Productivity Hacks from a busy Mompreneur

 

My husband and I seem to thrive in chaos. If things get too slow around our house, we add another kid or side hustle into the mix…We’re constantly full of ideas, bubbling with energy, and our disdain for boredom propels us ever forward…this also means we need to live life with a heavy dose of humility and we put a lot of extra effort into the systems that make our family function.

Our drive to go means our weekends are always full of excitement and we’re also kind of super fun people. Book club? Let’s start one. Game night? Absolutely. 3 kids and an Airbnb rental? No problem. Last minute party at our house? Let’s do it. Buy a house? New job? Start a business? Camping trip? Pick up a new book or 3? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

We’ve failed, we’ve succeeded, we’ve forgotten things and missed flights,  but we’ve also been really successful. Sometimes I look back at the years since having kids and do the math…7 years, 365 days per year, 3 meals a day…that’s 7665 meals I’ve never forgotten to provide!

Being in the bookkeeping and tax biz means I need to keep meticulous records, with near perfect scheduling precision and top-notch data security. There’s little room for error with dozens of employees counting on me for their paychecks and hard-working business owners relying on me and entrusting me with their financial livelihoods. So along the way, in business and in life, we’ve found some amazing lifehacks I couldn’t live without!

Gadgets:

Google Assistant: “Hey google, remind me next time I’m at Target to pick up a new toothbrush.” “Hey google, add brussel sprouts to my grocery list” “Hey google, remind me today at 1pm to call mom”

We use both the Amazon Alexa at home and Google Assistant on our phones, if I were starting over again I’d be all in on Google. Google’s ability to set reminders based not just on time and date, but location are simply amazing. I can’t tell you how many times I would have a grocery list, but then forget to actually check it when I arrived at the store. Now, thanks to Google Keep, when I arrive at Trader Joe’s, my Trader Joe’s shopping list pops up on my phone. More importantly, the ability to not use my hands when I’m at home making dinner + chasing a baby is a game changer. “Hey Google, call mom…set a timer…play the news…send a text message…remind me to…”  My husband, notoriously bad for forgetting to add things to the calendar because it was too much of a hassle to break out his phone and open the app (or more likely he tried to, but twitter was open and, well, the rest is history), now he can just say, “Hey Google, add soccer game to the calendar for tomorrow night at 6.” Life changer, my friends, life changer.

Smart Watches: My smart watch rocks because it comes with the full functionality of the Google Assistant and the ability to see messages and answer calls without the hassle of keeping a bulky phone on me at all times. But honestly the greatest productivity improvement of a smartwatch for me comes from it’s decreased distractibility. To get the most productivity out of your smartwatch, I suggest you don’t add the apps that you find most distracting, add the apps and tech you actually need most, like email and text messages, and stop carrying your phone on you and going down the facebook hole everytime you open your phone to respond to a text message. For me it’s been a big improvement, I don’t worry about missing something important from a client, but am less prone to unnecessary distractions if I’m hanging out with my kids.

Apps:

Google Calendar: I’m telling y’all people, I am all in on Google, I hear people swear by other apps, like Cozi, I’ve tried, I just can’t do it. I love the ability to have things color coded by person, multiple calendars setup one for home, one for work, one for meal planning and (hopefully this isn’t TMI) a “Love Calendar” for at-home date night ideas or random acts of spousal kindness. I love that it integrates with our smart speakers and phone assistants and as I’m flying out the door or chatting about plans with someone I can just say “Hey google, what’s on the calendar for next Tuesday”

Google Keep: This one is my number 1 winner. If you do nothing else on this list, check this out. I’ve tried Trello, Evernote, Any.do, you name it, I’ve tried it, but I. Love. Keep. It’s essentially a note taking app with the ability to take notes, drawings, snap pictures and create to do lists, it can grab text from an image so that you can later go back and find information using the “search” function, you can tag and categorize items and pin important items to the top. You can share with people, set one-time, daily, or location-based reminders and the phone widget is super handy. Currently we have a “bed time routine” checklist that pops up every night to get kids ready for bed and different shopping lists that pop up when we arrive at individual stores including a “Costco” list, “Ace Hardware” list and “Aldi” list. For work I have client to do lists and meeting notes, and I take pictures of business cards I receive for future reference.  It’s not perfect, it lacks some of the drag and drop functionality of Trello and while you can share with other people, it’s not great for collaborating with a lot of people, so for in-depth projects it may not be the way to go, but for ease of use, quick-access and it’s ability to work from my smart speaker, watch, phone or computer, makes this my go-to app for day-to-day needs.

Services

Instacart: I’m a recent Instacart convert, and it’s quickly making my grocery lists obsolete, but man do I love it! For years I resisted worrying about the price tag, but I wind up spending way less money per grocery “trip” because I tend to plan meals ahead and make far fewer impulse buys. To be able to say “I’m grocery shopping do you need anything?” To my husband, then walk over to the couch, click a few buttons and five minutes later, I’m done…the time saving is just incredible, and I can’t believe I spent so many years trying to grocery shop with kids!

Honey: My husband and I tend to be very frugal people and I’m guilty of spending too much time shopping around for the best deal. At a certain point, like when you’re running a business and raising kids, the time you spend shopping around just isn’t worth it anymore. That’s where Honey comes it, if you find a product you want, it does everything for you, tells you if there’s a better deal elsewhere and what the price history is on the item. It’s a huge time saver and as someone who’s always budget conscious (always frugal, never cheap!) I love this app/chrome extension!

Mint: Owned by Intuit, the company that owns QuickBooks, so you know it’s secure and it’s amazing! All of our bank accounts, credit cards, loans, retirement plans and assets are in Mint. You can set budgets, analyze what you’re spending money on, and see what bills are coming due this week. I’m a sucker for aesthetically pleasing and colorful pie charts analyzing financial data, so I’m totally in love with Mint!

Lastpass: It’s just a must have, you may be able to remember all of your passwords for every single website and service there is, but there is no way you can remember all of them and have them be sufficiently secure and difficult to hack without a password manager. The free version is great, and the business and family versions are even better. I can share passwords with my husband, or securely save notes like credit card numbers for easy access when online shopping. You could ask me what my password is for any given site, and I honestly couldn’t tell you, I don’t worry about remembering passwords anymore, Lastpass does it for me!

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