I have addressed the topic of balance multiple times here on IHOD, and think it is something that is ever evolving for me! If you want to go even deeper on some of the points we address today there is a post I wrote about Time Management Hacks. I receive the most questions on this topic but feel limited in my ability to offer advice as my situation may be very different from the next person’s. I thought I would have my communication manager Megan weigh in with me today because she is super skilled on organization. In fact, she wouldn’t mind being a professional organizer for a living! Here are a few questions we have answered on organization for the home + business in hopes of helping those of you who are juggling both right now.
Q: How do you divide time between work hours, time with family, and managing a home?
Megan: Hi there! Well first of all, though I have a more natural desire for order and balance, having a husband studying a master’s degree after work in the evening and a one year old who demands 99% of my attention while she’s awake demands a certain flexibility in the management of my time.
Usually I take some time Sunday evenings to look at my week: what appointments do we have? What emails need to be answered right away? What are the top tasks that have to get done and what tasks would I like to get done? My husband and I use a printed yearly calendar in my kitchen as well as Google calendar to align our schedules. I choose to use a week-to-week fridge white board to plug in concrete tasks and when I plan to do them. I also choose specific days for specific tasks. For example, Monday mornings are for laundry, Tuesdays for groceries, Saturdays I deep clean, etc.
Each morning, I take a moment before my daughter wakes up to get an idea of the workload, make a running list of priorities, start if possible and sip my tea. Then there’s nap time – something that is both routine (so far!) and necessary for my day to run smoothly 🙂 This time is key for me to get many personal things done: daily communication emails for IHOD, newsletters, paying bills, phone calls and if time meal prep. Things that can wait till the next day or until she’s in bed at night get done later. Other than that, I drop everything for hours of playtime, necessary errands, meals as a family and evening date/hangout time with my husband!
Q: What would you consider some of the most effective ways to manage an inbox?
Megan: I admit my email inbox for IHOD business is much more organized than my personal inbox. I like to categorize constantly so that I don’t do a lot of re-reading. We have designated a system of keeping on top of emails as they come in, knowing which pertain to my role as Communications Manager and which have moved to the next “step” of correspondence through Anna. We utilize the shared google “tasks” bar to communicate and keep on top of the weekly load of email correspondence.
At times, it is helpful for me to make a running chart of email topics and deadlines/due dates on a spreadsheet. Other times simply taking notes handwritten on paper works great. I am a little old fashioned that way :). There is still something about physically writing information down with pen and paper that allows me to retain more.
Q: A few quick tips for a more organized home?
Megan: One of my favorite lines I heard about ten years ago is “external order bears internal order” which I have learned to live by. It is extremely healthy for me to get ready in the morning and leave a clean bedroom (yes- I mean being showered/dressed with the bed made!). Tidying up after playtime, meals, and the daily workload makes my internal world ordered, less chaotic, and able to handle whatever is thrown my way! Teach the kids by example to put away their things after using them, wipe down the table and put dishes at least beside the sink or in the dishwasher, and pick up around the office or work area. Then do the same before bed. For example: load the dishwasher/ wash all dishes at night and tidy up all toys, pillows and clothes that litter the home and charge tech devices…even if it means going to bed a few minutes later. I read this tip once and mentioned it to my husband and it’s true for both of us! And secondly, use what systems work for you! Good luck!
Q: What are a few timesaver tips for working from home?
Anna: I do much better content creating with a set aside 1-3 hours of time than I do twenty minute segments. I usually set aside things that require creativity for the afternoons, nights, or weekends. The things that can be done in twenty minute segments when I get the opportunity are emails, social media, or task management. By using time block management, it is the only way any of my blog content gets made! It also is the only way I can keep work and home life at a balanced which brings us to the next q…
Q: How do you keep your work and home life separate and balanced?
Anna: I have to set designated work hours. I have learned that work never leaves you when you work from home, and that if you allow, it can bleed over into too many areas of your life without clear separation. It takes a good deal of self-discipline to shut off devices and ignore emails when everything seems to be urgent, but what is more important to me is that my family does not feel the weight of my work. I stick to designated work hours to give more dedicated time to my family. I know if my mind is always semi-distracted I won’t do anything well….including being a mother. Separating hours for business has helped me immensely! I usually set those hours before the kids wake up, while they nap, and after they are in bed. So yes, I never get much down time, but consider myself lucky to even have this option.
Q: What are a few things that help you manage your time?
Anna: I used to fly by the seat of my pants, but it doesn’t work out so well anymore;) I rely on the Happy Balance Planner to have an overall vision of the day, week, and month ahead. I have tried a few really good planners, but there are a few reasons this one works so well for me. First of all, it is only a 6 month calendar which cuts down on the size without compromising note and planning space. Second, this planner gives you places to write monthly and weekly goals, as well as a nice big section dedicated to notes and to-do lists. Because who doesn’t love the satisfaction of crossing something off on paper?! Lastly, there is a daily motivational quote, and because I am a sucker for a good kick of a quote, this was the cherry on top.
Google Calendar – I like how google calendar allows you to share it with other people. Gabe and I can see the same calendar this way.
When working with Megan on email communications, we utilize Google Tasks in Gmail (lifesaver when working with team members!). We also touch base via phone weekly on priorities for the week. I still take advantage of Social Media Schedulers as well to keep time on social media at a minimum.
Whichever your business is or home and work situation, it is so important to have a support team. I don’t think I would attempt to blog if Gabe wasn’t so supportive. He goes out of his way to pick up slack when I need the extra help. Choosing to hire a team member was a big step for us this year, but since Megan was someone I knew and trusted (and had the skills I lacked!), I knew she was the perfect fit for growing IHOD.
If you have any questions, please let us know and we will do our best to answer!