8 Common Time Management and Productivity Mistakes That Moms Make


Mom and Baby

In our modern world, we have demands on our time that our parents’ generation never even dreamed about. Our children have more challenging schedules; school is more competitive than ever before; and the modern digital world presents distractions that would have been science fiction in our parents’ time.

If you feel like you don’t have enough time in your day and you’re struggling to stay on top of things, keep reading to learn about these 8 mistakes that you might be making.

1. You Spend Too Much Time Online

We’re fortunate that we have access to information anywhere and at any time. However, the availability of information is a mixed blessing. According to the 2014 Millennial Mom Report, Millennial Moms spend nearly 8.3 hours on a typical weekday using digital media. This includes tablet, smartphone, laptop, TV streaming, radio and television. And the Gen X moms are not immune. They’re right behind them with an average of 7.4 hours of daily media use.

As you probably know, once you get online you can fall down a slippery slope. You pop on Pinterest to see if there’s a new recipe for a Gluten-free, Paleo stew and before you know it, you’re bombarded with beautiful and enticing photos of DIY projects, summer outfits and new hairstyles. You’re sucked in and suddenly you’re at the hardware store purchasing the materials to make a Mason jar chandelier.

It’s interesting that parents limit the screen time of their children; however, many are not setting the limits on themselves. Think about the amount of time that you spend plugged in. You might find that your time could be spent more productively elsewhere.

2. You Don’t Make Time for Exercise

Many moms don’t make the time for exercise because they’re busy with their career and parenting. Again, according the 2014 Millennial Mom Report, on average, Millennial Moms spend -0.8 hours a day exercising. If you’re a regular exerciser, congratulations, you can skip to the next section!

What many moms don’t realize is there are hidden productivity benefits of exercise. Exercise doesn’t just provide weight loss and health benefits, such as reducing the risk of diabetes. Getting fit also improves energy level, alertness and might also prevent sicknesses by boosting the circulation of white blood cells.

Think about how you could carve out an extra 30 or 60 minutes a day. Take a brisk walk or a bike ride with your kids and find a gym with a fun daycare. Take a run while your child is at a piano lesson, rather than checking Facebook or Pinterest. Think about other creative ways to make exercise a priority in your life. The productivity results will be amazing!

3. You Over Schedule Your Kids

I’m sure you’ve read about the possible dangers of over-scheduling kids. They get burned out, stressed out and cranky. But what about the moms who schedule, organize and support all of these activities? They aren’t immune to the same effects. An overly busy schedule can consume a considerable amount of time in many moms’ lives. Between tutors, sports, music lessons and other activities, moms spend numerous hours supporting kids’ events. It takes a toll on health and sucks away time that could be used more productively.

This doesn’t mean that you should eliminate stimulating activities. Find a healthy balance. Ensure you have a support system. Take turns carpooling with other parents; divide and conquer with your spouse or partner; and elicit the help from older children. If you still can’t find the time to prepare a healthy dinner and your kids are finishing their homework past 10:00 at night, it’s time to re-prioritize these activities.

4. You Do Everything For Your Kids

Out of all of the items listed here, this is the one that I’m most guilty of. As a busy working mom, I sometimes find it easier just to take care of things myself then to teach my son to do it. Big mistake.

It’s likely that you’ve heard the Chinese proverb, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The same is true for our kids. Teaching them life skills such as doing dishes, choosing their clothes, doing laundry, learning to drive, taking care of pets, making beds, etc. frees your time and teaches them how to be responsible. Of course, it can be frustrating at first – especially when your son chooses to wear superhero tights with a tuxedo jacket to school. However, you’ll pat yourself on the back when they’re packing up boxes and heading to college.

5. You Make Mental Lists

When you’re a busy parent, it gets harder and harder to keep up with the demands on your schedule. And when you’re relying on memory alone to keep things straight, items are bound to fall through the cracks. The human brain is only equipped to remember a few things at a time. And it’s also a well-known fact that trying to remember too many things can lead to anxiety and stress.

If you haven’t started using a calendar, day planner or personal organization app on your Smartphone for managing your schedule and keeping track of to do lists, then get started today. Being free of mental clutter takes a huge load off of your shoulders.

6. You’re Ignoring “The Cloud”

I discussed mental clutter above, but what about physical clutter? Physical clutter also negatively impacts productivity. Physical clutter in the form of papers messes with your focus, which makes you less productive. An easy solution to paper clutter is to take advantage of “Cloud Storage.”  If you don’t know what “The Cloud” is, don’t be embarrassed. In fact, according to Citrix, when they surveyed respondents about it, 29% responded that it is a “fluffy white thing” in the sky.

If the Cloud perplexes you, you’re not alone. Without getting technical, it’s essentially an infrastructure of servers (computers that provide data to other computers) that all work together to deliver services to you over the Internet. When you upload files to the Cloud, you’re storing them elsewhere, instead of on your local machine.

Cloud storage is provided to you for free for personal use (until you run out of space). You can take advantage of services such as Dropbox™, Box™, OneDrive™ (SkyDrive) and others to store your important scanned papers. You simply scan, copy and upload those files to the Cloud. It’s actually extremely easy to set up and utilize.

You’re probably wondering how the Cloud is going to save time. Unlike your filing cabinet, Cloud storage opens up the ability to better organize and search using keywords for quick access to files. Not to mention, it clears up the clutter in your home, which frees your mind.

7. You Drink Too Much Coffee

Before writing this post, I asked my teenage son what time management mistakes that he sees moms making. He surprisingly answered, “they go to Starbucks too much.” This made me think about the impact of caffeine on productivity. Caffeine is a double-edged sword. Sure, it wakes you up and may help you focus. However, coffee is a stimulant so it can keep you up at night, which leads to lost productivity. In addition, caffeine dehydrates you, which depletes your energy. If you’re overdoing it, start replacing your afternoon coffee with herbal tea or water. Make sure to stay adequately hydrated to keep your energy level up.

8. You’re Not Planning Ahead

After working in the tech industry for many years – dealing with aggressive deadlines and startup schedules — I learned a thing or two about the best ways to conquer a project. In my opinion, one of the most rewarding and challenging projects you’ll ever face is raising children and running a household. So why not treat it like you would any other project?

In tech, the Agile Methodology is a very popular project management technique. Two excellent takeaways from the Agile Methodology, which you can apply to getting things done at home are ”Planning Meetings” and “Review Meetings.” For example, take the time to conduct a family meeting once a week to plan the activities of the upcoming week and to also reflect upon what went right and what went wrong during the previous week. Discuss meals, shopping lists, activity schedules, homework and career commitments. Your family life will run more smoothly and you’ll get more things done.

Your Turn

Are you making any of these mistakes? What are the roadblocks that keep you from getting things done? Comment and let us know!

This Is How We Roll Thursday Feature

Learn How to Effortlessly Track Things That You Own

track things with LifeToipixDo you need an easy way to track things, such as all your personal and business belongings? What would happen if you encountered an earthquake, flood, fire or break-in? Would you have a complete report of your assets for your insurance company? Nobody wants to think about these possible tragedies, but it’s best to be safe and prepare for the unthinkable.

Watch the Video to Learn How to Track Things You Own with LifeTopix

This is where LifeTopix for iPhone and iPad can help. LifeTopix provides an effortless way to track and catalogue the things that you rent and own. Watch the following video to learn how.

A New Beginning: A Personal Story of Minimalism and De-cluttering Bootcamp


This is a story about minimalism and how it relates to productivity and happiness. At LightArrow, we often provide tips for becoming productive, organizing your life and living a happy, stress-free existence. We regularly remind our readers that they can be productive by doing less. Seems counterintuitive, right?

Simply put, everything you own or bring into your life must be cleaned, stored, fed, trimmed, serviced, refilled, watered, powered, etc. You get the picture. Taking care of all this stuff takes time and effort. The more possessions you have, the less time you have to enjoy life. Consequently, minimalism translates into more time to dedicate to you — not your stuff.

Today, I’m sharing my personal journey with you. Over the last three months, I shed more than half of my belongings; sold a house in less than a week; and moved from the booming and rapidly growing city of Austin, TX to the beautiful town of Boulder, CO, which is located at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Why Boulder?

My husband, a seasoned veteran in high tech, was presented with an exciting and fulfilling job opportunity in Colorado. With careful consideration, we decided to embark on this journey after 10 years in Austin, TX. As they say in Texas, this is not our first rodeo. We’re practiced movers, as we’ve lived in the Silicon Valley, Portland Oregon and other cities.

Everything’s Bigger in Texas

My personality is eclectic, with the unusual combination of right-brained tendencies with an affinity to logic, organization, order and consistency. I’ve always considered myself to be deeply organized. Everything has a place in my home, usually neatly labeled, stacked, grouped and color-coded.

What I didn’t realize until preparing my house for sale was there were nooks and crannies in this 4467 square foot, 1.24 acre home that contained unorganized messes that were pushed away like an ex boyfriend. Out of sight. Out of mind. The more space you have, the more you use. Something had to be done – and fast.

It was December 2014 that we decided to put the house on the market. It officially went up for sale on January 29, 2015 and was sold five days later. Prior to sale, a considerable de-cluttering and organizing journey was completed within 6 – 8 weeks (which would take most folks a year). How did we do it? I’ll get to that.

Embracing Minimalism

Over the years we accumulated lots of stuff. Frankly, stuff we don’t need. For me, shopping was always a form of recreation – an escape mechanism, retail therapy or a pacifier for a bad day. There was always a good excuse to buy a new pair of shoes.

I’m making the transformation. I’m on a journey to continue to shed many of my unnecessary possessions that burden me to focus on healthy and fun life experiences. I’m not saying that I will have only 50 or even 100 total things and live out of a backpack. I’m not saying that I won’t replace things that no longer work with new things. This is unrealistic for my family’s lifestyle, but the change is still profoundly significant.

Now, I find myself repeating this mantra, loosely quoting Voltaire or Stan Lee,

With more stuff there must also come great responsibility.

With any purchase there is prodigious consideration to the responsibility of owning it and its effect on the environment.

The Storm Before the Calm

If you’ve ever worked in the startup world, you know that deadlines can be crazy and you sometimes have to make the impossible, possible. This is exactly what we needed to do. Apply the startup mentality to what I would call “extreme de-cluttering, purging and organizing.”

I wouldn’t suggest this swiftness to the faint-hearted. Without a deadline, these steps can be spread over several months or even years, depending upon your urgency. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting.

You might ask. Does de-cluttering and organizing ever actually end? For now, the flood of activity still continues, but the urgency has diminished. Essentially, I’m now basking in the satisfaction of a job well done — “the calm.” However, maintaining the lifestyle continues.

The Roadmap

A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there. -H. Stanely Judd

By now, you’re probably wondering how we accomplished this transformation. First, I started with a SMART goal and then prepared a plan or roadmap.

SMART Goal: Achieve a non-cluttered and minimalist home environment with focus on a quick home sale within 4 – 6 weeks.

Time is money. Every day a house is for sale, you’re losing money. In order to reach this goal, we built a plan to get there. We recorded every task imaginable including repairs, painting, purging, organizing, cleaning and staging. We also established a budget and arranged the finances.

What Were the Rules?

We decided if we haven’t utilized a household or personal item in 5 -10 years, it would go. Exception – photos, things bonded with the sentimental and snow skis. Some items were easy to purge. For example, how many laptop bags from trade shows does a person really need? And some items were difficult — a basketball signed by Magic Johnson and a Schwinn almost-vintage bike? My husband wouldn’t budge on those. Some battles aren’t worth fighting.

Road to Success

We tackled the house room-by-room and started with the most cluttered and noticeable rooms with emphasis on the home sale. For example, we started with the great room and ended with the attic. We cleared countertops, removed personal items and stowed and grouped items. If you want to learn more about organizing and grouping, visit If You Want to be Organized, Learn This One Simple Concept.

Every night after work, I scheduled hours on my calendar dedicated to these tasks. We spent sixteen or more hours every weekend. My family moved away a month before I did, so I tackled much of it alone. Like I said, this plan is not for the faint-hearted. This was de-clutter bootcamp.


Photo from Sotheby’s Reality

We divided everything among donate, trash, recycle, sell and give away. What wasn’t sold was given away. After approximately 30 SUV-loads of items purged, we achieved the clutter-free environment for which we had hoped. As a small example, I donated 100 pairs of shoes and fifty percent of a three-tiered closet of clothing to Goodwill. We dug deep.

How and Where Did We Get Rid of All This Stuff?

If you wish to embark on this satisfying but challenging journey, the essential places, websites and apps are listed below:

A garage sale or yard sale is also a good option. If you’re on a tight deadline like us, a yard sale might be unrealistic because of time constraints. And don’t forget to ask your friends if they want your stuff. Your trash can be someone else’s treasure. It’s amazing what they’ll take. For example, a friend who manages several rental properties took our cleaning supplies and other items that were prohibited by the moving company.

How Do I Feel Now?

It’s heartwarming and satisfying to sell (at a very low price) and give away things that you don’t use or need. The hugs and appreciation that I receive are gratifying beyond belief. We’re now living comfortably in a house that is half the size of the previous home. We are almost unpacked and we continue to donate and purge items daily. The environment is non-cluttered and feels peaceful. We know where everything is and the work involved in maintaining the home is next to none.

What I learned

If you’re someone who’s just starting out and entering the “acquiring years,” take this advice seriously. When you have too much stuff, it weighs you down. It negatively affects your energy level. It doesn’t allow you to have the time you need to get things done and experience life like you should. I feel as if a weight has been lifted – a monkey off my back. For example, I have the freedom to take a hike with the dogs after work instead of raking leaves out of the pool or sweeping the patio. Your time is priceless — guard it.

I honestly don’t miss those things and I don’t think I ever will.

Please Share Your Experiences with De-cluttering and Minimalism

We would love to hear your experiences with de-cluttering and minimalism. Please share or write a post.

How to Clear Your Annoying Mental Clutter

Just like physical clutter, mental clutter can take a toll on your health, happiness and productivity. For example, can you remember a time that you tossed and turned all night long thinking about things that you needed to do, which resulted in a poor night’s sleep? This is what mental clutter can do. To combat mental clutter, we’ve developed a three step system that frees your mind of the things that are bogging you down.

Three Step System – Filter, Capture Everything and Make Actionable

  1. Filter – In today’s world it’s common for many of us to have multiple email and social media accounts. In addition, we’re constantly searching the web to find new information. That’s why we’ve combined social, email and web streams into one app — allowing you to filter this information by keywords and other choices, which results in a more efficient way to consume and curate this information.
  2. Capture Everything – Doing a “brain dump” is a common way to get everything out of your head and into a system. The Quick Inbox is designed specifically for this reason. Record everything and process it when you’re ready.
  3. Make Actionable – How often do you find information in email, on the web and from social media that you can’t act on right away? This is why we created a way to convert these items that you find into objects, which you can schedule on your calendar. For example, you can instantly convert an email message with a party invitation to an event on your calendar — in one app (no app hopping required). This is a great way to reach “inbox zero” every day.

View the Slides

You can carry out this three step system by using LightArrow Apps. To learn more, watch the slideshow below:

Watch the Video

You can carry out this three step system by using LightArrow Apps. To learn more, watch the video below:

Less Organized Spouse

I admit it: I like being organized. I am most comfortable when I am staying on top of all the things I’ve got going on in my life. And when it comes to coordinating commitments, technology has been an enabler. Online calendars, digital contact lists, smart phones — they all help me keep tabs on what is an ever-growing list of obligations. Over the years, I have developed a finely tuned “workflow” that fits my lifestyle and made me the envy of even my most punctual friends and colleagues.

The real challenge came when I started dating someone who isn’t as, um, “organized” as I am. Luckily for both of us, she recognizes this fact and acknowledges my role as the logistical half of our team. (In return, I have fully handed over to her the title of design czar — a good thing given how fashion-challenged I am.)

Personally, I think her job is a bit easier to execute. Some choice of “wear this”, “this doesn’t really go with that”, “burn those – I never want to see them again” pretty much covers every situation. And, over time, some of it has started to stick; now I can predict which of my clothes she will not find acceptable for any given situation about half the time. But getting her to embrace technology to help us stay organized has been a bit tougher. She’s not a big fan of e-mail (e.g., she hasn’t used her gmail account in so long she has forgotten her password) and the most-used app on her iPhone is Words With Friends, not her Calendar.

So we have settled on a model that is lightweight enough so as not to be burdensome for her, yet complete enough to prevent me from going completely loony. Basically, we each inform the other about potential commitments before we confirm them, but I maintain the calendar (although she does have access to it, and can view it any time she wants once she recovers her gmail password).

When I’m scheduling something:

  1. I check our calendar to make sure the time is available
  2. I check with her to make sure she’s interested
  3. I add it to our calendar, complete with text alerts to remind us of the event

When she’s scheduling something:

  1. she checks with me to see if I’m interested and if we’re available
  2. I add it to our calendar, complete with text alerts to remind us of the event
  3. she confirms the commitment with whomever originated

I know, it’s not rocket science and it seems totally obvious. All I care is that peace and harmony reign. Now, if only there were an app to help me keep her from throwing away my trade show T-shirts when I’m not looking.