Work at Home Parents and Productivity with Keren Threlfall

Interview with KEREN THRELFALL

How do you manage your time?

The concept of margin has helped me immensely in the past couple of years. Margin is the idea that we need to “pad” our schedules with extra time, both for the purpose of being able to integrate the unexpected interruptions, and also to be able to give ourselves room to breathe. When you don’t allow for this, it’s easy to burn out quite quickly. Since we work from home and have our three young children at home with us, the concept of margin is also important in the various needs that arise from just being a family.

I’ve also learned from reading a good number of personal productivity books over the past few years. (Although our desire is to slow down and simplify, those ideals are not mutually exclusive to productivity.) One idea from my reading that has helped me is the concept of “eating frogs.” This stems from Mark Twain’s saying, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day,” and was the premise for the book “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy.  In other words, tackle your difficult tasks early and if possible, first. This often creates a feeling of empowerment that carries over to other tasks of the day. As a mom and an entrepreneur, I also realize I will never get to do everything I want to do in a day. This helps me prioritize what is most important– something that will look different for each family, and will be manifest in different ways during changing seasons for each particular family.

I also view my time though the lens of “anchor points.” I don’t live by a minute-by-minute schedule, but instead have a few anchor points (e.g., make breakfast, work on article, read book together, take walk, etc…), and then I arrange them in the general time categories when I need to accomplish them (e.g., morning, early afternoon, evening while kids are sleeping, etc…).

Wedding this idea with the concept of margin has provided me with the flexibility and opportunities I need to get things done.

How do you manage your energy?

Like many, I realize that it’s important to take care of our bodies, and that how we care for them will play into how they function. (That’s not to say that illness, disease, or injury cannot occur when we are at peak health and nutritional intake.) If I want quality energy output, I need to put quality fuel in.

Although it sounds simplistic, eating whole foods, drinking enough water, making sure I’m getting physical energy, and getting enough sleep have all helped me immensely in maintaining energy. (I’ll sheepishly admit that I’m not quite where I wish I were in the sleep category–I have trouble shutting down my brain to get to bed when I know it’s best!)

Rest is also important. It’s easy to think that we can just keep riding on a flow of energy, but, as many have learned by trial and error, both the mind and body need time renew and restore.

What was your biggest productivity struggle as an entrepreneurial family and how did you overcome it?

I’m afraid I must answer this question in the present tense–I think that as a family we struggle with what many others in similar situations do, as well–the best way to balance work and family. We’re coming to realize that we can’t always effectively do both at once, and that we need to constantly discern what times are best devoted only to family, only to work, and what times are appropriate to mix both.

Personally, I also wrestle with wanting to do too many tasks at a time. It has helped me to just pick one (or two) areas to pursue at a time, and then really work on focusing in on developing myself and my work in that area before taking on more.

Although these are challenges, as we look back to the past years, and even as recently as a few months ago, it is easy to see that we are constantly improving and understanding more about how to live as an entrepreneurial family–and we are loving it.

Thank you Keren for sharing your perspective on productivity!

Keren Threlfall is a mother of two beautiful girls, Hana Kate and Eden, and her new happy baby boy, Justus. She and her husband Daniel love dreaming big about life and both currently live an entrepreneurial lifestyle working from home. Keren considers herself a “renaissance soul,” and enjoys reading, researching, photography, graphic design, natural birth, natural living, theology, medicine, and running, just to name a few.

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photo by: James Jordan

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Chris Badgett is the founder of the Unconventional Parents Community, Badgett Web Design and Organic Life Guru. He believes that a conscious approach to parenting and entrepreneurship will heal and change the world.

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