As a mother of three listening to the Being Boss podcast about how to manage your business with children was… frustrating. It’s not their fault. The transition from no kids to one is a huge change and learning to adjust your time and priorities is challenging. For me it was actually easier after I had my first child. He put me on a schedule and always napped at the same time but that’s not necessarily normal. I had my son when I was twenty and decided to follow my passion for writing fiction about seven months later, after the PPD subsided. The change from one child to two is harder than the change from zero to one. If you have a child and are running a successful creative business, writing or otherwise, there are steps you’ll want to take to ensure your success and help save you from burning out. If I sat down and thought about my business and my life the way I’m about to lay it out for you here earlier in my career, it would have taken off sooner and I’d be in a very different place. Of course without the lovely ladies at Being Boss, I wouldn’t have looked at my life as hard as I had to to find the solutions. I’m not the kind of person to listen to advice and think “Well that’s great but it wont work for me because of X, Y, or Z.” I listened to the podcast and realized a lot of what they were saying would not work for me, but rather than accepting my fate and deciding to give up and trying to find work/life boundaries I started working through the problem. Here’s what I learned through that process and talking to other successful entrepreneurs with multiple children.
3. To do list: So once you find the time to work or write the next thing to do is make sure you dont waste it trying to figure out what to work on. I used this technique after Tim Grahl introduced it in his Productive Writer course. Its Mark Foster’s Auto Focus System. What you do is take an ordinary notebook and start your to do list. Put everything on it. Every task you can think of and break larger projects into pieces (either in this list or you can use a digital productivity tool liks Things App). Then you put an X in the top corner of the page (more about why in a minute). Now once you’ve filled out one piece of paper you turn the page and keep going (put another X in the corner) once you’ve crossed out everything on a page you circle the X and then you know that page is done. Now, when you find time to get to work, take out this notebook and read over the things on the list. Pick one to complete and go! As you think of more tasks add them to end of the list. You can look at any page of the list before choosing a task. Time sensitive tasks should be done first but the whole point of this is to give yourself permission to choose and not feel guilty. For recurring tasks like dishes, just add them to the end of the list every time you cross it out. Here’s a link where Marks shows you how to use it. This has helped me tremendously! I no longer waste time trying to figure out what I need to be working on. I’ve take this method a step further by assigning myself specific tasks from the to do list to specific days of my week. So if I need to write a Newsletter for my fiction fans and it needs to go out on Friday, I assign the task to Tuesday and schedule it to go out on the due date. Also, by giving myself one thing to get done in each area of my life each day I avoid overwhelm and feel confident in my abilities. Once that task is complete if I have more time, I go to the list or tackle the assignment for the next day. Avoiding burnout is really important and this is probably the number one way I’ve pushed through fatigue but also avoided it.
4. Ask for help from your partner around the house: Your spouse or partner works hard all day and should have to help out. Get that thought out of your head right now. Like right now. You work hard all day and they can help out. My husband watches the kids two days a week, occasionally does dishes and religiously helps me fold clothes and run the washer. He also works overtime every week. You’re a team. You need time to work just like they do. It’s not ridiculous to ask for it. Also, they live there too, they can help. My nanny is also doubling as a housekeeper because even with all the help from my husband I still struggle to maintain my house. So that’s an option too. But for those of you just starting out, definitely ask for help from the people you live with. Kids can help with chores. My seven year old helps me take care of the animals and they all help declutter when it’s time to vacuum.
5. Write down your why: This might sound hocey and stupid but dammit, just do it! Write it out! What do you want to do? How will your life change when you do it? How will you feel about yourself when you accomplish it? And then put it up on your wall where you work or in your bedroom. Somewhere where you’ll see it every day. And when you’re struggling and wondering why you’re even doing this, look at it. Read it and know it’s all going to be worth it. When the kids are sick and you haven’t slept in 72 hours and you smell like puke and you’re supposed to write the next chapter or your book or work through edits (don’t work through edits on no sleep it’s a bad idea) look at your why. It should motivate you to stay up late and get up early.
I’ve told you how I twisted other peoples advice to fit my life and situation, now it’s your turn!
Do you have tips for working with children? Share them in the comments!
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