As the mother of a rambunctious 7-year old boy, a teacher and a woman trying to start her own business, I know how difficult finding time can be. Yes, we have the same amount of hours per day as Beyoncé, but it doesn’t always feel like it.
Here are five ways I’ve found to work on my business plan without sacrificing time with family:
- Combine Activities – I read writing books on the stationery bike. I come up with story ideas while walking or driving. Sometimes, my son just enjoys me sitting next to him when he’s engaged in other activities. He finds my presence comforting. I’ve written articles with him sitting in my lap playing Minecraft, and next to him on the couch while he was watching Scooby Doo. Then we go outside and play baseball and read books, and I put the technology away.
- Limit Internet Time – Using social media and responding to email is key to promoting your small business. But, I often find myself going online to contact potential clients and three hours later I am looking up brownie recipes. So, I set a time limit of 1 hour and make a list of what I plan to accomplish online. A sample day’s list: 1. Contact two potential clients. 2. Set up Twitter account 3. Add organization to LinkedIn profile 4. Add new article to my website. When I finish the list, I get off the internet. If I come up with some other brilliant task I need to do online, I write it down to do the next day. I realize depending on your job, this might be difficult. It’s still a good idea to consciously think about what you plan to do on the internet. It saves a lot of time for living in the real world.
- View Your Week as a Whole – I find it challenging to work on all facets of my life in a single day. But, it is entirely manageable in the context of a week. If I go to coffee to network on Tuesday night, I take my son to the park on Wednesday night. If I can’t make it to yoga on Friday because I’m going to my writing group to edit my article, I take an extra walk on Friday afternoon and go to yoga Saturday morning. I have what I call Strategic Sundays where I plan out the following week and try to fit in time for work, family, and myself. Things always come up and don’t go as planned, but the week model allows for more flexibility.
- Find Mom Friends in Your Field – I get my best ideas from other writers and teachers. I have a neighbor who teaches English. She also has a son my son’s age. We go to pumpkin farms and the pool. The kids play and have a great time while we talk. If you can find another mom in Gurlz forGurlz or at your workplace who you click with, playdates can be a great time for everyone and an opportunity to generate new ideas and bounce them off a new friend.
- Do What You Love – When I turned 40, I resolved to stop doing things I don’t like to do and do more of the things I love. That said, I still do laundry and clean the bathroom, but I say no to tasks that I was doing just to look good. I used to make cupcakes for my son’s school every time they had a party, but it took up a lot of time, and I didn’t enjoy doing it. Now, I use store bought cupcakes – and the world hasn’t ended. I used that extra hour to swing on the tire swing, and I think we’re all happier for it.
These are just some of the ways I’ve found to spend time with loved ones and grow my business. What about you? I would love to hear other ways people have found balance in our busy world. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melissa McCaughan is a freelance writer, Journalism instructor and mother. Check out her freelance writing services for small businesses at http://www.melissamccaughan.com.