One of the things I am learning constantly is the need to manage my time. Early in my work at home career with a new infant and a 5 year old at tow, the management of every bit of my time was absolutely crucial. Today we are balancing a unique educational lifestyle of homeschooling our growing kids. We moms tend to do some heavy-lifting when it comes to putting out all the fires and keeping all the plates in the air. But once in a while a plate comes crashing to the floor and a fire gets out of control. So- are we truly able to balance begin a woman with both a career and a family? And if we feel that the balance is indeed happening, then how do we do it all? Well, to be honest, I don’t do it all (as I’ve mentioned before), and I’ve had to learn to discover what is truly important and what isn’t. If you’re also a work at home mom, you’ll understand how critical this element is. Here are a few guidelines to time management for the work at home mom.
See the overall picture.
It’s so important (while raising kids or tending to family needs) to know that not every day is going to go as planned. In one of my free audio courses (which I created in 2007 and will have available again soon), Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan, I discuss the importance of having your details outlined for the day. Although I believe having some sort of plan is important to running your online business, when you’re a mom you have to give yourself some slack when it comes down to planning the details of your day. We’re not perfect. Your business needs a plan, but your days need some wiggle room. You need be able to enjoy your life and make room for errors, or even just plain old unplanned fun! It may be kinda tough at first if you’re used to sticking to your guns, but with time you’ll figure out what you can keep and what you can let go of. At the very least, have an overall or general plan for your day. Keep a calendar or planner with potential to-do items. If you get to all your tasks, GREAT! Give yourself a party. If you don’t, move it up a day or two. You’ll have to juggle and rearrange your schedule sometimes and that’s okay. Something unexpected will always happen with young (even older) children at home with you, and you won’t always be able to finish up your projects when you’d like. When it comes down to working on your business (client work, marketing your business, site administration and blogging, answering emails), you do need to set aside some time that is strictly work-related. Give yourself permission to do that.
Try to avoid the “deadline” glue, when possible.
If you offer to do something for a client by a certain deadline, be sure to stick by your word. Otherwise, I recommend giving ballpark figures rather than a specific-date deadline. After all, many large corporations do this all the time. Bill for the time you’ve worked, and give a rough estimate of the week or month that you want to finish up a client project. As a mom, you’ll understand how relieving this is once the client work begins to pour in and you find yourself in over your head. The contract may be drawn up, and the project sounds great…you even feel awesome about it. But once you start working on the project, reality sets in. Everything and anything can happen in the day to day grind of life- from keeping your home running to involvement with your kids’ school and activities, or perhaps even looking after elderly parents, supporting a husband’s venture, church or civic group activities you may volunteer for…the list goes on and on. Just be sure you keep your business life in tact by giving yourself breathing room- both for your sanity and your client’s. Let’s face it — life gets BUSY. So, never underestimate (or overestimate) your time available for business projects. Be realistic. Give estimates when you can and specifics only when absolutely necessary. Which leads me to the last point…
Be true to yourself.
What is it that you can do for your clients that you have the TIME, the ENERGY, and the PATIENCE to accomplish for them? Why are you in business? Ask yourself that pertinent question. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate business ventures at this time in your life…or maybe you still feel that your business is important enough to keep going despite your busy life. If you’ve decided to stay in business, then be true to yourself about what you can or cannot do. If you feel that you are unable to keep up with certain tasks, perhaps it’s time to look into hiring a virtual assistant. Or maybe you should actually hire a nanny to help assist you with your children during your office hours.
Make necessary changes in different seasons of your life.
As a work at home mom (or my beloved WAHM acronym), I’ve decided that my best management tool was to decide what I didn’t need to manage anymore. What I have resorted to was streamlining my business and narrowing down my specialties so that I no longer offer the services that would be too time-consuming to me at certain points in my life. When I’d just had my second baby in 2007, I placed phone coaching on hold for a while until my baby got older and then I hired out help once a week. Meanwhile, I devised email coaching programs where clients could pick my brain and get pages and pages of my solutions for helping them. Today my kids are older and I once again provide phone coaching for clients who need my help! Different seasons of life lead us into different solutions for business management. Heard of Brian Tracy? For more ideas, tips, and suggestions on time management tools and products, check out this site: http://www.briantracy.com/blog/tag/time-management/. As for common sense strategies, If I have time for a project, I commit to it. If I don’t have time, I decline. I don’t look at the bottom line money-wise, because I’ve learned that time is more valuable than money. As much as we need money, time has more value. If you take away the time, money goes away too. If you can squeeze more time out of your 24 hours, and be a happier relaxed you as a result, then your money will flow more easily (because now you actually have the time to create wealth!) Remember to enjoy your time, manage it well, and do what’s best for you and your family! What tips do you use for managing your time as a business woman or WAHM?