PP 019: 9 Productivity Hacks for Parentpreneurs
As a mom of five, including three “Littles” ages three and younger, I know a thing or two about the parentpreneur lifestyle. In this episode I share some of the productivity hacks I use to ensure I make the most of each minute I have.
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Welcome to another episode of Positive Productivity! This is your host, Kim Sutton, and today I’m going to discuss my 9 productivity hacks for parentpreneuers.
If you’re not familiar with what a parentpreneur is, or if you’ve never heard the expression, a parentpreneur is a mom or a dad who also owns and operates their own business. So as a mom of five, I have plenty of experience as a mompreneur. I started my first business in 2005, and that business lasted until about 2010. My current business, which I generalize by calling “The Sutton Companies”, but the biggest of which is Sutton Strategic Solutions, were founded in 2012.
As a digital marketing and launch strategist for coaches, speakers, and authors, I have plenty of days where I need to be super focused, regardless of whether or not any of my children are at home with me. I do have a home office, generally speaking; however, if you heard in Episode Number One (so PP 001), my husband, Dave, and I thought we were finished having kids after our daughter Nevaeh was born in 2013. Well, God had other plans, we like to say he has a sense of humor, and just sixteen months after Nevaeh was born, our twins Zelda and Davey III were born.
With all of that said, the home office that I was supposed to have quickly turned into half playroom, half office. During the day, I have the room to myself, but when the kids are at home with me, I do have to share, and for the most part, productivity slows or stops until they go to bed.
If you haven’t already listened to it and you’d like to know more about my story, please visit TheKimSutton.com/PP001 and you can learn about my background.
Now let’s jump into those productivity hacks for parentpreneurs.
Number One: “Don’t Overcommit.”
In my chat with Kim Boudreau Smith, or Kim B. Smith, in Episode PP 012, she acknowledged the fact that she loves the word “no”. I have to admit, it’s been harder for me to embrace the word, because I love to help others. And I’m not saying that Kim Smith doesn’t; however, it’s taken me some time to realize that sometimes the word “no” means I get more done in the long run than if I said “yes” to everybody all the time.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Under-promise and over-deliver.” Often what happens if you don’t embrace the word “no” is, instead of under-promising and over-delivering, you’re actually over-promising and under-delivering. Take a realistic look at your schedule, and while this is a Positive Productivity podcast, and I always encourage positive thinking, we do have to be realistic.
There will be sick days, and we have to be prepared for just about anything. Allow yourself a couple extra hours per week, if not an extra hour per day, for the unexpected to happen.
Productivity Hack Number Two is “Behold the Babysitter”.
When the Sutton Companies was founded in 2012, I didn’t even know that our daughter Nevaeh was on her way. It wasn’t until after I gave my notice at my full-time job that we got the happy news. When she was born, we kept her at home because Dave was pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in an online program, and he was there to assist me. As time went by, however, we realized that he needed his time to focus just like I did, and it wasn’t fair for either of us to have constantly-interrupted blocks of time.
Now, there are many ways that we can go about getting a babysitter or support for our children while we’re trying to work, but a few that I recommend are: going to Care.com – I’m not sure if this is an international website, but I know that here in the States you can go to Care.com and put a listing up for a nanny or a part-time babysitter.
You can participate in “kid swaps” with other parentpreneurs in your area, and what that means is that for one day, or one half of a day, you have your kids and the kids of the person you’re swapping with, and then the next day or the next half a day, they take your kids. Parent swaps give you time to really hunker down and focus while your kids are out of the house, and you have that expectation and that knowing that you have four hours to focus – or less or more depending on how you work it – before you need to pick your kids back up again.
Two other options are hiring a nanny, or taking your kids to daycare. Care.com can help you find a nanny or a daycare center, but if you are a part of a local parenting group, I’m sure you can get really great referrals, and that would be my first suggestion. I am one who loves to get reviews and referrals from people I know because it is their recommendation that I trust a lot more.
I do want to give a shout-out, however, to all the parentpreneurs who are doing it with their kids at home. At the time of this recording, I have three 3-and-younger – Nevaeh is three and the twins are almost two – and I know on the days I feel like I am going to go crazy. So having outside-of-the-home daycare or having a nanny in the home was a must for me. There is no way I can get my tasks done when I have the three of them constantly going for my attention.
You may wonder how you will be able to pay for daycare, and there are two points that I want you to consider. The first is, when you are more productive, you have the potential to bring in more income. It’s important to look at what that increased income is, and see if it will offset the daycare costs. The second is, depending on what state you live in, and also what your household income is, you may be able to qualify for childcare assistance. I recommend contacting your local Job and Family Services, or whatever your public works organization is in your area, and finding out if they have a program like this that you can participate in. This is an income-based program, and they do do checks on a semi-annual or annual basis to see what your income is.
My third productivity hack for parentpreneurs – by the way, that is a tongue-twister, and I get it wrong just about every time!
Anyways, my third Productivity Hack is to…
“Embrace the Wee Hours of the Morning or the Evening After the Children Have Gone to Bed”.
Please know that I am not saying, “Work all night and then continue working all day.” Sleep is very important, and if you haven’t already listened to it, please, please, please listen to Episode 5. You can find that at TheKimSutton.com/PP005, which is my episode called “Sleep and Why I Would Rather You Do It Than Listen to Me”. Sleep is very important, so again, I am not telling you to give up sleep.
However, getting up an hour or two before you believe – I’m not going to say “know” – but before you believe your children will be up, or staying up an hour or two after your children go to bed, may be the some of the most productive hours that you have in your day.
It’s important when you set this schedule, though, to know when you are most productive during the course of a day. If you are most productive in the wee hours of the morning, then get up a little bit earlier. If your genius shows itself in the evening or after a certain hour at night, then schedule the productivity time then. If you give the morning hours a shot and you don’t know quite how to do it, I strongly recommend reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Eldrod. Hal outlines a plan that has been very successful for tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of people around the world, and it involves only getting up a little bit before when you would normally get up. I’m not going to give away the plan, but I strongly recommend that you check it out, and a link will be in the show notes.
By the way, you can find the show notes for this episode at TheKimSutton.com/PP019.
Productivity Hack Number Four is “Cribs are for More Than Naptime”.
If your children are outside of the crib age, if they’re already in a toddler or a full-size bed, I don’t want you to think that this tip will apply to you. There have been days when my kids have been sick and I’ve had important calls scheduled that I really could not have a child sitting on my lap or running around on the office floor. In my case, I still have two in cribs, and quite honestly, their bedroom is one of the safest rooms in the house.
If you still have toddlers or any in cribs, or any that can honestly be locked in their bedroom, putting them in their room or in their crib for a half hour so you can handle a phone call is not going to kill them. Of course, if you can schedule these phone calls around naptime, that would be my recommended way of doing it, but when unexpected sick days occur, I understand that can’t always be the case.
Productivity Hack Number Five for Parentpreneurs is “Chores”.
I do have two older sons from a previous marriage, and we started teaching them how to do chores even before we became parentpreneurs. Perhaps you have children who love to buy stuff. Maybe they collect baseball cars, or they love their Barbies, or they play video games, and they’re constantly wanting, wanting, wanting. My boys love video games, and they’re constantly wanting to buy add-on packs and whatever else goes along with them.
But rather than dish them out whatever they want with no expectation of anything in return, they are expected to do chores around the house for which they earn money. These chores include doing the dishes, sorting and cycling laundry, cleaning the litter box, and also helping out with the littles once in a while.
The next Productivity Hack for Parentpreneurs is “Meal-Planning”.
Meal-planning is still a struggle in my house. Honestly, we often go day by day trying to figure out what we’re eating, and it was only when trying to figure out what all my productivity hacks were that I realized just how much time we are wasting on a daily basis by visiting the grocery store each and every day.
Think about it: You have to spend time circling the parking lot, then you have to walk into the store, walk around the store, wait in the checkout line, circle back around the parking lot, and leave. That is probably a wasted 20 minutes every day, as opposed to, if you had meal-planned and gone grocery shopping at the beginning of the week, and maybe even had prepared all of your meals in advance.
If somebody wants to teach me how to do that, or if you want to be a guest on this show giving advice on how to properly meal plan, please get in touch through the website!
One of my favorite resources for finding meal ideas is actually Food.com. I visit it on my computer, I add recipes to my recipe boxes, and I also have the app on my phone, so if I add a recipe to my grocery list, it will come up on my app when I get to the store and I can check those items off one by one.
Productivity Hack Number Seven is “Batching and Blocking”.
This is something that I learned through Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year Program, and it has been a lifesaver. Prior to entering the 90 Day Year, I was proud of the fact that I was a multitasker. I thought I was getting more done. In all actuality, however, you are decreasing your efficiency every single time you add an additional task to your bucket. Todd even provides an example where, the moment you go from one activity to another at a single time to two, you’re decreasing your efficiency from 100% down to 80%. So you are losing 20% of your efficiency just by adding that next item.
What I do now is block out in my Google Calendar times for certain activities. I also block out times during the day for client calls, and I am starting to let clients know when official office hours are. I cannot be constantly distracted by calls with prospective clients or inquiries from clients who want additional tasks completed. Every time I see that Skype notification come in, I get distracted. What I’m trying to do is turn Skype to “Unavailable”, or just close out completely so that I can get work done.
I strongly recommend that you start batching and blocking your calendars so that you can do the same.
You may be surprised by Productivity Hack Number Eight, which is actually “Naps: They’re Not Just for the Littles”.
In my calendar, every single day at 1pm, I have a half-hour blocked for what I call “break”. In all honesty, “break” actually means “nap”, and most days, it doesn’t even happen. However, I will go into bed, set my alarm for 25 minutes, and have a quick catnap. I feel so refreshed after I get up – it’s incredible.
I know this may be a little bit difficult to do if you have littles running around the house with you. However, I do recommend if they go down for nap, that rather than trying to push through – especially if you’re exhausted – that you also fit in a 25- to 30-minute nap. There are many sleep studies out there that I would recommend taking a look at – and I will source some and put them in the show notes – but these studies do give the recommended time length for naps to make sure you don’t wake up groggy or more exhausted than when you went down in the first place.
The last Productivity Hack that I have for you, Number Nine, is “Making the Most of Sick Days”.
I’m sure some of you are wondering, “How the heck can you be productive when your kid are home sick?”
Well, let me tell you: Some of my best ideas have come when I have been sitting on the couch, holding a sleeping child, and watching endless quantities of Disney. Armed with my notebook and my smartphone, I have been able to write chapters of my book, compose blog articles, outline online programs, research client work, and a lot, lot more.
Nothing can stop you from being productive except for you. So on those sick days, just keep moving forward, and use the tools you have at your disposal, whether it be a notebook, or Evernote, or WorkFlowy – just do what you can with the tools that you have.
If you’re a parentpreneur and have any other productivity hacks, I would love to hear about them! Please visit TheKimSutton.com/PP019 and leave your comments below the show notes and the transcription. I would love to share your ideas on a future episode, and I’m sure fellow listeners would like to hear what is working for you! You can also visit TheKimSutton.com/Podcast and submit your comments, or even submit a phone call to the show, which I will air on a future episode.
Thank you for listening to this episode, and until the next one, I wish you a positive and productive day!