It is an exciting time when you decide to leave the 9-5 job for a career as a parent entrepreneur. Yes, it’s a career change. The day you made that decision, your life changed forever.
I know, I have been there. I was so excited to finally be working for myself. I knew I was going to have so much more time in my day to spend with my family. I would write blog posts, edit my website, and make all the social media posts that I needed to while still having energy and time at the end of the day.
That was the dream anyway. Unfortunately, it did not turn out that way for me. I quickly found that I was working on so much stuff without really getting anything done. I was feel unaccomplished at the end of the day. And, I did not have any energy left… or time for that matter… to spend quality time with my family.
This left me feeling like a failure. I had even less time than I did working the 9-5 job, I was more stressed, and had even less energy. I was constantly working without being able to see anything being accomplished. My pile of projects in progress grew and grew without getting much smaller.
It was extremely frustrating!
I was tired of it already!
I was fatigued and just wanted to be able to get through one thing!
Boy, was I ever angry with myself and feeling as though I made a huge mistake. There was also another side of me saying that it was the best choice I have made in a long time. What I had to do was figure out how I could make it work.
I wanted it to work so bad. I knew that it would.
I truly believe that everything happens for a reason; this was one more chapter in my book of life and it was going to be a success. The only way I could figure out to do this was find a way to become more productive during my days.
If I could just reach a point where I was accomplishing enough to feel like each day was a success, I knew that I would reach the successful life I wished to live… the one that allowed me to have more time and energy at the end of my work day to spend quality time with my family.
After a lot of research, along with trial and error, I found what I needed to do to be truly successful.
There is a lot of information out there about what you should do. There are a lot of people telling you what works best. What I have discovered works best is not always best for everyone.
This does not mean that it won’t work, it just means that it may not work for you.
As a parent entrepreneur, you know there is a ton of information out there about running a business. However, most of it works best for those who are not focused on having more time with their family. Those who do not have a family yet, or have children that are grown up are able to spend a lot more hours on getting things done.
For us, it’s not quite as easy – or is it?
I am going to share what I have found works best for myself and my parent entrepreneur clients.
5 Keys to Improved Productivity for Parent Entrepreneurs
The very first thing you need to do is become more organized. There is a lot that you need to accomplish. You must work in your business, complete household items, and do things for your family (whether it’s getting them from point A to point B, cooking supper, or spending time with them).
The more organized you are the more you will be able to get the important things done. Starting and ending your day with rituals is a great way to begin setting yourself up for success. In between you need to have routines and habits that help you succeed.
There are many ways you can get yourself and your business organized so that they work together in unison. You will find that a filing system, an in/out box, a daily schedule, a shared family calendar, and to-do lists will help you.
Have a Schedule
Creating a complete schedule will help you become more productive. Being able to see what you have done, where you are in your day, and what still needs to be done during the day will help you get things done.
There are a variety of schedules that you need to use as a combination, depending upon what your business and family goals are that you want to achieve.
I have a schedule of when I want blog posts to go out, social media posting schedules, family schedules, day-to-day “work in business” schedule, and many others. In order to ensure I have time to complete them all, I have a perpetual schedule.
What’s a perpetual schedule? This is what most refer to as their daily schedule – like what you would find in a day planner. It has each day broken down into time frames to work on specific tasks. I can use these time frames to insert activities from my other schedules. (click here for link to purchase my daily planner for parent entrepreneurs.)
You need to have an all-inclusive schedule to work from each day. Your life as a parent and your life as an entrepreneur are not separate. Many will say that you need to separate work and family, but this is not true. Sure, you may not want to work when you are supposed to be spending time with your family, but both are a part of who you are.
In complete honesty, I think it is completely bogus that people tell you to separate these. Everything needs to go into one schedule; whether that schedule is in a planner or an online calendar, you need to know what you must accomplish each day from taking your daughter to dance practice to completing that blog post.
This may seem counterproductive when I just told you to have a schedule, but it’s not. Having a schedule is just the beginning. The schedule gives you a foundation for your day so you know what needs to be completed.
Things will happen. Life will happen.
You may have it written in your schedule that you need to work on creating a landing page from 10 – 10:30, but you do not complete it. You now have a choice to make. Do you stop and finish later, or do you keep going?
This is going to depend on your personality and how much you have left to complete. I make this choice by taking a break first. I take a quick 5-minute break to drink a glass of water or walk around to clear my mind. I need to take my mind off the activity of creating the page to make sure it is clear enough to make the decision.
If I have determined that I only have a little left to complete, I will continue working on it.
However, if I have more than 30 minutes of work to do yet, then I will save it until the next time I have slotted to work on it. You see, I do not do the same activities every day. This helps keep my mind fresh and allows me space to adjust my schedule as needed.
It is okay to adjust your schedule as you go to fit your current needs. You are only human and your needs change from minute to minute. If you know you are coming up on a deadline, give yourself permission to move to-do items around on your calendar.
The ability to give yourself permission to change your schedule is something that will benefit you and help you become more productive as a parent entrepreneur. Especially when you need to go pick your sick child up from school instead of making that phone call.
Expect the Unexpected
First and foremost, you are a parent. You should always be expecting the unexpected.
No matter how hard you try to keep a schedule, things are going to happen. Being prepared to accept that the interruption has happened is the first step to letting it go. There will be plenty of times when you need to reschedule, or adjust your calendar.
Keep in mind that it is not a failing and everything is not going to fall apart.
Leverage Your Time
Example: I’m writing this post while sitting in the dentist office waiting for my husband to finish his appointment
Have a notepad and pen (or laptop, or tablet – you get the idea) with you at all times. You will be surprised how many opportunities arise for you to accomplish a task. Being on the go all the time – having family that needs you at the most random times – does not mean that you can’t be successful.
Other ways you can leverage your time:
If you find yourself out running errands – run them all at once.
If you know you are going somewhere, take time to determine which other stops or drop-offs you can make on the way.
Group daily chores together so that you can complete them all at once (i.e. if you are mopping the kitchen floor, then mop all the floors).
Pack bulk lunches for you kids, spouse, and yourself. I will either make up sandwiches and a side for the week or a reheatable meal for the week. Then, I place them all in an easy to reach place in the fridge.
You can be a highly productive business owner and parent. It is about using the time you have wisely. Being organized, being prepared, and getting things done when the opportunity arises. There is nothing worse than telling your child you can’t go to their soccer game because you don’t have your work done.
Being productive is not always about getting things done. It is about feeling like you have accomplished something for the day. The best way to do that is to figure out what works for you and do it.
There is a lot going on in your life. Why make getting things done more stressful than it should be – you became a parent entrepreneur so that you could spend more time with your family and have more freedom.
Use the 5 keys of productivity in your day to day planning and you will see your business take off and grow – while gaining more freedom.
If you would like some extra help getting your schedule created or finding the best ways to leverage your time, schedule a complimentary “Get Me Started” session today.