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One tip to be more productive and less forgetful

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One tip to be more productive and less forgetful

Have you heard of brain dumping?

One of the most frequent questions my clients ask is how to find more time in their day. And I get it! As a busy toddler mom, pastor's wife, and business owner, I have a LOT going on. {We all do!} And without some serious organization and great systems in place, I would be lost! Adding brain dumping to my weekly routine has allowed me to be more productive and less forgetful... let me show you how it's worked for me!

Note: This post contains affiliate links (*). For more information, see my disclosures here.

What is brain dumping?

{I'm so glad you asked!} It's a phenomenal strategy that successful entrepreneurs and busy moms have been using for ages. And today, I'm going to teach you exactly how it works.

Where do I start?

Brain dumping starts with a blank slate. Whether you us a pad of paper or an online program, you have to start fresh. One of my mentors uses those Giant Post-It Notes* {the seriously huge ones you use in an office presentation}. I love using Evernote*, which I'll talk about more in a few minutes.

On Saturday night {ok, sometimes it's not until Monday morning}, I will sit down and write out each and every thing that has to be done the following week. From taking out the garbage on Wednesday to laundry to dry cleaning to purchasing a gift for a birthday party... if it's something that has to go on my schedule or needs to get done, it goes on this list.

Are there any special tools you use when you are brain dumping?

I am currently obsessed with Evernote*. I started with the free version and quickly upgraded to the Premium version. It's less than $5/month, and it has enough amazing features and options that it may merit it's own future blog post!

Now, the reason I love to use Evernote for my brain dumping exercise is that within my Evernote files, I've created a note called "Template Brain Dump File" which houses things that I do every single week (like laundry, dishes, driving my daughter to school, etc) as well as suggested things that have come up in the past. When I use this list as my starting point, I rarely leave anything off. {You can find out more about How I Use Evernote for Business here}

So I've brain dumped... now what?

Once I've dumped everything out of my brain, I re-arrange it by activity and type. Then, I sit down with my calendar and schedule everything out. My top recommendation to my clients is to find a calendaring system that works for you. Whether it's a planner that stays in your purse, a binder that you cart around in a tote bag, or the calendar in your phone, you have to have a system. I'd even venture to say that it will be almost impossible for you to be a successful business owner without a good scheduling system. My preferred system is Google's Calendar, which syncs with my iPhone and with Acuity Scheduling* {which I used for all business appointments}.

I input each and every one of the items from my brain dump into my to-do list. For example, when I'm already out and about after dropping my daughter off at school, I know it will be super-convenient to run by Walmart or Target and pick up the gift I need for this weekend's birthday party. Or I may schedule a three hour block of time for errands and another for client calls. It's absolutely amazing how much I can fit into a day when I know what all needs to be done. And it's amazing how productive I can be with just a few hours of time when I'm working from a well thought-out, well planned to-do list.

Doesn't brain dumping take a lot of time?

Yes and no. Typically it will take me about an hour (sometimes less) to brain dump. But the time I save by "dumping" is unparalleled. For example, I used to be so guilty of running to the store, realizing I forgot something, having to go back, then realizing I need to go across town and do this that and the other. I would spend hours in my vehicle doing tasks that would have taken less than half the time if I had been organized.

The same was true in business. I would get caught up doing the fun and glamorous tasks and waste lots of time on social media or just chit-chatting when I should have been spending more time doing the critical revenue-producing tasks. Or I would go back and forth, doing left-brained projects and right-brained projects and wear myself out before the day was even over. Now, I'm careful to schedule all of my creative tasks together and all of my business tasks together.

How often should I brain dump?

For me, brain dumping has become a part of my weekly agenda. It's sandwiched right between goal setting and meal planning. There's an old saying that "those who fail to plan, plan to fail" and I think that is definitely the case when it comes to time management and business profitability.

What if I need more help?

If you are a female entrepreneur who is struggling with her business, I would love to help you! One of the greatest rewards of my job is to see a fellow mom be able to quit her full-time job away from the home and work from home with her kiddos by her side!

So tell me... do you brain dump? What systems do you use to keep track of your to-do list? Are you married to pen-and-paper or have you hopped over to the online side?

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Time Management Tips for Work at Home Moms

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Time Management Tips for Work at Home Moms

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If you're like me, you want to have it all. You want to be a stay at home mom, but you also enjoy working and bringing in additional income for your family. Can you have your cake and eat it too? How do I balance the housework, the chores, my toddler, my family, and still manage to have a profitable business? I get questions about time management tips almost daily from the clients in my business mentorship training. Three years ago, when I gave my 9-months notice (it's true!) and left my corner office in the corporate suite, I knew that my goal was to be fully self-employed within the next five years. I wanted to be a stay at home mom and needed flexibility that I just couldn't have as a corporate executive.

Fast forward to today, where I am 100% self employed AND have the flexibility to stay home and raise my sweet toddler girl (who coincidentally is napping upstairs while I type this!). Yes, I am busy. But I've also put in place several processes and systems to streamline what I do so that I can be super-productive with my time. Today, I'm going to share with you some of my top time management tips for work at home moms!

Note: This post contains affiliate links (*). For more information, see my disclosures here.

Use a Planner or Calendar

The first question I ask anyone who tells me that they don't have enough time is "do you use a planner or calendar"? You'd be surprised at how often the answer is "no"!! My preferred calendar is my Google Calendar. It syncs with my iPhone and with Acuity Scheduling* (which I use for all business appointments). They have a free version and a paid version, and I highly recommend the Pro version. For $10/month, it will sync with your Google Calendar, you can sync it with your PayPal invoicing, and it will track how much time you spend during each type of appointment (a great tool when creating your monthly reports and analytics).

Work From a List

The second question I would ask is are you working from a list? Each Saturday, I take time out to brain dump and create my working to-do list for the week. You've probably heard the phrase "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" and it's true! Successful people work from lists. They have systems in place for everything. Systems and lists save time. They allow our brains to focus on the important things.

Wake Up Early

If you were to walk into a bookstore and pick up any book about success, you would see this tip. Successful people wake up early. And women who want to have successful careers from home do, too. As women, our minds are constantly pulled in different directions - from our children to our husbands to what's for dinner. Waking up early, before the rest of the family, will give you uninterrupted time to focus on the things that will propel your business forward.

Have Business Hours (and Stick to Them!)

Working from home, this can be especially difficult. But if we multitask during business hours (doing laundry, cooking, and taking personal calls) then we will also multitask during family hours (responding to emails and on our phone rather than being fully present in our children's lives). Having set business hours and focused time where you work from a specific to-do list filled with activities that are going to propel your business forward will enable you to fully detach when work hours are over.

Eliminate Distractions & Time Zappers

How do you eliminate distractions? Here are a few ofmy favorite time savers:

  • Put your phone in Do Not Disturb Mode (or at least on silent!).
  • Turn off your notifications. (On your iPhone, click Settings > Notifications. I recommend removing all badges, banners, sounds, and alerts from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pages - at a minimum). This is coming from the girl who has 2,116 unread email messages in her inbox. True story!)
  • Check your email only twice a day. Answer the emails that matter, file them away, and leave the others unread until you have a chance to get to them.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes any time you venture on social media. It's easy to get sucked into the newsfeed, and all of a sudden you look up and it's been an hour and you're looking at comments on someone's brother-in-law's uncle's page reading a blog post about time management and wondering how you got so derailed. When the timer goes off, stop surfing and get back to work!
  • Get rid of cable TV. You don't need it. I promise! We have an antennae, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, and we rarely watch any of them! Not only are we saving on a completely unnecessary expense, but we spend so much more time as a family - playing, talking, walking, laughing, reading, and just spending time together.

What if I need more help?

If you are struggling with your at-home business, it would be my pleasure to help you! One of the greatest rewards of my job is to see a fellow mom be able to quit her full-time job away from the home and work from home with her kiddos by her side.

I'd love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite Time Management Tips?

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