This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can find my full disclosure page here.
If you’re a busy mom trying to grow a home business, every minute counts. So when it turns out there are some simple things you’re doing that are destroying your productivity, it’s definitely time to reevaluate!
Here are ten common mistakes that slow your productivity, plus tips for how to correct them. You really can do this!
1. Not Getting Enough Sleep
When you’re tired, your brain doesn’t work properly. Everything will take you longer than it should.
You’ll feel sluggish, and may notice a mental fog settling in. When this happens, the very best thing you can do for your productivity is to go to bed.
I know – deadlines happen and late nights become a reality more often than we’d like. But…if you’re consistently not getting enough shut eye, you are destroying your productivity long-term. It’s much better to get some rest and start again when you’re feeling fresh.
Some tips to help you get more rest:
- Prioritize rest – even if you can’t sleep cause you’re up nursing or with sick kids or whatever, make it a point to be still and off your devices. Rest your brain!
- Create a bedtime routine to help teach your brain how to move into “rest” mode.
- Stay off the screens for a while before bed.
- Cut things from your schedule so you aren’t trying to cram 28 hours worth of activity into a day.
- Be realistic about how much sleep you need. And make getting that much a goal.
2. Trying to Do Too Much at Once
Busy moms are really good at multi-tasking. The problem? None of the things we try to get done at the same time get all of our focus.
When you’re multitasking, you’re dividing your attention up. That’s just part of how it works. So when you’re trying to answer an email, send a text message, tell your kids what they can have as a snack, and go to the bathroom all at once…
You shouldn’t be surprised if you accidentally text the person what your kids can eat, tell your kids the answer to the text, and forget about the email completely once you leave the bathroom.
Your brain isn’t designed to focus on all of those things at once. Think about your computer. If you try to do fifty things at once, it bogs down. And nothing really gets done for a bit. It has to stop and think and compute and do whatever else it is that computers do.
So slow down Mama. It’s okay to do less at once. You will actually do it more efficiently!
Take time to actually comfort your crying baby instead of just patting and shushing while you keep typing. Change the diaper with both hands instead of trying to read an email on your phone…
(And yes, in case you’re wondering… I’m guilty of all of these – this post is just as much for me as it is for you!)
Here’s a guest post that published on my site with more tips in this area:
3. Not Drinking Enough Water
Are you dehydrated? Not drinking enough water is another common mistake that is destroying your productivity.
Thankfully, it’s a simple one to fix. Well, in theory at least.
All you have to do is drink more water. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.
I’ve found the best results using large quart jars for my water. If I drink 2-3 of those a day, I feel so much better. I just try to have my jar nearby at all times. Then when I see it sitting on the desk or on the table, I take a drink.
If it’s out of sight, water is pretty much out of mind for me. I don’t randomly stop and say, “I haven’t drank enough water today…” Until it’s bedtime and then I don’t want to drink too much because I prefer to sleep at night.
When I’m going out and about, I fill a large water bottle and bring with me. I like the Contigo brand ones!
For me, if I have water, I’ll probably drink it. If I don’t, I won’t.
This might not work for you. Maybe you’ll have better luck setting a reminder on your phone to help you drink water. Or using an app to help you keep track of it.
Whatever you have to do, find a way to stay hydrated. You’ll be more efficient at everything you do!
4. Not Working in Ideal Conditions
Think about the ambiance around you when you’re getting some work done. If you’re anything like me, there’s probably a few kids running around and always constant background noise.
My brain has gotten used to working in the noise. So, when it’s night or early morning and I’m trying to get stuff done…I really am slower if it’s quiet.
It’s like my brain and body don’t know what to do without something going on in the background. When there’s nothing to filter out, my mind starts wandering way more.
So, now I work with something on in the background. I put on a podcast or an audio book. I’ve even turned on the television to a show I’ve seen a ton, just to get some background noise.
How about you? Are you working in conditions that are effective for you? Some people really can’t work in noise, so what I’m describing would be very counter productive.
You need to own who you are. Yes, you can change over time. But, the best way to boost your productivity is to ensure you’re doing what works for you.
Other conditions that can affect your productivity:
- Light levels (don’t try working in the dark, it’s really bad for your eyes!)
- Temperature (find your sweet spot and try to keep it there)
- Activity levels (whether it’s calm or chaotic around you)
- Mess (I hate working when it’s a mess, and I find myself stopping to think about all the things I should be cleaning up…)
When you can get things set for how you like them, you’ll be able to get more done.
For more information on training your brain to work in noise, read this post:
5. Not Having a Work Space
Do you have a workspace? Somewhere in the house where you can keep all of your work things?
If you don’t, you should carve one out. Even if it’s not the spot where you actually sit and work, just having a spot for your things can really increase your productivity.
You’ll no longer have to stop to try to look for something you need. You just know it’s in your space.
The downside of having a workspace with kids? You have to teach them not to play with the stuff on it. This can take some time and patience (especially with toddlers!) Another option is to use something like a roll-top desk that you can shut.
It’s also important to have a spot where you sit and work. This way, your brain learns that when you’re here, it’s time to work. It’s like going to the office if that’s what you did back before kids and your business.
You work at work. You don’t work when you’re not at work.
When you have a place where you consistently sit and work, you can recreate that feeling at home.
To help you think of ways to create a workspace in your home, read this post.
6. Getting Lost In Your Inbox
What’s the state of your email inbox? Are you getting lost in there?
Not using email efficiently can really slow your productivity. You’ll waste too much time finding the emails you need, and risk overlooking ones you should have responded to.
Getting control of your inbox requires diligence and a system. Know what to do with emails and where you’re going to put them.
Here’s a quick look at how I do email. Note: I do not strive for inbox zero. I find I waste more time searching through folders when I do that. Especially since my internet stinks and I’m always waiting on things to load. So trying to open a folder is just one more step…
I check my email about three times a day. During this time, I:
- Immediately select and delete any emails I don’t want to read (typically from mailing lists)
- Read emails that are important and respond immediately to ones that require just a simple response
- File emails that I’m done with – I have folders for each of my current clients, one for courses, and one for records
- Leave emails that need more time or energy from me
Occasionally, I go through and unsubscribe from emails I no longer want to receive. This helps reduce the clutter in my inbox.
If an email is in my inbox, it means I still need information from it. Typically, this will include:
- Calendar invites so I can easily pull up the Zoom link or see the agenda (filed in the client folder after the meeting)
- Assignments from clients that have information I need for a post (filed after the assignment is submitted and I no longer need to refer to it)
- Invoices from people I work with (filed after I pay)
- Username/Password info for sites I’m reviewing for my homeschooling blog (filed after I save that info on my computer)
I usually have between 5-10 emails in my inbox at any one time. While this will seem like a huge number to those who strive for inbox zero, it’s perfect for me. And that’s what is important.
Find something that works for you and stick with it.
You can also hire a VA (like me!) to manage your email inbox for you.
To learn more about how I deal with email, read this post:
7. Having Too Many Notifications
Is your phone constantly dinging and chiming? If it is, it’s slowing you down.
Your phone is a tool, not a master. Treat it as such.
If looking at badges on your phones makes you want to drop everything right now to take care of it, you have to make some changes.
I struggled with this greatly in the past. I’d look over and see that I had five Twitter notifications, 12 on Pinterest, 10 new emails and a couple of text messages. Then, I’d want to erase all the badges by dealing with them right then.
I felt like I was super productivity if my phone didn’t have any notifications for me.
In reality? It wasn’t important. I was wasting time from what I should have been doing to deal with stuff that just made me feel better.
So now, I have nearly every notification shut off. The only badges I have are for my actual phone and text. That’s cause people who contact me that way are people I actually want to hear from usually and I want to know.
Otherwise? I find out about notifications when I open the app. Which might not happen very often any more.
I haven’t opened Instagram in months. Or LinkedIn. Life is just too busy to keep up with everything. So those got cut for a bit.
That never would have happened with notifications on. I’d feel drawn to open them just to clear that red circle.
When I open my app store app, I discover how many apps need updated. Until then? They just sit and wait. That way I can use good internet when I’m somewhere else to take care of it without it driving me crazy.
Try shutting off your notifications. You might be surprised at what apps you keep dealing with, and which ones you ignore for a bit. It really is okay to walk away for a while…
8. Not Having Boundaries
Has your business taken over your life? If it has, you’re probably not being very productive.
That’s because your business is on your mind from the moment you wake up until the second you close your eyes. (And probably even after that…)
When you’re doing too much work, you slow yourself way down. It’s actually counterproductive.
Breaks are good for you. And so are boundaries.
So set yourself some work hours. Put limits on when you will and will not work.
And when you’re not working? Take care of yourself.
Have some fun.
Play with your kids.
Bake some cookies or watch a movie.
I really don’t care what you do, as long as it’s something that isn’t work. Give your brain a break!
When you respect yourself enough to have times when you don’t work, your clients will also respect you. And if they don’t…you need to find new clients.
I really appreciate my clients. They don’t expect me to work on the weekends or answer emails around the clock. There’s a mutual respect.
But, that doesn’t just happen accidentally. You have to be intentional in teaching your clients that you have boundaries.
Need help figuring out boundaries or learning how to keep them? Read this post:
9. Doing Work You Hate
Let’s face it…you work faster and more efficiently when you don’t mind what you’re doing.
If you dread working for a client, it’s going to take FOREVER to do that work. You have to talk yourself into doing it, and then give yourself pep talks along the way to get it done.
It’s much faster to do things you like. You know, there’s that old saying…”Time flies when you’re having fun.”
It really is true. When you enjoy what you do, you’ll do it faster and for longer.
So if you hate what you do, you need to make some changes. Spend some time each day brainstorming how to replace the income from tasks you don’t enjoy with money from doing things you love.
Find new clients.
Try new skills.
Take courses to level up.
Raise your rates.
Those are all things you can do to help improve your situation. You are not stuck where you are. You just have to work to get to a better place.
So make some goals. What can you realistically expect? Then, start making plans to make it happen.
Take baby steps so you don’t get overwhelmed. But each day make it a point to send a pitch. Or apply for a new job.
Do something to help make things better. Because when it’s better, you’ll naturally be more productive.
I wrote my family out of debt. I didn’t love all of my clients along the way, but I definitely learned from each of them. Even the ones I eventually parted ways with.
And as I improved and learned more about what I liked writing about, I focused in on that.
And suddenly the money was much easier to make because I didn’t dread it. Or waste tons of time researching things I wasn’t interested in.
If you want some side hustle ideas, this post can help.
10. Ignoring Bottlenecks
We all have areas of our day and routines that are bottlenecks. They slow everything else down. And we feel stuck doing them, but know they need to get done.
So we keep going. But often, we make them more complicated than they need to be. And we aren’t very efficient at them because we just want to get done.
These areas are often invisible to us unless they’re pointed out or we intentionally go looking for them.
If you have a My Little Pony fan in your house, there’s an episode that describes this perfectly. It’s called Applejacks’ Day Off. I definitely recommend giving it a watch!
Basically, one of the pony’s chores take up her entire day so she has no time left for doing anything else. Her friends ask if there’s anything she can cut and she insists there isn’t.
So they come and watch. And they find tons of extra steps she’s taking, because that’s how she’s always done them.
By the time the friends leave, the pony’s chores take way less time. She streamlined things.
And that’s what I want you to do. I want you to find areas in your life where you’re making things overly complicated for no good reason.
And then? I want you to change.
Here are some of the bottlenecks that I’ve discovered in my own life:
- Searching through Pinterest for recipe ideas (I’d waste a ton of time!)
- Dealing with kid questions about food (9 kids * 3 meals and a snack is a whole lotta questions…)
- Dumping my laundry on the table to fold all at once at the end of the day (when it was a huge, overwhelming pile)
- Cleaning the house (when you don’t have a plan, it’s typically pretty inefficient)
- Social media – again, have a plan and a purpose
Now, don’t go making a ton of changes at once. That’d be really overwhelming. Instead, take it slow and fix one area. Then move onto another.
Before you know it, you’ll have more time than you know what to do with!
Just kidding…you’ll find something to do. 😀
For more help with bottlenecks, read this post:
10 Mistakes that Destroy Your Productivity
How many of these productivity destroying mistakes are you making? I’ve been guilty of every single one.
The good news? You can change and watch your productivity soar as a result.
For even more help with time management and productivity as a busy mom boss, check out my course Balancing Diapers and Deadlines.
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.