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As I write this article, I am sitting at a simple folding table outside my home, staring at the Hoh River outside Olympic National Park. My husband and 4 year old boy are lying in the hammock running around to play imaginations and giving mom some space to write.
I should mention that "home" for us is an RV and we currently live in the Hoh Rainforest in Washington. If you are reading this article, there is no telling where we will be. This nomadic “off the grid” lifestyle was not imposed on us; it was proactively pursued. You see, growing up I was a terrifying perfectionist. Nothing was ever good enough, or never could be. For years I looked for a way of life that wasn't even possible – and it turned out to be not what I wanted.
A year and a half ago, my husband and I decided to sell our house and cars, buy our RV, and take to the streets. Being a mom to a toddler and running a successful business on the streets is not easy, but the things that are worth in life are hardly ever easy. Like everything, it takes some trial and error.
Related: Have you ever dreamed of running your business from the street? This is how I do it …
But let me fill you in: You can lead a life wherever you are and still be successful as an entrepreneur. If you're a solo preneur, business owner, or just someone interested in the RV lifestyle, here are some productivity tips I swear by that have made it possible for me to live this lovely, wanderlust lifestyle.
Update your time with a time audit
Here is the thing. Any productivity strategy I give you will only be successful if you change your relationship with time. I remember when I believed that a new planner or the latest software would solve all of my productivity problems. What I found was the shiny new tool or strategy that worked for about 30 days, then inevitably dropped it or forgot about it altogether.
If this happens to you, try to change your internal mindset. I firmly believe that time is our greatest asset. After losing some loved ones to cancer, including my younger brother, I believe that the best thing we should cherish as human beings is the time we have on this earth. How you spend your time should be a conscious choice. It should rarely, if ever, feel like a victim.
If you are unsure where to start, do your own time audit first. First, write down five to six things that you enjoy doing. If it helps, you can make a list for your professional life and a list for your personal life. What activities do you enlighten as a person? What are the things that are actively driving your business?
Do an audit of your time. I usually suggest a 72-hour window to the women I coach. I only keep track of my time in an Excel spreadsheet, but there are different time tracking software programs like Clockify and the time tracking tool on Trello. When you're done, compare the audit to the list you created. Have you worked on your priorities? What tasks stood in the way of your priorities? What took more time than it should have been? I promise you that this exercise will uncover some lead lessons and begin to change the way you view your time. How can we make better use of our time if we don't know how our time is even spent?
Productivity rules for life
Once you have reevaluated your relationship with the time, you will be more effective in using productivity techniques. Now is the time to share the top productivity rules I live by:
1. If it's not on the schedule, it won't happen
When planning your week, the very first things to block time on your calendar for are your priorities. These should not only be your business priorities, but your life priorities as well. Your priorities should be a holistic representation of your life. For example, I recently added two hours of hiking to my schedule. That way nobody could book a call with me during this time window.
I found this planning technique particularly important in my first business year. If I hadn't planned my time, I would have booked calls while napping or missed a date with my husband. The priorities that would improve my life would inevitably have slipped off my radar without my noticing.
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This rule also works the other way round. When my husband and I first got out in our RV, it was easy to fall into the trap of seeing every day as a vacation. When the novelty wore off, I had to start saying "no" to some of the impromptu daily adventures he suggested. When I had prioritized the work on my schedule, the job needed to be done.
Well, I'm not saying that you have to 100 percent stick to your schedule. I don't think a woman traveling around the country in an RV would give this advice! I say you need to protect your priorities and proactively planning the time on your calendar is the best way to do it.
2. Prepare your week and get your chores done
I like to make my appointments and prepare my week on Sundays. On Sunday I take 20 minutes to list my priorities for the week and put them on my calendar.
I like doing related tasks together instead of trying to multitask or jump back and forth from project to project. For example, I like to write a lot of content on Mondays. Sometimes I can even create weeks worth of content in a day. The same applies to podcast recordings. I recently completed a month's worth of podcast episodes in just five hours.
This shouldn't be a tip that you just use for work. Similar to planning, you should use batch processing for every aspect of your life. I collect my meetings, errands, doctor's appointments and meal preparations. With the upcoming holidays. I know I'll be doing my vacation shopping in bulk and will likely turn it off in one fell swoop. This has saved me so much time and energy over the years.
3. Always look proactively for areas of support
We often think of areas of support and assume that we need to hire more people to take things off our plate at work. And while sometimes this is the answer, what I mean by that is looking for areas of support throughout your life so that you can uncover those pockets of more productive time.
Housework and childcare are two areas that I try to systematize so that I can get these valuable hours of intensive work for my company. Do you hate grocery shopping or maybe laundry? Spoiler alert: we now live in a world where you can order your groceries online and send your laundry out for cleaning. If this helps you free up time for your priorities, there is no shame in it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just wrong. Period.
Related: 3 rules I use to stay productive and not overwhelmed
I also did that with childcare for my son. One of the best arrangements I've ever made was choosing child swap days with my cousin. One day of the week she would take care of my son with her own child, and another day of the week I would do the same for her daughter. That way, I had a completely uninterrupted day of the week that I sharpened my focus and did much of my work for the week. This concept was translated into homeschooling pods during the pandemic – a concept I fully support for the working mothers reading this.
The main idea here is this: don't be ashamed if you ask for help or find helpful shortcuts where you can. Remember that you are not "lazy". You will ensure that the important things in your life are given the time they deserve. If that's not the core of true productivity, I don't know what it is.