Sometimes 'life stuff' can feel like it's taking over and doing anything productive towards your business becomes a huge challenge. School holidays, illness, family commitments, squeezing in a holiday of your own... they can all pull you in what feels like a million different directions. Even without kids to look after it can get really hectic sometimes, I've just had a few weeks like this so I wanted to share a few tips that have helped me, plus a few extras from some friends who are also managing being a business owner and mummy!
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR BUSINESS MOVING FORWARDS:
1. Schedule or automate as much as possible
Social media updates are the obvious example of this, could you spend an hour every Monday morning scheduling your Facebook and Twitter posts using a tool like Buffer so that other than checking in to respond it's one less thing on your to-do list?
Even things like ordering your food shopping online to save an hours trip to the supermarket count, it's about looking for any opportunities to make things easier for yourself during this time!
2. If you can prepare in advance
Are there certain times of the year that are always busy? We can't always plan ahead but for those dates where you know it's going to be difficult try to get ahead of yourself in preparation. This might be building up stock, writing a months worth of blog posts, getting fully up to date with your invoices or just stocking the freezer with homemade meals!
3. Manage expectations
Be open with your customers and suppliers, if they know in advance that your lead times may take a little longer than usual they can accommodate this much more easily. You can also set expectations for new contacts but switching on your email 'out of office', for example:
"Thanks so much for contacting XXXX, we are currently in our busiest time so it may take us a little longer to respond to emails than normal but rest assured we will be in touch shortly and appreciate your patience."
4. Don't be afraid to ask for help
Bring in a little help if you can, whether that's family and friends helping out with the kids, admin duties or even just your Dad popping round to mow the lawn, most of the time if you ask you'll find your loved ones would actually really like to help!
You can also look for areas within your business that you could outsource e.g. book keeping, or even hire and train up additional staff, even if it's on a casual basis?
5. Prioritise everything
When you have lots going one of the most important skills to master is prioritising. My tip here would be to write a list each day of 3-5 things you need to do, in priority order. Work down the list in order, only moving on when you've completed the task above. Some days you might only finish number one and others you'll do them all. But each day starting with a new, freshly prioritised list will help you focus on doing one thing at a time.
6. Schedule in regular little breaks
No-one can work 24/7 without any down time. I read somewhere (I wish I could find the quote again) that "the best time to take 5 minutes is when you don't have 5 minutes" - which really resonated with me as sometimes when you're super busy you can start doing more harm than good! Nipping the dog for a quick walk around the block or just taking a few minutes to yourself to breathe could prevent mistakes, help you regain your sanity and renew your motivation!
7. Get rid of distractions
Easier said than done maybe but if you can re-schedule any unimportant meetings, put your phone on silent and ban yourself from Facebook ;-)
8. Reward yourself for little milestones throughout the day
Don't be too hard on yourself, you are doing the best you can! Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break and accept that you can't do everything. Make sure you treat yourself to a nice coffee, 10 minutes to paint your nails or whatever it is you like to do. Particularly when you do successfully make it through a difficult day or you manage to tick something off your to-do list, little rewards can really help you stay motivated and take care of yourself too!
9. Create templates to save time
Do you find yourself writing out the same emails over an over again? Creating a set of templates that you can copy and tweak for each customer during different stages of your business processes can save you a lot of time. You could also add an FAQs page to your website to direct people too which is really useful.
10. Use your 'nothing' time wisely
By "nothing time" I mean that half an hour when the kids are in their dance class or the 10 minutes in your car waiting for someone. You might not get much of this but if you do try to grab it for writing down ideas, making a few phone calls or answering some emails!
Do you have any tips that work for you to share with others struggling at the moment? Which of these are you're going to try?