How to be a Happy and Successful Working Parent
From the time I wake up to just a few hours before I go to bed I am move, move, move! On days I don’t work at the sheriff’s office, I wake up around 5-6am and start work around 30 minutes later doing MLS research, writing emails, whatever I have set up on my list from the night before. It’s a hectic lifestyle for sure. Lady Celt is also a working parent, and we split time tending to Mini-Celt to ensure he grows into a respectable human being. That’s why I wanted to take some time to give my time management strategies for working parents.
Without a doubt time management is the number one key factor as to whether or not I succeed in any given day. I’m a busy guy. I work two full-time jobs: one as a W-2 employee, the other as a 1099 (my Realtor job). I also write a blog, maintain two websites. Scheduling my life is imperative and essential. It was very depressing for a long time. However, I’ve gotten used to it, and now it’s second nature.
This is a big post. I’ve broken it up the best way I could think to do. I’ve got some strategies I use that affect my life and help my family. Then, I created an actual list of things that I encourage for every working couple at the bottom. Happy reading!
Scheduling Strategies for Working Parents
Of all the time management strategies for working parents I have, this is number one. Google Calendar and the rest of the Google suite. You will not beat it – not with a free app anyway. I have incorporated some various extensions (aka plug-ins) into my calendar and email to help automate my life. I’ve also color coded everything I do. Some people meal prep once a week, I calendar prep. What you don’t see in the screenshot below is my reminders. A sort of to-do list for the coming day. I generally have six or more to do per day. Lady Celt also has access to my calendar. Don’t be afraid to schedule the menial stuff (like grocery shopping). Those are things that have to happen. If you don’t calendar them, they don’t happen. Then you spend more money on eating out. Stick to your budget.
I also do what I call ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ calendar entries and to-dos. Hard calendar appointments are things that HAVE to happen. Client showings, work at my W-2, or other various client meetings. Soft appointments are things I’d like to do, but are my flexibles. Facebook socializing – a key component of my marketing – is flexible. Market research, sending emails, these are things I can honestly do any time I want. If I get a phone call from a client saying they’d like to go see homes I will bounce my soft appointment and schedule a hard one. If I skip a soft appointment for more than 18 hours I set it as a reminder. That way it pops up on my phone throughout the day. If I have a chance waiting in line at the grocery store, I’ll knock out some emails or say happy birthday on Facebook. Easy.
Work and Life Balance
Make rules, not laws. You can bend rules, but you can’t break laws. What am I talking about? How I handle Lady Celt and Mini-Celt. I am no longer a Realtor after around 7pm. That is when my clients know that I won’t pick up the phone (but I might answer a quick text). Sometimes though, you have to fight fires after hours – and I will. Sometimes, a client has a weird schedule and I’ll do a showing at 6:30 knowing I won’t be home until 7:45. At the end of the day, I’m in this to make money, so I bend rules. If possible, I schedule things I can do at home in blocks and things that are outside the house in blocks. This allows Lady-Celt the flexibility to work because I can keep an eye on Mini-Celt. He watches movies or colors, and I work at the computer.
Another strategy for work-life balance is to schedule family stuff weeks in advance and keep those appointments. This is going to seem obvious, but it is important enough to over-iterate. Date night, going to the park, whatever, schedule it and keep it. I repeat, DO. NOT. CANCEL.
Finally, find ways to work while with your family. The other day I had no further client appointments and finished my to-do’s. I had other work I could have done at home. Instead, I chose to take Mini-Celt to
the playground and Chick-Fil-A. The playground is an excellent spot for me, because it allows me time to talk to other community residents and network. I can engage with my child while also engaging with the community around me. Just make sure to bring your business cards!
Time Management Strategies for Working Parents
Now, here are those time management strategies I promised you. In no particular order:
- Integrate Your Software – This one sounds weird, but the premise is basic. I try to find software that complements each other. For instance, I use Hubspot for my Client Relations Manager (CRM). It has an extension for Gmail that allows me to use templates, trackers, auto-saving, and auto-updating client notes in Hubspot. Much of my software is integrated this way. Essentially, spend the extra time to make sure your programs allow data-sharing so you can create one giant workflow chain. Which leads me to. . .
- Create Workflows – A workflow is an automated response. When someone subscribes to my list, they get an automatic email. When I add a ‘contract accepted’ date into my calendar, things happen. My calendar automatically sets up a timeline for my inspection period, it creates a new email folder to store all emails related to that transaction, and it updates my Hubspot client file with the same notes. I just saved myself 30 minutes. Find ways to automate.
- Create To–Do Lists the Night Before – Make it part of your bed-time ritual. Open up your phone and make a list of at least six things that you want to accomplish tomorrow. Prioritize them. Is this to-do important enough that it should be marked as an event instead of a reminder?
- Schedule the Small Stuff – Grocery shopping, errands, and other necessary parts of life take time. You can’t be all business all the time. You also aren’t going to want to work a 10-hour day (because you hustle), and then go get groceries. Mark your calendar!
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – If you miss a soft appointment, don’t worry about it. Just make sure you have a good reason as to why you missed it. If you don’t, work on your motivation.
- Find Ways to Make ‘Work’ More Like Life – If you’re a sales agent, going to parks is a great way to pick up leads while having fun with your kid. Incorporate fun things to do with your kid in places where 1. Is a place where leads might be and 2. You would have time to engage with leads without risking your child’s safety. A gun range would not be a suitable place for this.
- Motivate Yourself! – You don’t see it in my calendar (because it’s habit, and I do it instinctually), but every morning when I wake up I watch 15 minutes of motivational speeches. Sometimes I’m feeling unproductive and I’ll need 30 minutes. Sometimes I lose my edge around 1 or 2pm and I’ll watch some more videos. Your spirit and mind are powerful tools. By engaging with something designed to amp you up, in a way you enjoy, you can maximize your efficiency by actually working during work blocks.
- Get Organized – I color code everything in my Google calendar so I can quickly sift through my productivity. This allows me to see if I’m spending too much time doing one thing or not enough time another thing. I also keep an orderly system on my computer drive and cloud storage. I know exactly where every file and folder is so I don’t waste time looking for something. If you use mailers or other paper products, ensure you have a system set up for organization and sending them out.
It ain’t easy being a working adult. It’s even harder to be a working parent. I’d like to be completely transparent though. I juggle a lot of balls and, even with all of the help I give myself, I still drop them. That’s okay. At the end of the day, we’re still human. We still screw up. The goal then is to screw up less. That’s why I wanted to write directly to you! With these time management strategies for working parents, hopefully you can automate your life and spend more time with what you really care about.
Don’t fret if you don’t have kids though! You can still gain a lot by automating your lifestyle. It will make you more effective at your job, which is always a win. In fact, automating and staying agile in your work life is one way that I explain why small business works. Be sure to check that out!
Celts, are you a working parent and professional? What tips do you have for my readers? Be sure to share your thoughts and how you stay connected with your family in the comments below!
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