Are you looking for a planner to help you maximize your time, increase your productivity, and just keep track of family life?
As moms, there are so many moving parts to our day. Between the kids’ school activities (read: pajama day, food drive, and school performances) and your own day-to-day tasks if you don’t have a planner to keep you organized you are bound to drop the ball at some point.
Before I share my list, I want to say I am a total planner snob. I started investing in good paper planners about 8 years ago when I realized the $10 Target planners were just not cutting it.
I use a combination of paper and digital planner.
Cozi is a digital family organizing calendar and I absolutely love it. I can share the calendar with my husband and I get lots of reminders and alerts.
As awesome as it is, I prefer a paper calendar where I can jot down notes, check things off my list (feels so good!) and do more in-depth planning and goal setting.
This list includes planners that are not only super functional but they are also beautiful. They are what planner dreams are made of.
I love the passion planner. This planner is laid out in such a way that you can organize both your personal and professional life.
There is lots of space for goal setting and reflection at the end of each month. It’s super high quality and the binding never breaks. You also have the choice between a Sunday Start or a Monday Start.
This is more than just a planner. In addition to weekly and monthly views, this planner includes space for a yearly vision board and is designed to help you create and focus on 30 day challenges.
Each month you create a new challenge to help you focus your intentions. There is also 40+ blank pages for doodling, dreaming, or note taking.
The 360 degree planner is completely customizable so you get exactly what you want. You get to choose your layout and cover.
Daily greatness has a planner for every person – gratitude planner, business planner, yoga planner and parenting planner.
The parenting planner is designed to keep your family organized and to set you up for success as a parent. The planner is undated making it easy to start at anytime. It also includes a self care goal planning system and daily gratitude journal. BUY NOW!
Planner accessories are a great way to keep your planner looking beautiful while still marking it up and keeping track of all the things.
There is so much on your plate you don’t know where to start or you are caught staring at your screen with only the sound of crickets playing in your head.
Does this sound familiar?
Whether you run your own business, work outside the home or in the home, you have probably struggled with productivity at one time or another.
We have all been there.
I started working from home 4 years ago when our second child was born. While I am so grateful for the opportunity to work from home it took some time, and a really awesome babysitter, to find ways to be productive in order to fulfill both my roles as an employee and a mother.
During that time, I came to realize that the foundation to being a productive working mom is good time management.
Female Entrepreneurs Share Their #1 Productivity Tips For Working Moms
So how do you set yourself up for success and increase your productivity?
I talked to female entrepreneurs that are rocking it in their online businesses to find out what their number 1 productivity tips for working moms.
My best tip would be to set timers. I am someone who usually focuses too much time on one specific task. What I like to do is list out my tasks from most important to least important. Then I will set a timer on my phone (usually an hour depending on the task) Once the timer goes off I will stop the task and focus on my next “to do”! If I don’t complete my task by the time my timer is up, I will bring it to the bottom of my list and work on it again after I work on all other items on my “to do” list! -Ell Duclos
Ell is the creator behind Boss Girl Bloggers and ellduclos.blog and has turned her passion for writing and inspiring others into a full time career.
It’s so important to be intentional with your time. Create an hourly schedule, set an alarm, and stay focused on your work during work hours. It’s really the best way to get things done and excel in your business. – Cate
Cate Rosales is the mommy-of-two and blogger behind SweetandSimpleLife.com. She helps aspiring female entrepreneurs start a blog and earn passive income, so you can live life on your own terms!
Avoid over-scheduling your time. Plan no more than 60% of the time you have available during a work session. You will be able to tackle unexpected items and allow yourself to go slower, so that you can be more creative and thoughtful about your work. – Jenny
After years of juggling work and home life, Jenny left her job to be a full time mama to her three littles. She loves encouraging other mamas to find the right balance so their families can thrive. Read about Jenny’s tips for Spending More Time Doing What You Love, on her blog Home After Three.
My number 1 productivity tip is to practice single tasking. When you turn off distractions and focus on one task at a time, you can put 100% of your energy into that project. What’s more, you don’t waste time refocusing your thoughts while jumping from task to task. Single tasking helps you quickly reach your “flow state” and stay there, which allows you to plow through your to-do list with much greater efficiency. -Paula
Paula is the voice behind I’m Busy Being Awesome, a resource for busy women looking for balance in their lives. Working together, she helps women create strategies to manage their time, get organized, maximize their productivity, and find time for fun. Read all about Paula’s “3 Simple Steps to Singletasking” to learn more!
Staying productive as a WAHM is essential because it is easy to fall into the trap of doing household chores instead of working. One of my biggest tips is to be consistent in your planning. Before I start each week I plan my days with themes. Monday may be an admin day, Tuesday a writing day, and Thursday a promotional planning day. Having a theme allows me to create a plan for each day according to how it’s themed. This keeps me organized and on task! – Autumn
Autumn is an honest, real and never perfect bad-ass wife, mom and PPD, anxiety and life survivor. She’s also behind the blog She’s A Wreck that brings you practical parenting and motherhood tips.
I feel that the best strategy to increase productivity is to stop multitasking. I have found that when I focus on one task at a time I am more efficient and focused. As a mom this means that I often work when my children are asleep or outside with friends.- Lauren
Lauren’s site Simply Well Balanced, helps moms create balance and find the joy in motherhood. She shares tips about practical minimalism, homemaking and family activities.
Sometimes we bypass the most practical things for what’s new and flashy. However, when it comes to getting more done, as much as possible, you should get more sleep! -Rose Barnett
Rose Barnett knows what it means to struggle as a mom and that’s why she compiled 97+ Successful Mom Resources to help you find purpose, get organized and generate an income.
Set Yourself Up For Success
Now that you have these awesome tips to help you with productivity, I want to share with you a few tools I use that help me stay on track and keep me moving towards my goals.
Planners are kind of my thing and this one rocks. I have used a Passion Planner 3 years in a row. This planner is laid out in such a way that you can organize both your personal and professional life. There is lots of space for goal setting and reflection at the end of each month. It’s high quality and the binding never breaks.
These are some of my favorite tech tools that work wonders for my productivity. And they are all FREE!
You can create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more with google drive. Plus, since everything is web based you can access your documents from anywhere, even your phone. And the autosave function is a life saver.
Think of google keep as your virtual sticky notes. I use google keep to take quick notes, or write down an idea or something I need to add to my to do list.
StayFocused is a free Chrome extension that restricts the amount of time you are allowed to spend on “time-wasting websites” like Facebook.
As moms we juggle so many things on a day-to-day basis. It’s easy to feel a sense of overwhelm at all the moving parts in our day.
Guys, I have a little secret for you. I write a lot about getting organized and time management tips for moms not because I am the most organized person on the planet. It’s because I used to struggle with managing my time and often ended up overwhelmed. At some point I realized something had to give, and I needed to buckle down and figure out how to stay on the ball.
In the beginning, getting organized and time management was actually really hard. I thought I would put things on the calendar and poof! They would automagically get done. (You thought that too, right?)
I messed up a lot and tried so many tactics before I figured out what actually worked. My success in getting organized to reduce the feeling of overwhelm was part mindset and part having the right tools and systems in place.
A Winning Mindset
Let’s talk mindset. I can sum this up with one simple quote. “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right”.
If you think you are doomed to be forever overwhelmed. Well, you will be right. If you think you’ll never get a handle on your budget and finances, you will be right.
But, if you think you can tackle your to-do list. You will. If you believe in yourself and commit to a budget, you will achieve your financial goals.
Now, I know this is easier said than done.
Our minds are muscles, and powerful ones at that. If we train that muscle to think negatively about our ability to get organized, be productive, and achieve our goals (both big and small), then we will continue to struggle in these areas.
But, if you begin to train your mind to see that you are capable of achieving what you set out to do, then it will become easier for you to accomplish these things.
Before I share with you my list of tools and strategies to win on a daily basis, I want you to close your eyes and visualize what it is you want to achieve.
Do you want to have a cleaner house?
Do you want to be on time more often?
Do you want to have more free time?
Whatever it is, these are your goals. Focus on them for a few minutes and feel what it would be like to achieve those goals.
Now let’s talk about some tools that will help you achieve those goals.
Time Management Tips to Reduce Overwhelm
1. Put it on a Calendar
I know I said putting things on the calendar doesn’t mean they will automatically get done. But using a calendar and writing things down will set you up for success.
Writing things down and being intentional will make it easier to be more productive.
Most smartphones come with a built in calendar app. But there are so many other free calendar apps out there that let you do so much more. I’m talking email reminders, specialized alerts, and more!
Among many things that I loved about the book was the author Brene Brown’s suggestion to create an Already Done List at the end of the day.
A lot of us (me included) get to the end of the day and think “I didn’t get anything done today”!
But it’s not the truth.
In reality, I got the kids to school on time, walked the dog, ran to the store, tidied up the house, breastfed a baby all day, and gave everyone baths and got them to bed.
So as part of your evening routine, or really any time you need a reminder of how much you actually do accomplish, sit down and write out all the things you did that day. I bet it will be a longer list than you thought.
4. Create a Meal Plan
Look. I know cooking from scratch everyday is not a realistic goal for everyone.
But, you can still create a meal plan that will reduce the stress around the question “what’s for dinner?”
Meal planning saves me so much time and stress. I don’t have to panic on a day when we are running from one place to another after school. By having a meal plan in place, I can plan to make one of my go to easy meals for busy nights.
Every Sunday I sit down for 20 minutes with my coffee and I look at my week ahead. I think through the things I need to do, where we need to be, and set some goals for myself.
If you are new to creating a weekly plan or even if you are a sometimes planner like I was, creating a plan and writing it out for the week actually provides you with greater flexibility. By doing a weekly planning session you will 1) know what happens when and 2) make smart decisions when things come up. This will deter your week from going into a tailspin when there are hiccups.
Starting a weekly planning session may seem daunting, but I promise you after a couple of times you will have your weekly schedule done in no time! You will feel prepared and ready to take on the week.
I love doing this on Sundays because it’s a chance to take a deep breath and really focus on the week ahead.
If you don’t, you will burn out and you will not get anything done.
And you know I’m right.
You should schedule self care just like you schedule everything else. Put it on your daily to do list, or block some time on your calendar to take care of you.
Self care is not selfish and is necessary for us to be the best versions of ourselves. Self care doesn’t have to be a trip to the salon or an hour massage. It could be as simple as going for a drive, listening to your favorite podcast, or going for a 5 minute walk.
You don’t need to implement all these time management tips tomorrow. Start with one and slowly weave it into your day. Once you get the hang of one, try another.
Remember to also work on your mindset. Focus on the positive and on achieving the things you set out to do each day. Believe that you can and you will.
Now that school has started, we are getting back into the swing of things. This means after school activities, homework and everything in between. It also means it’s time to pull out my list of easy meals for busy nights.
There are many nights we are running from one place to another. Especially now that the kids are older, they are much more involved in after school activities.
While I love that my kids are participating in after school sports and arts, it makes for more hectic afternoons and much less time for cooking and getting dinner out on the table.
A lot of the times we get home late and everyone is starving or we need to leave early for practice and there isn’t enough time to prep dinner.
Planning ahead is so very important to making sure we have something quick and easy for dinner on these nights. You can check out this meal planning guide to see how we build our weekly meal plan.
If you’re looking for tips and inspiration for making a healthy meal plan, you should check out this Healthy Meal Planning Bundle – It includes tons of recipes, ready to use meal plans with shopping lists and prep notes and a whole bunch more. You can download some sample meal plans from the bundle for FREE here.
In addition to meal planning, I have created a go to list of easy meals for busy nights. These are easy meals are tried and tested by yours truly. Also, they are all kid tested and approved.
25 Easy Meals for Busy Nights
No/Little Cooking Meals
Friends, I’m here to tell you that home cooked meals don’t always have to involve home cooking. Grant yourself a little bit of grace and check out these no to little cooking easy meals for busy nights. I serve all these options with fruit and raw veggies on the side for quick and healthy weeknight meals.
Sandwiches Ham and Cheese, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Tuna fish. Pick your favorites, slice up some fruit and carrot sticks and voila! Healthy meal. This is a great one for on the go dinners.
Macaroni and Cheese
Hamburgers Throw those bad boys on the grill, top with some cheese and you have a group of happy kids and very little clean up!
Instant Pot Meals
The Instant Pot is awesome for so many reasons, but mainly because it cooks things so fast and the meals are usually one pot meals. Less mess + less cleanup = Happy Mom.
These are a few of my favorite east Instant Pot dinners that the kids love:
I love crockpot meals but some can actually be really time consuming! I have listed a few favorites that only require you to dump the ingredients in the crockpot and walk away. You can always make double batches if you have particularly busy weeks!
Nothing is easier than opening your freezer, and reheating some already cooked meals. Yes, you can buy pre-made freezer meals at the store but a lot of the time they are chock full of sodium and other questionable ingredients and quite frankly, they just don’t taste as good as homemade. With a little planning, you can make a whole bunch of freezer meals on the weekend and set your self up for a month or two of pre-prepared healthy meals. Here are a few of my favorites.
Is your after school routine not working for you? Do you ever feel like after school is the hardest part of your day?
This was absolutely true for our family.
Everyone came home overwhelmed and exhausted and there was still so much left in our day. Between dinner, homework and showers things got very chaotic.
When my kids started school I had visions of happy children coming home and sharing wonderful stories about their day while we packed away our lunch boxes and backpacks and sat down to a healthy snack while they did their homework.
In the early days, I tried oh so hard to make that vision a reality, but most days I was met mostly with grunts, sidelong glances, and even a meltdown or two.
I have realized over time that this picturesque after school routine just did not work for our family. While we still need a routine in order to accomplish everything that needs to get done after school, it needs to be less a routine and more a flow. Some days the kids come home and need a cuddle and quiet time. Other times, they need to get outside and run around.
Knowing this, I’ve developed some strategies that quell the chaos, provide flexibility to meet our children’s needs on that particular day, and still allows us to get everything done.
The changes I made to our after school routine have resulted in happier kids and more relaxed parents. Here are the changes I made to our after school routine.
Don’t ask too many questions
When the kids first started school and came home, right away I would ask them all sorts of questions about their day. (Apparently, I miss them quite a bit while they are at school and I wanted to know everything they did while we were apart.)
Turns out, the kids are usually not really ready to talk about their day. They need quite a bit of time to decompress and process what happened at school that day.
Now, I simply ask “How was your day?” I usually get an “It was good” and that’s it. But it’s fine, because as they process their day they begin to share tidbits and stories. By bedtime I have a full picture of what happened at school that day.
Once we are home and everyone has made it inside, we have free time. This is a time where the kids can choose what they want to play.
This free time also involves me actively spending time with them while they do their chosen activity. Even if it is just 20 minutes before I begin my dinner prep, this time is so important for our kids. When I spend this time with them, they are more likely to allow me the space I need in order to start my evening routine (cooking, cleaning etc).
Free time includes:
Sitting together and reading out loud
Outside play time
We don’t do tv or computers right after school. I have found that this does not help them decompress and they still crave that quality time with me after the screens shut off.
Our kids still have an afternoon snack at school, usually about 45 minutes before they get home. I don’t normally give them a snack unless they are hangry or missed snack at school that day. If they have a snack it is usually something small like a yogurt or a piece of fruit.
Instead, I have dinner ready early and we are sometimes sitting down at the table at 4:30 to eat.
Early on, I was pushing a snack when the kids got home as the first part of our after school routine. Then they would end up not wanting to eat dinner. So instead, I keep the snack small or non-existent and instead serve them dinner early. They eat a much better dinner this way (and complain less about the broccoli or other offending vegetable on their plate).
This is even more helpful when the kids have after school activities and they don’t get home until 4:30 or 5.
So how do I get dinner done early? Well, a couple of ways.
Meal planning. I know exactly what I am having on which day so I don’t have to waste time figuring out what’s for dinner.
The crockpot and instapot are our friends.
I only make quick 30 minute meals during the week. Check out some of my favorites here.
Side note: as part of our dinner time routine, I always ask the kids to tell me the best thing and the worst thing that happened at school. They are always happy to talk at dinner 🙂
After dinner, the kids get about another 20 minutes or so of free play time while I clean up the kitchen and pack lunches.
Then it is time to start homework.
The little one doesn’t have homework yet but we do 20 minutes of reading with her right before bedtime. She will usually spend time with daddy or do her own “homework” while my son works on his homework.
I have found doing homework after dinner is the key to the kids being successful. The kids are well fed and they have had time to relax and decompress from the day. Moving homework towards the end of our after school routine has made a tremendous difference.
There are so many mobile apps out there that help you get organized that you almost need an app to organize all your organizing apps. Say that 10 times fast.
There are a few good ones and a lot of not so good ones. So how do you know which ones are the best mobile apps for organizing your life?
Lucky for you, I have already gone through many of them searching for THE tool that will solve all my first world problems. And I am sharing my list of the best mobile apps for organizing various aspects of your life.
I’m going to be real with you and just say I love all things Google. The calendar is so simple to use and it is a great way to start organizing all your tasks.
I love Google calendar because you can sync it to other calendars (like Microsoft Outlook). With Google calendar you can create different calendars for different people (read: kids) and display them all on one calendar.
The color coding for the individual calendars was one of my favorite features, but they recently changed this. In the past, each event was highlighted in the color of the calendar, and now it’s just a small colored dot next to the event. I find it a bit trickier to see the color coding, but I’m also getting older.
Even without the color coding, Google Calendar is awesome and I recommend it to anyone who wants a free and really simple calendar tool.
I have tried a lot of to do list apps in my time and I never really liked any. This one, however, is so simple to use yet provides a lot of functionality that the others don’t. Here are a few of my favorite features.
You can have multiple to do lists.
You can add an item and then assign it to a list.
You can add priorities to each task (high, medium, low and none)
You can add a time estimate for each task on your list.
My favorite feature of all is the daily notification. You get a notification on your phone with your daily tasks that you can easily check off as you finish things up during the day.
This is a great budgeting and money tracking app! I prefer this app over budgeting apps like Mint. Once you get signed up, which is super easy and free, you can easily create your budget. This is a great tool for anyone that is:
New to budgeting
Wants easy access to their budget on a phone or pad
Doesn’t want to use a spreadsheet
Basically, you begin by adding your income and then listing your expenses for the month. There are 8 standard expense categories but you can add custom categories as well. You enter your planned expenditures and then as you spend you can track your remaining balance. You can also connect your credit card accounts and bank accounts to make it even easier to keep track of your monthly budget(this is part of the premium option).
There is also a little graphic that shows you what percent of your income each category occupies. This goes a long way in helping you to asses your spending!
Are you blessed with (read:drowning in) your kids artwork all around the house? Do you feel guilty about throwing things out or worried you should keep them? Well Keepy has you covered!
This app allows you to take pictures of your child’s art work and store and share that art work with grandparents and other “fans” (people you add to your app). You and their fans can add text, voice or video comments to art work. My kids especially love this feature.
This is a great way to get rid of some of the clutter without feeling guilty and having someone ask where their picture is. My kids love seeing their artwork in the app and will scroll through, read or listen to the comments and talk about their art work.