Whitnee Hawthorne is a busy mom and Fortune 500 executive by day, but spends her free time helping moms like her manage their stress and time, and prioritize what is most important, through her website, The Savvy Working Mom. In this week’s episode, Whitnee and I talk about how she balances her professional life with her family and passion for helping other working moms.
Finding joy and balance in your daily life
Whitnee Hawthorne is a speaker, an author, a Fortune 500 executive, a mom, and a podcaster with a passion for supporting and encouraging working moms. She is also the founder of the Savvy Working Mom, a platform dedicated to helping working mothers be the woman they want to be. She loves travel, hiking, watching movies, and creating. Whitnee lives in Utah with her husband, two young sons, and their family dog.
Whitney started The Savvy Working Mom when her first son was a baby. Around that time she realized how little support there was for working mothers. Whitnee was struggling with how to balance motherhood with her passions and her career, and make it all work together. Whitnee began speaking with other mom’s who were dealing with the same challenges and then developed The Savvy Working Mom. The platform focuses on time management, productivity, relieving stress and guilt, and finding more joy in your life.
A typical day
Whitnee has two young sons (8 months and a toddler), one of whom she is breastfeeding, so her days vary greatly. However, on a typical day her youngest son will wake up quite early, so she will breastfeed him right away so she can focus on the rest of her morning.
Whitnee has a morning ritual where she will hydrate herself, do some stretches, and then 15 minutes of yoga. By the time she is done, her older son is awake and she can focus on him. Whitnee will make him breakfast, then they will read a book together and enjoy some cuddle time.
Whitnee’s husband is usually awake by then, so she will hop in the shower and get ready for her day. Then either Whitnee or her husband will get the kids to school and then they both head to work.
Because Whitnee lives in a different time zone from where her company is based, what time she starts her workday can vary, sometimes starting as early as 7:00 am. However, her day usually ends between 5:00-6:00 pm. She will head home and if possible, will pick the kids up from school with her husband. They will then spend the evening having dinner, bath time, and play. After the kids are in bed, Whitnee will work on The Savvy Working Mom.
Whitnee feels like her days are really full but she deliberately tries to not do too much so she can focus on her family, even though she thrives on a full schedule.
Biggest productivity challenges
One of the biggest challenges Whitnee faces is dealing with the unpredictable nature of everyday things. The challenges of the year 2020 in general did not help matters, but having a newborn can also be challenging, along with relocating and running a quickly growing side business.
Whitnee tries to not be too hard on herself about the things she can’t control and how much she is able to accomplish in a day. Life happens, no matter how much planning is done. She tries to focus on her mindset and take time throughout each day to do a reset so she can stay on track.
She also uses lists to keep track of what needs to be done each day, both at work and at home. She prioritizes tasks on her list based on what she thinks she will be able to get done on that day.
When it comes to balancing motherhood with her career, family, and other passions, Whitnee likes to reflect on this quote by author Nora Roberts:
“the key to juggling is to know that some of the balls you have in the air are made of plastic and some are made of glass.”
If you drop a rubber ball, it’s okay because you can retrieve it and start juggling again. If you drop a glass ball though, that can’t be picked back up again. The key is to recognize which balls are glass and which are rubber and give yourself permission to drop a rubber ball now and again.
This analogy has helped Whitnee to not overcomplicate things and focus on what’s most important in her life, which includes her health and the health of her family, as well as her career.
Whitnee also likes to use a concept which she calls SMS, meaning Shine, Manage, and Surrender. In all the areas of your life, such as your relationships, your career, your hobbies, etc., you will either want to shine, manage, or surrender. For example, Whitnee likes to shine when she is spending time with her sons, and watching them learn and grow. She manages what her sons eat each day. And then she surrenders when it comes to what her children wear each day, allowing their clothing to be imperfect if that’s all she has time for.
Resources and tools Whitnee recommends
To stay organized and productive, Whitnee likes to use a system she developed called “DEBAC“, a paper planner, and time blocking.
She likes to plan on paper because writing things down commits them to memory and makes her feel the most organized and productive. She also enjoys using various stickers in her planner. Whitnee prefers to use the 3-month version of the Firefox planner.
With time blocking, Whitnee uses set times to focus on one specific thing. At work, she will use time blocks to check emails and do team reviews with staff. At home, she will have set times for working in the kitchen or straightening up the living room.
The final tool Whitnee uses is called DEBAC, which stands for delegate, eliminate, batch, automate, and calibrate. When it comes to all the tasks she has to do on any given day, Whitnee will put each task through one of these filters to see which ones should take the highest priority and which ones really need to be completed by her. You can read more about Whitnee’s DEBAC method on Savvy Working Mom blog. She is also in the process of creating a course to teach others this method.
What do you do to get back on track on a day when everything gets away from you?
When these kinds of days happen, Whitnee will first acknowledge to herself she is having a day that is not going as planned and things are starting to pile up. When she doesn’t stop to recognize the kind of day she is having, she will sometimes plow through in an angry or reckless manner, which isn’t healthy. She also thinks about ways to restore herself, such as getting more sleep, eating something healthy, or having a cup of coffee. Whitnee has found that she is most likely to have a bad day when she is not focusing on her glass balls, and instead doing things to please other people or things that just aren’t a priority. On crazy days, Whitnee has discovered that for her to recharge, she needs to have alone time and the freedom to do nothing. She might sit quietly with a glass of wine, read a book, or watch a favorite TV show.
Whitnee’s last words for the listener
You get one life and this life should be the most enjoyable and wonderful experience it can be. Life won’t be perfect, but the journey should be wonderful. Spend your life doing the things that matter most to you. When you focus on what’s most important, your world gets better.
Connect with Whitnee
Resources and Links
- a guide on Time Blocking
Whitnee’s DEBAC method is a module in this course
What do you think? Questions? Comments?
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