23 Productivity Hacks for Parent Entrepreneurs

Meet 3 mom business owners and learn their productivity hacks for juggling an infinite number of home and business priorities. “Being a mom with a finite amount of time helps me focus. I am efficient because I do not have a choice not to be." - says Addie Gundry, CEO of Pluie.
Written by
Maddie McElhenny
Published on
June 14, 2024

Parent entrepreneurs juggle an infinite number of competing priorities at any given time. Try as we might, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. We’ve compiled a list of productivity hacks from three incredibly ambitious, strategic, and inspiring mompreneurs “working smarter not harder” every day:

Addie Gundry is a mom of two and the Founder and CEO of Pluie, an innovative startup that makes clean, comfortable, convenient, and contemporary products for families on the go, like the world’s first and only self-sanitizing diaper changing table. Addie’s idea for Pluie stemmed from a challenging experience changing her infant son’s diaper in a dirty public restroom. Since then, she put her contagious energy behind bringing her idea to life, #changingthetable for children and caregivers and inspiring countless more, one public restroom at a time.

Kristin Kelly is also a mom of two and CEO of KK Advisory Services, a Minnesota-based healthcare consulting firm. Leveraging 15 years of healthcare policy and business expertise, she leads a growing team helping early-stage startups and Fortune 100 companies navigate the US healthcare ecosystem and understand where they are best aligned to support, innovate and maximize their impact to meet consumer needs. With a deep commitment to elevating the patient experience for historically underserved and marginalized communities, Kristin’s building the world she’s always envisioned, where every individual—regardless of background—has access to the care they deserve.

E Kitzenberg is another mom of two who makes two full-time jobs on top of that look easy (although we know they are anything but): Chief Advancement Officer of Open to Debate, the nation's only nonpartisan, debate-driven media organization, and Owner of Picnic, a neighborhood bar in Minneapolis, MN. She is a visionary leader who works tirelessly to make her dreams a reality, cultivating warm, inviting, and inclusive communities for all along the way.

Note: There is no separate category for self-care because it's not just a category; it's a necessity. Rest is productive and should be incorporated into your daily routine, even though we know how difficult it is to prioritize (hello, mom guilt). Remember, you deserve it. 

Planning

1. Set Realistic Goals

The key word here is realistic. Plan based on achievable expectations rather than wishful ones. Account for the unique factors impacting your productivity, including childcare schedules, energy levels, and other competing priorities.

Addie tells us, “Setting goals is hard because my work life is inconsistent. So I focus weekly on what I need to accomplish and then focus longer term goals based upon milestones. This has been an adjustment, as I used to be such a planner, and I have to let some of that go.”

2. Break Down Larger Tasks

Take a daunting task and convert it into bite-sized pieces. Work through the various pieces based on priority of importance and urgency. Sometimes, all we need is a reframe—and the feeling of satisfaction as you check things off your to-do list as you go.

3. Maintain Flexibility in your Schedule

Expect and schedule extra time in your calendar, especially for self-care (meals, walks, and relaxation) and unexpected changes.

Kristin shares, “20% of my day is always changing because things come up with work or the kids. I block two hours each day for these changes so I don’t have to delay them or work extra on another day.”

4. Let Technology Do the Heavy Lifting

Use tools like ChatGPT for quick and easy wins—whether to optimize systems and workflows, brainstorm and strategize, or for meal planning help.

5. Hold the Boundary

As much as we want to do it all, we can’t. Decide what you can and cannot do and set expectations to avoid resentment later on.

Addie reflects on her oldest child’s recent kindergarten year when he frequently asked Addie to pick him up early or make lunch, as he saw his friend’s parents doing. Her solution? She committed to one lunch and one early pickup per month of his choosing. “I print a monthly calendar in Canva (so easy and free). Together, we pick out the day, and then we get to visualize it and look forward to it together."

Addie’s kid-friendly calendar that helps her kids visualize and look forward to important dates, including packed lunches from home and early pickups from school

6. Be Selective in Saying Yes

Everything has an opportunity cost. When you say "yes" to something, you're saying "no" to something else.

E recognizes, "Anytime you accept something, you're saying no to your partner and kids. This opportunity cost is a quantifiable way to make decisions."

Organization

7. Declutter Your Workspace

The beauty of the world becoming increasingly remote is that many can work from anywhere. Wherever you choose—an office or co-working space, a desk in your home office or kitchen counter, or a coffee shop or gym—make sure you’re in a place where you can focus. Remove distractions, clutter, and noise as much as possible. Using headphones can help block out distractions and stay focused.
This is not to say keep your kids out of your workspace if you want to involve them. For Addie, making hers accessible and fun for hers has been a game changer. Her kids love to play in her office while Addie works, which Addie believes helps them stay connected to her work.

8. Create Systems and Workflows

Rather than reinventing the wheel each time you tackle a repetitive task, minimize the time and effort it takes. Templates and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are here to help. From emails to events, design a customizable blueprint and document the steps to ensure consistency and efficiency. Consider leveraging them for seamless onboarding or outsourcing tasks to new hires while ensuring consistency and quality.

9. Keep Everything in One (Digital) Place

Digitizing and consolidating all of the essential things streamlines your workflow, ensures accessibility both at home and on the go, allows for synchronous and asynchronous workflows, and, perhaps most importantly—provides peace of mind.
Check out Notion for shared projects, notes, and brainstorming spaces, Figma for design, and Miro for visual content creation. There’s also Evernote for notes, Google Suite for documents and spreadsheets, and Trello for task management. 

10. Do a Daily Brain Dump

If it's not written down, it's not happening. Start and end your day with a brain dump to record everything that needs to get done. Whether on your device or in your notebook, clear your mind, organize your thoughts, and give yourself permission to forget about it for the time being with the reassurance that you can quickly return to it without forgetting.

Doing and Multitasking

11. Get in the Right Headspace

The transition from parent mode to entrepreneur mode can be challenging. E takes a 20-minute walk to have that separation. She also makes it a point not to respond to emails until she is sitting at her desk and ready to go. "Work doesn't get my energy until I'm ready."

12. Complete the Most Important Thing First

Our willpower and energy are highest in the morning, so start your day with the most important thing. Not only will you ensure it gets done, but it will also get the attention and focus it deserves.

13. Thoughtfully Delegate to Others

Evaluating whether something is the “highest and best use of my time” is something E does well. She takes the time to think about how to best set her and her team up for success when it comes to getting stuff done. For example, when someone shares a new idea, she thinks about who it’s best to hand off and own it.

E reflects, “Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should. Taking stuff off my plate is not a natural behavior. It’s something I’m unlearning.”

Kristin, too, lives and breathes the motto, “Your life is not long enough to learn every lesson.” When she comes into contact with someone who knows it already, she leverages their skillset to divide and conquer, rather than investing time and energy in something that may not be worthwhile in the end.

14. Stay Focused with Time Management Methods

Time management techniques can be a powerful way to stay focused and increase efficiency. Many swear by the Time Blocking method, where you group and complete similar tasks, like making phone calls or running errands, eliminating the mental clutter of long to-do lists and reducing time spent transitioning between them. For digital marketing strategies, batch and schedule your social media and blog posts for the month when you can. If that doesn't work, try it for the week ahead to save time re-visiting every day. 

For E, this means packing her kids' lunches twice at a time so that she can grab and go the next day.

E Kitzenberg saves time by packing her kids’ lunches two days ahead

Scheduling meetings can work in the same way. At Pluie, Addie and her team do not schedule meetings on Monday and Friday to have longer blocks of meaningful work.

There's also the Pomodoro Technique, where you divide your work into intervals, each typically 25 minutes of high concentration, followed by frequent short and occasional longer breaks to reward yourself and reset.

15. Combine Low-Intensity Activities

We hear multitasking is bad for us, but sometimes, it's the best we can do. While multitasking will not be appropriate for every task/activity, when possible, take advantage of the opportunity to check a few additional things off your list at a faster pace, like listening to podcasts and audiobooks while exercising, scheduling appointments while taking a walk, and sorting through mail and pay bills in front of the TV. 

Kristin says, “Podcasts are a great medium for me as a mom because I have unpredictable nighttime hours. And instead of hopping on my computer first thing in the morning when I am protecting my “me time,” I start the day by learning something new. Kristin also swears by working lunches, as they allow her to simultaneously get to know or catch up with someone while accomplishing her professional agenda. It’s a double win.

Kristin Kelly of KK Advisory Services multitasking with a walking meeting

16. Find Places that Double as Offices and Childcare

Did you know many gyms offer childcare to their members, hotels have kids clubs, and restaurants like Chick-fil-A, McDonald's, and Hat Creek have play spaces inside? It's a little known secret ideal for kids to play and you to work. 

Kristin's daughters having fun at Kids Club on vacation while mom works for a few hours

17. Involve Your Family When Possible

Blend the lines between personal and professional by giving your kids, partner, parents, in-laws, and others opportunities to help. Give them age-appropriate tasks like prepping for events or running errands to lighten your load and give them practical experience of responsibility and independence  while connecting on a deeper level. 

For E, having her husband and kids involved with Picnic is not only necessary—especially during evening and weekend hours when they’re not in daycare—but fun. She explains, “It’s a chance for them to see us doing something we love that’s not behind the computer. It’s tangible; they see what goes into it all. They also get to know the team, who they now consider family. 

E and her family at Picnic, a neighborhood bar in Minneapolis, MN, which she opened in April 2024

Addie's family has also been part of Pluie from the start—in addition to being the inspiration behind the idea. Addie is intentional about making Pluie a positive part of their life. She calls it "Surround Pluie with Positivity." 

Her recent mom win was when she took her son to Tampa over spring break. He wanted to go on a trip like many of his friends, but it wasn't in the cards, so she planned a work trip where he could participate. "We got to see three new Pluie locations, build client relationships, and most importantly, have fun."

Addie and her son at the Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa, where they traveled together over his spring break to install Pluie and have fun

18. Utilize Voice-to-Text

New ideas pop into our heads at the most unexpected times. Capture them in real-time so you don't forget or lose momentum. Whether you're in the school pick-up line, prepping your toddler's next meal, or reading books before bedtime, quickly open the Voice Memo or Voice Recorder app to verbalize your thoughts. Tools like Otter.ai can record and transcribe your words into text, which you can clean up later.

19. Rideshare When Needed

Sometimes driving helps clear your mind, and other times it's a time suck. When Addie needs to get something done, she opts to take an Uber or Lyft so she can work on her phone, make phone calls, or sit and think—without having to focus on driving. "Rideshares are often the same price as if you expense your mileage and parking, so it can be economical too."

Learning and Continuous Improvement

20. Practice Task Timing

Record how long tasks take you to complete for future planning purposes. Refer back to this to make better decisions on allocating your time efficiently and realistically.

21. Complete Regular Self-Assessment

Pause quarterly to reflect and evaluate your own performance and workflows in terms of productivity and effectiveness, including what’s working well and what needs adjustment. 

22. Build a Trusted Network

Finding your village makes a world of a difference in navigating parenthood, and the same is true for entrepreneurship. While establishing strong, trusted relationships may not sound productive, having people in your corner now that you can instantly rely on in the future is highly worthwhile. 

Kristin spends much of her time finding good partners who are in it with her for the long haul. They’re people who want to see her succeed and whom she wants to help succeed, too. Each year, she also chooses two new events to attend, learn, and form connections. “Even if it doesn’t lead to a contract, I’m gaining valuable knowledge to have a better understanding of the market at large or what others might be grappling with outside of my direct sphere.”

23. Adjust Your Mindset

James Clear says, “Productivity is getting important things done consistently.” We must let go of perfection and strive for progress.

Kristin believes that some things only need to be “good enough.” She excels in many things, from strategy outlines to series A fundraising models, but creative marketing is not one of them. Rather than investing in a service to enhance slideshow presentations, she focuses on ensuring the top quality of the slide content rather than perfecting the design, and she's perfectly okay with that.

Addie tells us, "I have learned that as founders, especially operating very lean, some things just need to be 'roughly right'. We try hard not to overthink things and act fast."

E has also adopted new perspectives, as "full-time" doesn't necessarily fit the traditional 40-hour/week definition. I know what I need to get done and will deliver."

Being a parent entrepreneur is beautiful, challenging, rewarding, fun, and messy all at once. Given your unique situation and time constraints, take the time to experiment and find what works (and what doesn’t work) for you. 

Addie reflects, “I have realized that being a mom with a finite amount of time helps me focus. I am efficient because I do not have a choice not to be."

And if that doesn't sum up parent entrepreneur, we don't know what does.

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