At a young age, my dad and mom instilled the value of hard work into my brother and I. Our dad also taught us about financial literacy and the importance of responsibility. I believe these lessons developed my passion for business and drive to stay busy. And yes, stay busy, deliberately! I am genuinely happier when I am hopping with very little down time. Between two active kids, a self-employed husband, Bramble Berry, Handmade Beauty Box, Soap Queen and about ten other projects at any given moment…my day is always full to overflowing.
This is not me complaining; I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love being busy! But, I do get asked quite often how I fit everything in. Let me preface by saying that I have a lot of support. On the home front, my amazing husband and nanny help me with the kids, chores and other tasks. At Bramble Berry, I have an awesome customer service team to answer emails, a marketing team who plan sales and the amazing warehouse team who pulls and packs each order by hand. Here on the blog, I have a team who helps me edit the blog, take photos and help respond to comments. I feel really lucky to have them all on my side! Of course, it wasn’t always that way. All of these teams have slowly grown and have been added as it became financially viable to do so. I used to do all the marketing, blogging, commenting and customer service (also, for the record: this was back in the day when I also walked uphill, both ways, in the snow, to school).
A couldn’t do it all without support from my family! On the left is my husband-extraordinaire Chris, and on the right are my amazing parents.
My other source of time management support are tools. These tools come in the form of calenders, planners, timers and apps. One of my favorite apps is called Eternity, and it measures every minute of my work day. I use this tool to analyze what areas I need to spend more time on, or less time. For example, if I know that Handmade Beauty Box (HBB on the graph below) is a major goal of mine but I only spent 6% of my time on it in the last month. It’s clear that I need to course-correct how I’m spending my time this month. My results for last month at work are in the graph below. You can read more about my time management strategies and tips in the 6 Simple Strategies for Better Time Management blog post.
My other favorite time management tool is an “old fashioned” planner. While technology is great (and yes, I am a shared Google calender devotee!), sometimes jotting down small tasks or reminders on paper is the best way to go. I also use this planner/calender to write down personal monthly and weekly goals. I use this planner to remind myself to schedule personal appointments and events. It is open on my bathroom counter at all times so I can look at it and see what the day entails as well as my husband. You’ll notice the Desire Map words on the bottom of my planner. It’s my reminder that even with all the busy, scheduled’ness, that I’m doing all my activities so I can feel connected, vibrant, authentic, abundant and energetic.
My planner/calender is always by my side. Notice my reminders to floss? I write down nearly everything in this thing!
So, what does my average day look like? Let’s take a look at Tuesday, March 10th (before my house “blew-up” my average schedule, hah!). Not listed in this schedule is copious amounts of tea drinking for energy and hydration, lots of cheering, water cooler chats and plenty of texting/answering emails on my phone. I’m a bit of a multi-tasker =)
Tuesday, March 10th Schedule:
- 5:00 AM: Wake up bright and early. Meditate first and review objectives on my paper calender for the day. Try super hard not to look at phone.
- 6:00 AM: Get kids bathed and dressed. Take shower myself, get dressed.
- 7:00 AM: Feed the kids and make sure Chris and I have something small for breakfast. Leave for the Bramble Berry office with one or both kids for school drop-off.
- 8:00ish AM: Arrive at Bramble Berry. Take a quick scan of my emails. Answer anything time sensitive…will work on the rest later! Check in with team about anything I need to know.
- 9:00 AM: Work on and review blog post for the day.
- 10:00-10:30 AM: Pilates Class! This helps give me a little energy boost for the rest of the afternoon. The gym is a block from Bramble Berry.
- 10:30-11:30 AM: Meet with the Handmade Beauty Box team to brainstorm and troubleshoot.
- 11:30-1:00 PM: Eat a quick lunch at desk, read latest Inc magazine during lunch. Work on emails up at treadmill. The goal is an empty inbox!
- 1:00-2:00 PM: Make cold process soap for blog.
- 2:00-3:00 PM: Conference calls with nonprofit organizations and Coalition of Handcrafted Entrepreneurs.
- 3:00-3:30 PM: Meet with Bramble Berry accountant to review numbers.
- 3:30-4:00 PM: Respond to messages on Twitter and Instagram, on the treadmill desk.
- 4:00-4:30 PM: Respond to more emails, on the treadmill desk. Leave an empty inbox in an ideal world.
- 4:30-5:00 PM: Leave Bramble Berry and arrive home by 5. Family sit-down dinner is our goal for 3 days a week.
- 5:00-6:00 PM: Cook dinner, spend time with family, try to encourage everyone to ‘clean up, clean up, we all do our part‘ after dinner.
- 6:00-7:00 PM: Eat dinner. Try not to look at phone. Play with Jamisen and Lily.
- 7:00-8:00 PM: Put kids in pajamas, get them ready for bed. Read numerous bedtime stories and put them to sleep. Get them water. Put them to sleep again. Convince them there are no monsters under the bed. Put them to sleep again. Repeat with any number of toddler excuses.
- 8:00-10:00 PM: Answer emails, clean house, run laundry, plan for tomorrow, lay out outfit, talk with Chris about our respective days.
- 10:00-11:00 PM: Drink bed time tea. Read a few chapters in my current book club book.
- 11:00 PM: Hit the hay, confirm FitBit alarm is set (I love it because it doesn’t wake my husband!)
Phew! Full? Yes. But my schedule is rewarding. Throughout the day I am meeting with team members to solve problems and plan for the future. This particular day I even had some time to make soap, which is always a plus. My number one time management tip? Plan, plan, plan! Before I go to bed each night I strategize for the following day. That way I wake up in the morning with goals and things to accomplish. If you’re looking for even more time management tips, check out the Run Little Mouse, Run blog post, along with the Plan Little Mouse, Plan blog post. Both of these posts are several years old, but I still use many of the same time management techniques.
If you have any time management tips, I am always looking for ways to maximize every minute of my day!
Thank you for the valuable advice Anne-Marie. I checked out the articles that you mentioned. Interesting I must say. Thanks!
Keep me posted if you try it – curious to see how it works out =) No TV is a radical productivity hack for sure.
I really admire you. I am curious though. Do you, or anyone, have any suggestions on how to get internet access in a home without subscribing to cable? I would like to use my time more wisely but the tv doesn’t help much. However, I do need the Internet to work on my business and to do research etc. Thanks!
Anne-Marie Faiola says
Hi Brenda – I actually pay extra per month (literally more money) to not have TV piped into the house. The cable company that we go through has these awesome bundles that they’d like to sell you so it takes some persuading to get them to un-bundle to just get you internet.
But, just because you have cable coming in doesn’t mean you have to have a TV plugged into it even if you can’t convince your cable company to unbundle.
Here is some more inspiration to help you on your path to less TV or an entirely TV-free lifestyle:
I’m like you – I need internet at home to work on my business but don’t want the mind-numbing that comes with cable. Good luck working with your cable company =)
Awesome blog and inspiring. I used to work with a day planner similar to your when i worked in the corporate world. I would love to get one again, I am trying to get things on track with working shift work and making soaps and bath products along with candles and still find time for me. Can I ask where you get yours please as I can’t seem to find any these days!
Mine is the Tools4Wisdom brand on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OMBPI0K and the pens that don’t leak through the paper are the Stabilo brand (also on Amazon).
I also have washi tape that I use for laying over appointments that got rescheduled or moved – and then write on the washi tape with a sharpie. I hope this helps. I can’t wait to hear what you think about it when you get yours =)
Sarah Milroy says
What a fantastic and inspiring blog post! I absolutely love your planner (I’m a bit of an office supplies nerd myself and had a mini geek-out when I saw it), and it’s always an eye-opening experience to put yourself in another person’s shoes for a little while. Great tips and advice… thank you so much for sharing!
It’s the Tools4Wisdom one – and I have a set of markers that doesn’t bleed through to the other side of the paper (so important). I love it and refer to the paper planner all the time. There’s just something awesome about checking boxes off, isn’t there? =)
Iryna B. says
Oh, 6 hrs of sleep?! Please try to squeeze in some more.
It happens – usually when I fall asleep reading. LOL! =) That happens a lot. I’ll start to read and then, poof, it’s morning.
I love this!! You are more than a Soap Queen; you are Queen of pretty much everything!
You have support because you are a thoughtful leader, like any great Queen!
Beautiful post! Very inspiring! Thank you for all you share with us and a huge thank you to the wonderful family and folks who share you with us!
Aw, thanks Penny. I am so lucky to have an amazing team of people that help me with everything at work. Like today, I’m working on a photo shoot for the new book (due out 2016) and have two people helping with dishes, set up and everything. Thank you for your support =)
I just LOVE that calendar! Where did you get it?
I agree that calendar is amazing!! I am always looking for one that is big enough and so far have not found one… I look forward to hearing where you found it.
Would love to have a calendar like that. Looks home maid like the rest of your wares!!!
I 2nd the take a nap comment too 🙂 but continue providing services I enjoy 😉
Anne-Marie Faiola says
It’s Tools4Wisdom on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OMBPI0K/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 – I love it!
Angela Dellutri says
I have been in the corporate world for most of my career. This is the best planner that I have seen. Mine arrived yesterday and it it quickly getting filled in. Thank you for sharing this with everyone. Great blog post!
Thanks for sharing. Raised the same way by 2 hard working parents, an entrepreneur and an accountant. I try to do it all, kids, running multiple businesses, being a supportive wife with almost no help and struggle daily in finding my true balance. Lately I discovered Me-Time. I should start meditating. That sure would help, but would have to cut out some other ‘fun’ or sleep, which is already rare. I crave simplicity lately. Some days I want to be a wood worker or just not move at all. Talking with my once very successful Mom looking back at her life she gave me the advice not to spend too much time on work as no one cares once you stop working. This honestly makes me question all the busyness and pressure we working Moms put on ourselves. I love being busy, too, but it definitely comes with a price.
Anne-Marie Faiola says
I read this great article the other day that was written by a hospice nurse on the 5 regrets that people have when they pass away or learn they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and not connecting with people enough and not allowing themselves to be happy were major regrets. Focusing on work too much definitely can pull away from the people aspect or the happiness aspect of life. That’s where books like ‘The Desire Map’ and ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ really help because if you have to define why you’re working and what you’re working for, it helps put it all into perspective and hopefully some sort of balance.
Meditating has been a huge shift for me this year. So far, 4 months in, and I haven’t missed a day because after 20 days, I really started experiencing super huge shifts in my ability to focus during the day and process stress. I’m doing the Oprah- Deepak series and can’t highly recommend it enough. And, that’s coming from someone who hates to sit still! =) LOL!
I was the most surprised that you only sleep for 6 hrs or less a night ! Being as health-minded as you are, you must know that minimal sleep is horrid for you! Take a nap !!
Anne-Marie Faiola says
I try to get between 6 and 7; it all depends on how late I stay up reading! =) Last night, I’m pretty sure I fell asleep by 10:20 because I woke up with the book still on the bed. LOL! On the weekends, I’ve definitely been known to nap when my kiddos are napping =)
It really resonated with me (and possibly comforted!) that you aim for sit down meal 3 times a week! Sometimes it is so alienating thinking we are the only household who hasn’t managed a sit down in several months. Working two jobs and running the side business leaves little room.
I am also impressed that you bathe your kids at the start of the day! Whoa!!! Props to you =)
Anne-Marie Faiola says
When the kids were super little, we didn’t even manage that and it totally bugged my folks =) But now, we try to sit down, talk about our favorite parts of the day and all of that but realistically, that happens 3-4 times a week so that’s why our goal is 3. I’d rather set a goal that we can hit than a goal that we definitely never will! =)
As for bathing, sometimes just convincing Jamisen what outfit he’s going to wear in the morning takes 30 minutes. It will be super great when he gets some higher reasoning powers …
Peter Chee says
You. Are. Amazing.
Anne-Marie Faiola says
Back at you! =) Can’t wait to hear how all of your marathon training goes =)
Wow! Your day is well underway when I am still pounding my snooze alarm! I do run till 2 or 3 am, though, I guess it balances out.
Anne-Marie Faiola says
Totally balances out! If I didn’t have toddlers … or a business that mostly ran on East Coast time (LOL!), I’d be with you. I’m a natural night owl and have to force myself to sleep.
Margaret Grimm says
Wow! That’s great! I think the trick to being efficient really is to have a basic schedule in place. I don’t think I could juggle as many balls as you do though. It’s a good thing that you can slowly build up to that level. I’m sorry about your house! Life is always throwing curve balls 🙁
Anne-Marie Faiola says
That’s exactly the key – slowly building up to those levels! Once one thing is stable, another opportunity presents itself and all of a sudden, it’s off to the races with the scheduling craziness again. Focus on family has cut down on a lot of extracurricular activities. I used to do a lot more evening stuff but wanting to be with the littles has definitely changed that. The house is interesting. I know that there’s a bigger, better purpose in there but it’s not showing itself quite yet. I do trust that we’ll look back at this time fondly; living out of suitcases, moving from place to place is all a big adventure (especially if you’re 3 years old!) =)
That was really interesting I am always curious of how people spend their time. Especially someone successful as yourself. Thanks for sharing.
Anne-Marie Faiola says
Oh me too! I’d love to see Richard Branson, Oprah or Marisa Mayer’s calenders! =) My day to day changes a bit – like tomorrow, I have a 2 hour website development meeting – but generally during the day, I do a lot of people related activities (face to face meetings) that I can’t do at night. And then evenings are for catching up on email, reading, and social media stuff that I didn’t get to during the day. Connecting is fun so it’s a great nighttime thing to do =) And since we don’t have a TV and I don’t really watch it, it works! =)
Nichole Hasse says
I loved the photo of Jamisen playing with the soaps in his dump truck! How funny! My youngest son always wants to build houses with stacks of my soap after I shrink wrap them.
He loves soap – and he loves to make melt and pour soap too. It’s adorable. I love having crafty kids…
OMG – I’m exhausted just reading that! I’m single and it’s all about ME and that’s the way I like it 🙂 Jeez – I can’t even remember the last time I was up till 11:00!
LOL! =) I bet your social life is filled with way more things than mine is in the evening so you are probably totally exhausted by 11! =)
You are such a hard worker!! And it’s nice to have the support of your family. I don’t. My husband complains about anything I do, but I still do it. 🙂
You mention treadmill desk? What is that?
And can you or other soapers talk a bit more about insurance? I have a lot of people want to buy my soap, but I don’t want to sell without having proper insurance, just in case. And I’m not really interested in having a huge business, but I would like to make some money to cover the cost of my ingredients at least. Thanks!
Wholesale Supplies Plus has handmade insurance for $275 a year. I myself haven’t really looked into it, but I know its out there.
I think what you’re thinking about is HandMade Artisans Insurance that is owned and managed by a brokerage company:
Yes, a treadmill desk – and I do love it so! I love it so much I wrote a blog post about it here: http://www.soapqueen.com/bramble-berry-news/treadmill-desk-go-forth-and-walk-2/
Insurance is a good thing for you to research for sure. I have all the research options for you to look at and explore here: http://www.soapqueen.com/business/business-insurance-for-the-handcrafted-industry/
Thanks for reading and commenting =)