First, it's important to be honest: it's rarely smooth or easy being a mom to two young kids as well as managing a startup. If I ever manage to make it look easy to do both, it's because
- I love my work and my kids so much.
- I've managed to build a good façade.
- I'm big proponent of shortcuts that make everything easier.
Though I'm not an authority on productivity, I have had a lot of practice at being productive under some pretty stressful and intense circumstances. So here are a few of the things I do that allow me to maximize my time so my startup can be successful while still being the mom I want to be:
1. Write everything down, especially your to-do list
It's possible that I never fully recovered from "pregnancy brain," so I write everything down. Evernote is my savior. Every time I create a new note, I drop in lots of keywords so that later, when I'm searching for the note, I can find it.
2. Make a schedule--and stick to it
Four words: color-coded Google Calendar.
I schedule everything. Time with my kids. Time for yoga. Time to work. I even build out my calendar with specific work tasks--so I know what my hours are meant to accomplish.
3. Do NOT clean your house
Check out apps like Handy or TaskRabbit for help. I also love TaskRabbit for small tasks that I don't have time for--taking things to be repaired, assembling furniture, etc.
Similarly, I do all my shopping online. It's fast and easy--and you can do it at midnight if you need to.It's just not a high-value use of your precious time. Find someone else to clean.
Especially if you're working long hours at a desk, it's really essential to keep your body moving. I'm increasingly convinced that exercise is great for your mind, as well--to say nothing of the long-term health benefits.
When work and family get busy, it's easy for exercise to be one of the first things to go. But don't let it. You have to take care of yourself.
I wasn't always, but I have become a big believer in the importance of sleep. Without getting good sleep, I can't be a good mother or good at my job. It's primary.
So I try to make sure I get to bed at a reasonable time every night. And I love weekend naps. If I can squeeze one in while my daughter is also napping, it feels like Christmas.
6. Get a haircut on company time
In my corporate days, we used to joke about how you could tell when someone got a haircut on company time. But now I think it's one of the smartest thing you can do--especially if you're a woman with high-maintenance (read: graying) hair like me.
I've made my salon time some of my most productive by bringing my laptop and working away. I'm pretty sure that my hairdresser thinks I'm the most antisocial person on the planet, but we've come to an understanding.
7. Sorry--but work for two hours on Sunday
I wish it weren't the case, but I feel like I have to set aside time on the weekend to catch up, organize, and plan the week.
I take care of small tasks that I've pushed aside during the week, or projects that require less distraction.
I try to make the work as unobtrusive to our family as possible--I do it while the kids are watching a movie or at a birthday party or with my mom. But I feel like these two hours are somehow worth 10 in terms of efficiency during the week.
8. Stay connected to your friends
When you're constantly busy--and scheduled--it can be difficult to squeeze in time to see or talk to friends.
But texting and social make it so easy. It takes two seconds to shoot a text over to your friends. It will brighten their day, and their response will brighten yours.
And make a plan to see them--even if it's in three weeks! They'll make fun of you a little, but they won't mind.
9. Have fun
Make what you're doing fun. If it's not, figure out something else fun to do. Life is too short. And it's within your control--you can make the fun.
10. Forgive yourself
I love that quote that says "perfection is the enemy of good." Your expectations for yourself are the highest, so give yourself a break.
Don't forget what really matters--which is probably your family above all. And make sure you're keeping your eye on the ball to take care of that. Everything else is just gravy.
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