Donna Hann: My guest on the podcast today is an expert in time management Donna McNulty, specialising in helping women in business, especially moms to create more time using her globally proven techniques and strategies, that she's mastered over the last 15 years. On average Donna's clients are able to create an extra six to eight hours per week for the things that matter the most to them through her signature six week focus and flow program.
In this podcast, we talk about Donna's journey from the corporate world to serving small business owners. She shares her five ways to optimize your time management. And we also talk about the myth of multitasking. I invited Donna onto the podcast to share her time management superpowers, because I feel, that time is both our greatest resource as a human being, and also sometimes our greatest challenge.
And just before we kick off into the podcast, I want to tell you about a webinar that will be happening on the 25th of November. It's called reflect recharge and plan for 2022. And it's a virtual 60 minute webinar where I will help you to unpack 2021. Look for the lessons and the challenges and ditch the negativity, set clear and attainable goals for 2022. And in doing so, allow you to switch off and enjoy the silly season, knowing that you're set to make a great start in the new year. So if building a business by design, when that lights you up and brings you added freedom and fills your cup is the kind of business that you want then this webinar is a great place to start. So please come and join me. Go to donnahann.com/reflect to grab your ticket. Now let's meet Donna McNulty and begin to optimize your time management.
So welcome to The She's in Business Podcast Donna.
Donna McNulty: Thank you very much, Donna.
Donna Hann: So we've got a few things in common. Our first name is obviously one thing that we both Donna’s! I don't come across another Donna’s, so I was pretty excited when I sent you, um, same here and we also have a strong heritage. Our heritage and paper will tell from your accent that you're from Ireland, you can't tell from mine, but my bloodline is Irish and English. I was born in the UK and my mother's side is very much strong in the Irish blood lines. So all of my family's in Dublin, just on the outskirts of the city. So when I was also discovering your bio that you sent to me, you enjoy a glass of Sav Blanc too and so do I, we both have a passion for helping women in business. And so do I! So I was thrilled to have you in the podcast today and I just want to stop. And invite you to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do.
Donna McNulty: Well, look, I think you've done. You've covered quite a bit of it, their Donna so yes, and always good for me to be reminded that I'm, I've got the Irish accent that cause whether people believe it or not, but I actually don't hear my own accent.
Although I've been living in Australia for nearly 20 years now, I actually don't hear my Irish accent until I hear another Irish person speak and I go, wow, that's a big accent. So that's a good reminder for me too, to keep myself contained during this podcast, because yes, we are about to talk, um, all things, time management, which is my insane passion.
So, as with all good Irish and Australian folk, once we talk about the things that we love, our voices can tend to speed up and we get very excited. So I try to behave myself. So that's, so that's a little bit of my cultural background. Yes, the reason I'm on the podcast with you today, Donna, and thank you very much for the invite and to everyone who's leaning in and investing their time listening to the podcast. I am an expert in time management. Um, I very much had done to the corporate career straight out of university, always managing large teams of people, always organizing people's time, their resources be that budget, people, etcetera. And love just over the years, I very much just got more and more niche and more and more specialized in the world of what we can refer to as time management, productivity, management, performance management, what you might want to call it.
And look that that served me well for many, many, many years, until a few years ago. Yes. The entrepreneur spirit has always been strongly in my genes and in myself and I took the plunge and said, no, it was actually time to share all that energy and experience with the everyday Mum-preneurs of the world that are right there at juggling so much.
So that has, what's brought me here today.
Donna Hann: And tell me about the story when you made the decision of that switch, because I saw something recently on your social media and you were holding a photograph. Can you tell us about that?
Donna McNulty: Yeah, look, I think most of the listeners, you know, themselves will be Mums and Mums and business.
We all know there are lots of pivotal moments in your life that really do transform and change your path. So that particular photograph you're talking about was when I was running a $10, $20 million project, 100, 150 people on the team, we were insanely busy. Going for lunch. And there was an event, marketing event downstairs, and I was just asked to take a photograph of what my goal was for the rest of the year. This was in June, July time, and I almost went, I'm too busy for this. And I had my manager with me and he stopped and started writing about his goals to travel to Cuba, etcetera. And I thought, hold on, let's just pause. And I sat there and I thought, and the busy-ness that has become my life. I am always there for my children and I give so much of my time and energy to every other facet in my life.
What I found I was missing was that emotional energy. So I find that I'm so passionate in so many things and in my work, and I was given all my time and energy to so many things, that one, I was given my physical time to my kids. I was finding that I was just giving too much to everything else that I didn't have anything left to give them that emotional energy when they needed it most.
So my goal, and I've got it written in front of me, actually in my office. So my goal is to put more emotional energy into guiding my kids through their early years. And I have two, four and six, which was their ages at the time. And that was six years ago.
Donna Hann: And so was that really like. I know you since that pivotal moment, but has that that's, what's driven you to maybe move out of the corporate and into the more, a small business service in that way to help other Mums do the same.
Because that's really very similar to why I do what I do is that I didn't, I wasn't really, truly in the moment with my kids. Like I wanted to be. In that emotional aspect, like what you're saying. And I feel like there are so many other Mums who run businesses and they have these amazing, amazing skills and these ideas.
And there is, you know, we know that women in business is so impactful to the communities in which they live. There's so much value in that, but sometimes. They give up on their own dream of having their business, because they can't find that balance in being present with their family and also giving what they need to for the business and then having self care time for themselves. And they literally burn out.
Donna McNulty: So to answer your question, what made it pivotal for me was number one, the realization. And what came with that is the realization that the business isn't going anywhere on. I think every moment, whatever age, their child's children are able to say that, that the business isn't going to go anywhere.
So it's our time and our energy because the two go hand in glove. So we've really got to, once those goals, get really clear on what our goals are. And once I realize, hold on, my goal is not just to be that mom that's there. My goal is actually to have that emotional connection and therefore that means I need to stop giving the rest of the world, particularly the corporate. All not just my time, but so much of my energy that there's nothing left for my kids.
So it was really that awareness. That was the one thing that started that pivotal journey. That was my journey as a mom in terms of then that journey as an entrepreneur that came a few years later, where just, I mean, that gave me the awareness, but as my kids then got busier, cause they went to school and they played more sports.
You know, I just find myself constantly in the presence of moms that were so busy and they would look at me and go, Donna, how do you do at all? I only work two days a week. You work full time. You don't only manage soccer teams and have three kids playing all these sports. You create teams, you coordinate all of us.
And you're the one with more kids and you're the one with the corporate job and the full-time. So that was the pivotal moment where I went, do you know what? I really do have something that doesn't come naturally to other people. I've also got the experience and it, and I really wanted to share that with more moms.
Because I wanted more kids on the sports field. That was where my business ultimately started was because I wanted to help. I had too many moms saying when I was creating soccer teams, touch football teams, netball teams going, we can't commit, we can't balance it all. And a child that really wanted to play a sport and the family couldn't manage the logistics and Donna, you know, this, we all had the same amount of time.
So what was I doing differently? That was getting my kids on those sports pitches and managing the teams and coaching the teams and creating the teams that the other moms weren't able to do. So that was the pivotal moment and the drive behind my business.
Donna Hann: That's so interesting. That's so interesting.
Time management is something that everyone can continually tweak and optimize because as our lives change and as our business needs change, we need to constantly be sort of upgrading. Like you upgrade your phone and, you know, you put the new software on there. It's kind of like that. Right? So even for the listeners who are listening to this going well, I'm pretty good at managing my time.
I feel like we should never stop learning and try new things and what I've seen in the clients that I work with and what I've experienced myself firsthand. Is that sometimes if we're not careful with the way that we manage our time, particularly when we are looking at managing our business, the business will end up running you rather than you running the business.
And so I'm really interested to know what are your tips for getting really crystal clear on figuring out the highest priorities for your business, versus just the busy work that sometimes we get so bogged down in.
Donna McNulty: The absolutely great question. And I think you've been reading so much of my social media, Donna, that you're using my words, crystal clear.
And look for me, I'd like to share five things, five tips. Do you call them five steps, that I believe are absolutely. Pivotal and transformational when done right. And all things, time management. I really think everything in time management comes back to these five steps. Okay. Okay. We're ready. Let's them.
You've already, you've already covered two of them. The other thing I'll say is before I go into this is I can guarantee you, every mom, entrepreneur on this call is already doing some of these steps.
Number one, if you're not doing all of them, there's room for improvement. Okay. And to optimize your time.
Number two, if you are doing some of them, how effectively are you doing it because there are, and I have seen so much of this. There are good ways, good techniques, good strategies. There are ones that are better and there's ones I cringe when I see them. Okay.
Donna Hann: And I've got a question for you about that coming up. So I'm going to circle back to that in a second.
Donna McNulty: Okay. Good. So look, let me circle back to the five steps. So the first one you've touched upon and it is so simple. Write it down. Okay. And again, I know every person listening to some extent, right stone, their to do's. A couple of things I would challenge you on is have you read, all of them done, because if you haven't written all of them down, you will forget things.
You will not do the next steps correctly. You will keep your head busy with ones that you've not written down.
Donna Hann: So fatiguing as well, when you're holding all of that stuff in your head,
Donna McNulty: I won't go into here. We don't have time, but all the neuroscience that sits behind the power of the new right things, when you declutter what they refer to as your cognitive overload, when you declutter that brain, that's when you give it. So that's when you give that space for that creative thinking for that problem-solving, that's where you really get your nuggets of goals and business. Okay. So again, just don't underestimate it, ladies. I know you're writing your to-do lists down. I just encourage you to make sure it's not effective.
It needs to be complete. Okay. So let's, and let's not undervalue the power of that very simple step. So that's the foundational to me is right it down.
Secondly, you talked about it Donna, it's prioritise. Okay. What's the point in writing down? You have to prioritize everything that you want to do.
To do that, the first thing before you prioritize is again, figure out what's most important to you right now and write that down before you even start to prioritize, because I find only too often. Yes, people are prioritizing. There's different ways that work. But people are just prioritizing based on what they haven't even had that conversation with themselves going.
What's the most important thing in my business right now in my family life. Right now, it's not, what's most important in three months time because the world will change. What's important right now and write it down and have that conversation with yourself. Get crystal clear on what that is, and then prioritize based on that.
So again, I know that people will be prioritizing. The two things I say is, one you can only prioritize when you've got the right foundation in place. That's the first thing that I talked to.
And then the second thing is when you do prioritize. And make sure you're using a technique that is serving you well, there's lots of ways that you can prioritize.
I know in the programs, in all of my 50 years experience, I know why I choose one particular technique in my program because I'm seeing it compared to so many others. But again, yeah. Just make sure that you're you set that right foundation before you prioritize, and it's always got to be based on what's important, you can add second and third dimensions, but I haven't come across any prioritization technique that doesn't include importance. Okay. So that's step two.
Now the third one, and this is the one, this is the step I really challenged on it. Okay. I don't know how many people do this? Why do we prioritize?
Okay, look, we prioritized because we have so much to do. We can't do it all. And therefore we accept that. So therefore, when you prioritize step three, trim it right. Trim it. If you've written down all of these, all of these to do. Well, then just accept that once you've done that proper prioritization technique, there are a certain amount that you've made that conscious decision, having that conversation with yourself as you went through the prioritization that this is not important right now, this is not serving you nor your business nor your family..
Right now. Okay. So therefore, let it go, you know, the good old, I won't even bother trying to sing Elsa in her Frozen, you know,
and this is, this is what so many of my clients that I lost when I see this. Like from that, just to get that permission that they've given to themselves, Let it go like that overwhelm that weight on your shoulders. And then again, we don't need to go into the whole neuroscience of what that, what extra space and energy that, that gives you.
So, so ladies, when you prioritize, just trim it, let go of stuff. You may get back to it later in life. If you know, a few months down the line, if something changes and it becomes more important or preferably. As you get the other important stuff done, you've then got more space and time to focus. But when you make that decision that certain tasks are not important right now, get rid of them.
Don't worry. Yeah, Donna, look at your laugh at me. I am a massive, I'm a total post-it note and Sharpie freak, okay. So when I do all these techniques, I teach, I do them all myself in my own business. I've got a sandwich bag and the top desk of my drawer. That's got 30 to do's in it to do with my business that I prioritized four months ago.
I've not gotten to them since I've not cared about them. I've not lost sleep on them. They've not taken up any of my energy. They've not interrupted my thought, et cetera, et cetera. Because they remain lesser important and that feels great. Yeah. One of the main set, not my own podcast. So there we go. Okay.
So that's step three, step four.
So step four for me is another really simple one, but I don't know how many people, and again how you do it. Make it visible. Okay. So you've prioritized your to-do. That's great. You've no got your most important tasks. Okay. To me, you talked about it earlier, long gone are the days that you want that tucked away and an Excel spreadsheet somewhere, or, you know, some people are somewhere on a, in a diary where you've written it all down.
No. You sit here a mile, you look around me. I have post-it notes from all my to-dos are prioritized and I see the most important ones every day. Okay.
Donna Hann: I have a whiteboard for that too. So yeah. It helps you to cope in your head when you know, okay. Every time I look over there, that's my priorities for my family, for my friends and for my business.
And that's how I, yes. And it helps you to compartmentalize what's really going on. And then you just, every road leads back to achieving whatever that is to get it done.
Donna McNulty: Just like I said, when I sit down and the technique that I use when I sit down, I know everyday, not only what are the five, this economic road of the sky.
What are the five most important tasks I have to do today? I know number one, I know. Number two, I know number three, I know number four, et cetera, et cetera. So when I sit down at my office, I've already prioritized my list. I don't have to waste any more time doing it. I sit down and I go, that's the most important thing today.
And that's the thing I do first because it's visible. It's there. I don't know. Get anything out of a drawer or whatever it might be so make it visible and the other thing that makes that really important, is the change is the only constant we have. There will always be new things coming, and don't be afraid of that.
That's fine. I think a new things every day in my business, but surprise, surprise. Here's the first thing I do. The first thing I do is when I think of it, I write it down in a post-it note. The second thing I do is I immediately prioritize it because I can see all my other priorities they're visible. And I look at that compared to everything else and right there, and then I prioritize it.
Okay. So. So much easier as you think of new creative ideas or new things that you've not thought of before you can own that spot evolve your prioritized list, but there, and then, because it's already visible and you can say, you can go, ah, that's the top five things. That's the five things I'd prioritize for today.
Where does this sit in terms of how do I prioritize this? Where does this sit in terms of its importance to everything else? And you go, you know what, it's less important. Put it on the backlog for the other day. So just, I think there is so much to that making it visible that really serves it.
And not the fifth and final one.
And I've talked about it. I've actually said the word I've given you a clue. The fifth one is evolve just constantly. know that Your to-do list will evolve. Your priorities will evolve. Your time capacity will evolve. Your productivity will evolve. So therefore, the ways that you work, the tools that you use all need to have while they want to have that structure, you also want them to have that flexibility so that they can evolve, as you evolve in your business. You're going to learn more things as a mom, as the beautiful. At benefit of having my 50th birthday in lockdown, they here about two months ago. So we have to evolve and how we celebrate that because of things that change that we have no control over, you know? So like anything and any prioritization or productivity technique that you learn. And you talked about this earlier Donna things that worked 10 years ago, don't work as well anymore. There are some do some, do, some have evolved with time. And the techniques I coach have been around for, well over 10 years, but they have evolved as we have evolved. So that would be my five steps is I'd love to know I'm going to keep it our comms and your podcast.
I'd love to know how many of the five people are already doing. And how well they're doing them and how many they are. But again, write down those to those, prioritize them effectively by starting with defining what's important to you, then let go, trim those, take half of them and put them to the side and stop wasting your headspace and your time and energy on them right now.
And then make, visible that prioritize to-do list visible so that you can continue to number five. evolve things
Donna Hann: Yeah. I love that. And I think that it stops you from procrastinating because procrastination is like the biggest killer of time management, right? When you just feel like you've got so much to do, and you're paralyzed because you're like, I don't know which one to do first, but the tips that you've given us, that's a really great way to strip all of that back and look at what's really important for right now. And then you do the first thing on the list and that's stops you from being in that paralysis with procrastination. So really love those five tips that you've given us today. Donna. Thank you so awesome.
Donna McNulty: You're spot on Donna, with the procrastination and the, all these things I've talked about.
They helped that in so many ways, because yes, if you've already had that conversation with yourself and you are crystal clear on what your most important tasks are, when you see that most important tasks, again, you're just reminding yourself off the commitment. You're a med yourself of where you want to be spending your time and energy.
Now there's other things that we can do that help us with procrastination. But yeah, a few of the things I've touched on here definitely help with cracking that monster.
Donna Hann: Yeah, absolutely. So let me circle back to my question that I mentioned before when I was researching you, cause I do like to do a bit of research.
I noticed on your website that you mentioned time myths and I'd love for you to unpack for us. I'm really interested to know more about that. So can you share with us your viewpoint on what our time is? And can you tell us a little bit about that?
Donna McNulty: Okay, well, look, I am just conscious of the time Donna, because I know you like to keep these podcasts short and sweet with everybody's time.
And so yes, the look in my own signature program, I do actually not only talk about what I say are the 10 top time-saving behaviors and strategies. I do face into it that I believe are very commonly known, talked about publicized promoter techniques. That to me waste your time. Okay. So, and I've done trainings on a number of these, but look, let me give a little example for the audience, just to tester.
So the one I would call out is multitasking. Okay. So I used to be that. God love me. I'd be standing, cooking my dinner, breastfeed my child, having a conversation with a toddler about how they went to school that day. Right. I used to free nears, praise myself on a hug. Good. I multitask dry walls. Until as years and years go on, and again, I go very much into neuroscience. Lots of ways multitasking to me as a total time, mate. I couldn't agree more. I know. So the two things that leave the audience with our own multitask and is number one, think if you're multitasking in terms of your motor skills, so your physical skills. So yes.
Can you go for a walk physical activity and listen to podcasts at the same time without diminishing returns on both possibly, but when you start to do that in cognitive activities, so when you start. Stop doing one task because you've the message has gone off on your phone. And you've jumped into there to read a message from the, from a friend about a sports team and all of a sudden an emails popped up from the school, or you got distracted on social media when you start multitask and primarily on cognitive tasks.
And that's when you get caught, we refer to as the switching cost. So, I don't know if you've heard of it yourself. Donna, but, all the research and, and again, we'll just touch it with the switching cost. Okay. There is ample research that tells us that when you switched from one cognitive task to another 64 to 90 seconds off your time before you get yourself back to that productivity level might sounds like a lot, but depending on how often you're doing it and how often you're allowing yourself to get distracted and jump from one cognitive task to the other.
Your brain is going from one part of its brain to the other. You add in all those 64 to 90 seconds together, 40%, the switching costs decreases your productivity by 40%. So if anyone wants to convince me that they are very good at multitasking, please connect me. Cause I would love to have this conversation.
I hope that you would learn from me and I'm sure I will learn something from you, but here's what I've learned from neuro science and research is that multitasking is a 40% switching cost fee. So please don't do it. And if you don't mind a little bit of self promotion on it because I'm getting too passionate.
No. So you need to get me off the call. In my own Facebook group and on my pro my signature program, I do in my Facebook group, there is a free coaching call on this because I feel so passionate, about people needing to stop multitasking.
Donna Hann: So I would definitely link to the show notes with all of that information. If people want to connect with you, Donna, it's been an amazing chat and I think, yeah, we do need to wrap it up now.
So for our listeners, if you really want to start revitalizing your time management skills and optimizing them choose to take one action on what you've listened to today. And, you know, if there's something that's really sparked something for you, then start taking action on that. And then perhaps at some point, come back and have another listen to the podcast and try something else.
And then slowly over time, you'll build up that amazing efficiency in, in managing your time. Um, and before you know, it you'll become a time management ninja. Thanks for listening. And thanks again, Donna. I really do appreciate your time in being here today, being that you manage your time, so well, I am so grateful that you were able to factor The She's In Business podcast into your day to day.
So thank you.
Donna McNulty: Oh my absolute pleasure. And thank you for having me as your guest and thank you to everyone who listened to the show today.