Sometimes I wonder if the words mom, business owner and productivity should even be allowed in the same sentence! I have the best intentions of getting so much done and crossing all of the items off my to-do list, but at the end of each day I’m scratching my head wondering where the day went, why I have avocado in my hair and why it looks like the dryer exploded on my dinning room table?! Never mind the fact that I am still trying to catch up on emails from weeks ago! Why does it feel so damn hard these days!?
As a working mother, I have been struggling to find the “balance” between it all and I’ve been digging deep personally to try and find the answer. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, especially after coming back from our first family vacation this past May. Spending an entire week, with only my husband and baby girl really put things into perspective and made me start questioning my abilities. How can I be the best mother and the best business owner at the same time? For me, it seems like it’s either one or the other. The days I feel like a rock star mama are the days I feel like I totally failed with my business. The days I was able to make some great headway at work, I missed the entire day with my little love.
I would love to tell you that I have figured it all out and the answer awaits you wrapped in a bow in the next paragraph. Unfortunately, that is not the case. What I can offer is something that has helped me to be more productive on the days I do set aside to work and I want to share it with you.
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This productivity planner is a combination of a few different planners I have come across over time. I took the best parts of each and with the help of my fabulous team member and graphic artist, Hollie, we came up with this. However, this is no regular To-do list! There is a specific way to use the planner to get the very most out of each and every day and leave you feeling like you can take over the world!
The KEY to using this planner effectively is to avoid checking your emails until after you have filled it out. I know it is a bad habit of mine to reach for my phone as soon as I wake up, scroll through my inbox and scan for any urgent messages. DO NOT DO THIS! I promise you that the world will not stop if you wait an hour before your check your inbox.
Step 1: When you wake up, get outside, get some fresh air and physical activity or meditate. Giving your self some time to focus and clear your head before you start your day is key to effectively filling out your planner and setting intentions for a productive day ahead.
Step 2: Drink a glass of water….or two! Starting your day hydrated is so important! A large percentage of people today are chronically dehydrated and it reaks havoc on all of our body systems and our moods. Plus, you have no idea how satisfying it is to color in those little water glasses at the bottom of the planner as you sip away all day.
Step 3: Think of your ‘word of the day’ and write it in the top right corner. This box can be used to set an intention for how your day will go. Often I write the word ‘focus’ or ‘presence’. It’s just there as a gentle reminder each time you look at your planner throughout the day, to keep you centered and on track.
And NO, you still can’t check your email! No peeking….I’ll let you know when.
Step 4: Priorities. This box is for you to unload everything you have in your head. You know that nagging little voice that was keeping you up all last night reminding you of all the things that you must do today! Sometimes I will even go as far as turning the sheet over and letting the list flow onto the back page with other priorities that I need to do, but not necessarily TODAY. It just feels good to write them down to get them off my mind so I don’t forget them later and I am able to fully clear my head.
Step 5: Appointments. Staying on schedule is important, so write down your commitments for the day and set notifications in your phone if you are like me and live off the “alarm” reminders.
Step 6: List your 3 biggest projects and under each, things you need to do to move those projects forward. Be clear and concise, bullet points will do. These can be anything from registering your kids for summer camp or improving your website SEO.
Step 7: People. There are two columns for people. On the left, you will list people you need to reach out to today to get your 3 major projects moving forward. The column on the right is for names of people you are waiting on to get your 3 major projects moving forward.
Now drink another glass of water and get ready for it……
You can NOW check your email, but the key to staying productive is HOW you check your email!
Scan your inbox for names that you have listed on your Right “People” box ( people you are waiting on). Only open and respond to those people first. If you are still waiting to hear from some of those names, send them follow up emails.
Then scan your inbox for any names that are in the Left “People” box. If you don’t see anyone, then go down the list of names you created and start reaching out to them to get your projects moving forward.
After you have addressed or reached out to everyone on your lists, only then can you start moving through the rest of the emails in your inbox. The idea is that you need to put yourself first to stay as productive as possible and keep your projects moving forward. If you start each day by just opening your inbox and going through each email as they come in, you could spend the entire day moving other people’s projects forward and making no progress on your own…leaving you feeling unproductive and frustrated that another day has passed and you still haven’t done what you wanted to do.
I hope you find this productivity planner to be as useful as I have. For even more info on how to use it, follow me on Periscope! I will be doing a LIVE broadcast later today and answering any of your questions. I’d love to see you there! Periscope: @vonbonapparel
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