3 Simple Strategies to Help Maximize Your Time (Despite Interruptions)

When everyone around you is after your time and attention – how do you make progress toward those big goals? On today’s episode of Mama Business, we are going to chat about 3 strategies you can use to maximize your already limited time throughout the day so that you can keep that forward momentum, even with constant interruptions.

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Transcript: 3 Ways to Maximize Your Time

And now – let’s chat about how you can maximize your already limited time throughout the day and keep that forward momentum as you move closer to achieving your goals. Now it’s important to note that the following three strategies I’m going to share with you are focused more on the mama who is working at home, but these can be modified to account for times when you are working outside the home, but still need some help maximizing your time.

So, without further ado, let’s jump in with strategy #1.

Strategy #1: Design Your Workspace for Success

First things first, we need to talk about your workspace. It might not seem like it, but the way that you set it up will very closely relate to how much success you have when it comes to maximizing your time. This is important for both mamas of young ones and mamas of older children, so hang in there with me while I detail both situations.

As a mama of young children, it’s critical that your workspace is set up with the idea that your little one will be part of the working experience. Because, no matter how hard we try, we will often have to work on something when they are awake and needing our attention.

In my case, I’ve chosen to set up two entirely different workspaces.

Workspace 1

One is at a table in our main family room area. In the morning, before my husband leaves for work, I get my laptop and a notebook and pen set up so that I’m ready to sit down at a moment’s notice and check a few things off of my to-do list. My little one has toys nearby and there’s a changing table in the room so that a wet diaper doesn’t deter all of our progress. This means that when my little one is content and happy playing, I can get 5-10 minutes of work time in. And we all know that those minutes throughout the day add up quickly!

I also know that if I have to have a daytime meeting or conference call, that little one is in a familiar space. I’ll prepare a bottle or some food beforehand and when the fun of toys wears off, he has the fun of food for a few more minutes of distraction. It’s not always a perfect situation, but it works well for us the majority of the time.

And maybe for you, this is a workspace that remains set up at all times. I don’t have that luxury in our main living space, mostly due to the fact that we are actively using it for eating meals and entertaining, but that might be different for you.

Workspace 2

The second workspace that I have is an office area (actually in my basement). As this workspace houses my desktop computer, recording equipment and more, I normally use it for projects that take a little more focus. But…I do still have toys and a seating area for my little one. They are things that we don’t use too often, so that they seem “new” and engage him for longer periods of time when I’m in a time crunch on a project or just need to focus for a few minutes. .

My basement office also has a door I can close. While it’s not a foolproof method of keeping interruptions at bay, when my entire family is at home, often I can sneak away for 10-20 minutes at a time and get some work done. When I shut the door, the older parts of my family understand that I’m not to be interrupted, giving me time to focus on work that needs my undivided attention.

So strategy number one is to have a workspace set up in such a way that your child can remain entertained and you can break away from your work here and there to help, and return to it quickly. That leads us to strategy number two, which is to create a task hub.

Strategy #2: Create a Task Hub

So this next strategy is one that I live by. Honest to goodness, if I didn’t have this in place, I would get nothing done with all of the interruptions around me.

But before I jump into the actual task hub, I want to talk a little bit about interruptions. Because, if you are anything like me, you have a million of them.

We all know what those look like, right? You finally have your laptop set up, turned on, a cup of coffee next to you and you are just about ready to get started on the most important task on your to-do list when your child needs you. Or, your spouse drops in for a moment to let you know about a charge that went through on the credit card. Three minutes later, with the confirmation that you did, indeed, spend the $20 on new beauty supplies, you are left once again to a quiet room, but no clue as to what you’d plan on achieving when you started. So, you take a lap around your social media feed, warm up your cup of coffee again, and finally find yourself back in the zone you started in, well aware that 3 minute interruption wreaked havoc on your plan to accomplish great things today.

Sound familiar? If this is how it plays out for you, know that you aren’t alone.

According to a University of California Study, it takes (on average) 23 minutes to regroup and get back on track after an interruption.

23 minutes.

Whew. I don’t know about you, but sometimes 23 minutes is ALL of the time that I have to work in a given afternoon. With a husband, two teenagers and a toddler, I’ve learned that there’s NO way I have time for a 23 minute regroup every time an interruption happens. It’s just plain unacceptable.

And the truth is that we will never be able to totally eliminate the interruptions without procuring childcare and a quiet office in a separate building. But my guess is that you don’t want that – and thus, we have to find some ways to negate the effect of the interruption and maximize the time we have. So…how do we do that?

Here’s where my strategy #2 – the  task hub – comes into play. What is a task hub, you ask? It’s the place where you house everything and anything that you need to accomplish with regard to business and often even home and family.

Now, I’ve had years to perfect my system, but I’m going to give you a little insight into how I use a task hub and how it helps me maximize my time.

And… if you prefer the visual – I’ll link my YouTube video in the show notes so you can check it out.

So, if you were to look at my task hub, you’d see several different spreadsheets and calendars with tasks assigned within them. I’ve personally used a couple of really amazing apps for this, and have linked to them in the show notes.

Some of the spreadsheets (or task lists) I have, include:

  • One for each client/project I am currently working on
  • One for podcast production and ideas
  • One for blog post production and ideas
  • One for freebies that are in production or have already been implemented
  • One for my yearly goals
  • And One overall checklist for items that are to be completed this week

Each spreadsheet has the ability for me to check off the item as completed, place it on a hold due to client delays or other circumstances, and see at a glance every task that needs to be completed. Now, I do a lot of things on repeat. When I design a website for a client, I have perfected my design flow, so that all I need to do is duplicate the template for website design and assign it to the new client. That allows me to keep my processes the same AND limit the amount of time I spend trying to figure out what to do next, right down to when I invoice and what emails get sent to the client. All of that is linked within my spreadsheet template and is easily accessible.

The same goes for creating a podcast episode, a blog post, or a freebie. AND – I will say that I’ve used this for tracking household tasks off and on, but overall, I find that a list of daily tasks stuck to the refrigerator is more effective for my family. I do have older teenagers, though, so your situation might differ when it comes to tracking those things.

Now, you can do this using Google spreadsheets or even a notebook that you carry around with you everywhere, but I really enjoy using an app because it allows me to link with other apps/services I use (such as my accounting software, and my email) AND I can access it from any device I have. So, it looks the same on my phone as it does on my computer.

But what about the time it takes to get this set up?

I’m not going to lie – it takes awhile to get a good setup for your task hub. But, remember when we talked about those interruptions derailing your momentum. With the task hub in place, with a detailed breakdown of everything you need to accomplish, you’ll be able to acknowledge an interruption and then get right back to the things you need to get done. How? Because you can see it all in one place. Even if you only have a couple of minutes to spend working, you’ll be able to quickly pick a task on the list and check it off. Trust me, that’s a great feeling and – you might not be able to complete the entire project in one sitting, but every little bit will help you get it done.

Hopefully that makes sense, but if not, tag me on Instagram @sarahlbrumley and let’s chat about how you can put together your own task hub. And – if you still aren’t completely certain what goals you are working toward, make sure to grab my FREE 5-Day Goals Course. You can find it at sarahbrumley.com/goals.

So, strategy number one is to have a workspace set up in such a way that your child can remain entertained and you can break away from your work here and there to help, and return to it quickly. Strategy number 2 is to have that task hub in place and, last and finally is strategy #3 which is to connect your devices.

Strategy #3: Connect Your Devices

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of random moments throughout the day where nothing is happening around me. I pickup my daughter from school – and I occasionally sit in the parking lot for 5-10 minutes waiting for her. There’s nothing better than knowing that I can use that time (little one is strapped in and likely asleep), to get a couple of tasks completed.

Likewise, when the baby is asleep in the stroller and we’ve finished our daily walk and are just hanging out in the garage waiting for him to wake up. I’m able to pull out my phone and get things done.

Why? Because I have each and every one of my critical work apps connected across all of my devices. I talked a little bit about how I can access my task hub on any device, but I’m also set up to be able to access all of my documents as well as my invoicing and accounting app. AND, the best thing is that all of the apps I use allow for real-time editing, which means that within moments of editing something on my laptop, I can be working on the same document or project on my phone without missing a beat, and checking it off of my to-do list.

You have the technology, why not put a few minutes aside to make sure everything is connected so you can use your free moments to check a few things off your list when you need to.

And – because you have that task hub set up, you’ll never be at a loss for something you can do to move the needle forward. See how this all goes together?

So, strategy number one is to have a workspace set up in such a way that your child can remain entertained and you can break away from your work here and there to help, and return to it quickly. Strategy number 2 is to have that task hub in place and, last and finally is strategy #3 which is to connect your devices.

Take Action: Maximize Your Time

Now, I’m a huge proponent of taking action, which is why every Mama Business episode comes with action steps you can take immediately to uplevel your mama life and business.

Today’s action step is the following: I gave you three strategies you can use to set yourself up for success during this busy (and interruption-filled) season of your life. And, I recommend working on one strategy at a time so you don’t find yourself overwhelmed. So, take a moment and decide which one of these strategies you will implement this week.

  • Will you reframe your workspace?
  • Will you add a task hub to your business and personal life?
  • Or, will you connect all of your devices so there’s never a time when you can’t accomplish something.

Did you pick one? I know from personal experience that I am much more likely to accomplish what I set out to do if I’m accountable to someone. So, drop me a tag or DM me on Instagram @sarahlbrumley and let me know which one you chose so that I can cheer you on throughout this process.

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