There’s a fine line between chaos and calm when running both a business and family. Here’s how I manage to stay on the ‘calmer’ side of the line.
Some days my small business runs like a well-oiled machine and I even amaze myself! Other days, the curtains should have stayed closed and I’d have been better off staying in bed. I tend to put way too much pressure on myself to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect business woman … I know those expectations are totally unrealistic, and this is when all the balls I’m juggling come crashing to the ground with feelings of anxiety, lack of belief in myself, indecision and so on. This leads to stress for myself, for my family, and for my clients.
Let’s face it – we’re all going to have bad days at some point. When I do, I try to remember my WHY.
i.e. Why did I go into business in the first place?
My WHY isn’t that complicated – I wanted to work a business around family.
My children came along seven years into my business (not through lack of trying, but that’s another story!) and by that time my business was pretty well systemised so throwing a baby into the mix wasn’t overly difficult. But business is constantly evolving so what my business looked like back then is very different to what it looks like now. I’ve had to adapt as my business has evolved, and as my family has grown and at each stage there have been challenges and days when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel.
Here are the top 14 things that help me run my business and family as smoothly as possible.
1. Have detailed procedures
Before I had my first baby my business was completely systemised with documented procedures. This took the stress off both when the baby came, and after. Training staff wasn’t difficult, we didn’t need to constantly reinvent the wheel, and everybody knew exactly what was expected. Even if it’s just you in your business, you never know when you may want or need to take time away and these procedures will prove invaluable when you do.
2. Outsource wherever possible
There’s nothing worse than the tasks that must be done, but that you find mundane and boring (paperwork and bookkeeping often come into this category), draining you of your motivation and passion. Or there may be things that are outside your area of expertise that need to be done (such as website development or social media marketing). Outsourcing means that those essential elements of your business are being taken care of to a high level of expertise, and you’re free to concentrate on what you do best.
3. Automate as much as possible
Make use of the technology available that will make your life easier. I use HootSuite to schedule my social media posts, Xero for my accounting, Receipt Bank to manage my supplier bills, Dropbox to manage my files, Google Apps to manage my emails and calendar. If you have a need, there’s bound to be a program or an app that can help you.
4. Work off a schedule
I work from my Google Apps calendar and if it’s not in there, it probably won’t happen. There’s way too much stuff that I need to think about to keep it all in my head – that’s where things get forgotten! Each morning I print out my schedule and inevitably notes and tasks get added. There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing off a completed job!
5. Hire a cleaner
I can earn more money in bookkeeping for two hours than it will cost me to hire a cleaner for two hours. And if I were cleaning my own house, I’d be rushing and stressing about the work that’s not getting done in the office. Having somebody clean my house on a regular basis takes the pressure off and leaves me more time to work on my business, or spend with family.
6. Utilise online groceries
There’s something strangely calming about ordering your groceries at 5am. There’s no trying to find a car park, no hustle and bustle of the supermarket, no mammoth effort to carry 12 shopping bags to the front door all at once because you couldn’t possibly make more than one trip from the car! Ordering your groceries online can be done at a time suits you and they’re delivered when convenient – right to your kitchen bench.
7. Hire a tutor to help with homework
I’m not at that stage yet, but I’m dreading that time when our afternoons are spent arguing about homework, or I have to refer to Google to actually understand the homework in order to help with it. Hiring a tutor will definitely be something to consider when my boys are a little older.
8. Work out how you work best
My days generally start at 4am. It’s peaceful with everybody else still in bed, the sun not yet up, and I can ease into my day without interruptions. You may be a morning person too, or the evenings or weekend may work better for you. Who says you need to stick to ‘traditional’ working hours?
9. Give the kids age appropriate jobs
Not only is this helpful, it’s a great learning opportunity for them. Mine help get their breakfast ready, unload the dishwasher, sort socks (odd socks seem to multiply in my house), set the table for dinner, help wash the cars, put their folded washing away, vacuum the floor. If you have children, consider what jobs they can help out with.
10. Meal prep
I try to plan my meals for the week and shop accordingly; I make use of the slow cooker and let it do most of the work during the day; and I try to cook extra so there’s a couple of nights meals ready so I don’t need to cook every night.
Okay, so the bookkeeper is going to come out in me now. In a 24 hour period if I sleep for 8 hours that gives me 16 hours to find 30 minutes to exercise – that’s only 3% of my day! It can be difficult to find time for myself and exercise is important both physically and mentally so I schedule that 3% into my calendar so that it happens more often than not.
12. Family time
This is so important for me, and comes back to my WHY. I’m there for the kids before and after school, and we spend lots of quality time together on the weekends. We take a 3-day camping weekend once a month (scheduled into the calendar, of course!), and the weekends when we’re home there’s always something fun for us to do. The work that we do during the week enables us to create wonderful memories as a family in our free time which for me, is what it’s all about!
13. Partner time
My husband and I go to boot camp together and we’ve recently gotten into events like fun runs, True Grit and Spartan. The kids get involved in the fun runs, and the other events are strictly adults only and there’s something really special about husband and wife covered in mud, working as a team through to the next obstacle.
14. Personal time
This is generally the one that I neglect the most. I used to be a professional pianist and I love to get stuck into a good novel so when I need some ‘me’ time, it’s either sitting on the couch with my book, or at my piano losing myself in the music.
I’ll leave you with these words – overwhelm happens when you think you have to do everything. Just take a moment to sit back and breathe. Implement one thing at a time, one day at a time.