My children are 8 and 10 years old. My business is 12 years old. All three are important to me, and all three fight for my attention. Sometimes, I can give attention to all three at once. Sometimes, just two. Sometimes just one. (I also have a husband — can't forget to add that in!)
Because I have chosen to work from home, managing all of it is quite a challenge. Since I've been at it for a over decade, I have a lot to share with my fellow Indie parents in the trenches. People often ask me how I manage to keep everything moving forward, and while there's no definitive secret, I do engage in a few non-negotiables that help me integrate it all — most of the time. I thought I'd share them with you.
- Have clear business goals. If you don't know exactly what you want your business to do, you will forever be stuck juggling this, that, and the other, frustrated because you can't get “it” all done. You have to clearly define “it.” Clarify what you want to achieve. Don't do anything that doesn't lead you toward your “it.”
- Get help. Your help may come in the form of a baby sitter, a nanny, a husband, a neighbor, a math tutor, a virtual assistant, an older sibling, a house keeper, an errand runner, or all of the above — depending on the day. I have always had help and lots of it. You can't do everything and lead a business and make money and nurture children and manage a household and blah blah blah, without help. Get some.
- Schedule everything. I use Google calendar, synced to my iPhone. My family and team can access the business portion of my calendar. I can update it from wherever I am. I look at my calendar several times during the day, especially early in the morning, to make sure my 4 or 5 most important tasks are slated to be completed by noon. This way, by the time my kids get home from school, and the workday ends until after they are asleep, I'm done with the biggest rocks.
- Explain work, once kids are old enough to understand. All kids must be taught about the importance of work, but when you have a home office, as I do, it's even more important to tell kids why you are doing what you do for so much of the day. All parents have to explain this to their children, but the task is magnified when your children observe you working from home. It's even more magnified when you and your business are the chief bread winners.
- Let stuff go. Despite your best efforts, some things just won't get done. The trick here is not to let it become a habit. If you miss something this week, don't miss it next week. If you can only get somehting halfway finished, then do that and finish the rest tomorrow. Avoid all or nothing thinking. The world won't stop spinning if things fall a bit behind, so long as you have a plan to catch up. Sometimes, you just have to allow yourself to say, “Ugh, I can't get to it,” and put it at the top of your list for the next day.
- Eat dinner together. This is a super thing to do, and if the dinner is filled with love and lively conversation, it can make up for lots of time invested in your business. In my home, we eat dinner together every night (unless I'm traveling). Sometimes, we play board games after, or just dance around the house. Other times, we do a few chores together or I'll teach them some important life skill. (This month, we're working on ironing …) Hugs and kisses at bed time finish off their day. After that, I can work more if I need to — or not./li>
Question: If you are an entrepreneur with young children, what tips and productivity insights can you share? Comment below or at the Indie FaceBook Page where others have already shared their ideas.