How I Stay Organized as an Entrepreneur and Mom
I’m not going to try to pretend like organization comes naturally to me.
There’s always laundry to be done, there’s typically toys on the floor, and I’ve overslept when I was supposed to bring M to soccer. I sometimes consider myself the icon of “hot mess mom”.
So how does a person like me keep it all together and find balance between work and personal life when most days I can’t even remember what day it is?
I finally figured out the most fool-proof (and free!) system to keep my life straight. It takes a few steps to get it setup but it keeps me going through the entire week without missing a beat (or deadline... or soccer practice…). Now I’m ready to share it with you!
Step One: The Master To-Do List
You can write out your master list however you’d like, but I prefer to take to traditional pen and paper. I create master lists of everything that needs to be done for both my business and my personal life for the week.
I start by creating separate sections for different categories that make the most sense for me and my business so this part might look a little bit different for you depending on your business model and personal life!
For me, it makes the most sense to make a list for each client, a list for my own business tasks, one for my finances, and one for my personal to-do’s. Right now we aren’t assigning any due dates or anything, just writing out absolutely every small task that needs to be done.
Step Two: Setting Up Asana
It took me about five times downloading and re-downloading an app called Asana to finally make it work for me. I went back and forth between Asana and Trello a number of times, but Asana ended up being the winner!
Once you have an Asana account, you’ll start by creating new Projects for each of the categories you created in Step One. You can choose either a Board style or a List style - I personally prefer the Board style so that I can create subcategories within each Project.
Set up your subcategories as different columns within your boards. If you need inspiration for what kinds of subcategories to use, you can subscribe below to get a free bonus PDF with the exact setup I use for both my personal and business Asana boards!
Once you have your boards setup and organized, it’s time to add your tasks. Take your master list and start adding in every task to its appropriate category and subcategory until they are all in the app.
After everything is in, it’s time to start assigning due dates. Start with the tasks that have firm dates and deadlines like appointments, calls, bills/expenses, and client deadlines. From there, you can start to assign due dates to your other tasks. I also have my fiancé added into Asana so that I can assign tasks between us (both for personal and sometimes business tasks when I have particularly heavy weeks - did you know he’s my behind-the-scenes assistant?!), but otherwise you can just assign everything to yourself.
Once everything is entered in, go to the “My Tasks” section and choose the option to sort the tasks by due date. This way you can see an overview of how much you have assigned each day. Then you can rearrange your plan and change any due dates now rather than realizing you assigned yourself too much and feeling overwhelmed later in the week.
Now you can totally stop here, but for me (especially with a severe case of baby brain!) I like to have reminders in a few other places so I personally take two additional steps to make sure I have myself covered!
**Bonus Step One: Using Your Planner
I *love* my Day Designer from Target! It’s broken down into a monthly and daily view. I like to use the monthly view to write out all of my planned income and expenses for the month so I know exactly how much I’ll have to work with each week. I obviously only do this once a month toward the end of the month, but I reference it each week.
In my daily view, my planner has both a to-do list as well as an hourly breakdown for the day. I go back to Asana and write out the tasks assigned each day in my planner for the entire week. Then I like to write out my time blocks (which I’ll go over in the next bonus step!) so I can really plan out my day and make sure I’m not left struggling to get things done at 2am from poor time management!
**Bonus Step Two: Time Blocking
It took me a long time to understand time blocking, but once I finally got it down, it was a total game changer! Time blocking is the organizational art of setting specific chunks of time for specific types of tasks throughout the day.
I like to setup my time blocks in my native iOS calendar but you can use whatever calendar app you prefer. While I can’t tell you exactly how to time block your day, I can give you some tips that finally helped me make sense of how to do it!
Give yourself more time for your chunk of tasks than you think you need! I didn’t buy into this at first, but as I began to implement I realized an hour wasn’t nearly as long as I thought!
Include travel, prep and cleanup time! I started adding 15-20 minutes to the beginning or end of every block which helped keep my timing a lot more accurate.
Don’t schedule anything back-to-back if you don’t have to - this way you can fit in a little social media scrolling time, a cuddle with your mini or your cat, a bathroom or coffee break, or extra work time if you need it.
If something doesn’t turn out as planned, go back in and change it to accurately reflect the time you spent on that chunk - it’ll help you better understand your time management needs as you schedule future weeks.
Stay dedicated to your blocks! When you are in a work block - work! When you are in a personal block - play (or clean, or cook, or whatever)!
That’s it! I’ve found that when you put in the work early, your whole week is setup to be successful from the very beginning. This system has helped me organize my life so that I’m not up working every night until 2am, I’m able to be more present with my family, and I’m able to find that divide between work and home life!
If this post helped you, give it a share for other bosses to benefit from, too! Until next time, doers!