Ummm, what's that?
If you're anything like me, free time is like this non-existent magical unicorn covered in pink sparkly glitter and never to be found no matter how hard you look.
Can I get an AMEN?!
But, really, why is it that we, as mompreneurs have such a hard time finding free time?
It's the never-ending to-do list.
It's the constant whining we hear when our children are hungry, or thirsty, or tired.
It's the decision to go to bed early instead of finishing the editing you promised yourself would be done tonight.
It's the choice to hustle hard and live less.
It's the revaluation of wondering where all of your hours went during the day when you were focused on non-productive things.
This is where being intentional comes into play.
Here's the thing ... there's this stigma that if you want to be successful in your business, you have to hustle.
And, hustle hard.
But, is it really the hustle that makes your dream happen?
Don't get me wrong. Building your business takes time. It takes dedication and it most definitely takes laser-beam focus on bringing a vision to realty.
But, that doesn't mean you have to work hard every minute of every day of every week of every month of every year .... you get my point here, I'm sure.
It takes intentional organization of your day. And, having a plan of action before your week even gets started. Setting goals and having a very specific task list of all the things you need to do in order to get there.
Below, I'm sharing my favorite tips on how to lose the feeling of non-stop work hustle and create a schedule that leaves you feeling accomplished and having leftover time at the end of each day.
1. Have a plan.
For me, every day has an action plan. A set list of things that need to get done for the day. I split my cleaning schedule, my laundry schedule, my blog post schedule, my editing schedule, etc and have a set day during the week to accomplish the task.
If I take the large tasks I have for the week - such as cleaning my entire house or editing an entire newborn session - I will automatically feel overwhelmed and stall on accomplishing all the things I know I need to get done. It's like I sit down at the computer to work and find myself making my next Amazon shopping list. An hour later, I'm more tired than when I sat down, haven't accomplished anything other than spending money on more things I don't have to have RIGHT NOW, and am now encouraged to throw in the towel for the day and try again tomorrow.
So, what I found, is if I break apart the large tasks into a few different bite-sized pieces, I'm less likely to procrastinate or stall when I sit down at my computer to get the work done.
You see, I work full-time. I teach middle schoolers every day, all day and complete my photography sessions on the weekend. Family day is Sunday - and there are absolutely NO excuses - my husband and I both take the day off and don't schedule anything work related. It's our day to recharge with our family and allows for more flexibility when our week is incredibly busy.
So, when I schedule time to get my editing done during the week after the kids go to bed, you better believe I'm going to get my editing done at that time. Otherwise, my entire schedule gets thrown and I'll find myself feeling behind faster than you can sing Mickey's "Hot Dog" song.
Someday, I'd love to have a photography studio. One that not only photographs family moments, but also offers trainings for mompreneurs from social media to photography skills to business mindsets. And, when that happens, I'll have a whole new set of hurdles to overcome. But, until then, I'm a full-time working mom of three navigating the overlap of a passion and profits. I'm a mom with a creative passion to make beautiful pieces of art and with my ultimate goal in the forefront, I don't have a choice but to be intentional with my time. It's a requirement if I want to see my dream come to reality.
Every Sunday (and sometimes on Monday morning), I will sit down with my template in Asana. If you've never used Asana ... let me introduce you! It's a wonderful task management program that not only reminds me of all the things I need to do each week (that I created), but it also allows me to check things off my list when I accomplish them (I can hear the angels singing now!). In it, I created standard to-do lists of everything that has to get done each week - from my home cleaning schedule to my social media postings. Every Sunday, I go in and copy my weekly to-do list template and update my plan of action for the week. I know what needs to get done every day of the week because it doesn't change. And, I don't forget anything because the list doesn't change each week.
This helps free up my Saturday's at the end of the week quite bit. Before this system, I was cleaning my whole house, doing all the laundry, and trying to create a successful business plan for myself and our family gym, all on a Saturday afternoon during nap time. Lemme just tell you ... I never accomplished anything because there was so much to do, I'd procrastinate and take a nap instead, leaving me right where I left off at the start of the following week.
Because I don't have much time during the week, using this schedule is a way for me to get a few things done each day so that I'm not losing an entire day with my kids to mundane house-tasks.
Here's an example of my weekly maintenance tasks:
Write blog post for Elizabeth Ruth Education
Send out Elizabeth Ruth Education newsletter
Write blog post for Dynamic Athletic Performance (Mike's gym)
Send out Dynamic Athletic Performance newsletter
Edit most recent session
Deep clean appliances in the kitchen
Write blog post for Elizabeth Ruth website
Dust all bedrooms and living room
Collect trash for pick-up tomorrow
Project focus (whatever project I'm working on for the month - courses, webinars, etc)
Edit most recent session
Clean downstairs glass sliders
Wipe window sills and dust blinds
Project focus Day 2
Meal Plan/Grocery list for next week
Edit most recent session
Day care laundry
Grocery store run
Update girls' cleaning schedule for next week
Vacuum & mop
Create task list for next week
Girl's pay day from last week
Wash and change sheets
Ok, so, here's the thing ... this list can change each week. There may be more things needing to be done or less on my list if it's an extra busy week. But, really, the idea here is that nothing on my list should take more than 30 minutes to complete. So, we're talking 2-3 hours MAX of time to stay on top of my house and my dream job ... while maintaining a 40+ hour-a-week job teaching middle schoolers.
Now, after reading all of that, you may be wondering how I complete these items?
Not getting home until after 5:30 every evening and not having my husband home until after 8:00 most nights, leaves me with dinners, baths, and weekly chores.
There's a window of time every day ... when I get home and am still running on adrenaline. Even after a crazy busy day, I commit to myself that I can't sit down to relax until the list is completed. And, because I'm so incredibly ready to sit on the couch with a snack and drink in hand, I'm going to work extra hard to get my task list done so I can enjoy that time of relaxation with my kids before bedtime. There's really no time to waste and my rear-end gets moving pretty quick!
And, honestly? By the time I'm done with dinner and bath time, I've already completed my task list for the day and am ready for some extra cuddle time with my girls before bed. It's also a great transition to make sure I get to bed early myself and am not staying up until the wee hours of the morning working on all the things I didn't get done the day before.
2. Take time off.
This seems counter-productive, but really, it's one of the most essential pieces to my businesses. I take one weekend off, every single month. The last weekend of each month, I block off two-whole days to do whatever I want. There's no editing, there are no photography sessions and I plan two full days of fun with my kids.
Now, of course, one weekend a month is not nearly enough time to dedicate to quality time with my kids. But, for this season I'm in, as my husband and I both have big dreams for our businesses, our children and a life we are building for them, I know that I have to work as hard as I do, which in turn, will provide more for them in the long-run. I also know that they're growing and changing faster than I can blink and it's precious time I don't want to miss. It goes back to the theory of ... give a little, get a little and give a lot, get a lot.
But, with that, you have to actually honor the time off. You book it into your calendar and you don't change it. No matter how much your client begs and pleads you to change your boundaries to fit their schedule. You just can't do it. You take the time off for a reason. To be intentional and to know that you, as the mom, will absolutely not miss that time with your family.
And, really, it's a chance for you, yourself to regroup and recharge your batteries.
Creativity doesn't come naturally.
Sometimes, I have to completely remove myself from a situation in order to get hit with the best creative idea EVER. If I'm constantly clogging my brain with "all the things," I'll never have time to let my creativity shine and allow it to grow in the way God created it to. I have to take the time to tune in and find out what my heart is calling me to do.
3. Use the time you have.
When building a business as a mom, it's easy to feel that you just can't get anything done. There's always something else to accomplish whether it's making dinner or writing another blog post. But, in reality, if you want the dream to happen, you have to make the time, no matter how little of it you have. You have to be intentional and commit to your vision. God gave you that vision for a reason. It's up to you to fulfill it by putting in the hard work and dedication to make it happen.
Have 10 minutes to yourself in the bathroom? Schedule an IG post. Yes, I'm serious here.
Have 20 minutes while your kids are entertained by Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? Outline your next blog post.
Have an hour or two? Catch up on your editing.
There's plenty of time to do what needs to be done to build a business while being a mom.
The issue is really how motivated and dedicated you are to your vision.
Staying committed and never letting yourself down is one of the hardest hurdles to overcome, especially as a mompreneur. This is where your heart comes in though. This is where you have to make the decision to press on when the going gets tough or quit because it gets too hard to balance everything. This is where you have to make the decision to make-up what was lost yesterday because your kid was sick or are you going to tell yourself that your business can wait one more week before you can give it your full and complete attention.
Building a business is no joke. It's hard and brutal and makes you question yourself more times than not. But, it's also beautiful and an adventure that's just waiting for you to explore.
Finding time is all about you making the time.
Commit to yourself.
Commit to your dream.
Commit to building a future for your kids.
Commit to being an expert.
And, the time will come.