If you’re a mom and a stepmom, chances are the feeling of overwhelm and not being able to get ahead is familiar to you.
This has been a HUGE struggle for me, especially over the last few years.
I constantly feel like I am being pulled in a million directions.
This year my number one focus has been to create systems in my life so that I can start working SMARTER not HARDER.
For the record, this is not an easy task. I actually planned on writing this blog post months ago, but I wasn’t seeing the results I had hoped at the beginning of the year. So, I held off until I had some concrete strategies in place.
Even still, being more productive is a constant challenge. While some days I feel like I am absolutely killing it, on others I feel like a hot mess express. It’s a constant work in progress.
That being said, I have come a LONG way. So today I’m going to share some of the tips and strategies I’ve implemented into my life to ramp up my productivity – all with the goal of having more space in my life to do things that I truly love.
1. I’VE SET SCREEN TIME BOUNDARIES
This year I have drastically decreased the amount of time I spend on social media. Unless I have a deadline to meet, I try not to check my social media and email until 10am in the morning. Then around 7:30pm, my phone goes on “do not disturb” in the bathroom.
My nights and mornings are focused on my family and doing what I need to do to maintain our home.
2. I TAKE DAYS OFF SOCIAL MEDIA.
I simply delete Instagram and Facebook off my phone for a few days at a time. In January I even did it for a week.
I often do this when I feel overwhelmed and like the jobs I need to do are becoming unmanageable.
Again, it’s amazing how much more focused and productive I feel when I don’t have the urge to just check in.
How many times a day do you pick up your phone to check social media without even thinking about it? It’s become this natural habit that is really hard to kick.
What else could you be doing with that time?
When the app is completely off your phone, it’s just not an option.
3. I PUT MY PHONE IN THE CUPBOARD.
This is the last device tip, I promise.
When I am working, I simply put my phone in a cupboard so I don’t have the urge to check. This way I don’t get distracted by checking a text message, and ultimately get lost in the scroll.
4. RESULTS LIST VS A TO DO LIST
This one came from Rachel Hollis, author of Girl Wash your Face.
I’m not sure whether she said this in a podcast or in one of her posts, but it’s been a game changer.
Instead of doing a “to do” list, Rachel recommends a RESULTS list.
In the morning I grab my sharpie marker and a white piece of paper and write a list of tasks under the heading, RESULTS LIST.
There is something about writing a list of the results you want to achieve that changes your mindset and increases productivity.
When I see a RESULTS list on my desk each day, in my mind I see a list that says, “this is the shit that you need to get done.”
It’s crazy how a simple word can literally change the game.
5. I SET A TIMER + COMMIT TO ONE TASK
I give myself a set amount of time to tackle certain tasks. This prevents me from getting caught in the weeds and taking way more time than necessary to do a simple task.
For example, when I check my email, I set a timer for 20 minutes. I do what I can in that period of time and then I move to the next task. When the timer is going, I focus solely on this task, instead of switching between different open windows on my computer.
I do the same with laundry, blog posts, email newsletters and everything else I need to tackle in the day!
Setting a timer keeps you accountable and on track.
It almost becomes a game – how much can I get done in this short period of time?!
6. I PLAN MY DAY ACCORDING TO MY MOST PRODUCTIVE TIMES.
This is something that I’ve just started paying attention to – after listening the Tony Robbin’s Podcast Episode, “Timing Is Everything with Daniel Pink,” on the best time for meetings, taking breaks and creative breakthroughs. I’ve started to pay more attention to when I am most productive during the day.
You can listen to this episode HERE!
For me, it’s first thing in the morning. After listening to this podcast, I revamped the morning routine (that I shared in THIS podcast episode). Now I spend less time doing personal development and journaling - I do a quick gratitude list, write out my goals and what I want to achieve for the day and dive right into writing blog posts or editing content for The Exclusive Stepmom Community.
The morning is a sweet spot for me, so I’ve revamped my entire schedule to optimize my productivity during that time.
NOTE: My morning routine tends to change with the seasons and what’s going on in our life. Don’t be afraid to stop and reflect on your current routine and see if it feels aligned with the current season you’re in.
7. I BATCH WORK.
I try and designate days for certain activities, so I am not switching between different tasks. For example, I’ll dedicate entire days to recording podcast episodes or writing blog posts. Other days I dedicate to getting organized around the house. Switching between tasks takes time – when you batch work, you stay in the same headspace and are able to plough through so much work.
8. ORGANIZE MY CALENDAR.
I used to try and balance motherhood/step-motherhood and work. When the kids would come home I would try to get a few more hours in, while I made dinner and chauffeured them to different activities. It was a ridiculously impossible juggle that left me snappy with the kids.
Now (for the most part) I work until 3pm. When the kids come home, I’m done.
At first, I worried about what losing those hours would do to my workload, but it’s been fine.
Not only does having his shut-down time make me more productive during my limited working hours, but it’s allowed me to be more present with the family. The effect has trickled into both my personal life and work.
9. TASK AUDIT
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or want to be more productive, I highly recommend a task audit.
Write down all the tasks on your plate (everything).
Then, look at your tasks and ask yourself...
What don’t I have to be doing?
What can only I do?
What do I dread?
What can I say no to?
What can I delegate?
Then organize all your tasks accordingly.
Doing this activity really helps put everything that you’re spending time on into perspective.
10. SAY NO!
If you want to say no, say no.
I believe it was also Rachel Hollis who said that every time you say YES to something you don’t want to do, you’re saying NO to something that you really want to do.
You only have so much time in your day.
If it’s not a HELL yes, it should be a HELL no.
Go back to that task audit and review the tasks that you dread doing or that you could delegate to someone else.
Now do it.
Delegate to your kids, to your husband, to your assistant, ask your mom, hire a cleaning lady, hire a meal service – whatever feels right.
This whole “we can do it all” mentality is bullshit. It truly is.
You can’t do it all. Something has to give.
You know those women who look like they are doing it all flawlessly? I’ll tell you a little secret – they aren’t. They’ve delegated.
This has been a struggle for me – personally and in my business. It’s hard. I am a control freak. I like things done a certain way and am not always good at communicating what that way is. But like everything, it’s a work in progress.
This year I’ve delegated more tasks to our cleaning lady (you can ask them to do your sheets too you know?), and most recently, hired more help with running this platform.
It’s been a great way to free up my time so I can spend more time connecting with and supporting stepmoms and spending time with my family.
NOTE: If you are saying, “Jamie I can’t afford a cleaning lady or to hire help,” – I get it. Everyone is in a different position. But I still encourage you to think about where you’re spending your money. Do you need that new shirt from the mall, or could you spend that money on someone who can lighten your mental load?
It's about priorities. Some prioritize the help, others don’t. It’s an individual preference.