Happy January 1st! I hope you are ringing in the New Year with a fun celebration. Celebrating the little wins along the way will keep us motivated in the year to come. Just the other day I tweeted my excitement over figuring out some code on my blog. Silly it seems, but hey a small win!
With celebrating those small wins in mind, I asked my friend Grace Marshall from “across the pond” to share with us her productivity tips for the New Year. Grace is a working mum of two from England and a life coach. She is kicking off the 2012 Working Mom Interview Series with strategies just for busy moms and starting us off on the right foot as we transform that balancing act between career and motherhood.
Enjoy the interview!
Tell us about “Connecting you to your Clarity, Confidence and Calling”.
Ah, the strapline on my website. Actually, these were the three things I lost touch with when I first became a mom. My focus was so fixed on my baby and his needs, that I forgot about myself. I lost touch with who I was, and ended up second-guessing my decisions, questioning my judgement and doubting my ability as a mother.
My story is not an uncommon one, and in any job, especially the wonderful, demanding, frustrating and rewarding job that is motherhood, these three things are precisely what we need to do it well.
Six years later with another child and a coaching business, that’s what I’m passionate about helping my clients with. Whether they hire me to work with them on productivity, work life balance, motivation and mindset or business strategy, it all links in to clarity, confidence and calling (i.e. a strong sense of identity and purpose).
What are some useful productivity tips busy working moms can kick off 2012 with and apply throughout the year?
I would start with getting clear about what productivity means to you. When we’re busy, it’s often tempting to focus on just getting as much done as we possibly can, and yet we can get to the end of a busy day and wonder what exactly we’ve achieved. There’s a video on my blog that talks about what to do when you find yourself busy being busy.
Productivity is not simply about how much we do, but what we do. In fact, our actions will only feel productive if they are purposeful and personally meaningful. You could say the difference between productivity and busyness is taking meaningful action.
That’s why it’s always good to be clear about your purpose and your goal. It helps you to direct your focus and be selective about what you do. It helps you to identify what matters most, rather than just react to whoever shouts the loudest!
Clarity is always the first port of call in any journey, and the first chapter in my Productivity Profits Guide. You don’t have to see the whole staircase before you get started, but it would help if you could see the first step. Just as you would make sure you have at least a clear windscreen before driving a car.
Be clear about your ‘why’ too – why you’re choosing to pursue a particular goal, why it’s important to you, why it matters. It’s one of the vital ingredients to setting powerful goals that keep you motivated and persisting even in challenging times.
How can we get over the overwhelm in the New Year?
I did a teleseminar on overwhelm recently and this topic resonated with lots of moms. Here are three of my tips.
Focus on action: If you’re pursuing a goal that is overwhelmingly big, scary or complex, then make it actionable by breaking it into bite size chunks. I call these baby steps that move mountains in my special “Yes You Can!” report.
Great things can be accomplished by taking tiny steps every day in the right direction. A mammoth task, however big or complex, can be broken down into lots of small, manageable, achievable steps. This way you can concentrate on taking action one bite at a time, rather than get stuck in overwhelm.
Pep talk: Notice what you are telling yourself. Overwhelm is essentially a feeling, and feelings are influenced by our thoughts. What thoughts are leading you to feel overwhelmed? Thoughts such as “I haven’t got enough time… There’s too much to do… I can’t…” might not be very helpful, however true they might seem. Reframing your thoughts to “This is how much time I have. This is what I can do in that time. This is what I will do / choose to do in that time” can be much more helpful in empowering us to take action rather than be stuck in overwhelm.
Can you share your top timesaver tip for moms?
Take time to think. When we’ve got a lot on our plate, it’s natural to just keep rushing as fast as we can to get it all done. It may feel counter-intuitive to stop, but that can save us so much time, energy, headaches and heartaches!
Take the time to take stock and plan ahead with some simple questions, such as:
- What am I doing?
- What do I need to make it happen?
- What can I put in place to make it easier for myself?
- Does it need to be done (now)?
This can help you identify ways of taking the pressure off exceptionally busy times, for example, getting some things ready the night before, so that you can get out the door on a busy morning with less stress. It can also help you make the most of your time, so that when the kids are finally at school and you’ve finally got a window of time to focus, you can get on with your work rather than waste time thinking of what you need to do. And when you are clearer and more focused about what you’re doing, you are less likely to go round in circles, get distracted or get carried away.
As a busy mompreneur, how do you fit “me time” into the schedule?
The only way I ever have “me time” is if I make time for it. If I wait until everything else is done, or try to fit it into ‘spare time’, it never happens! There’s always more to do, that’s just the way life is.
The key for me is to value “me time” as a necessity rather than a luxury. It plays a vital part in all areas of my life. It keeps me well, fuels my energy and gives me perspective. It helps me to think clearly, work faster and laugh more. It means I can give the best of who I am to my kids, my husband, my clients, friends, colleagues and others around me.
For example I love to sing. Sometimes the opportunity comes up and I will negotiate, juggle and plan work and family things to fit around singing. This doesn’t mean that singing is more important than family or work, it just means that it is all part of what’s important. There’s always give and take and that’s quite a learning process.
Of course, things come up, plans come unstuck and life happens, so making “me time” happen can be hit and miss sometimes. With all things, I try and take the opportunities when they come, commit to seeing them through when I can, and learn to embrace plan B when things change.
So tell me about your “Yes You Can” report?
It’s called “Yes You Can! Top Ten Ways to Grow a Successful Business without Compromising Your Family” and I wrote it to share some of my strategies with moms who are juggling business and family (except on my site you’ll see I refer to ‘mums’ as that’s what we say across the pond!)
I’ve had some great feedback from moms who have been really encouraged, equipped and inspired to grow their own successful, profitable business at the same time as raising a happy healthy family.
You can get it free over at http://grace-marshall.com/yesyoucan/ – I’d love to know what you think!
Grace Marshall is a life and business coach who lives in England with her husband and two children. She is passionate about doing life, motherhood and business on your own terms. If you’re juggling business and family, get her top ten tips free at http://grace-marshall.com/yesyoucan