“I don’t even have time to breathe, let alone to run a business” she wailed. “There are never enough hours in the day”.
This is how a recent coaching conversation with a client started. “OK … let’s figure this out”, I said. My client felt like she had didn’t have enough time to run her business effectively AND spend quality time with her family. And take care of herself too. Like many of my clients, this mum runs a business around her family. She works like a crazy woman during the school day, topping it up with frenetic activity in the evening once her children are in bed.
That used to be my pattern too.
Now though, my working pattern is more structured – it has a shape. I don’t always follow the structure however I have found that working with this structure keeps me very focussed. The result being that I feel more in control and that I have more time.
When you run your own business, it is very easy to get caught up IN the business however we also need to ensure we spend time working ON the business. When you are a one-woman business, you are the Finance Director, Marketing Director, CEO, and so much more. Each of these roles is very important and needs the appropriate time and value to be assigned.
- I write my weekly newsletter. (I try and do in advance on Sunday evenings but that doesn’t always work out).
- I block out an hour for Admin/Operations. I use this time to update my key performance indicator sheet, pay invoices, send invoices, update my expenses & income spreadsheet, check bank statement, back up my BlackBerry, ensure my paper calendar and online calendar are synchronised, update my VA on new plans etc.
- I write in my weekly reflective journal.
- I spend time to plan for the week ahead (CEO time) – sometimes that takes me 10 minutes, sometimes I need the full hour.
- I set aside an hour of study time after lunch e.g. read a book, research, catch up if there’s a webinar I missed.
- Tuesday morning – one hour for blogging.
- Thursday morning – 2 hours for running.
- Otherwise these days are reserved for client work i.e. coaching, business mums mastermind, online classes etc.
- In the morning I spend an hour with my business accountability partner – we do this on Skype. If we can’t meet for some reason, we do it by email.
- I spend one hour on CEO long term planning, reviewing evidence for success.
- In the afternoon I spend one hour with my mastermind team.
- Marketing Director – Social media and other marketing activity e.g. scheduled FB posts, scheduled Twitter activity.
Every day I build in time for refreshing my body and brain i.e. time to exercise and relax. And I always, always take a lunch break – away from my computer, ideally sat in the garden.
Now I’m not saying I stick to this rigidly every week however it does help to build in blocks of time into my calendar. It means that if I receive an invoice, I put it in my Admin folder and I know I will deal with it on Monday morning. I don’t have to ‘fill up my brain’ with unnecessary detail.
I colour code my online calendar e.g. purple for study time, yellow for school/children’s stuff, green for travel time, black for CEO / Admin time. Building into the calendar means I’m less likely to forget. It also means clients can’t book the time via my online diary. Like all new practices, I found this difficult at first and continued to book clients into “reserved” time. Whereas I am now in the habit of only booking clients on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Of course I am flexible. I am here to serve my clients and if somebody wants to book a VIP day and they can only do Mondays, I rearrange. Having the structure enables me to do that more easily.
In summary, using a structured week allows me to run my business more effectively. It has given me back control. I feel less overwhelmed. And I get more done. Having the structure means I feel less guilty when I spend time with my family: I feel more in control, and I’m not constantly allowing my thoughts to drift back to outstanding tasks, when I am helping my children with homework.
Do leave me a comment and let me know what changes you will make to get more productive in your business week. As for my client, after some deep breathing, we got down to business and identified a structure for her business week that fits with her family life.
If you like this, you’ll love the tips and strategies shared by mums in The Confident Mother Means Business group on Facebook.