A large majority of small business owners are balancing work with parenthood – many even starting their own businesses to seek greater flexibility and job satisfaction by becoming their own boss. However, few would argue that being a small business owner and a parent can feel like an epic challenge at times.
Here at Pillow May, Jessica Pillow is no stranger to juggling motherhood with business ownership. It hasn’t always been plain sailing, but nearly ten years in – Jessica has a few pearls of wisdom to share on managing your time effectively;
Be realistic and organised with your time
It sounds simplistic but you can really waste time if you don’t plan what you are doing next. At the beginning of each week, set your tasks for the week and for each day. Using workflow software and a cloud based online calendar is a great way to stay organised; set alerts and reminders to stay on schedule.
Workflow software has revolutionised task management in Pillow May. Choose software that will enable you to delegate tasks whilst keeping control of the overall process and the progress being made. Software with a good reporting feature is key to this strategic control.
Be realistic about your time and how much you can achieve each day. Some days will be worse than other days, unexpected setbacks will happen, meetings will overrun, so when they do, stay calm and readjust your task plan if need be. If you are doing the school run that day just make sure you set your out of office so your clients know and don’t spend the day stressing that you need to leave early.
Build in a power hour
You may find building in a few ‘power hours’ to an admin day in the office can stop procrastination. Write a realistic task list for an hour of time, turn your phone to ‘do not disturb’, close e-mails and start your tasks. At the end of the hour have a 15-minute catch up on calls and e-mails.
It can be hard to balance this approach with offering a good customer service but if the longest a client is going to wait for a call back is an hour and you have other staff to handle urgent calls too then it can really help you focus when you are getting bogged down. Its a good technique if you find dipping in and out of different tasks difficult and time consuming but it wont suit every business.
Don’t be afraid to delegate
‘I will just do it myself as then I know it’s done properly” or “it will take me longer to show somebody else than to just do it” – do these statements sound familiar?
When your business starts to grow, sometimes the most efficient way forward isn’t to carry on tackling things yourself but to hire staff and delegate. Hard as it is to relinquish control, do not be afraid to delegate or outsource tasks if it is more efficient to do so. This can be at work or at home, where you may need help with cleaning, gardening, childcare etc as your business grows.
Time out isn’t always wasted time
Your time is your most valuable asset but the occasional hour doing something out of the office can clear your head and refocus your mind. I try to take time out at lunch time to have a quick bike ride, it doesn’t always happen but when it does it really improves my productivity when I return.
This is the same for out of work hours, if for example, from 5-7pm is your family time then make sure you aren’t checking your phone during these hours. Going cold turkey from all emails and social media etc takes discipline but guilt free time out also means you are more present during official work time.
Share your values with your children
Ensure your children understand why you work. Do your children understand that working hard ultimately pays for treats and holidays etc. Share your passion with them, explain why you enjoy running your own business and encourage them to be entrepreneurial when tacking projects at school and home.
Be kind to yourself. You can’t always keep all your plates spinning
Try not to live in the shadow of this perfect version of yourself who is ‘good’ at everything and makes everyone happy. Let’s face it some weeks your work life balance will be out of kilter. Be kind to yourself if you are neglecting some aspects of your life in the lead up to a big deal or grant application, as there will be other times when you are more family focused.
Take the time to seek kinship and support
Get involved in local groups for small business owners, this is a great way to network, share best practice and advice, and make friends with like-minded entrepreneurs. Also, get to know the parents on the school run, as they may be facing similar struggles juggling work and want to share childcare, and drop offs, as you get to know each other better.