, sweat through graduate school while raising an active toddler and learning to work an online business.  People who want to get somewhere tend to go after it and make the sacrifices necessary to achieve their goals.

People who learn from others who have forged the way might call you a mentor for being that leader.  People who want what you have but don’t want to put in the time and effort to learn from you or get where you are- well, they’re called freeloaders.  I’ve experienced both.

In my career as a work at home mom, I have given back whenever I see a need that should be met but the client doesn’t have the funds although they have the vision.  Sometimes they come to me for help, or I approach them and offer the help.  Whatever the case, I love being of help and I don’t mind not charging in those particular circumstances- which are few and far between. But I’ve noticed a trend resulting from my “free” services, which I would normally charge in the upper hundreds for.  When I do these things for free, there are only a few responses I tend to receive:

a.) “Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.”  And with that, the client happily uses the product or service I’ve provided for months and years to come.

b.)  “Thank you, it’s perfect.”  And with that, the client uses the product or service for a few weeks or months, then changes their mind and decides to use something else.

c.) “Um…I don’t like it at all. Can you change it?” And with that, the client proceeds to request a series of edits that you are now left having to decide on how much to charge for the extra labor it will cost you (after you’ve agreed to do pro bono work).

There are several lessons to learn from this.    One is: always have agreements in writing and stipulations in place about how you will handle any work you do- both paid and free.  It’s absolutely okay to help others out on the occasion when you know giving back is something you should do for someone.  But keep the communication lines open and clear. And the other: be very selective about who you give back to.

The first case is optimal. Provided you’ve listened to your client and done exactly what she wants, you’re going to have a happy camper. She could help you by spreading the word of your business or providing a testimonial for your website or Linkedin.  She could send customers to you in the future.

In the second case, you’re left confused- and hurt.  You spent the time, energy, tears, and sweat to provide her a valuable service or product, and she said she was happy with it- even thanked you publicly a number of times, validating how pleased she was with your service. But at the end of a few weeks or months she changes her mind about it.  If it’s a product, she might no longer use it-shoving it to the back of her drawer.  But let’s just say it’s a service.  Maybe you designed an ebook cover that she seemed absolutely ecstatic about.  Then three months down the road, your client ditches the cover and redesigns it herself (without saying a word to you, of course.)  A bit confusing, eh?  Of course, she can do whatever she wants- it’s her ebook.  And if she had paid you for the cover, you wouldn’t feel so stung…but because you gifted her, maybe you expected a longer shelf-life.  So it can leave you feeling shattered or even wondering if your help was truly appreciated.

Again- it’s business, and it’s all relative.  We always say to never take things personally- it’s business.  But when there was no business transacted, it becomes personal.  So be careful.

In the third case, you promise you’ll never do anything for free ever again.  This is the worst case scenario- with a “client” who acts as if she’s actually paying you.  In these cases, be firm but gently remind them that you will do the “extras” for a fee.  Beware of these situations also, by careful screening.  You should be able to pick out the ones who may cause you some trouble down the road right from the beginning. In those situations, charging your full fee from the beginning will help you to avoid this altogether.

Is pro bono work worth it?

It can be.  If you play your cards right-find people who really need your help who are also willing to help you in return by promoting your business, and find those who are willing to pay you even just a little- then, yes, it is worth it.  If the client totally cannot pay you monetarily, they may be able to “pay” you by promoting your business and sending others your way.

Not all “free” work ends up in a bad situation. Just knowing that what you’re doing for them is giving them a leg up should be reward enough. It’s when you get taken advantage of that sucks. And always, if anyone is ever using your skills or products without properly crediting you- then know that you’ve been had.  Learn from the situation and don’t repeat it.

Have you experienced this before? How about you- do you offer pro bono work?  If so, what are the guidelines and policies you have in place to protect yourself and your business?

 

MIH 019:Making money from home: ideas for work at home moms

Listen to “019:Making money from home: ideas for work at home moms” on Spreaker.

If you’re among the work at home moms counted in America, then you probably relate to the feeling of overwhelm when it comes to finding working from home ideas and opportunities, and making money from home in general. In my business I enjoy helping moms to tap into God-given gifts and strengths and find their own particular niche- however, I realize there are those times when finding a business that’s already set to go is easiest for you at the moment.  All you have to do in some cases is just follow the plan and you can begin making money relatively easily.

In this podcast I mention a few different ideas for working from home that may or not be a good fit for you, but you choose.  In today’s expensive society, it takes money to keep even a basic lifestyle for our families, so every little bit helps. You can always revisit the idea of starting up your own business from scratch at a later time if you need to.

Here are some ideas I mentioned in the podcast for making some extra side cash.

Making money from home- ideas:

  • Tutor.com– You don’t need a degree for this one, just a knack for a certain subject and the ability to communicate effectively using online collaborate tools to help your students.
  • Udemy.com-Become an instructor at Udemy to help others learn real-world skills online.  All you need is an idea and a passion to teach it.  This is a great way to present your first digital product without the hassle of packaging and hosting it yourself. Udemy takes a percentage of sales because they provide the platform for sales, but it seems a lot of instructors are finding success with this.
  • Online Teaching with K12.com and Connections Academy and other online high schools- You do need a teaching degree for this one, but if you were a former school teacher and would like to have a flexible job working from, here are some options (and there are many other online schools as well!)
  • Virtual Assistant – Becoming a virtual assistant is a great way to begin your own business helping other businesses with online needs. Check out my podcast with Alyssa Avant about becoming a virtual assistant.
  • Writing. Check magazines, journals, newspapers to see what their needs are.  It’s not difficult to get started writing once you break in the market and have written some free pieces.  If you’re looking at some writing jobs that you can get paid for right away, you might also want to check Elance and Odesk.
  • Etsy Do you love crafts or making handmade items?  This is a wonderful opportunity for you to sell your handiwork online with an Etsy shop.
  • Remote IT professional- If you’re a tech geek and love troubleshooting tech issues, there are opportunities for you in this field as well.  Just keep an eye out for this kind of thing when looking for work from home.
  • Paid surveys- Another opportunity, though I don’t know much about it.  Be careful of scams, of course, and just do your research.
  • Mystery Shopping– Again, do your research thoroughly and sign up with a reputable company.  Beware of scams, and never send money in up front.  I hear mystery shopping is a lot of work but if you have the flexibility and time to shop and complete surveys within short time frames, this might work for you.
  • WomenforHire.com and WAHM.com– Two websites I recommend to check out for recent postings of job listings.

Let me know if you have any questions. Of course, I didn’t get around to covering everything out there, but you get the gist.  There are opportunities around us and we just have to dig up a little research and uncover what’s there.  You never know what you’ll find and maybe you’ll just find that extra cash you’ve been looking for in an opportunity that’s been waiting for you out there all along!

Do you have any additional resources you’d like to add to this list?  If so, let me know! 

 

 

 

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