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Own Your Calendar to Own Your Life

Inspired by this week’s featured Reflection Weeks episode of the Moms Making Six Figures Podcast with our founder, Heidi Bartolotta, who believes in owning your calendar to own your life.  There is freedom in taking back your most finite resource: time. 


One of the perks of mentoring teens through some of their most tumultuous years is getting to be a first-hand witness to their astounding growth as they step into their identity and find their passion for life.  Their contagious energy is also wildly admirable (yes, I realize they sleep in absurd stretches of time, but have you seen what they juggle and accomplish when they are awake?!) and I often find myself thinking back to my own college days while drinking my third cup of coffee, “How do they do it? How did I do it?”

Quite simply, young adults are experts at time management (please suspend your disbelief, I can hear your cries of outrage echoing across the internet).   Really, it’s true.  Their schedules are every bit as demanding and filled to the brim as our own, but they have the hard-wired training and resources to manage all the moving pieces (with our guidance, chauffeuring, and financial support of course). They know the secrets many of us have forgotten when we left the world of 18 credit semesters and part-time jobs behind: the secrets of time blocking and a balanced calendar.  Here are six strategies you can begin implementing today to take back your calendar, and your time, to find freedom for fun and pursuing your passions.


Time Blocking

Unlike teens and university students, most of us don’t have dedicated and focused amounts of time (blocks) throughout our day for specific and similar tasks, like our ENGL 101 course. When we were students, whatever remained to be completed at the end of a class got put on the back burner while we focused our attention on the next block, and it didn’t come back to our mind until we hit our study block later that day.

Looking over your own calendar, begin by identifying all the daily tasks that are an essential and necessary part of your routine, both personally and professionally.  Group like tasks, and assign blocks of time to each.  Instead of living by a to-do list that will inevitably lead to burn out, with time blocking you focus your attention and energy on related tasks in a set period of time; what remains to be done, will remain to be done, and you move on to the next block.

Color Coding

Now that you’ve organized your calendar into blocks of time, designate each block with its corresponding color of your seven chakras.  This isn’t just some new age magic or an excuse to play with colorful pens, instead this technique allows you to see, visually, where your calendar and likely your life is out of alignment.  Each of your chakras corresponds to one of seven energy points in your body; if we’re trying to better manage our time, motivation, and energy, it would make sense to start from a point of reflection to achieve more synergy.

Here is just one way to approach this technique according to LinkedIn blogger John Rampton, “For example, because red is the root chakra symbolizing survival and safety, you would want to use that color for all work-related tasks.  For creative tasks, you might choose to use orange; yellow would represent the items that help you grow; green is reserved for personal events like lunch with a friend; blue equates to activities that express your mind like writing, and indigo is meant for activities that deserve your attention.”

E-mail

It’s a necessary part of doing business, and most parts of our modern lives.  If we don’t manage our e-mail, our avoidance of it will eventually manage us.  You have to commit time to organizing your personal and professional communication, and once you have a system in place, in order to maintain it, you need to give it its own block in your day.  We said we what we said, there is no way around it.  See Do It Yourselfbelow.

Eat the Frog

There’s a reason this time management technique took the business world by storm when it first debuted, and continues to do so.  According to Brian Tracy, the technique’s founder, when you tackle your Most Important Task of the day before you turn your attention to anything else, you can, “go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worse things are going to [go] all day long.”  Even science proves that our most productive and focused hours are in the morning, before other distractions and tasks consume our energy.

Determine when your “Power Hours” are and dedicate that Time Block to your biggest work frog each day; best to eat it before lunch so you can cleanse your palate as the day continues.

Schedule Everything

If it isn’t important enough to make it on your calendar, it probably doesn’t deserve one of your time blocks.  Conversely, there are aspects of our lives that are essential to our well-being and our soul’s nourishment; if these areas aren’t making it onto your calendar, you’re likely experiencing some alignment issues between your personal and professional life.  Just as you would schedule a block of time for meetings, schedule a block of time to take care of your physical and mental health, whatever that looks like for you. And, if you have a tendency to allow your work day to linger long into the evenings and time with your family and friends is continually being compromised, it’s time to begin scheduling an ‘Out of Office’ time as well.

Make yourself an optional list of ‘electives’ and ‘extra-curriculars’ you’d like to pursue if there are openings in your schedule, but that can also be the first things to be removed when your calendar begins to feel chaotic or life begins to feel unbalanced.  And perhaps the biggest challenge, dare we say it, begin to block open time into your day every single day that you can choose how to flexibly fill depending on what the day and your dreams demand

Do It Yourself

When you find the system, or systems, that work best for you, the most successful entrepreneurs have found that as soon as they begin to outsource their time management, they begin to outsource their control over their own life as well. Maintain your own calendar, reflect on it and refine it often, and share it with the people who it affects the most, but never outsource your schedule to someone else to plan for you.


Teens and young adults are exceptional at time-management because they have no other choice but to be.  When you own your calendar, you own your time and ultimately you own your life.  Fine tune this skill and achieve your personal and professional goals while also gaining better alignment and freedom with your most finite resource: time.

 

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The Practical Perks of Involving Your Children in Your Business

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast episode with Tax Strategist Jessica Smith who believes in making your money work as hard for you as you work for it, all while giving our children the gift of practical experience and work ethic.


I can still remember my first job.  There was no W-2, no new hire paperwork, no cash exchanged.  The contract was made between my parents and their dear friend, recently widowed, over a handshake and through tears of gratitude.  I mucked horse pastures, and cleaned stalls for an entire summer of Saturday’s in exchange for hot tub privileges.  In hindsight I know exactly what my parents were doing and I hope to be able to do the same for my children.


The Perk of Perspective

As parents we ask our children about their day, their academics, their athletics, and their friends, but it’s important that we share our lives with them as well.  By opening these reciprocal conversations, we offer our kids a window into the reality of work and making a living (and a life) for ourselves, and for them.   These conversations develop empathy and gratitude, and lay a valuable foundation for successful communication with others.

The Perk of Practical Experience

The workforce is rapidly evolving and so are the skills required to be successful; by involving our children in our businesses and in our daily work rhythms, we provide them with valuable knowledge and practical experience to advance their own careers when they choose to enter the workforce.  Many of our children have a variety of foundational skills, but lack the ability to hone them or apply them in a different context without direction and support.

Think of the variety of tasks you and your employees perform in any given day and begin teaching your children those same skills you now consider to be rote; you can develop their skill set as their interest and ability grows.

The Perk of Principles Learned

We’ve all experienced our own share of failures as working professionals (and as parents), and sometimes the sting is worse than others.  By teaching our children principles of the business world and developing their work ethic early, we offer them a safe place to take risks, and make mistakes, before a future employer or client delivers their first critique or negative review.

Start with a seemingly simplistic, but essential skill for everyone who is self-employed.  Teach your children how to create an invoice, disperse it, and collect on it for the work they are doing in your business.  A valuable skill set is learned, and responsibility and ownership over their agency as an employee is instilled.

The Perk of Parenting in a New Way

As parents we know the painful reality of the adage, “The days are long, but the years are short” and many of us are feeling stretched to find intentional time with our children with all the hats we wear.  Bringing our children to work and including them in our business, allows us more time with them when time is fleeting, and allows us to bond with them and strengthen our relationship in an entirely different way.  They get to see a different side of you, and you get to see the person they are becoming.

The Perk of Pennies Saved

If you are a sole proprietor or LLC, and your child is under 18, you can hire your child as an employee without paying social security or Medicare taxes, and write-off their work as a business expense.  Of course, you will want to discuss the specifics with your accountant and ensure the work they are performing is reasonable considering their age. If your children earn less than $12,000 (the standard deduction on any tax return), they have no tax liability. Better yet? You can teach your children the value of financial investment and saving by establishing a 529 College Savings Plan with a portion of their earnings to help them (and you) save for their future.

The Perk of a Passion Ignited

In addition to instilling the foundations of work ethic, from learning to report to someone else, performing a task as directed, and showing up prepared and on-time, you may also spark your child’s passion for their future education or career endeavors. Author and speaker, Ramon Ray, gave his son the opportunity to accompany him on work travel and shoot video, and later edit that footage, “I told my son that I had a number of people I could turn to for video editing but that I’d give him a week to do several videos.  After that, I’d turn to my regular video editors.  He did the videos.”

Opportunities present themselves in any number of places, whether it’s in a conversation with a colleague while they’re organizing your filing cabinet, a spark of innovation while cleaning the office space, or a passion for social media marketing ignited when they take over your business Instagram for the day, your habit of making “Bring Your Child to Work Day” a normal rhythm of your life (and theirs) may just jumpstart their road to discovering their purpose.


Mucking horse pastures and cleaning stalls instilled a deep appreciation within me for manual laborers and their often thankless work.  Sacrificing my Saturdays helped me to understand the value of putting others before ourselves, and looking back on my first job I am filled with gratitude for my parents and their wisdom, and now have some of the fondest memories of ‘swimming’ in an indoor hot tub.

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How to get the most out of your day & night!

Here’s 3 Tips to get the most out of your Day & Night:

1) Morning Routine:

Part of what makes us so productive during “normal life” (pre-quarantine), is that we have a schedule to keep. Now that we’re all commuting from our beds to the kitchen table… it’s easy to get to 5 o’clock and realize you never changed out of your PJ’s. (No judgement, I’ve been there)

Get up and shower, and get dressed for work. This puts you in the right mindset to get into “work mode” and be productive.

Also, a little “Me Time” in the morning goes a long way. What fills your “happiness tank” up? Do that first thing in the morning. Maybe it’s taking time to read, listen to music, or go for a walk. The point is, “put your oxygen mask on before assisting others”. A happier you is a more productive you.

2) Turn OFF the News!

We get it… there’s a virus going around. It needs to be taken seriously. Give yourself 15 min to get caught up on the developments of the day, at the end of the day. Very rarely is anything SO important that you can’t learn about it in the evening after the day is done. Too many people are glued to their television sets or social media… all. day. long. It’s just gonna raise your stress levels and make you overly emotional. News today is incentivized to be “click-baity” and sensationalize everything. Take precautions, wash your hands and take your daily vitamins!

3) Bedtime Routine:

Since there’s no boss to see you show up late, you might feel the urge to binge watch all 7 episodes of your new favorite series in one night… alarm clock be damned. Resist this temptation and keep a bedtime schedule to maintain your natural circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle). Study after study points to the physical and mental benefits of a balanced rhythm and 7+ hours of sleep a night. You’ll experience:

An Improved Mood

Improved Weight-Loss

Increased Energy

Improved Focus & Memory

Improved Exercise Performance

Reduced Inflammation

Improved Immune Health

Just to name a few. If you need help you can try a hot bath with a relaxing essential oil.

Children Family Time

Time management is key!

Meet Erin! When we say she is a busy mom, we mean it. (You will understand why after reading her story.) One thing is for sure, we left this interview feeling inspired by Erin’s amazing work ethic and advice. Read on to learn more about her! 

Can you give us a little of your personal background?

I’m the lucky momma of a busy, blended family. Between us, we have two boys (17 & 13) and two girls (8 & 7). I work 30 hours a week as a radiographer for an orthopedic surgeon group and put in 20 hours a week as a personal trainer; working for corporate health and managing my own client base. My partner, Eddie, and I also own a t-shirt printing company. 

After 17 years in healthcare, my goal is to replace that income by working with Moms Making Six Figures. I am ready to focus my attention on my family, current fitness clients and our t-shirt business.

How do you manage your time between working three jobs and running your Moms Making Six Figures business?

Time management is key! Working three jobs was manageable, as they are all things I enjoy. Working four? Without time management, it would be impossible. I bought myself a planner and I block out my time. Everything goes in my planner. I’ll give you a little glimpse of what that looks like…

Because my hours in corporate health and at the clinic are set, it goes in the book first. Next, any appointments or activities for the family. I schedule in my personal training clients and of course, I block off time for Moms Making Six Figures. Eddie and I work the t-shirt business around everything else. Basically, we live and die by the planner. It truly sets us up for success! 

What advice do you have for moms who are working multiple jobs alongside of their entrepreneurial dreams?

My top pieces of advice are:

  • Set aside blocks of time to devote to YOUR business. We go to work and put in 8-10-hour days for someone else’s dream, make your dream just as important.
  • Learn to multi-task. For example, when I’m driving, I’m listening to trainings or choreographing new routines.
  • Use the small windows of time! You can do big things in just five minutes. My first two months with Moms Making Six Figures were worked solely in 5-10-minute increments.
  • Use social media as a networking tool… no more wasted hours scrolling mindlessly.
  • Don’t be afraid to give up something now for the greater good of the future. If I really want to be successful, I may decide working on my business is more important than an hour of television. It’s not helping me grow or making me better in any way!
  • Finally, it’s okay to say no. It is so easy to feel “mom guilt” and overextend yourself. Save your sanity and set some boundaries.

What does “life on your own terms” mean to you?

Living life on my own terms means having freedom! First, the freedom from time constraints put in place by others. Being able to participate in field trips, sporting events, volunteering and travel without having to ask permission from a boss is living life on my own terms. Freedom from financial constraints, as well. Having the ability to gift our children experiences and education, being able to give back to our community in a big way, all without having to worry about it straining our personal finances… It all comes back to freedom. 

Children Family Time

Spring is almost here!

Spring break is around the corner! If you are staying in town and looking for some inexpensive ideas to keep the kiddos entertained, look no further! We’ve put together a list of great ideas that will keep the kids, and your bank account, smiling.

  1. Play Tourist in Your Own City. There are bound to be places you haven’t explored. Plan a day to visit new parks, local museums, aquariums, or any other fun attractions your city might have. Top the day off by trying a new restaurant for lunch or going out for ice cream!
  1. Plan a Stay-Cation. One night in a hotel usually runs anywhere from $100-150. While this might be one of the more expensive parts of your spring break, the kids will love being able to swim in a hotel pool and get out of the house for a night! 

*Money saving tip: ask a couple of parents to join in on the hotel cost in exchange for being the kid’s chaperone!

  1. Get Out in Nature. One of the best parts of spring is when the weather permits outside activities! If you luck out and have some good weather on your spring break, take the kids for a hike or bike ride. Spending some time in the fresh air and getting away from the city for a day is a great way to recharge with your kids. Pack a picnic lunch, snacks and extra water!
  1. Movie Night. Chances are, you won’t be the only family staying in town for spring break. Invite some other families over for a fun movie night! Complete the evening with popcorn, snacks, drinks and maybe even some candy! 😉 
  1. Just Play. Head over to the store and pick up some simple outdoor toys! Join the kids for friendly competitions of hop scotch, jump rope, kick ball and more! This is a fun way to get some exercise and enjoy a sunny day.
  1. Get Creative. Let the kids get a little messy and create some art! This is a great activity for a rainy or cold day. Cover your table up with a vinyl table cloth for easy clean up. (And for your own sanity!)
  1. At-Home Cooking Class. Teaching your kids how to make a delicious meal AND giving them skills that they will thank you for when they move out? Yes. Please. 

No matter what you decide to do this spring break, remember there are ways to have fun right in your own backyard. If all else fails, ask your kids what they have in mind and be open to a little spontaneity!  

Corporate Time Work at Home

Is Time Your Friend? How to Move Towards the Life You Want!

Do you ever think to yourself, “Is this it?”

Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Play with the kids. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Does this sound like your life?

On the one hand, routine is somewhat of a necessity in the life of a corporate mom – it helps keep the ship moving. On the other hand, there is the danger of never getting the chance to reach our full personal potential, and that routine becomes a rut.

As mothers, we are ready to do anything for our family, even if it means staying in a job we hate or find unfulfilling just so that we can pay the bills. Your intentions may be honorable, but eventually you will find yourself stuck in a seemingly endless cycle that leaves you feeling as though you’re not in the driver’s seat of your life. Instead, you are running endlessly on a hamster wheel. Days go by and blur together. Before you know it, a year has passed and nothing has changed. The goals you once had now seem impossible to reach.

Life can throw some unavoidable curveballs at you, and it may seem like you have no control over it – but most of the time, you do! Here’s how you can break that cycle:

Change Your Thought Process

This is YOUR life. Instead of wallowing in negative thoughts, take the time to acknowledge that yes, you may not have achieved your original career aspirations, but you can still do something about it. Sometimes things happen and it’s not always your fault, but it’s never too late to change your situation.

Psychologists suggest counterfactual thinking. This goes a step further than positive thoughts. For example, let’s say you’re not progressing because the job you have doesn’t pay enough and you are always behind on your bills. One way to look at it would be, “At least I have a job.” However, this will not prompt progress. Instead, shift your thought process to, “What can I do better?” or, “What solutions are available to me?” This type of thinking is known as solution-based thinking, which prompts action and progress.

Identify the Difference Between a Rut and a Routine

Do you remember what happened yesterday? Can you recall your feelings or what exactly was going on around you as you went through your day? If not, chances are you’re in a rut. Ruts tend to put us in “zombie mode” – simply going about our day zoned out and out of tune with ourselves and the world around us.

Snap out of it! Change your routine for a week and see what that does for you. This might look like taking a morning walk before you leave for work, getting up 15 minutes early to write in your journal, or ordering takeout one night and devoting the time usually spent cooking to a fun family game night. Slight alterations in your daily schedule will help you become more aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Leave Your Comfort Zone

“A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd

You may not feel fulfilled in your current job, but it feels safe – in a way. It pays the bills and offers some sort of stability for your family. Understandable, but what is it costing you?

Leaving your corporate job may feel scary. If you’re not ready to take the leap, start small.

Conquer Your Fears. New professional opportunities often loom so big they’re completely overwhelming, causing us to freeze up instead of taking action. Exploring your options doesn’t have to be a big deal. Have you always loved playing with images and graphics? Enroll in a graphic design class at your local community college. Have you always had a knack for sales and marketing and think you might want to go solo? Get your feet wet by joining a local professional association or meetup that’s focused on marketing. Want to spend more time at home with the kids? Take a week off work (use some of those sick/vacation days for once!) and give staying at home a try – it’s the perfect way to find out if you love it or hate it! It might be freeing, or it might be tedious – but at least you’ll know.
Stop Talking and DO it. Write that book. Go on that vacation. Take that dance class. Say YES to other interests in your life beyond work.

Work Smarter, Not Harder – Become a Work-at-Home Mom

The daily rat race may leave you feeling as if there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get your work done and make time for the family, or even yourself. The truth is, time is limited. We all only get 24 hours in a day. Rather than regarding time as your enemy, turn it around and make time your friend. When you live a fulfilling life, everything else falls into place.

If your current job doesn’t fit your ideal rhythm, it might be time to explore other career options. Forget the excuses: working from home may be the solution you’ve been looking for. We at Moms Making Six Figures can help you make time your friend by moving towards the life you want. For more information about getting started on the path to your best life, call us at (858) 837-1505, or visit our website at momsmakingsixfigures.com.