Working Moms How to run a Business without losing your mind

Have you ever wondered how to squeeze a 40 hour week into 20 hours a week? Does your never ending to-do list seem to keep adding up instead of whittling down? Do you suffer from the ‘working mothers guilt’ of feeling guilty when you’re working away from your kids, and guilty when you’re with your kids that you’re not getting enough work done?

Well sugar let me tell you this, it’s been my life’s story since I first started my photography business AND had a baby 14 years ago. Crazy stuff I know! Why do we do it to ourselves? We’re trying to be “Wonder Woman” to everyone and yet it feels like we are failing ourselves instead.

I completely understand how it feels when we think we’re not being the best mommy, wife and entrepreneur and time is limiting. Being a solopreneur can be very lonely at times, and it’s hard to stay motivated when there are so many things to juggle. There is a lot of noise in my head!

I’m sure there are many of us mompreneurs who feel the same way, we think we are lone rangers who have to battle through it all. Enough with the guilt, let’s have a plan and stick to it!

What I have found is that there are three keys to helping me stay ahead so I don’t lose my marbles…

Time blocking
Forget about the multi-tasking monster, our brains are wired for focus. We can be far more productive when we switch off the pings of email notifications, get off Facebook and concentrate on just one thing at a time. I can’t live without my Google Calendar and I’ve forced myself to block out chunks of time to get the same jobs done at once. For example, on Tuesday mornings I block off 2 hours for writing and I force myself to close down all distractions and get as much done in those 2 hours. Believe me it ain’t easy! I’m attracted to nice shiny new things so completing tasks for me is quite an internal battle.

An important part of time blocking is sticking with your schedule so if a client asks for an appointment on Tuesday mornings, I politely offer them an alternative. I’ve found that I can be my most creative when I schedule 1 or 2 photo sessions back to back while I’m in the creative ‘zone’. It’s super hard to switch from right brain creative to left brain analytical for admin or selling tasks if you divide your day in so many directions. Give it a try and tell me if it works for you.

We’ve heard the saying “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” and this is so very true. We start our businesses trying to do all things and be all things, and the control freak in us takes over. I see this all the time with photographers who want to have all their fingers in all the pies of their business, especially when it comes to retouching. If you’re a Photoshop nut then sure, go ahead and spend hours upon hours perfecting your images. But hey, I’m a little old school in that I believe that images should be shot correctly the first time (Photoshop should be for touch ups not complete make-overs).

Most often I’ve found we perform the same tasks, actions and processes to create our signature ‘look’ or style, so surely we can delegate these monotonous tasks to someone who costs less? Think about it… what do you charge per hour for your time? Believe me, you can’t afford NOT to pay someone else LESS per hour than what you’re worth.

I found a graphic design student through my local Arts College and I was so relieved to hand over my retouching to her. I was able to charge more for my services, spend more time on things that actually MADE me money (like shooting and marketing), and I was a much happier bunny not having to spend every night until 1am on the computer. Let yourself go… try it you won’t look back.

Baby sitter….
My youngest is coming up to turning 3 years old and the past 3 years of the baby/toddler years have been some of the hardest I’ve had since I first started my business. My mommy heart would constantly pull me toward being mommy, but my head would remind me that I built a business I loved and had obligations to meet. I couldn’t just walk away.

The only saving grace was having a baby sitter (my sweet sister-in-law) to help me out on the days I had to see clients. This way I could concentrate on work during those hours without interruptions and not feel I was neglecting my baby. Believe me the guilt racked me constantly, but I had to come to terms with the fact I was doing the best job I could do. The quality time we had together after the clients had left and the computer was off I will always treasure.

Yes I made mistakes, but having the peace of mind that someone was taking care of my baby allowed me to focus and zoom through tasks at lightning speed.

Oh I forgot to mention that being a working mom means everything is done at double speed. We know how to get things done no faffing or dilly daddling! Ready, set, go!

So now is your turn…

Tell me your tips for managing a crazy schedule? What have you found has been the most useful?

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