Learn how to make the most out of every single minute of the day when juggling business and family.
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Two of the most challenging journeys in life are starting a business and starting a family. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all roadmap to follow for either, and each throws you curveballs and surprises around every corner.
Over the years, I have built and run six successful businesses while raising a family. I am working on my seventh. It’s been wildly challenging, but also incredibly rewarding.
It wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t master one thing: productivity hacking.
Related: 9 Simple Ways to Transform Your Morning Routine and Boost Productivity
Here are six productivity hacks that have helped me become a better entrepreneur, parent and spouse. Hopefully, some of these will help you take your productivity to the next level.
1. I created a schedule that worked specifically for me
Creating a schedule that you stick to day-in and day-out is important, but even more so is creating a schedule that is specifically designed for you. There are many templates online, and some entrepreneurs try to copy the habits and routines of other successful entrepreneurs, but this is the wrong approach.
What works for Mark Cuban or Mark Zuckerberg isn’t necessarily going to work for you. Determine what you need to accomplish each day — in and out of your business — and create a schedule that you can commit to long-term.
We are creatures of habit, and the more we do something over and over, the easier it becomes. Don’t be afraid to tweak and alter your schedule. We change. Our businesses change. The key is to design a schedule built specifically for you.
2. I removed all distractions from my work area
Not all entrepreneurs work from home, but during the pandemic and shut down, many got to experience what it was like to work from home daily. Some also quickly learned that many distractions can kill your productivity if you let them.
Juggling multiple businesses and a family requires a lot of work from home — from conference and video calls to bookkeeping and everything in between. For those working from home, it’s best to have a dedicated home-office area, completely free from all distractions.
Working in the living room with the TV going or in the kitchen with everyone vying for your attention isn’t going to cut it. Create a dedicated home office, and when the door is closed, no distractions or interruptions are allowed.
3. I created a list for everything
When you start your day with a plan already mapped out in writing, you automatically become more productive because no time is wasted trying to figure out what needs to be done next. I create lists for everything.
I end each day by mapping out the next day, from start to finish. Doing this simple thing is what allows me to end my days in time to participate in family activities and be present for my children.
I can confidently say that I used to waste a significant chunk of my day identifying my next task prior to making a list. Now, when I start my day, I have it all mapped out, and I simply go down the list hitting each line item without wasting any time.
4. I learned to value my time
When you understand that time is the most valuable asset, you begin to value it more. Things like taking unscheduled calls or allowing meetings to be pushed only hurt you. If a call or meeting needs to be canceled or moved, that is fine — it happens. But don’t readjust your day to accommodate — make them reschedule in a future available slot.
If you don’t value your time, you bend, and while you think you are doing the right thing by being accommodating, you are hurting yourself and creating more work for yourself. When I create my daily schedule, I consider it set in stone.
Taking a random meeting or an unscheduled call throws the schedule off, and the line items that are sacrificed pile up and create more work. Value your time and watch how your productivity skyrockets.
Related: 36 Insanely Useful Productivity Hacks
5. I disabled non-essential notifications
Your phone and its notifications are the biggest time suck, and many people let their mobile notifications consume them. They see that little red notification and immediately reach for their device, and each time this happens, it takes away valuable time that could be spent doing more productive things.
Then, multiply this by the hundreds of times it happens each day, and you begin to realize just how counterproductive your mobile phone can be. There are some very important notifications — but there are many that are not essential.
Things like Facebook friend requests, Instagram DMs and Twitter mentions pull you away from your work and kill forward momentum. Disable all non-essential notifications and watch how it stops your phone from being a distraction and productivity killer.
6. I removed “multitasking” from my vocabulary
We often hear that we need to learn to multitask to be a successful entrepreneur. As soon as I debunked that myth, my productivity improved. Rather than juggle multiple tasks at the same time, focus 100% of your energy on one, complete it, and then move on to the next.
Sure, some situations require you to address multiple things at the same time, but trying to multitask when it’s not necessary will slow you down and hold you back.
Related: 5 Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder, to Make Your Side Hustle a Huge Success