Brittany here! As some of you may already know, the last week of June, I gave birth to my fourth child, a beautiful baby girl named Daphne. OMG is she precious!
As a business owner with a new baby at home I’ve found myself having to dig into the time management techniques that I can rely on in order to balance working at home alongside raising my family. As if running the business with three kids wasn’t tricky enough, yikes!
Since COVID-19 has us all spending more time at home, I thought sharing these time management techniques would be a relevant and helpful way to support professional productivity both for other new mothers and for everyone else still stuck working from home.
Here is a list of the time management techniques critical to my success, and the success of the EDS team:
- At Home Work Station
Create a separate space in your home to do work (if you can!). My space isn’t exactly in a separate room, but it is a little desk area by our dining room that feels away from the rest of the home activity (a little bit). Equip it with all the items and supplies you need to get your work done. Keep it clean and refrain from letting non-work related things infiltrate the space. Let your family know that when you’re in your office space you would be grateful if they could disrupt you as little as possible. Remind your family that you’re working hard to remain hard at work. I have to say that this is definitely one of those “easier said than done” pieces to the puzzle. With or without a separate space, kids don’t usually subscribe to the whole, “oh mom is working we best leave her be,” they are in there like a dirty shirt most of the time so it’s key to find times to work where you can occupy them even if it’s in 20-30 minute increments.
You might be surprised at what you accomplish in 20 min intervals when you are really focused!
- Keep Your At Home Work Place A Distraction Free Zone
Distractions are everywhere, however keeping the things that distract you away from your workstation will help you to avoid becoming distracted. Try blocking yourself during certain times of the day from visiting websites that take you off course. Only allow yourself to check personal messages/social media two times during your work day. Use your breaks to indulge on your distractions and reward yourself when you are able to refute becoming distracted during the times you should be working. If your kiddos are included in that list of ‘distractions’ and you can’t keep them occupied at home (the younger ones), consider finding another parent that is working at home to see if they can trade off with you for childcare.
- Implement the Pomodoros Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method created by Francesco Cirillo. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals of productivity and breaks. The method uses this system:
- Choose a task to be accomplished.
- Set a timer (the Pomodoro) to 25 minutes
- Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on a sheet of paper
- Take a short break (5 minutes)
- Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break (15-30 minutes)
If you’re distracted part-way by a family member, workmate, meeting, or emergency, you either have to end the pomodoro there (saving your work and starting a over again after the interruption has been dealt with), or you have to postpone the interruption until the pomodoro is complete.
If you can do the latter, Cirillo suggests the “inform, negotiate and call back” strategy:
- Inform the disruption that you’re working on something right now.
- Negotiate a time when you can get back to them about the distracting issue.
- Schedule that follow-up immediately.
- Call back the person pertaining to the disruption when your Pomodoro is complete and you’re ready to tackle the issue they came to you with.
- Take Advantage of Project Management Tools
There are so many project management tools out there to use, so use them! Figure out which ones work for you through trial and error. When you find one you like, stick with it. One of my favourite time/project management tools is Trello (and and just ask the EDS team, I’ve tried them all! lol). Trello allows you to create to-do lists for yourself and your employees/team members. It also allows you to set deadlines and send notifications so that everyone can stay in the loop on tasks.
Automate with zapier! This one is a little bonus. Have you ever heard of zapier? If you have multiple systems and have asked yourself ‘how do I get these to work together or connect?’ than zapier might be for you. You can search their database for programs and apps and connect them to other services/apps to automate certain tasks. As an example, we have a quickbooks online account for bookkeeping and a google sheet we use for operations with a ‘receivables’ tab that we use for ‘at a glance’ viewings. We connected the two and zapier ties them together. Once we create and send an invoice from quickbooks, zapier automatically drops the invoice details into its own row on our receivables spreadsheet – genius!
- When all else fails, regroup!
I’m going to get real here. This is for the new moms and dads out there or parents of younger children working at home due to COVID19. It’s not as easy as some make it seem and there are times you just have to be honest with yourself, your coworkers, and/or your clients. If you’re unable to work regular hours, you may have to let people know you will be working when your kids are sleeping. Or in our case, we’ve communicated with clients to let them know we are still up and running but our timelines to complete projects will look a little different than they used to. It’s not forever, it’s just for now 🙂
Hopefully these time management techniques help you to remain more productive and balanced at home.
Brittany Hardy ⎜ Owner
Brittany Hardy is the Owner of Empty Desk Solutions, a boutique marketing company located in Port Moody B.C.
Brittany is passionate about helping small businesses achieve their growth goals with marketing solutions that are both effective and affordable.
After many years of working in retail management, Brittany went on to become the Marketing Manager for Dominion Lending, Canada’s largest mortgage company. Brittany then decided it was time to pursue a life-long goal of creating her own business. Inherently, Brittany likes to help people and decided there was no better way to do this than to use her creative talent to lift up others who want to do the same thing.
The mother of four young children, Brittany believes in balancing work and home life and continues to find new ways to support and employ other mothers who want to start their own businesses or stay at home with their children.
Social media marketing continues to evolve, and Brittany and her team are passionate about helping small businesses navigate how they can benefit from these networks.