Do you struggle with time management as a busy mom? This episode is for YOU! Today we’re chatting with Cara Harvey from Purpose Driven Mom about how to put realistic strategies in place to get more done and feel less overwhelmed. This is time management for moms with a lot on their plates.
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Welcome to the show notes for Episode #170 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast!
As a former classroom teacher, now homeschooling mom of five, I love to equip and encourage other homeschooling families.
On the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast our goal is to inspire and encourage you with actionable strategies to take you from overwhelmed to confident in your homeschool adventure. Listen to interviews with amazing influencers in the homeschool world and beyond.
Realistic Time Management Strategies for Busy Moms
Listen to episode 170 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast as we discuss time management for moms and how we can be productive AND realistic in the goals we set for ourselves.
This episode is full of so many actionable strategies. If you want to download a handy PDF of the transcript with main points highlighted and space for notes, then you can request that below and work through the information at your own pace.
Don’t just listen to this conversation – take action!
Cara Harvey from A Purpose Driven Mom
Our guest on episode 170 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast is Cara Harvey. She’s the host of the Purpose Driven Mom Show and an expert in all things productivity and time management. This chat with Cara is packed full of actionable strategies for you!
Get access to Cara’s FREE mini class Organize Your Life with Trello to learn more about her strategies.
Learn more from Cara’s book: The 15 Minute Formula: How Busy Moms Can Ditch the Guilt, Say Yes to What Matters, and Conquer Their Goals
Why do moms feel like they’re failing with time management?
Abby: Welcome to the show, Cara.
Cara: Thanks for having me.
Abby: It is wonderful to have you here and let’s just start out by go ahead and introduce yourself and your family to my audience.
Cara: Sure. So I am a mom of three. My kids are 4, 6 and 15 and I am a former burned out schoolteacher turned productivity coach for moms because I was grinding myself into the ground for a really, really long time and I loved teaching, but around year eight I thought I can’t do this anymore. I’m not sleeping. My anxiety was really high. I wasn’t spending time with my family, and I thought there’s got to be something else out there and I hate the word hustle, but it is definitely what I did that eighth year of teaching to be able to leave.
Planning to Do Less
So I got started in network marketing and I did that for three years until I realized I was on Groundhog’s Day because I was doing the same thing – inbox zero couldn’t go to bed unless my messages were answered, type of thing. I was carrying my computer around my house, I wasn’t being present with my family, and I thought there’s got to be something else and along the way, that’s kind of how my whole framework and everything happened because what I found was everything out there for moms was Get up at five am hustle do more or you’re failing.
Your why has got to be bigger than your excuses, all this shame-based trash, honestly. And I thought we’ve got to mix it up and so over the past five years, I’ve been able to help moms ditch the perfectionism, ditch the hustle and realize that they can actually accomplish more by planning to do less and not putting themselves on the back burner. So that’s what I get to do now.
How do moms make time for themselves?
Abby: That sounds amazing planning to do less because with my audience of homeschool moms, we’ve got a lot on our plates. So, talk to us about why women, especially moms, and especially homeschool moms are overwhelmed. What are the main culprits?
Cara: I think one of those is this statement of just prioritizing a lot of the times, you know, people coming to me and they’re like, I just don’t know what to do because we have a lot that we’re doing. And if I was to ask one of your moms like a homeschool mom be like, what’s your top priority? I’m sure kids are gonna be up there top one number one or two, right?
But what do we do we say? Well, this and what my kids need is the most important. So I’m gonna just put the rest on the back burner and I’ll work on it tomorrow.
And you know, there’s this concept of big three, right? Like pick your three for the day and I actually think that’s a disservice to us because again, my top three priorities, you know, are probably going to be, you know, my husband and my kids, things like that, where do I fall all the way at the bottom?
Why you can’t keep working on your top 3 priorities
And if I’m constantly just always working on my top three priorities, I will never get to the things that matter to me that are important to me and that fill me up. And that leads us on this path of resentment, feeling like we’ve got to hustle until we burn out, putting ourselves last all the time and then actually not enjoying the moment, right?
Not enjoying the times where you’re getting to homeschool, the times where you’re getting to have fun with your kids because our to do list is just always running in the back of our brains.
How can I be productive as a mom?
And so I teach this counter intuitive approach of actually kind of using what I call micro priorities and these micro blocks instead of saying what’s your big priority?
Using micro priorities
It’s what is my focused priority for this time of my day. And that’s where we know to focus on instead of this huge overarching, we’ll just do it all because that’s what’s expected of us
Abby: I want to get into the nitty gritty here because this is really interesting. But I have another question because you know what it’s like to be a busy mom and I mean you’re busy all day, you’re not sitting, you’re not relaxing, you’re busy the entire day.
But at the end of the day, you’re like I got nothing done. Why do you think that happens? Why do we feel that way?
What does success look like in time management for moms?
Cara: I think that we feel that way because we are given this unrealistic set of expectations for what it success looks like. I think a lot of times we think success at the end of the day is that I didn’t yell at my kids, we got all of our schooling done, all of my, my house is perfect, you know, I got everything checked off my list, but what we’re doing and listen, hand up, this is not a place of shame or blame here, like I do the same – recovering perfectionist here too – is we see every line of our planner and we think we have to fill it up.
If you take nothing else out today, you don’t have to do that. Just because the line is there does not mean you need to put something there. And I think what leaves us feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied and ending the end of the day, throwing our hands up in the air and saying we failed is that we’re looking at the wrong thing as the measure of success.
Making progress the most important thing
Completion of the big task is not always the measure of success. I think progress is a better indicator, I think picking micro tasks and instead of saying, you know, like I’m going to declutter my whole kitchen, you pick that one 15-minute thing, my whole framework is around 15 minutes, right?
How can a stay at home mom be more productive?
That one thing and you say have I moved closer towards my goal. Of that, whatever, that big one is today. And if I have taken that step in any way, I don’t care if you were like, I’m gonna take 15 minutes to organize my spice cabinet today and I didn’t even have time to that, but I pulled everything out. Cool, I’m proud of you and you should be proud of yourself because you refuse to stand and say I can’t do this because I’m a failure.
I’m going to allow success to be measured in the progress and not the perfection.
Abby: I agree. I think the goals are usually these huge things that really have lots of steps to them, but we don’t think about that. We just think of the big final product and that is what makes us frustrated because every day I’m not getting this huge goal done. So that makes a lot of sense.
So, for the mom who is maybe not so familiar, what do you mean? What is time blocking? How would you define it? What does it look like? Can you give us a little rundown?
How can stay at home moms manage their time well?
Cara: Yeah, let’s do like a time blocking crash course. For me, when I was teaching, I taught special education and I was in charge of our ninth grade, I mean I had to be everywhere. I was in the units out of them pushing pull up, support all of it. So, my schedule had to be literally 15-30 minutes. That worked for me.
Then I became a mom, and I learned my kids do not care about like how dare they write, but like they do not give a rip about what I want to do and what time they need to tie their shoes so we can go to the park, like none of that matters to them. And I found myself getting locked in hourly scheduling because that’s how we’re conditioned.
And when I found time blocking, it was this light bulb for me.
Flexibility & urgency in time management for moms
So, I want to encourage you if you’re listening and you’re like schedules. Like if you’re one of those people who you don’t want to hear it lean back in because time blocking gives you flexibility. And if you’re somebody who needs a schedule lean back in because time blocking is gonna give you urgency.
And the basic concept is assigning your day into I think 3 to 4 hours is the sweet spot. But anywhere between two- and five-hour chunks so that you can be focused on what you’re doing and give them a purpose.
Customizing your time blocks
So when you’re creating your time blocks, look at your schedule and I always notice this mistake, I’m gonna point it out before we start – people think everyday needs to look the same and especially if you’re homeschooling, I’m sure you have different schedules, you might have days where going to co-op, you might have days where you’re doing a trip or you’re doing different subjects. Whatever it looks like you might not have days where you’re, you know, doing school at all at home.
So every day can look different. You can do a Monday, Wednesday, Friday when my partner’s home, if they’re traveling Saturday, Sunday, so permission granted, not that you need it, but sometimes we have to hear it.
Create blocks around natural anchors in your day
Customize this however you want, but look at a typical day for you and ask yourself are there natural anchors in my day that I can create these blocks around?
With a lot of moms who are like empty nesters and grandma’s and they’re like, I don’t have any anchors in our day. For me because my kids are in traditional schooling, my anchors tend to be around dropping them and picking them up. But if you are like, we don’t have any anchors, anchor on meals, anchor around breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner because those are things that are naturally happening.
Time blocking examples
So for example, my ideal blocks don’t always happen this way I say ideal because you know, it’s like where we want to go. My first block is five when I’d like to get up, but I’m not gonna lie to you, I get up at like six, it’s fine, but from like 5 to 9 and nine is when I take my kids to school or camp now that we’re in the summer, that’s my first block. Those are natural breaks.
My second block goes from about 9 to 12 and my kids are out. So what’s my natural break there? That’s when I break for lunch and I take a lunch break.
I move to another block from 12 to 3 when I pick them up and then I have a chunkier block from like 3 to 8 when they go to bed and then I have a smaller block at the end of the night.
So, look at your plan or whatever. You use a piece of paper and ask yourself do I have these natural blocks there?
Theme out your time blocking
Now most people kind of get this concept of time blocking. This is like the very basics that you see, you can print anything out on Pinterest, but what I really encourage people to do is take it a step further and theme them out.
One of the things I hear a lot from the moms that I work with are I don’t have the time, or I don’t know where to put this and theming out our blocks is this light bulb of saying I’m not just working on the theme during this block, but I know where things go now.
Themed time blocking examples
So, looking at your blocks, what could your themes be?
So, my morning block, that’s my self-care block from five tonight. Now do I ignore my kids tell them to fend for themselves and do nothing else but my self care? No, but it tells me this is where my micro tasks go, and we’ll get into that until the next step.
So maybe you have a self-care box. If you’re planning out for the year for homeschool again, this is where we’re doing this type of work, this is where we’re doing this subject, this is where our co-op time goes. What’s the theme for it?
I have a theme that’s like family block. We have a chores block where we run errands and do stuff around the house. I have a personal goals block and when you theme that way and you look at the and so I do encourage, like, kind of looking at each day differently, you can really look at your week and say, oh, if I was to make a goal to declutter the kitchen, we’re going to go back to that because that’s one of my summer goals, right? I would say, I don’t know where to do it, that’s where our brain automatically goes.
The benefit of themed time blocks
But now that I’ve got these themes, it’s like, oh, well that could go under my chores block, or that could go under my personal goals block. It now has a place to land.
And I think when your theme in your blocks like this, and I wish someone had taught me this earlier. Like, I can’t imagine in college, like how helpful this would be. We do not teach our kids these things, but teach them how to make this schedule now. I know where they go.
Creating micro priorities
So you go through and you kind of theme out your blocks and then our next step is the micro priorities.
But I’ll pause in case there’s anything you want me to dive deeper in there because I know I’m like, what is the phrase? Like a fire hose? I talk very fast. So is there anything you want me to dive back into with that?
Abby: Well, I was going to ask. So, you know, normal time blocking. If like you print out something online, it does have like all the 15-minute increments, but doesn’t sound like you’re getting that detailed, you’re a little more general, which actually takes the pressure off because who wants to micromanage every 15 minutes of their day? Like that’s ridiculous.
Cara: Miserable. And here’s the whole thing about time blocking. So, I mentioned that flexibility and that urgency, here’s what it gives you.
Examples of micro priorities
This is what we typically do. I’m going to declutter my kitchen right by the end of the day, we say we’ve got plenty of time. I’ll get it done. Our brain says I have to the end of the day, but what happens life right, life pops up a kid needs us. We have to pause. So instead, what we’re doing here with our time block is we’re saying I’m going to declutter that spice cabinet by the end of this block. So, there’s your urgency. I’m not waiting till the end of the day. I’m saying this is what I want to accomplish by the end of the block. So, I’ve got urgency.
But here’s the flexibility piece a lot of times with schedules, we think let’s think of a morning routine. We say we want to like get up, I do like my prayer, I do my walk for a walk and then I like journal. Say those are my three tasks in my morning routine.
Giving yourself flexibility for how you feel
But say I’m up in the morning and I just don’t feel like getting started on the prayer because that’s the first thing I said, I will procrastinate my entire block or won’t do any of it because I’m stuck. The flexibility piece here is saying these are the three micro tasks I want to get done in this block. I don’t care what order they get done in. I don’t care if they get done first or last. But now I have flexibility for how I feel.
We don’t do this. We think one size fits all here.
How a kids morning routine might look with micro priorities in a time block
I use this example with my kids. So, this is how I teach my kids routines. We did a morning routine with them. I said, these are the four tasks we’re going to do, and we use my routine stacking method for it. So I was like, I need you to brush your teeth, get dressed, put away your plates and like pick up your toys before we go to school. This is our typical routine and the beginning it was a struggle. I wanted them to do it my way. That’s how we want, right? Like we want everything in a certain order.
But what happened for me was one, I backed up and we didn’t do all four things at once. So in routine stacking, you kind of start with one thing and then you add something based on an increment you decide.
So we started with one thing, but once we got the whole routine down, I was still stuck on. You must do it in this order. But here’s the thing we talked about looking at what the real goal is. My real goal is they get it done.
Would I prefer that my kids brush their teeth like after they eat breakfast and before they got dressed so they don’t get toothpaste everywhere? Yes, I really would like that. Is that really the goal? No. So if my kid goes to school with toothpaste, I do not care because he did the thing, I wanted him to do and it gave my kids independence and flexibility to say, what do you feel like doing first?
So here’s your chart, here’s your four things. Just get them done however you feel like that they’ve got to be done by then and it’s this amazing way to teach our kids and retrain ourselves to say I can trust my intuition, I can trust my mood, I can trust my feeling.
Embracing flexibility in a time management for moms
If a phone call that’s supposed to take 15 minutes, takes 40, I get thrown off. I don’t have to always go in this, I’m not a robot and I can say this is what I want to get done, it’s gotta get done by the end of the block.
And if you’ve micro-ed them enough, It’s not overwhelming because they’re literally three 45 minutes of a task in a three hour block. Like it’s doable and I’m getting things done and I think that’s where this like shift in mindset around time blocking is, it’s like by the end of the block I can choose the order based on how I feel, how my day is going, what my needs are, my family’s needs and it’s this freedom of making a schedule that allows you to have intentionality and grace at the same time.
Using a homeschool time block
Abby: I think there’s two really great practical applications of this for homeschool parents.
So, one – for our kids who are homeschooling to do that same idea saying, okay, our school block is 9 to 12, you have all these tasks, you need to get done, you can do them in any order you want, but they have to be done by 12.
Like that gives them that like you said flexibility, but urgency. We don’t have all day, I don’t want you to be doing math at suppertime, right? So get it done, but you can kind of change order.
But I also think that this really would help homeschool moms because we feel guilty if we’re like, okay, I’m helping you with school from 9 to 12 and then from 12 to 3, I’m going to work on my own stuff. And sometimes as moms we feel guilty like, wait a second, don’t I have to be present all day long for the kids?
And we don’t actually and so it kind of gives permission I think to say, okay school block is 9 to 12, 12 to 3 is hobbies and work, you know, whatever – kids go play. I think it would lessen a lot of guilt that some homeschool moms because you know, am I allowed to say I’m not working with the kids for the afternoon? And yes, you are and I think this method would set us up for a lot of success there.
What about mom guilt when we’re talking time management for moms?
Cara: Yeah. And the guilt comes with feeling like we must serve all the time and put us last and I think what really helps because this is another one of those big questions.
I’ve worked with thousands of moms with the mom guilt, right? Like I feel like guilty working on my thing. And I was telling one of the moms I work with, she was like, I want to read for pleasure. I feel guilty taking any time to do this for me.
Starting small with the 15-minute framework
And I encourage a 15-minute framework. And I said, can you start small? Can you pick one day a week for 15 minutes inside of whatever block you choose and do that. It’s 15 minutes and here’s the magic I find is like 15 minutes will go by fast. Like give me a TikTok, I’ll be done 15 minutes. I’m on Instagram, I’m scrolling whatever. I’m staring into space for 15 minutes. But if you’re intentional about 15 minutes and you put on a timer and you’re like, let’s get it done. You can get your house picked up real quick. A lot can happen in 15 minutes.
Time inventories are important in time management for moms
And I also encourage moms through time inventories. So as everyone’s planning for the new year with schooling, do some inventories. How long do those home tasks take? Because here’s what I found.
I don’t like to load the dishes. It’s one of my least favorite home things. It’s annoying. I have to keep doing it all the time. But in my time inventory, I learn it takes me about six minutes to unload my dishwasher and 20 to complain about it. And I think that aha is like, wait, It’s just six minutes! And when we look at 15 minutes we can look at it like it’s just 16 minutes. I can get do an unfavorable task or get something done.
But then we can also say it’s 15 minutes. I can get a lot done and when we start to look at our time in that type of way and we’ll dive in I think in a second those like nitty gritty the micro and you’re saying, yeah, this is my self-care block.
Time blocks have to include you AND your kids!
But like I said, yes, when I get my work done, yes, when I do my reading and my kids are doing things that’s also part of the time blocking you identify what you’re doing and what your kids are doing during that block. I think a lot of times we don’t do that.
Like this is my block to make dinner. If you don’t find what your kids are doing, I’m going to be kicking somebody on my foot, like things are not going to get done. And so it’s this really great place of saying, I’m not saying for four hours, I’m just on me and that’s it.
Again, the themes are there not to say, it’s the only – it is to say this is where I’m going to focus on that and then whatever happens for the rest of the four hours is what happens, but I took that time for this one piece of this goal that mattered to me. That moved me closer to my big goal.
Abby: So it sounds like it also takes the pressure off. If I think today, oh I need to get this task done but it can wait till Tuesday in that bucket. I don’t have to think about it, right?
How do you keep track and write down notes – like do you have a chart, is it in your planner? And how do you keep track of Oh, I’m putting it in this bucket, and I want to declutter my kitchen on this day, like how do you keep track of that?
Are you a hybrid planner? Using paper & digital
Cara: Sure. So the system I use, I am a hybrid planner type of a person. I went to a conference once and they were like pick paper or electronics like you can’t be both. It’s confusing and I said no 0% no.
I love my paper planner, but I used to go to map out my personal goals and Trello is an absolutely free tool website. It actually was for businesses to manage the project management software and what we’ve done is we take it and we use it for moms because you can map out everything if you have not mapped out homeschool on Trello, go look at it.
I swear it’s going to be a game changer because you can keep attachments, you can keep notes – on my daughter’s girl scout leader, I’ve got the whole thing mapped out there.
Using Trello for time management for moms
But I do this for my goals. So what I do is on one of my boards – and Trello is very visual. So I’m going to do my best to explain the visual of it.
But I make these things called lists and I kind of break down the goals that I want to work on for the month. For example, inside that you can make the card with checklists and this is where I think a lot of people don’t want to do the work because it takes a little bit of work to break the goals down, but if you spend the time breaking your goals down when it’s time to do the thing, you’re not going to stare into space and be like what do I do? I’m so tired, I don’t know where to get started, so I’m just going to binge my Netflix or whatever I’m doing. You’re like, Cool, here’s my one actionable 15-minute task.
So if I’m looking at this decluttering example before the month starts, the week before I’m going to make this card on Trello. And I’m going to write down the batches that I wanted to declutter. So maybe I decide that I wanted to declutter two rooms because that means I can work on, you know, one room for two weeks in the month of July.
Start with a brain dump
I go through and then I’m going to brain dump all the things I can do in 15 minutes.
So it’s not declutter the kitchen, it’s declutter the spices, declutter pantry drawer one, pantry two, pantry three, freezer, fridge, and ask yourself can I do this in 15 minutes.
If you think a task will take more, you can assign it by space or you can say like Spices time one, spices time two, whatever you want.
And what this does is it offloads our brain of looking at the big picture, but instead says this is doable for me. Because I think a lot of times, we have lost confidence in ourselves, that we can achieve things, we’ve failed so many times.
How many times have I written declutter on my vision board and not done it right, and so our brain says you don’t do that, you’re not somebody who shows up for your goals, this isn’t you. And we get this limiting belief. We get this story in our heads.
And what’s really cool about, like the way we can actually retrain our brains is that once we start to show up for ourselves, our brains start to rewrite our story and you become a person who shows up every day, even if it’s just for five minutes or 15 on your goals and I think that’s really key.
Breaking down the big goals
So you go through, you break the whole goal down.
I teach four different types of goals in the breakdown. The decluttering is what I call a project-based goal, so that’s the one we’ll focus on right now. But I break it all down into this checklist. Then what I do is I turn it into a numerical goal. And those are ones that you can divide by math.
So let’s for easy math sake say that I’m going to work on this goal five days a week because I don’t ever recommend doing anything seven days a week. I don’t I get it 21 days have it. I’m not perfect. That is not me, right? And I’m going to be tired one night after sports practice and not want to load my dishes and I want buffer. So I always recommend 3-5 days to give yourself buffer again for life to happen and you just math it out.
So then what did I say? Let’s pretend there’s 10 sections of my kitchen and I’m going to give myself two weeks for it. So that’s 10 divided by 10, right? Five days a week. So that tells me one, I need to do one thing now, maybe you have 20 sections and 10 days, that’s two days. So it’s just making it math. We’re taking the emotion out and saying I’m know that five days a week. I need to do two of these sections and so I need to find time for it.
Being very specific with your weekly plan
So once I’ve got that broken out, what I do when I plan weekly is I pull out my actual planner and I don’t just write on my planner, declutter kitchen. I write spice drawer one, spice drawer two. I write the very specific inside where it’s going to go and then I track it inside Trello so I can see it.
It has like a little a cute little bar and it’ll tell you like how you did. So I like to check it off and see my progress and that’s kind of how I plan it out. I will make lists and I will, you know, separate what’s happening in what week.
It’s very good for like kinesthetic learners because you’re like moving stuff around and you know what I like? The best is – I hate like making my planner like super ugly with lots of cross outs – and so this way I can just move things and then I don’t have to find the white out.
And also, it’s very demoralizing to do that. So instead of just like moving something nicely, I don’t know, I just think it works for all different types of learners.
And it’s great for your kids if you want to like depending on the age of your kids, teach them some stuff in Trello. We’re doing college planning for my 15 year old now and he’s got a Trello board for it. Like it’s smart.
Use 15-minute chunks to plan out the month
So that’s kind of the overview it. I spend the time the third week of the month, in 15-minute chunks to plan the next month. I do it to give myself buffer. I then plan the month out that way with my goals.
So now when it’s time to plan, I plan the week and then when the day happens it happens. And one of the things that’s key is if you’ve pre identified your themes and your blocks, you now know where to put it – it goes into my chores block or whatever it is.
And I also encourage taking that concept of the big three and using the micro three.
So instead of saying, what are your big three priorities for the day? Ask yourself what are my three priorities that align with my theme for this block?
And you have to make them micro or you’re just going to overwhelm yourself.
So maybe my chores block or whatever that one is going to be called is declutter spice cabinet, sweep the floor and put the laundry away and that’s it.
Time blocking for buffer and intentionality
Now I still have a four-hour block to do whatever else we’re going to do. But I’ve got my focus and instead of always saying my kids are my top priority and that’s all we ever work on now, each block, you’re so intentional. You’re like, cool, this is my focus right now, let’s keep on going.
And because you’ve not over planned, you’ve got buffer in the rest of your day to finish the stuff that doesn’t get done, inevitably, right? To move things around, to sit down, and relax, to have a hot cup of coffee instead of that one, you’ve heated up like five times, right? You actually have more space.
And what I find is people say, well isn’t this going to take a long time maybe? But how has it been going so far? Trying to do it all dive in with both feet? We call it the Monday mentality, right?
Like you start a diet and you’re like, I’m going to do it all and go to the gym for two hours a day and never look at a carb or whatever. And then by Tuesday you’re like, nah, I’m not doing this, I’ll do it again, Monday.
How many Mondays have you said that to yourself with this? You’re making this small, tiny micro progress that by the end of the week you’re like, my kitchen’s not decluttered, but I did four to my seven tasks. Like, wow, hey, thanks for showing up. I talk to myself a lot like, Cara, thanks for showing up, Way to go, way to go. Like you did that thing, and you start to move and you start to progress and you start to do more because you’re not quitting because it was too overwhelming.
Abby: So how much time does it take for up keeping this whole schedule? And for Trello, how much time do you think you spend on that?
Time management for moms
Cara: Great question. So planning up a month probably takes me about 30 minutes to 45. I do it in 3, 15-minute chunks.
Like I start with my batch, like everything in my life. So I batch this too. So I start with my brain dump out the goals that I want in my 1st 15 minute block and then I kind of like give it some space.
I come back to it again, I put on a timer and like beat the timer, our brain loves that. Then the next 15-minute chunk, I start to break the goals down.
And then that final one is like where I clean it all up and then assign it to the weeks. So then by the end it’s done and I’ve got buffer for it.
So I would say it takes me 30 to 45 minutes once a month, but then on Sundays I can get planned in 15 minutes and then I’m planned for the week and then it takes me about five minutes every night to just look at it.
So once you do that work, it really is a time save because you’re not sitting there going, I should work on my goals today, what should I do? I don’t know. And then you forget what’s important to you and then, you know, we’re ringing in the New Year with the same goals on the vision board.
Planning with Trello
Abby: Now, do you have a template you start with Trello? I mean you’re not creating this from scratch every time?
Cara: No. Yeah, so I have, I have a weekly checklist. So I’ll make sure I get you that link and we can get it to everybody listening and it’s a weekly planning. It’s a PDF for those of us.
I want to say this to you. Don’t let guilt hold you back.
So there’s like a planning PDF for the week and then there’s a Trello board with a video that teaches you how to walk through it that it’s absolutely free. We can give to your listeners.
And it’s a really good start for planning out the week because it allows you to not start from scratch. That’s one of the cool things about Trello is the template feature.
So we have a board for vacation. We’re going away this weekend and I just copied the same vacation board from last year. I have a board for Christmas that I made last year. I’m going to use the template and then I’m going to adjust it. My son’s birthday is coming up. I’ve got a birthday board, like I’m not recreating the wheel.
I did originally and then I tweak it and then you make it a just, and there’s so many cool things you can do with it. And it’s free. A lot of people will say, do you use the paid version? I do not and I don’t use the paid version because I never want to teach something on the paid version that my people can do. So I try really hard with the software that I use that I teach on to keep it free because I’d rather make it simple for them too.
Abby: Yeah, now is your brain dump on paper or is that on Trello?
Cara: It depends. So depending on how frazzled I am in the month, if I’m super frazzled and I just need to get it out, I teach a quadrant brain dump system where, you know, it’s kind of like an Eisenhower matrix if you’re familiar with that. I do that like all the time on paper when I’m doing my goals. If I’m in like a really good state, I start on Trello because it’s easier. So I think it’s really customizable for what you need in the moment.
You can still be productive & not do it all
Abby: This is amazing. You’ve shared so many actionable tips and I do teach my moms also to use Trello for homeschool planning, but personally I have not used it for my planning on everything, you know what I’m saying? So, I mean, I just kind of limited it to homeschooling, but this is amazing because I am the same way. I love my paper, but I’m on Trello for homeschool, so I love the idea of using it and actually expanding it to use it for day to day. So this has given me a lot of inspiration.
So as we wrap up, I know we’re going to send everyone, we’ll put links in the show notes to your resources and I know you have awesome videos too. You’re right – Trello is so visual, it’s hard to necessarily understand how to do it unless you see it in action.
But give us just some final encouragement for the mom who’s listening who feels a little bit frazzled, but she does want to be more organized and less overwhelmed. Just give us a final word or two here.
Cara: Yeah, sure. Listen, whatever your past history has been with your day to day, that is not who you are if you don’t want to be. So if you identify and you’re like, I’m a hot mess and I’ll never get there, I want you to know that it is possible to go from feeling overwhelmed to become action taking.
But do not feel like you have to do it all. I want you to take one thing that I said, do not take it all. Go back. Listen, I said, I talk fast, take the notes, maybe prioritize them, pick one and do one task this week and start to show up that way and, and you can do it and listen – on the days that you can’t do it, like that’s also fine.
Abby: We have permission to take a day off if we need to. That’s awesome, Cara, where can people find you online?
Cara: Sure. So my podcast is called the Purpose Driven Mom Show. I’m on Instagram at A Purpose Driven Mom. So if you have questions just DM me because I can take some videos and help you back and forth.
And if you want, I do have a free Trello class. I just thought about it. It’s at a apurposedrivenmom.com/trello. It’s a really in-depth class on how to use it. It took me three tries to like Trello, so I just want to tell people that too. Like it’s not one and done.
And you can grab my book, The 15-minute Formula on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Abby: Cool, thank you so much. It was great talking with you today.
Cara: Yeah, thank you so much.
How do homeschool moms manage their time?
While the tips above can be used as strategies for time management for busy moms, you can use them in your homeschooling too to be more productive and organized!
Taking Cara’s strategy of creating broadly themed blocks of time in your day will help you manage homeschooling more efficiently. Then, do the next step and create a list of micro tasks that need done in your homeschool block each day.
Keep track of these micro tasks by using Trello to organize your homeschool. Your teens can use their own Trello boards to manage their tasks and learn to become more independent. Your elementary kids can use workboxes to visually and physically organize their homeschool day into micro tasks.
- What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam
- 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam – This book is a game-changer in focusing your mindset on the right metrics. It’s essential for improved time management for moms to start to look at your week this way. And I think that Cara’s framework shared above fits so well into this mindset too.
- FOMO for Homeschool Moms & what to do about it
Be More Productive in Your Homeschooling with Notebooking
Do you want to know a really great way to effectively teach multiple ages together using any curriculum or living books? That would be to use Notebooking!
And our friends at Notebooking Pages have 3000 FREE printables for you to access plus a Notebooking Quick Start Guide to show you exactly how to implement notebooking into your homeschool plan.
Get your FREE pages today! You can use notebooking as one of the strategies toward better time management for moms.