Here’s a question I get asked all the time:
“I don’t know you how do it, Alicia…with two little ones to care for and so few hours in the day to actually focus on your work. Somehow you manage to write your weekly ezine, hold a bunch of teleseminars each month, run your group and private coaching programs, AND be creating and promoting new offers and new products all the time. I’m so impressed and inspired by you, but more than that, I want to know how you do it all!?”
To be honest, sometimes I wonder myself! Something I often say to other, especially new, mothers is, “despite what everyone tells you to do, do whatever works for YOU.” In a way, that’s how I started running my business after I had my daughter. I just did whatever worked. I still do.
When she got a bit older, it was easier to manage both being a full-time mother along with running a successful business. Then enter baby #2 and it was back to square one. It’s not easy but it is possible. And here’s what’s really interesting (mompreneurs, take note): I started making about $3k more each month since having my son – and I’m working LESS.
A client once pointed out to me that it seems the biggest growths in my business have been when I’ve been having babies – and she’s right!
Over time, I’ve figured out how to get the most important things done while still being able to focus the majority of my time on my family (after all, that’s one of the main reasons why I went into business for myself in the first place).
1. Setting my work hours
When my kids were younger and still at home during the day, my typical work day looked like this: I got organized the night before for the next day. That jump-started my day and made sure that when I did get those tiny pockets of time to get something done, I knew exactly what to do. That made me feel like I was accomplishing stuff in-between having tea parties, blowing bubbles, crawling around on the floor, exploring the neighborhood or running errands.
But I didn’t get any real work done until naptime. I worked for about a total of an hour or so while the kids napped, five days a week. Then I put in some more time after they went to bed at night, whether I was leading a teleseminar or catching up on emails. My biggest block of focused time, usually reserved for writing and product creation, was on Saturdays, when I worked approximately 4 hours.
During a perfect week, that would give me about 12 hours of time dedicated to business. However, there’s never a perfect week (one or the other doesn’t nap, I have some pressing non-business-related task that I can only take care of when they’re sleeping, one of them is sick, etc.), so my best guess is that this gave me about 8-10 productive hours to work on my business each week.
Fast-forward to both kids being in school from 9-3, and my day has definitely taken ona different look. I now have about 5 hours a day during the week when I can focus on my business. But you may be surprised to find out that I still don’t work more than about 15 hours a week. I’m very clear on my priorities and where I want to focus my time, so although I may not be taking care of the kids during most of the day (unless they’re home sick or it’s school break), I’m spending that time doing other things that bring me joy.
2. Ignoring the phone
I’m serious when I say that I ignore the phone. Some of my clients get heart palpitations when I tell them that I never jump when the phone rings and suggest they do the same. I don’t even have the ringer turned on on the business line. Does this mean I miss some important calls? Probably. But my virtual assistant checks my messages in a timely manner, takes care of what she can, and forwards the rest to me. I then call people back at a more convenient time for me, instead of letting the interruption take me off task.
3. Quick consults
When a prospective client wanted to speak with me about ‘just a few questions’, I used to gladly schedule a time to talk. But instead of a few questions, I’d be on the phone for at least a half hour, basically giving a free coaching/consulting session, and being frustrated with myself for not valuing my time more.
And until recently, when a potential client or customer requested to talk with me further about working with me or about one of my products, they could schedule a time to talk for a much smaller fee than my usual hourly rate, and if they decide to go forward with working with me, they could apply the fee they paid towards the program or product they were interested in. It’s fair and values both our time and investment in the process.
Now, however, prospects can talk with my virtual assistant should they need more information about any of my programs or products. If someone is interested in working with me one-on-one, they need to apply for a private coaching spot and if I feel it’s a good fit, we set up an interview to discuss moving forward.
BONUS: Make and use lists
I’d be lost without my lists! I’d never remember to do anything if I didn’t write it down. I keep a bunch of reporter’s notebooks around the house and anytime I think of something I need to do, I write it down in whatever room I’m in – whether it’s business or personal. Then I periodically gather the lists and separate them into three main lists; personal, business, and other (which includes the “someday I’d like to…” stuff; things that aren’t a priority but that I want to remember to do at some point), and check things off in priority order from there.
If you start applying some of these steps now, I guarantee the number of productive hours you spend on your business will increase. And you’ll also feel less overwhelmed and less stressed about trying to get it all done!