I sorta hate this title. It feels dangerously close to me declaring myself a ‘mumpreneur’ and telling you how you can make your first 10k month using my patented methods.
I’m not gonna do that. Promise.
I’ve been working ‘around’ my little one, who is now two, for around eighteen months and I’ve learned a few things in that time. I’ve tried a few different options, and have had highs and lows in my own productivity…..and yes, the mum guilt has been ever-present throughout.
For clarity, Anaïs goes to nursery and we’ve never done anything different to that bar the occasional stint of grandparent help. I work from home, and my husband works pretty long hours in an office job, albeit a local one, but that means that like most mothers I pick up the slack if/when Anaïs needs to come home early. If you want to learn about other childcare options I wrote a post about freelance childcare options.
I ALSO decided to film a flipping video for this post! It felt like a good idea at the time, mostly because I’d just setup for my Patreon BTS video too. So there you go, a little unexpected treat!
But back to my productivity tips for those who’d rather skip my face waffling on a poorly-edited video.
1 | Childcare
Super obvious statement alert but, erm, have you thought about childcare? Yes, Lucy, you absolute knobhead I have.
Okay so this one is dependant on your situation but as I said, my situation has gone from zero childcare to some childcare (a day a week of grandparents) right through to a whole month of five days of 8-6 a week (that was expensive and nuts!)
Right now, Anaïs goes to nursery 5 days a week from 8-1pm. She naps from around 2-4 so ostensibly I get a full days work. Most days. Although as I write this she is not napping, but painting because…well, she didn’t wanna nap and that’s okay.
Although I don’t have any friends/family to help with childcare I am very lucky to have this setup. It works really well for us as a family and because I work, we also get tax free childcare which is an added bonus. And, as long as I continue to work, we will get 30 free hours of childcare when Anaïs is three. (COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS…..)
I’ve never used a nanny/au pair or a childminder but we have also used our regular babysitters (one of whom works at Anaïs’ nursery) to plu any gaps as and when we need them: usually this is for random work meetings or trips I need to take. That’s the nature of freelance life!
If you’d like to learn about the other options freelancers have I wrote all about it here.
2 | Pomodoro
Unlike my last point, this really is an actual productivity hack. I can’t remember who told me about the Pomodoro method but whoever they are is an absolute angel.
The Pomodoro Technique was created by someone called Francesco Cirillo in the 80s and posits we work best on one thing at a time in bite size chunks.
In theory, it’s working in chunks of 25 minutes with a five-minute break between each chunk. Then, after you’ve done four rounds of Pomodoro chunks you should take a longer break. I take 15 minutes here.
How this works for me is that from 9-12 (I practice yoga/run/have a lie-in when I wake up, shower and start work at 9am….rarely before) I decide on my must-do tasks, then allot them a timeframe: Either one or two ‘PT’s’ aka 25 minute chunks.
This really works for me at the moment because I struggle to do that whole, ‘a day dedicated to this part of my business’ or even batching work. I need to work on things in a really dedicated way knowing I’ll have a break soon.
3 | Prepare
When Anaïs first dropped down to shorter hours I was always getting caught short when it came to getting my bag ready for pickup.
I’d mutter obscenities to myself as I packed a random, unappealing assortment of snacks and often forget my keys/wallet/coat. And I’d leave with a half-finished task, empty belly and stressed mind….which, I’d come straight back to once I got home and Anaïs was down for her nap.
So I now take my daily snack prep seriously. I do it first thing while making my own breakfast and never skip it. Because it just makes life so much easier.
Likewise I prepare my task list ahead of schedule. I use Trello to manage my recurring tasks, adding on new ones as they come in and plot them all out daily too. I know you can get a bit more jazzy with all of this but I keep it simple….I can’t cope with three or four to do lists; I’ve tried and failed multiple times!
4 | Find Your Flow
This has been a massive game changer for me. And before you think I’m going all Jess Lively on you (if you don’t know who that is, please watch this wonderful video where she writes to her intuition. I DIE.)
When I talk about finding your flow I honestly just mean asking yourself when you work best. If that’s convenient, try to only work in that time….or, at least, do your hardest/must-do stuff then.
For me. first thing is when I get my most techy stuff done; I’m talking podcast and video editing, planning, dealing with course stuff or editing photos etc etc etc. Writing comes easier a bit later in the day, so that’s when I sketch out blog posts, podcast scripts, newsletters or Instagram captions.
And, realistically, at approx 5pm I may as well go to sleep. I never work past this time unless I really have to. Mostly because I can’t…..my kid would never let me work while she played independently, which is fine by me!
5 | Do Less Stuff
This is a tricky one and I’m still reminding myself to take on less stuff every damn day. But saying no, keeping a clearer diary and definitely saying no to projects that aren’t going to serve me in whatever season I’m in.
This might mean my social life is a bit dry sometimes and it often means I say no to free stuff offered in exchange for Instagram coverage. Not because I’m against it (especially not with smaller brands) but because it’s gonna cut into my very precious time!
And lastly, lower the damn bar. Especially when you have extra-curricular work stuff like……pregnancy, house moves etc etc etc. You know the drill with adulting!
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