For many women, the holy grail of self-fulfilment involves running their own business and looking after the family.
How hard can it be? Can it be done at all? There are many prominent female entrepreneurs who seem to be managing admirably, so what’s their secret?
Juggling the demands of kids and career are not to be underestimated, but with an uncompromising approach to organisation, a few short cuts and some essential productivity tools, it is possible to have it all and keep your sanity.
Give every task your full attention
Flexibility is key but multitasking is highly overrated. If you flit between making lunch and writing emails, talking to your suppliers and playing with little Freddie, chances are that nothing will get done properly and something will go wrong. You can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Instead, give yourself reasonably long periods of uninterrupted time for each activity, e.g. kids breakfasted and to school, followed by a gym session, then an hour’s emails and phone calls, a mum and toddler meet-up, home for lunch, followed by an hour’s desk work while Freddie is napping… you get the general idea. Try working early in the morning or late at night to fit in more undisturbed working time.
Plan absolutely everything
Nobody said it was going to be easy, but if entrepreneurial passion is what drives you, you need to develop clever routines to fit everything that needs to happen during the day into your day. Your new mantra is the 6 P’s: Proper Planning Prevents P!$$ Poor Performance!
Some ‘mumpreneurs’ schedule their entire day – from the 5am morning run (yes, that happens) to late-night social engagements and everything in between. Make weekly meal plans and get your shopping delivered. Cook in batches and freeze at the weekend to save time during the week. Have set family routines – Friday night cinema or Sunday morning swimming perhaps?
Technology is your friend and ally
The beauty of living in the digital age is that IT and communications technology are now so closely integrated that they’re available wherever you are. Get yourself a laptop, maybe a tablet, a smartphone and a decent WiFi package, and you’re good to go.
Whichever hardware platform you’re using, do make full use of the software and utilities that come with it, especially if you can get them to synch across all your devices. Start by using the diary, alarm and reminder functions; also note taking and voice memo capabilities to make life a lot easier.
There’s a wealth of software tools out there (many of them free!) that are definitely worth investigating to help improve your productivity at work and home.
- For video calls, use Skype, FaceTime (now also available for Windows) or Google Hangouts.
- Try Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or box.com for Cloud storage and easy file transfer.
- Evernote is a great tool for creating and sharing anything and everything, and many home entrepreneurs swear by it. It takes notes, creates to-do lists and organises and saves all files, images and online information, and will sync between all your devices.
- Check out Asana and Basecamp for tracking and managing projects across teams.
Don’t do everything alone
It may go against the grain, but GET HELP wherever you can. Do you have parents, relatives or friends locally that could help with childcare? Joint school and afterschool activity runs, alternate invitations to tea, the odd sleepover… it all helps enormously, especially in the early days of building your business when money is bound to be tight.
Ask your partner to help too – bathtime, reading bedtime stories, cooking and cleaning are all shareable family activities and the kids will love the attention they’re getting from Mum one day, and Dad another day.
If there’s any budget available, think outsourcing! Getting a cleaner may be the best investment you’ve ever made. Putting the not-so-little darlings on the school bus will save you an hour a day at least. If your business is growing fast, get an assistant. As for personal trainers and private chefs… maybe one day!
Don’t forget to look after yourself
You know the old saying ‘you can’t give from an empty cup’. What you’ve set out to achieve takes near-superhuman efforts – yes, it can be done but only if you’re keeping strong and healthy in body, mind and spirit. Don’t ever feel guilty about taking time out for yourself. Look at it in business terms: you are the most important asset!
Whether you prefer yoga and meditation or a good night out with the girls, schedule some time for these activities too. A session at the beauty salon or a long country walk may be just what you need to replenish your inner resources, leaving you happy and fulfilled and better equipped to deal with the demands of your busy working week.
Article submitted by Sara Bryant, an independent tech blogger (and wannabe superwoman) working together with Best VPN.