Here are a few tips that keep me productive... and a little bit sane:
1) I learned how to say "NO."
It sounds so simple, but it is not easy to say no to friends and family who come to you asking for help. I still don't say "no" to loved ones very often, (mainly because I enjoy contributing to their success and happiness), but I definitely do it now more than I used to.
I pass on work opportunities whenever my schedule becomes overloaded or if I suspect that the project/account will end up as a greater time investment than return on investment.
2) I stopped Multi-tasking.
I used to be consumed with doing this while doing that, but now I assign blocks of time for specific tasks.
I turn off my notifications, mute my phone, and exit out of email while completing a project until my alarm goes off to alert me that I can now move on to the next thing. Yes, I actually set my phone alarm or select alert in my iCal.
3) I dedicated a separate email address for business vs. personal.
Keeping messages under separate accounts prevents me from getting distracted with planning a kid's birthday party while I am trying to write a marketing strategy.
4) I replaced post-it notes and never ending to-do lists, which continually rolled
over into the next day's tasks, with dry erase white boards in my office.
The key to implementing this is to hang the boards on the wall in an area where you cannot avoid seeing them.
I also use a color-coded marker system to differentiate clients from one another and identify deadlines that are approaching.
You may want to try one of the project management scheduling tools on the market for a more structured method to your madness.
5) I allocated time for planned activities exclusively for me.
I used to wait until I finished xyz before rewarding myself with any "me time." Now I just book things for myself and put them into my calendar as if it were a work meeting. This forces me to build my business and personal schedule around it.
After being a full-time working mom and a full-time stay at home mom; and after experiencing a rewarding career on both the Manhattan ad agency side and on the client side of corporate America, I have finally found self employment to be the right formula that fits my life. At least it works for me at this moment in time. But not everyone finds or even believes that this ambiguous concept of balance exists. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has argued, "There's no such thing as work-life balance. There's work, and there's life, and there's no balance."