Time Management for busy Mom-preneurs with Johanna Buss - Conny Graf

I am very excited to welcome Johanna Buss to the show today. Johanna Buss, a serial entrepreneur, time management guru.

She is a mom of three children 5 and under, owns three business, has a full time job, and is known for helping working mothers create a firm foundation in their family and home so they can focus on growing their businesses.

I loved talking with Johanna, we laughed so much too, and she is full of wisdom. What you'll discover in this episode: 

  • What her secret is on how she finds the time to do all she wants to 
  • What morning routines she has in place 
  • What she does instead of time blocking, 

If you find value in this conversation with Johanna please share the episode with your family and friends because if you find value in it, they will too.

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Johanna Buss

Johanna Buss, a serial entrepreneur, time management guru, and automation specialist. She is a mom of three children 5 and under, owns three business, has a full time job, and is known for helping working mothers create a firm foundation in their family and home so they can focus on growing their businesses.

Johanna is the host of the Stable Mama podcast and runs the Stable Mama Movement Facebook group where she shares tips on mastering time, routines and managing expectations while working full time, raising a family and building a business.

The Stable Mama Website

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Reading instead of Listening (Transcript) 

Conny Graf 0:05
Welcome, Johanna, I'm so excited to have you on my show.

Johanna Buss 0:09
I'm excited to be here. We have so much fun together.

Conny Graf 0:11
We have so much fun. We're laughing already. like crazy. So fun episode. So we were just talking about your children and I just want to put that the stage right for the listeners. So you're a mom of three children under five, and you call yourself a time management guru and automation specialist. Tell me more about it. Tell me everything.

Johanna Buss 0:43
Oh, I always laugh because I feel like they should not be in the same sentence together. But yeah, so I have three children. My oldest is five and have a three year old and a one year old. And I like to think of myself as a time management guru, because my husband and I, we run three businesses together. I work full time. I went back to school when the kids were young and like, time management is my jam.

Conny Graf 1:10
Yeah, you can bend time It sounds like, your day has more than 24 hours.

Johanna Buss 1:25
Some days, it does not feel that way some days it does. But honestly, I think the secret is believing that time is your friend. I feel like so often we put this time pressure on ourselves like you have to get this done by this timeline. And it makes time go by faster. So like, I learned this a long time ago when I really want something to get done, it never gets done, right. Really well like if you're putting your one year old to bed and you're like okay, I have 10 minutes to put them to bed and then I am gonna go do this. Does it ever take you 10 minutes? No, it takes you like an hour. But that one time where you have all the time in the world and you're like, Oh, I'm just gonna sit here and snuggle her forever, they are out like a light. And I was like, okay, so there has to be something to this. And what I figured out is that if you can view time as if it's abundant, and you have so much of it, your your productivity skyrockets.

Conny Graf 2:32
Yeah, come from an abundance mindset and not from a scarcity mindset, just like you hear all the time from all these enlightened people, and then you would want to punch them in the nose because you don't know how to get there. So how did you get there Johanna?

Johanna Buss 2:49
I love that you said that because the first time I heard that, I was like, yeah, let's switch. Okay, exactly. What do you think of that? See how much time you have. But it really is so true, like I did with the examples. When you really want something, it's not the fact that there's a lack of time. It's the pressure you put on yourself. So if you feel this pressure to get it done, it's going to take you longer because now your brain is split in two, right. Now it's worried about the anxiety of not getting it done. And it's worried about actually getting it done instead of just getting done.

Conny Graf 3:25
Yeah, and I would think, I would think with children too, they probably sense that you are tense and that you have this goal and and then, consciously or unconsciously, we don't know, they're starting to sabotage you. I just know it's that way with animals. So I have horses and you know, like one of the Guru's Pat Parelli of horse training, he says, it takes as long as it takes or or I butcher it properly or He says take as long take as long as it takes, you know, it's an it's kind of the same what you're saying it's just making time your friend and letting things flow and then it probably flows better than trying to pressure yourself and the children or the animal into what you want to do.

Johanna Buss 4:27
Oh, amen. For me, kind of my saving grace is, I cannot keep things in my brain. So if I have too many things in my brain, I cannot focus on my tasks. So I just have this.... I even have it here with me, I could show you, it's a fun green notebook. But it's just there for me to like write things down. And once a day, I sit down and I schedule it and I have a fluid schedule. So I time block right, we talked we hear about that all the time, put it in your scheduled time block it. And I think that's great, but it's missing a key piece. When you have children, when you have three businesses, when you have....you feel super busy, it doesn't always go the way you want it to. So I have done more of like a fluid. So as long as it's written down, if I didn't get to it, I just work it into another piece of my schedule, and I make chunks for the missing pieces. And that is really helped because it's alleviating that time pressure. Because your child has a blowout, well, that wasn't in the schedule, or your husband calls up and say, Hey, have you gotten those bills out? That wasn't in the schedule either. There's things that pop up. And if we stop and address those issues that need addressing right away, it throws our entire schedule off. And now we have that time pressure back on. Instead of taking that time pressure, I take that chunk and I move it into those different slots. So it's really more of like a ...I don't know a rotating schedule if you if you wish. I have cool highlighters, and I just highlight it and move it. And once you kind of come to the conclusion that it doesn't need to get done, and you get to do it like you are blessed with these opportunities, you are blessed with these tasks, and you come from being grateful for the fact that you have these things to do. It really alleviates that high pressure. So it's not necessarily I know, we hear all the time. We have the same 24 hours in the day. I hate that saying, because I feel like it's different for everyone. Yeah, technically we have the same time period, but how we approach it is going to be whether it feels like we have enough or not enough. If that makes sense ....

Conny Graf 6:41
That sounds really like a time management guru.

Johanna Buss 6:46
I should listen back to myself.... this is recorded right?

Conny Graf 6:51
Just to make it clear, because I do you have actually and I will ask her question later. I do have somebody who has a very similar situation like you do in my community. So she has two toddlers three and five years old. She has a husband and she has a business that she's running and she's homeschooling and our yada yadi. So for her, I'm going to clarify what you say. So you're planning basically time blocks into your day where you plan on doing things, but it's all more fluid. It's not like rigid and you're not beating yourself up when you don't get to it right at the time... can you elaborate a little bit?

Johanna Buss 7:35
Yeah, happy to. So it looks rigid. So if you were to come and look at my schedule, you'd be like, Oh, dear girl, like what are you doing? But I take it with a grain of salt. So I do it in 15 minute chunks. So 15 minutes of my day, you will see everything in that little bitty space. But every night so I very what I do today, every 45 minutes, I gave myself a 15 minute break. So now I'm That 15 minute break, I can either take up and be like, Okay, I get a break, I'm going to take a break, whether it's the whole 15 minutes, or maybe I need to slide something in there. But basically what it's doing is just putting chunks in there. So you can catch up, or just writing it down. So often we get really worked up with the fact that it needs to be done. But when we schedule it, our brain then goes, Okay, I don't have to worry about that until that point. Where if you don't schedule it and just sits in your brain, it's going to eat away at you, and it's going to take you longer to do the things that you need to do before you can get to that other task. So honestly, putting it in the schedule, even if you can't get to it, even if you're not sure you're going to complete in that time. The fact that you have a time dedicated to it will really alleviate that anxiety and that pressure on you to get things done.

Conny Graf 8:53
Yeah, I totally agree with the writing down and an even planning like because when you're trying to keep it in your head, you're trying to multitask again and you're trying to not forget instead of just writing it down somewhere. So you're suggesting to walk around with a journal. Are you walking around all day with it? Because the pushback I hear a lot is, well, I can't write it down because then I don't find my journal and I don't find my pen or I write it on some post it note and then I don't find the post-it note. Or the kids takes it or the dog eats it or.....

Johanna Buss 9:28
just disappears more the kid eats it, I like that one

Conny Graf 9:33
I said the dog eats it, but the kid could eat it do. Yes, of course,

Johanna Buss 9:36
given that to my one year old. Um... yeah, no, I totally get it. And yes, I have my fun green notebook, and I keep that with me quite a bit, just to jot down ideas and I let the kids draw on it. And you know, it just it's just kind of become my weird thing. But it also on my phone, there is little memos that you can record so you can literally record the button and just say your memo real quick. I've used that. And there's a also a notepad app, which is basically you just dictate it. So it's still like recording yourself except that writes it down, versus the other one is just keeps recording. And then I put time in my schedule to go back and listen to the recording and write those things down.

Conny Graf 10:18
Yeah, I just wanted to say, that's been the next step because so many people like I noticed that when I help people declutter, they have a system where they catch things like ideas, or they rip out articles from a magazine or anything, but what they're not realizing is that they have to schedule time where they actually go and review this because otherwise they might still forget about it or not do it. So that's, that's a good tip that you have to schedule time to actually review this. Awesome, awesome so you have every day a time slot where you review this?

Johanna Buss 10:59
Yep, so I keep those pretty consistent. It's part of my morning routine. So at 6:30am, you will see me listening to my voice memos and writing that down. You'll also see me at 8pm at night, I do the same thing. So for some reason, if I miss it at night, or Yeah, sorry, if I missed it at night, I'll get it in the morning because sometimes it's been a long day. And yeah, I may listen to it, but I did not get all of it. So sometimes I just need that different perspective. So I do put it in my schedule twice. Plus, I don't know what it is, but my bedtime routine. Sometimes I feel really relaxed and then thoughts just come because the kids are finally sleeping, I get that breather. And then it's just easy to, to sometimes dictate like after a meditation or a reading or something like that. So

Conny Graf 11:50
yeah, I love that tip. I love that tip. And that's also what I always say like you like for example, if I help somebody with their paper clips or paper, I call it file monster you know it takes over your house. That's what I always say is like, it's good and dandy if you take it out and you put it somewhere, but if you're not, if you're not scheduling time to actually, like with clippings, for example, to put it somewhere where where you find it again, you just know you have it on a pile somewhere and then you're all stressed out because you can't find it. So you always have to, it's always Step two is to organize it in a way that that makes you actually use whatever you you collect that you know. It's like when you're saying with your ideas, if we're not paying attention and have that second step, where we are actually doing something with that idea, we are missing out on a lot of everything. The first step is a waste of time if you don't do the second step. So yeah, I love that. I love that.

Johanna Buss 12:52
So there is a caveat. So I don't know about you, but every once in a while, okay, more often than not, I have the squirrel syndrome, Right. Where you're like focusing on this is what the direction I want to take my business, then all of a sudden we see something we're like.... squirrel. We have all these ideas about that. This is where I caution you, those ideas are great. And I still would write them down. But I want you to ask yourself if they align with your goals. Because so often we, when the going gets tough when we see our goal, and we're so close, but we have to go maybe out of our comfort zone to get there, these squirrel ideas are going to start looking really good because they're going to be easier, because you're going to see excitement over them, and it's going to take you away from your main focus. So a lot of times when I'm listening to these ideas, I always have to remind myself does this align with my goals? And then if it doesn't, well, why did I really like that idea? And I have to think back and be like, Okay, is there some the next part of my goal is that out of my comfort zone, do I not want to do it, what's my hesitation and so it's really kind of diving into that as well instead of just acting on everything.

Conny Graf 14:04
Yeah, that's a good point. That's a good point. And, and also, we're never reaching our goals if we're constantly doing squirrel...... squirrel And but i think it's it's one of the issues that we have excuse me that we have right now because there's so much possibilities and so much cool stuff that we all could do. It doesn't all fit in it and and then yeah, if we're not careful it's really squirrel and as you said, especially if our goal that we have gets a little bit difficult or a little bit frustrating maybe out of our comfort zone it's so much easier to just say oh actually I don't really like this goal. I rather want to have this goal.

Johanna Buss 14:53
I think that was like my first year of business was like, Oh, I want to start a business. I'm going to do this....no, this... No that looks good. No how about here... So, yes

Conny Graf 15:03
Yeah, well, coming back to the children, I would think they build in some roadblocks in your wonderful planned out day. So how does that look in, in reality, so 630 in the morning, you're kind of looking, listening to your voice messages going over the day. But then, like you said, the child maybe gets sick or wakes up sick or creates a mess in the living room when you have guests in evening. So how do you manage? How do you manage all this?

Johanna Buss 15:45
Actually, that's a great, great question. And, honestly, so what I do, it's a little unique to me. I create automated mini routines. And this really kind of helps me get things done, while still what's the word I'm looking for? I'm not always so great with words. while still having that brain power. Like so often, we're making decisions constantly and we get brain fatigue. So by the end of the day, we are like, oh, exhausted, right, we don't want to talk to anybody, we just want to kind of shut off and relax. So by creating these automated mini routines, it's really kind of helps you be flexible, and still have really high productivity. So for example, my morning routine, I have a bunch of different mini routines. And if I'm lucky, I get through all of them. But more often than not, my daughter will wake up. And so instead of doing the full routine, I'll do like the first three, my daughter will wake up, I tend to her needs, and now I have triggers that will help me do my other morning routines. So I still have that real high productivity, but it accounts for the flexibility of children and the amazing chaos they bring to our lives. The other thing I can say about our business, one of the reasons I Like my notebook so much is I feel like when we think of business, we think we have to be on the computer. And we have to be on our phone or networking or so many different things. We associate it with, you know, electronics. Once I was able to kind of rewrite that and say, I don't need to be on my computer when I'm working, it has made, building a business with children so much easier. Because now I can jot down my ideas, I could schedule, not schedule, I can create a schedule of what I want to post, I can outline my content. And I'm sitting on the ground with my kids with them playing around me. And the fact that I'm there and I'm not holding a computer or a phone, they feel like I'm present. And I'm not missing those moments. Because you can look up from your notebook and I feel like we're not as attached. When we're on our computer, we feel like oh my goodness, I have to get this done. I'm on the computer, my kids are going to need me, and there's this again, there's that pressure. When I have my notebook and I'm just sitting down. I don't feel that pressure, I'm just getting things done. And then I'll put it down and I'll play blocks. And you know what I mean? And I don't know.... it really has been a game changer.

Conny Graf 18:10
I love that idea. So even like, maybe your kids are doing crafts or their paint, they're drawing or painting or whatever, and it's just mommy next to it doing also something in her journal or.... yeah and so they feel like you're really there. And you, I do think through that with a journal or if you writing something down by hand, you're less pulled in than if you're playing on your cell phone, or if you're working on your computer. So that's that's a really good tip.

Johanna Buss 18:38
Yeah. Plus, I feel like they can see it more and they can understand it. So if we were doing arts and crafts, and I was writing in my notebook, well, they're going to show me their picture and I'm going to show them maybe the diagram I did of how I want my funnel to run, or how I want to lay out my content. I have something to show them and they're like, Oh, we did this together.

Conny Graf 18:58
Oh, yeah, that's, that's cool yeah make that make them part of the business and make them part of what you're doing too. Yeah, that's awesome.

Johanna Buss 19:08
So just a few little tips, hopefully they're good, they help me, hopefully they help you too.

Conny Graf 19:16
Yeah, I really I think that will really help my listeners that you have little children so I have animals at home I don't have children at home so that's why you are on here. You're the expert. You're the girl, your'e the automation specialist. So how did you figure this all out? like have you in your previous life before you had children, were you and automation specialist? Like, did you have your life running on automation?

Johanna Buss 19:50
No, actually. So I have a very unique background. I have seven different degrees. Most of them are in like biology, chemistry, you know, human biology, a lot of the human sciences, but it also have a degree in electrical engineering. And actually for I just switched careers now. Now I teach electrical engineering. But for the 10 years prior to that I was an automation specialist. And I was in charge of automating large machinery. And when I had my third child, I would show up to work, I'd be a mess. And I just be like, the mornings were chaos. I felt like I didn't have anything together and like, I had way too much on my plate. And I was, I was a mess. Like, it was bad. And so I remember one day, I was programming this machine, and I was like, Oh my God, why couldn't my life be this easy to program? Right? Why couldn't I just have these things go so smoothly? And it was like a, someone hit me with a stupid stick and was like, Well, why can't you? And so what I did is I said are taking those automation principles, and all the things I knew about the brain and the human body, and I started putting them together. And so what I was able to do is I was able to find ways to automate myself to go through daily routines that are boring, stressful, difficult, and really simplify them and do them without thinking.

Yes, please.

Conny Graf 21:23
So exactly, that's what I always say happens when you make your habits. If you get the right habits that align with how you are and how you function, and then you were doing them in the beginning, it might be hard to remember but eventually it becomes so automatic that they just become a part of you and who you are, and then you don't even have to think about it anymore. And that's kind of sounds what you're doing. It's just you become not the machine but it's it's like there is no..... I like that I like because you're having it planned and it's automatic and you don't have to question, you don't have to make another decision. So your life actually from the outside it may look like it's rigid but it's not because you don't have to think you don't need the extra energy to fight yourself over your, your brain you're just doing and and the more you're surrendering to that automation, the easier it gets, and the easier life gets, I can see that totally.

Johanna Buss 22:25
It really works. I was skeptical at first, but now I love it. I think one of the things that drew me to it is I was trying to implement all of these habits into my life because I knew I need to make some big changes. But you have to implement habits one by one by one by one and each one takes time. And as a mom of three children who felt like she was drowning, I didn't have the time to learn the habits one by one by one. automation, you do an entire process. So you can do multiple habits at one time. And so that was that was like the big kicker for me. I was like oh my goodness, I can make huge strides, and be really successful and all I had to do was automate.

Conny Graf 23:06
Yes. So what which habit you think makes the most difference in your life like with the children and, and the business? And you yourself. I mean, you're also here we have only talked about how you manage everybody else but you yourself are here too you know. So which habit do you think makes the most impact? If you would have to pick just one that you could continue on doing? Which one you think would it be?

Johanna Buss 23:36
Oh, by far my morning routine, so I can have my morning routine. I swear it's 100% better day than any other day. Because in my morning routine, it's my time, right? It's the time to fill up my cup so I can do all the other things. It's my time to get centered and grounded and no my schedule my priorities and you know, work out and get pumped up and feel great about myself. So that when my kids get up and they're ready for action, I'm not waking up with them and feeling groggy and feeling like oh, I don't have any more to give. I'm out.

Conny Graf 24:11
Yeah, so yeah, so you are taking care of yourself first, that proverbial put the mask on first and then and then you help the others, you know?

Johanna Buss 24:24
Yeah, I made no sense to me at first. I remember listening those airplanes, they'd be like, put your mask on and then help other people. I'd be like, That just sounds backwards to me. Why would like my kids need me? But I started doing it little by little and the more I did it, the better mom I was the better wife a better employee. And it's true. If you don't have.... if you don't fill up your cup first, you have nothing to give to others.

Conny Graf 24:49
Yeah, we hear this all the time. And a lot of people give push backs, especially the ones with children who think the children come before them that they're higher priority, and it makes no sense. Like, like, in one way it makes sense because you think, Oh, I would give my life for my children and everything and they are my highest priority but they the priority can't be higher than you yourself because you couldn't give them the status or the priority they have in their in their life if you yourself are not here or not on your best, you know, so hopefully it makes sense. Yeah.

Johanna Buss 25:29
Crazy. It's the little things, it always seems to be little things that have the biggest impact.

Conny Graf 25:35
It totally is. So I have actually, I don't know whether I have the that episode published already or not. But I talk a lot about this. It's for both ways. It's always the little things that trip you off, trip you up, all these little things and then there's only one little one more that has to come and then you're screaming, or when you want to get out of a rut, it's the little things that you're doing to get out of it. It's I feel like we always aim for this big epic thing, and how to change but that's not how it works. It's always a little things. Always.

So before we started, excuse me, before we started recording, you said something really awesome that I thought I wanted to include in the, in the podcast, he talked about gratitude and I thought it was so cool because we were just talking about the little things and you said, so if you feel like the next thing that doesn't go the way you want, it's going to trip you up. What was your suggestion? And I thought it was so awesome. And I want to hear from you. I doesn't help if I repeated so....

Johanna Buss 26:53
Oh, yeah, I was telling her the story of me and my daughter. I love her dearly, but we're very similar. So We butt heads more often than that, and one of our biggest pain areas is getting dressed in the morning. I have to repeat myself 17 billion times before she will actually put clothes on. And so, this past morning, a couple days ago, we were having this wonderful dance that we do. And I was about ready to lose it because my daughter had a blowout, my other daughter had a blowout, my son was getting impatient because he was hungry, and my middle child who just was refusing to put clothes on, and I could feel it coming in. So instead of like yelling at her, I just started yelling things I was grateful for about her. I was like, I'm grateful that you're breathing. I'm grateful that you're alive. I'm grateful that you're funny. I'm grateful and I just started yelling all these things that I was grateful for. Because it's a fact you cannot be grateful and angry at the same time. So you can actually feel your body like diffusing as you say these things, because you're switching focus. And it's a great way especially if you have small children who are very determined, and very strong willed to kind of diffuse the situation. And like reground yourself, because we've all been there when we're just like, what is it, she's on my last nerve. And it's 9am in the morning, I really don't want to lose it already. So I would highly recommend, just start yelling things you're grateful for. And when I first started this, I actually had to make a list. So I heard this and I was like, this doesn't work. So I was like, Alright, I made a great full list. And I would literally run into my bathroom. That's where I put it and I'd start reading off all the things I was grateful for. And after a while, it becomes more natural, but if you if you need a jumpstart like I did, I would highly recommend just writing them down and having them there to go to when you're feeling like it's gonna happen.

Conny Graf 28:48
That's an awesome tip, rather than... because we're already close to yelling most likely when we're about to lose it. So instead of yelling nasty things, you're actually yelling god things which, what I would be curious now is how did your daughter react? Did she put clothes on?

Johanna Buss 29:07
Yeah, her facial expressions were actually priceless because she was like, Mom, are you okay? I was like, Yes, I'm grateful that you're curious. But it seemed to like take the tension out of the situation. Like I said, when my energy kind of re returned to like a normal state, a grounded state, so did hers. So often, we think like, okay, it's the child and they're driving us crazy. But more often than not, they're feeding off our energy. So if our energy is crazy and angry, tat's what there's gonna be as well.

Conny Graf 29:43
And now we have a visitor... No problem.

Johanna Buss 29:47
I have no idea how she got out of her crib. I'm not gonna lie. Oh, thank you. Never a dull moment. Ever.

Conny Graf 30:00
I bet there's never a dull moment with three children and three businesses and a husband and..... so this was really awesome. Johanna like, we could talk for hours, but I want to be mindful of your time and your children need you. And so any last words of advice, or encouragement?

Johanna Buss 30:26
I'm not gonna lie. I would love to come up with something really awesome right now. But all I can think about is I have three kids running around in the house...

Conny Graf 30:37
Yep, the life of a mom.

Johanna Buss 30:40
But I have to say though, is if I can do it, you can do it. And never stop trying.

Conny Graf 30:46
I think you're absolutely a supermom and you are a time management guru. I mean, who can do three children and three businesses. Somebody first has to beat that. Thanks so much for being on my show Johanna and sharing your wisdom with us. I really love it. And I hope to have you back on the show for some more wisdom in the in the future sometime

Johanna Buss 31:17
I would love it, thank you so much for having me.

Conny Graf 31:19
That was awesome. Thank you. Bye bye

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