I really connect with women business owners, especially those with children. I commiserate stories shared of juggling doctor appointments, school pick ups and suddenly sick at home days. Of course this isn’t exclusive to women – men too “get” have the juggling priorities too, as there is an increasing number of dads dealing with the same issues.
I was at Tim Horton’s during the first week of the summer break in cottage country when I heard the woman beside me take a big deep sigh. Looking over I saw her laptop (no plug insight) trying to manage the last of her battery power when her husband walked in.
Husband: “Honey the kids are in the car getting restless…. we better go”.
How’s it going (totally oblivious to the look on her face) ?
Wife: I can’t upload my urgent file and my power is about to go … how do you think it is going?”.
Husband: “Well, the kids are really hot and we really should get going – can you do this later?”
Wife: (now getting up)… Yeah honey thanks for all your support (please note the passive aggressive sarcasm). As they trail out….
The power on my laptop goes.
At this point, with no outlets in Tim Horton’s I am totally out of power waiting for my husband whom has hit grocery store with the kids. My phone is also dead so I am trapped at Tim Horton’s with nothing to do but patiently wait and of course enough caffeine in me to fuel a rocket ship.
Here are some survival tips for women business owners (especially for those with kids!):
- Allocate the proper time to get stuff done – ie: Don’t offer to do your work on the fly while your husband is grocery shopping with the kids (as per above). Have office hours and work in an area where you won’t be disturbed – yes a dedicated office space and not the kitchen table.
- Consider the 80/20 rule – The Pareto principle, also called the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of results come from 20% of inputs (and, conversely, the other 20% of results come from the other 80% of inputs). The principle was named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian mathematician from the turn of the last century. Pareto noted that 80% of land in his native Italy was owned by the wealthiest 20% of the population. Pareto went on to comment that 20% of his garden’s pea plants produced 80% of the peas he grew. Analyze if this is true of your business.
- Be ruthless – Consider dropping clients that are too time consuming and set your prices high enough that you don’t attract high maintenance clients (which usually come about from pricing too low)! Price to attract your ideal client. Don’t burnout – taking a break at some point is crucial and summer is usually the smartest time for this.
- Please maintain a schedule. Start with a good “Brain Dump” (see 7 Step Formula) of what is causing you stress in your calendar and tasks. Figure you what you can say no to. Ask yourself – what three things that are on my list right now that are causing me the most stress and must be completed. Choose one of those tasks and set aside 2-3 hours with no distractions to accomplish it. Get up early if need be when the kids are still sleeping. Better yet – have the kids sent to grandma’s for a few hours (assuming you don’t have your kids in camp etc). Tools like Microsoft’s One Note (available as an app – great for on the go) are great for crafting a system to organize your life and business (Recorded after your mind map. Another tool that could also help with this is Trello.
- Put your family to work – Assuming you have children and or a spouse– be sure to have them help you. Suggested tasks for four and over: Making beds, loading dishwasher, vacuuming, laundry and putting away clothes – I even have my 9 year old son help with simple videos I make for work purposes. Chances are if you are an entrepreneur your kids might have the bug and if they get involved with your business they will learn valuable skills, talents and passions.
- Check your email/social media only twice a day max – examples include 12 and 4 pm – have an auto responder on if you are concerned about fall out telling clients that you respond/check during these times and outside of this you can be contacted for emergencies outside of this via cell phone etc. This will keep you more on task.
- Use RescueTime – A free software productivity tracking tool. Just install it once, and it sits in the background measuring your productivity. Then, you can see exactly how many minutes you’ve spent on productive and unproductive apps at the RescueTime website. and E.ggtimer – A convenient countdown timer. Use it when you want to give yourself a boost to get stuff done.
- Cluster/Batch Apts and Tasks– Choose a few days a week that will be appointment or phone call days. Be sure to also have concentrated work hours to complete your critical projects each week. Keep in mind that you will likely only accomplish 20% of what you set out to do because new client opportunities will pop up etc.
- Start NOT to Do Lists. This is the perfect time to really evaluate what you want to do with your time. Be brave and learn to SAY NO.
Lastly, manage the expectations of everyone around you (including yourself) – your family, friends etc.
Let them know before you are in a state of frustration that just because you don’t have a boss doesn’t mean you don’t have a job! You need to answer to yourself!
It is likely that you are your biggest critic and toughest boss! Most importantly think to yourself – will I care about this 1 week from now, 3 months from now, 3 years from now? It might put everything into perspective. With these ideas in mind – you will have corporate friends envious as you spend days on the beach with MORE money in your pocket!