Running a business 9-3 - Guest Blog from Laura Parker, founder of Shoreway Business.
Thanks so much to Chelsea for asking me to contribute to this month’s newsletter! I have been a long time fan of WellDefined’s empowering ethos, so feel very lucky to have been asked to join the WellDefined family!
A little bit about me… my name’s Laura and I run Shoreway Business Support; working with busy business owners who aren’t ready to hire someone as an extra pair of hands, but need to outsource chunks of their To Do List in order to keep their sanity.
Like many of you, I started my own business to try and find that elusive balance between being a mum and contributing to the family income. Part of getting this balance right for my family means that I try to make my working day between the hours of 9 and 3 wherever possible. To run a successful business ‘part time’ means one thing: I have to be super organised!
I wanted to share some of the structures I’ve put in place to help me balance my two lives (mum/business owner) and make it work…
Manage your time
If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I’m constantly talking about time blocking! I've followed this method for most of my career before I even realised it was a thing and had a real name!
If you are going to be your most efficient self during the small window of a school day, this will be the number one way that you will be able to stay on track of your day. Time blocking essentially means that you are breaking your available time into chunks; and that during that time block you totally focus on your set task. That means turn off your Facebook notifications, no dipping into Instagram to see who's liked your photo and absolutely no falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole (or is it just me?!). If this sounds your bag, you might also want to supersize this by incorporating something called the pomodoro method which sounds really fancy but basically means you work at full focus for 25 minutes and take a break for 5 minutes. This stop you burning out and keeps your concentration levels high (learn more here). For useful apps that I use to manage my time, you may want to read a recent blog on my website.
Be a #goaldigger
To keep myself on track within my workday, I need lists and routine. Every morning I start the day (before I do school drop off) by making sure that I’ve loaded the dishwasher, tidied up and most importantly I sit with my cup of coffee and make a list for the day. The way that works for me is to think about:
what MUST be done that day, what I SHOULD do, and what I’d LIKE to do (I picked up this technique from the fab Trudy Simmons).
Have you tried something like this? It really helps focus the mind, and you know that every day you must complete all of your ‘must’ tasks, as many of the ‘should’ tasks as you can, and a couple of the ‘want to do’.
Every week, even though you are trying to achieve the impossible by running a business within a tiny window of time, try and commit to yourself that you will build in time for self-care. This is so important when you work solo from home, and will help keep your mindset focussed on success. Somedays, working solo from home can feel really isolating - the only people I speak to apart from my family sometimes are mums at the school gates for a quick chat. Since I started building in time every week for a coffee with a friend or exercise time, I go back to my desk with much more of a spring in my step.
Communication is key
This is key! Make sure that your clients know the hours you are available to them. By setting clear boundaries it means that everyone knows where they are and there are no awkward conversations from either side about expectations. Even though you may be doing work in the background outside of those hours, it will help protect your balance if your clients think that you do absolutely no work outside of 9-3.
Step away from your ‘office’
Whether you have a gorgeous fully equipped office, or work from the kitchen table, make sure that you pack everything away and shut the door to it when you set off for the afternoon school run. This stops you being tempted to ‘just check that email’ etc, and lets everyone (you included!) know that your workday is finished (and now the hard work ofyour day really begins!!)
So, there you go - my top tips for making life as a freelancing mum work. Some days you will absolutely nail it, other days you’ll wonder what the hell you’re doing - but hopefully the sense of empowerment and achievement you’ll get from growing your very own business will make up for those bad days.
I hope this helps all of you who are working hard to be a great mum but also build a business. You are all amazing!