Lately the question I get most often is, “How are you managing it all?” What they mean is, “How am I managing to travel back and forth from Minnesota to California and continue to run my business all while also having a young child at home? And, I think there’s a little bit of, “You also don’t look like you’ve lost your mind yet, either!” Smile.
Balancing parenthood and owning a business has its challenges, for sure. I’ve had to strengthen my time management strategies in ways I never thought possible before.
But here’s what is REALLY interesting…
I’m having an incredible year in business—one of my best ever. And it feels crazy to me because in the last 12 months, I’ve had a baby and moved my entire life across the country while continuing to run a profitable business and not missing a beat with my clients. THAT feels pretty incredible to me.
The fact is, I had a limiting belief for years that said, “You cannot be a mom and be with your child as much as you desire while also running a business.” That limiting belief begged parenthood off for many, many years. Then one day, it wasn’t about that limiting belief anymore as much as it was about what my husband and I desired most: a family. We have had an incredible marriage, not a perfect marriage, but the kind of marriage where you both get to be your most authentic (and sometimes ugly) self while also having a great time along the way. At some point, though, we knew that we wanted to share our journey with another soul and that’s when we were blessed with Lucca.
Lucca, my beautiful son, turned my life upside down in the most delicious way possible. While the transition from sleep to no sleep was exactly as everyone had predicted, we got through it. And my love for my son was much bigger than any lack of sleep could ever be. Soon we stepped into the rhythm of life with a baby and it was like he’d been there all the time.
So, as I was adjusting to motherhood, I was also out at a speaking engagement within 4 weeks after Lucca was born. I know that sounds extreme, especially given I hadn’t slept very much, but it was a local speaking engagement so I was happy to do it. It turned out to be a huge success and that’s when I realized I could do both. I could continue to run a successful business while raising a beautiful son and being a wife.
Believe me, there are days that I want to forget because they were super challenging, but those days forced me to develop new time management strategies to run my business and be a mom. In fact, I was sharing some of these strategies recently and one of my clients came up to me afterward and said, “That’s it! I need to run my business like I just had a baby!” What she meant was that she had to run her business with more sense of urgency and a much better use of time management strategies.
So, on that note, it is my pleasure to share my top 6 time management strategies with you. I hope that they help you streamline some things in your business or career that will ultimately help you increase your sales significantly this year—and enjoy your life a lot more!
1. Don’t do it alone. This statement is obvious, but sometimes people aren’t clear on whom they need help from—or who they need to add to their team. After I had Lucca, the needs from my team shifted. One of my team members expanded her role of assistant to nanny while she continued to also help me in the business. I knew her, I trusted her and she had the perfect certifications and training to be a nanny as well as an assistant. The lesson, whether or not you are a new parent, is that sometimes your “new” team members are right in front of you. You might just need to shift some of their responsibilities. Being back in Minnesota, I’ve had family helping with Lucca, but I am also looking for a fantastic part-time nanny to help out . Over the past year, I’ve also added other key people to my extended team to help in all areas of my life and business. The easiest way to figure out who you need on your team is to make a list of all of the things you want to get off YOUR plate, and figure out whose plate they can land on.
2. Prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize some more. Faith and family are my priorities and as long as I stay focused there, the rest of my priorities fall in line or need to be delegated. The key to prioritization and delegation is a list. I know that sounds simple, but please realize that sometimes the simplest solutions ARE the best solutions. A list allows you to figure out what you can get done today, what you can delegate, and what needs to get added to your list tomorrow or scheduled out. And, by the way, saying that you have a list “in your head” is just not good enough. Your productivity goes up 25% just by using a handwritten list. Now, imagine how much it goes up when you actually do what’s on your list!
3. Stick to a schedule. In Selling with Intention, I wrote about the importance of creating an intentional schedule. An intentional schedule is simply a guide that shows you exactly what you need to do and when. It means that you schedule your time off first, followed by your family priorities and your work commitments. If you need to have three days per week to meet with clients, then you have to figure out how much time you need to block out for selling, following up and your other work responsibilities. I know that creating an intentional schedule sounds tedious, but once it’s done it will save you lots of time and allow you to focus on your top 20% of activities—marketing and selling! And remember that your intentional schedule should be created by working backwards from your monthly sales goal.
4. Work while the baby is sleeping—better known as time blocking. One of the things that people used to tell me before I had Lucca was, “Sleep while the baby is sleeping.” That statement always drove me crazy because in the past twelve months I have rarely, if ever, slept while the baby was sleeping during the day. Instead, while he was sleeping, I got tremendous amounts of work completed. Now, this schedule is NOT for everyone who has a newborn, but I made it work. The lesson for everyone is to time block. If you want to get projects done quickly, block out short bursts of time—1-2 hours (or less)—to get projects completed and then stay completely focused during this time. Entrepreneurs and sales professionals tend to have a little ADD, so time blocking forces you to get out of your email and off of Facebook so you can focus on the task at hand. I promise you that you will get even more completed by time blocking.
5. Be present. Being fully present is easier said than done. However, after I had Lucca I realized that my time was more precious than ever. I had a choice to make. I could be a stressed out mom, worrying about everything I had to get done, OR I could keep a list, develop the best team to support me and be fully present wherever I was. I had to be there for Lucca when he needed me. I needed to be present when I was spending time with Tim. I also needed to be fully present when I was on the phone with my clients or in a training room. Being fully present also allows time to slow down and enjoy the moment that is in front of you. If you are like me, you love your family, and you also love what you do. So take a moment, breathe, and focus on who or what is right in front of you in that moment. If you implement the other strategies, it will be so much easier to be present in the moment.
6. Hire a coach or find a mentor. I could not have stayed on task over the past couple of years without powerful coaches. I work with a business coach as well as a book coach to help me stay focused on what I am creating next in my business and in my writing. Their support and ability to see my blind spots is instrumental in my success. You need people to help pull you along and to keep you on track to reach your greatest dreams and goals.
Now, where are you struggling in time management right now? What shifts do you need to make? Read through the strategies above again. Get clarity on exactly what you need to do to make some of the changes that will allow you to take your life—and your sanity—back. Then, take action!