productivity tips

How to End Time Stealers & Manage Your Time Better

By Karen Lynn

When you are trying to balance growing your career with taking care of your family, it is nearly impossible to fit everything you need to do into a 24-hour period.  You may find yourself looking at the clock and realize it’s later than you thought it was, and think “Where did the time go?”  We have all been there.  However, if you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day every day, you may be struggling with time management.  These 7 tips will help you use your time more efficiently so you can get more done and feel less stress!

Plan Your Day
Too much time is spent not sure what to do next or feeling scattered.  You get to work and you spend 10 minutes sitting at your desk not sure where to start, or you dive into one project, then halfway through you start something else.  When you get to your office, before you start sending emails or making calls, plan out your day as a combination to-do list, and schedule where you can determine what you need to do and schedule the time to make it happen.

Prioritize Your Day
As you create your daily plan, make sure you set your two or three highest priority items at the top and get those done first.  Not only is this great for taking care of your business, but it gives you a great sense of accomplishment!  Don’t set more than two or three items as high-priority though, or you’ll stress yourself out.  Getting in touch with a distributor about a missed shipment and vacuuming your office rug are not on the same level of priority.

Shut Off Social Media
Social media can be amazing, but it can easily turn into a huge time waster.  A one minute tweet about your business can turn into liking friends’ vacation pictures and taking quizzes about what type of person you are based on your astrological sign.  If you use it for your business, use a site like Hootsuite to create a few days’ worth of content and schedule your social media posts, or block out a time each day to post on social media and follow up.  

Take a Lunch
Spending all day plugging away at work seems like you’ll get more done than if you take breaks, but that isn’t necessarily true. Your brain does need some down time, and you need to re-fuel.  Schedule your lunch for a specific time.  You will naturally work more quickly to finish projects before your scheduled lunch time than if you were planning on eating while you work or skipping it altogether.  Plus, when you return to your work, you’ll have a refreshed mind and outlook.

Set Boundaries
If you work from home or you receive a lot of interruptions from others while you are working, those interruptions can eat into your productivity.  Stopping your project to take care of something else, then having to find your place and get back into it is a major time-stealer!  If you struggle with unnecessary interruptions, put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign.   This doesn’t work if you have customers or clients who need you and you need them, but it helps with children and co-workers if you work in an office.  If you worry about hurting feelings, but you can’t be interrupted, tell the person, “I want to devote 100 percent of my attention to helping you, and I can’t if this project is hanging over me.  Let me finish this, and I can give you my full attention.”  

Avoid Multi-tasking
Trying to do two (or more!) projects at once seems like a great idea, in theory.  However, dividing your focus actually takes an overall longer amount of time than if you would have done one task first, then the second one.  You are also much more likely to make an error if you divide your concentration and having to correct it will waste even more time.  Start a project, finish it to completion, then more onto the next thing.  If you get an unavoidable interruption, focus on that until you can transition back to your original project.

Delegate Tasks
It’s easy to slip into the “I’ll do it myself” mindset.  You know that when you do something, it is done to your specific standards, and it’s hard to let go of that control.  However, if you have employees working for you, you hired them to help you.  Let them help you.  The same goes for kids, too.  If you’re tired of coming home to a messy house, even the smallest child can help pick up the mess.  Don’t be afraid to let others shoulder some of the load.

For more information and great tips on how to de-stress your busy mom life, click here to sign up for my free newsletter and receive a free gift. I also offer a free complimentary phone session if you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity and de-stress your life.


Karen Lynn is a certified Life & Holistic Health Coach and the founder of CoachKarenLynn and the creator of the “From Frazzled to Fabulous” programs. Which helps mom entrepreneurs find health, balance and an amazing life of their own design.

Karen Lynn mentors mom entrepreneurs to create time in their busy days, so they can feel focused, relaxed and productive in their business & their lives. As a single mom who has worked in both the corporate world, and has owned own businesses, Karen understands the challenges that busy working moms are facing these days.  She designs her programs to fit easily into a busy moms lifestyle. She is a Certified Life Coach and Holistic Health Coach, with 10 years experience in the Health & Wellness field.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

4 Time Management Strategies for Writers, Artists and Creatives

By Elaine Calloway

Ah, time management—that elusive thing we attempt to harness but somehow it eludes us. Like a butterfly refusing to be caught in the net, time escapes from us at a rapid rate. When we do finally take a breath and glance at the clock, we think, “Where did all the time go? How can the day be almost over when I haven’t gotten much done?”

I’ve said these things plenty of times. And I’ve beaten myself up and sworn I would never get on social media first thing in the morning again. And guess what? Some days, I still do. But I’m getting better.

Below are some tips to let time work FOR you, rather than against you.

1.     Determine your “Best Self” time.
Figure out when your brain is at its most alert, least stressed and ready to work. For some people, it’s first thing in the morning before the day’s chaos pushes its way into our minds. For others, it’s late at night when everyone else has gone to sleep.
Determine your best time and then GUARD it with everything you have. If you’re more refreshed in the morning, get up an hour earlier to tackle your goals. If you’re a night owl, let the kids listen to a children’s story audiobook an hour before their bedtime, and then use that hour to get a jumpstart on your plans.
Do the essential chores during a time when you are not at your mental peak. Laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. actually allows your creative brain to think, which helps you when you do sit down at your most productive time.

2.     Postpone Social Media.
For your prime creative time, stay off social media. I know, this one is a struggle. It’s so easy to just grab that morning cup of Java and click the button to check email, read through some funnies on Facebook, check Twitter, etc.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned, though. Doing what seems like a relaxing task actually isn’t relaxing. The information (even the cute kitten photos on Facebook) gets into your brain and leaves less room for your most creative self to flourish.
There’s a fantastic book I’m reading called Your Brain at Work by David Rock. One thing he mentions is that the creative space in our brain, the prefrontal cortex, fills up quickly. He compares the amount of brainpower able to handle creativity to a performance stage. Once you have the social media, the worries of the day, the thoughts about what to fix for breakfast, etc. creeping onto the stage, then there is less room for your book, painting, or other endeavor.
We need to remember that the stage is a finite space, and we must choose who has the right to be onstage at any given moment. The author, David Rock, gives great recommendations on how we must manage our “stage” every day in order to be most efficient.
So remember: Social media is a great outlet, but only AFTER you finish your creative tasks.

3.     Keep a Notebook for Distractive Thoughts.
Our brains know how to distract us, to keep us from achieving our goals. We must manage our thoughts to be able to be our most effective. Keeping a notebook handy is ideal for this.
Whenever I sit down to continue writing one of my books, the inevitable happens: I get ideas for other books. This is a common procrastination technique, but I’ve learned how to tackle it and keep working. By keeping a notebook nearby, I jot down the idea that won’t let go, and then I immediately get back to work.
Jotting down the distractive idea does two things. First, it gets the pesky thought out of our heads and onto paper so we can continue working. Second, it gets the thought off our “stage” so we are free to choose what other work to put on our stage as we move toward our goal (be it painting, writing, photography, etc.)

Managing Your Time

4.     Use the Pomodoro Technique.
I love how popular this technique, and the phone apps for it, has become. Years ago, the most prolific writers recommended using an egg timer to time several writing sessions of 20-40 minutes. The Pomodoro has taken this a step further.

So, what’s the Pomodoro Technique?
It’s basically a timer that allows you to work in short increments, taking a break between sessions. Our brains are able to focus and work more productively because we know the task time limit will be short.

  • First, set the Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes.
  • Work exclusively on your task until the timer rings.
  • Take a 5-minute break and stretch.
  • Set the Pomodoro for another 25 minutes, followed by another 5-minute break.
  • After 4 Pomodoro sessions (2 hours), take a longer break for 20-30 minutes.
  • Repeat as desired.

You can download apps for the Pomodoro online or for your phone. I use Clockwork Tomato for Android, which is a free app. Browse the Google Play store here.

Using these 4 strategies for time management will help you stay focused and get more creative tasks done. Building a habit takes 30 days, and practicing these techniques will help you form good habits for time management.

Soon, you’ll be able to hold that elusive butterfly of time management in your hand. And the world will thank you for the creative gifts you have to offer!

Elaine Calloway is an Amazon bestselling author of paranormal fiction/ghost stories and a speaker on self-publishing and how to become a successful author. She has several online courses available for authors: The Writer’s Bootcamp – Your Complete Guide to Writing Your Book in 30 Days, and Marketing for Authors / How to Gain More Readers. When she’s not teaching self-publishing, writing or sleeping, she enjoys hanging out with friends and family and her very spoiled black-lab mix. Connect with her online at www.howtoselfpublishyournovel.com or www.elainecalloway.com.

 

 

The Secrets To Working Productively From Home (Even With Kids)

By Abbi Perets

For the past 17 and a half years, I have worked from home. I have five children, currently ages 7-17, and these days, I have a pretty solid 6 hours, 5 days a week when my children are in school. And even when my kids are home, they are fairly self-sufficient. But just a few short years ago, my kids were ages 0-10 — and one of them has significant developmental disabilities. 

In all the time that I have worked as a freelance writer, I have never missed a deadline. How is that possible? Back when I was a new mom of one tiny baby, I discovered a few secrets to working productively from home, even with kids in the picture. 

In a nutshell, if you want to be productive when you have small children who need full-time care, you must be smart about planning. Yes, a big part of why many people choose to freelance is to spend more time with family. But if you want to be a successful freelance writer, remember that you are also a businessperson — not just a parent with a side hobby.

Here are three important steps you can take to work more productively from home, even when you have young children:

1. Set up a dedicated office space.
I’ve lived in 6 different houses over the last 17 years. In every one of them, I have designated a specific office area for myself. In my first tiny apartment, my “office” was a little half-room that would have felt small to Harry Potter. My computer and printer took up my entire desk, and I had to squeeze into the tiny space between the chair and the desk to get in and out. But it had a door. 

In one house, I had a gorgeous, spacious room with built in bookcases, room for a comfortable couch and a treadmill, and a separate closet. The downside? The glass French doors that let in the light didn’t lock, and my kids were in and out 97 times a day. 

In another house, I didn’t even have a closet for my workspace. Instead, I commandeered a corner of the dining room table. Every morning, I set up my “office,” and every afternoon, I packed it up and put it away so that we could have dinner. But by giving myself a set space for work — instead of grabbing my laptop and working from the couch or my bed — I put myself in a work frame of mind. 

2. Designate your work hours — and hire reliable childcare.
When my first baby was born, I quickly realized that babies need a decent amount of care and attention — and so does a freelance writing career. I hired a sitter to watch my daughter for four hours every morning. During that time, I closed the door to my tiny little office and worked. The rest of the day, I took care of my baby, but those four hours were reserved solely for work. 

In different seasons of my life, I have had different schedules. When my husband and I bought a house in Southern California and our budget was stretched to the max, I had to cut back on childcare hours. So I found a high school student who could take my three kids to the park for 2 hours every afternoon, and my husband was responsible for another 2 hours every evening. It wasn’t easy, but we made it work so that I had my four hours every day. I also put in another few hours on Sundays as needed — say, if the sitter missed a day or my husband had to work late one evening.

3. Plan your schedule realistically. 
At the end of every week, I sit down with some markers and plan the next week. I start by listing everything I need to get done — for example: 

  • Draft guest post for Jacqui
  • Finish article for Kate
  • Proofread and send white paper to Emma
  • Edit material for Sarah

I refer to my notes and emails to make sure that I haven’t forgotten anything, and then I go back through the list and note how long each item will take me. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so my estimates are pretty good. If you’re new to freelancing, I recommend allowing more time than you think you’ll need — maybe even twice as much time. 

Then, I go through the list and schedule every single item on the appropriate days in my calendar. I block out the time in writing because that is the only way I know I’ll be able to get the work done. 

The whole process takes about half an hour each week, but it gives me a true plan, and a real sense of what I can commit to during the week ahead. If I see that I have filled every available slot, I already know that if anything goes wrong — an emergency trip to the dentist, someone home sick for the day, whatever — I’m going to have to make up that time in the evening or on the weekend. I can also see that if a girlfriend invites me out for lunch, I need to decline — and if a client wants something turned around immediately, I’m going to have to get super creative. 

On the other hand, if I see wide open swaths of time, I know this is a good week to put in some extra time on my marketing or one of my long-term personal projects — or enjoy the freelance lifestyle and catch up with a friend in the middle of the day.

If you want to be productive, you need to give your business the respect it deserves. Take your work seriously, and you’ll find that you can get more done. 

Abbi Perets is a freelance writer with a passion for parenting, technology, health, and business, and you can find her work all over the Internet. She also owns SuccessfulFreelanceMom.com and offers a free course on how to be a freelance writer. 

5 Essential Time Saving Tips For Bloggers

Time-Saving-Tips

By Chloe Thea

When it comes to blogging, the list of things that ‘take time’ is truly, honestly endless. Whether you’re a newbie to the blog scene or a larger–than-life juggernaut like Miss Marie Forleo, there is certainly no denying it - running a blog takes a hell of a lot of work, perseverance, time and energy on your behalf. But it’s not all bad. I want to help you to claim back some of your blogging time – so you can shimmy on into your blogging journey with ease, grace and a nice rounded dollop of renewed ‘I’ve got this!’ enthusiasm.  

Don’t let time management get in the way of running a successful blog - here are 5 super-practical time management tips for bloggers. 

1) The Regular Feature
One of the best time hacks for bloggers is hosting a regular ‘feature’ on your blog – for example, you might host a link roundup post each Wednesday. Not only does this strategy help to build reader loyalty – but it saves you time because you’re not scrambling for content ideas. You could take this time saving hack one step further and prepare these features in bulk – next time you’re writing a link round up, spend an extra hour or two researching and bang out 3 other versions of that post type. 

2) Get Yourself A FAQ Page
Are you getting a tsunami of emails flooding into your inbox everyday with similarly sounding questions? Yep, I hear you. Spend some time and make a list of all the questions you get asked frequently, and put the answers on a dedicated FAQ page on your blog. Yes, this isn’t the most innovative idea, but don’t discount it based on simplicity alone - it works. For bonus points, make sure your auto-responder email points to your brand- spanking FAQ page for maximum timesaving effectiveness. 

3) Set Yourself Some Boundaries 
Now that you’ve got your FAQ page set up, it’s time to update the copy on your Contact Me page. Putting a short, sweet, sincere disclaimer about approximate response times sets clear expectations for your readers about how long you take, (if at all) to respond to reader emails. 

At first, this idea can sound a little stand-offish, but tweak the language, fill it with love and your readers will thank you for the soul-fuelled posts you’re able to create now you’re no longer replying to individual emails. 

4) Ask The Audience 
Tired of coming up with Pulitzer-winning ideas for blog posts? Why not take some post requests from your readers! After all, they’re the ones who are reading, consuming and hopefully, loving your content, so why not find out what they’d like to read? It’s a win-win. You get to serve up juicy, anticipated content and your audience can indulge in topics they’re super interested in. 

5) All Hail The Automation Angels
I’m always on the lookout for ways to make things easy for myself and when it comes to blogging, automation is a biggie - get ahead by scheduling your posts using Wordpress’ built-in scheduling tool. All you need to do is sit down one afternoon, hammer out 3 new posts, code them up in Wordpress and schedule them using the automated timer tool. Now that your post schedule is ahead, you’re able to free up your mind with other bloggy things – like how to better serve your beautiful readers (or reach a bigger audience with that all-too-incredible post you just wrote!).

What are your favourite time hacks as a blogger? Chloe Thea is a Holistic Time Management and Productivity Coach—passionate about helping big-hearted creatives become masters of their time and energy so they can shine bigger, brighter. Her blog, You Can Go Your Own Way, serves up practical and empowering time management tips. Her mission is to help creative women understand that sustainable productivity is deeply rooted in self-care. 

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The #1 Tip To Help Time Poor Bloggers

Portland Fresh

By Christiann Koepke

As creatives, we are always thinking and building. It starts with a thought, turning into a dream, which then grows into pulling together the time and resources that are required to actually put that seed into action. As wonderful as this all is, it requires something that life doesn’t carry too much of: time.

My brother recently wrote a post called Finding Time For What’s Important that has really resonated with where I’m at since stepping into the blogging world this past year. It’s amazing how as a creative type you’re constantly curating, whether on your free time on the weekend walking the streets of your city, or climbing a mountain to be refreshed by its beauty. Learning to balance this natural creative process in the midst of busy, everyday life is hard and I would be surprised if I was the only one facing this challenge. I find it interesting that this is a constant struggle even though creativity is an uncommon gift that is truly extraordinary.  This summer I started a journey in search of effective ways to structure the creative process in the midst of my day-to-day life so that I could be more effective in my creative process. Some of the questions I have been asking are things like:  

  • How much time do I guard for spending quality time with my family? 
  • How much time do I set aside for building meaningful relationships? 
  • How much time do I set aside for rest, providing a chance for me to refuel? 
  • How do I stay focused at my 9-5 job that brings in the pay check?
  • How do I structure my creative time outside of those 40 hours when I’m tired and worn out from my work day? 

All of these things are important to our success in being a creative type, and I think if we are honest with ourselves, we would find they are often unbalanced. How do we succeed daily, continually advancing towards our goals. So what do we do? while still making room for the things that matter in life? There’s honestly so much to discuss on just this one topic, but I’d like to take a minute and share some key things I’ve learned. For starters, this first point probably seems quite basic and if we’re real, seemingly a waste of time, but I will tell you from experience that it makes all the difference in the level of your effectiveness. 

Here it is: Allow yourself the luxury of just being...to rest.

In this place, somehow things come into focus. Priorities are realized, what we want out of life comes alive, and then from there we can take the time to implement a structure to get to where we want to be. For me, I can recognize instantly when I’m tired and need to stop and rest because my creative flow hits a wall. Suddenly it all seems like it’s too much, like I’m dreaming to big..... This tends to happen at the prime of exhaustion, mentally or physically and that’s my signal to pull back. If you find yourself noticing this, I would challenge you to do more than just recognize it but to actually take action in however that translates in your world. Take care of yourself, be the best that YOU can be, operating at 100%. Now I certainly understand that this isn’t always possible as there are these things called deadlines, but we are talking here about overall life structure. You owe it to yourself to be operating on all cylinders—loving life, feeling alive. This also translates into your audience and followers—they will pick up on the life and joy expressed behind what we create and isn’t that the point? To bring inspiration to others through what we do?The next thing I would encourage you in is to look at the whole picture. It’s so easy to get caught up in the craziness of everyday, reaching for the stars and pushing ourselves to no end to try to attain the dreams we have harboured inside. Even though this is a great source of healthy motivation that propels us forward daily, it can be a hindrance to the overall picture and what we need to do to get to where we want to be. Stephen R Covey provides some fantastic insight on this in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Below I’ve included a paragraph from Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind where Covey talks about prioritizing every day while keeping the end goal in sight: If you don't make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.

It's about connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself. Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.

Lastly, at the end of the day, it really is all about loving people. Whether that looks like taking a night off to go have spaghetti with your brother and his family, or skipping this week’s post to listen to a girlfriend talk about her broken heart, all these things big or small, are some of what really, honestly matters. Relationships are what bring joy and beauty in our lives. It’s truly powerful and making this a priority in your life will bring insurmountable reward. 

Overall, to be the best we can be in living a creative lifestyle, producing beautiful and inspiring content and products, our life needs to be in order. We need to be intentional about every day, using our time wisely. By structuring our lives to operate out of rest, feeling fully alive, keeping the end goal in mind, and prioritizing relationships, we will find ourselves more effective. This will assuredly benefit our creative process and what we are able to produce and even more importantly, allow for the things that really matter in the long run.

You can find Christiann blogging over at Portland Fresh or on Instagram or Twitter

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Top Image: Christy Moormann

Taking a moment to recognise and give our sponsors a little shout out today. A huge thank you to the following for all their support this month: Make It Blissful, Betti Z Jewellery, Slater Place, Farm & Pretty and Martine Gallery.