One of the 1st things we look at during my Amazing Business Creation Workshops (in fact, it’s part of the pre-work!) is actually making time to start planning your business – sort of ‘getting ready to get ready’!
As working mums we can often feel like we have very little time to do any of the things WE want to – and so often I hear women tell me they’d love to start a business ‘one day’ but they just don’t have time right now.
Well, I have news for you – you will NEVER have the time to start a business (or any of the other the things you want to do) unless YOU take serious action to MAKE it!
You see, your time is like a vacuum. As soon as you free some of it up, it naturally gets filled with something else – and if YOU don’t determine what that is yourself, I’m afraid it just gets occupied by ‘stuff’. ‘Stuff’ that’s about as useful for getting you where you want to be in life as a chocolate fire guard.
Think about it – your mum/friend/partner offers to watch the kids for a couple of hours. What do you do? Do you find yourself complaining to your friends that you don’t know where the time goes? Because you spent the whole time sorting laundry/washing up/picking up toys/sweeping the bits off the floor, only to have to do it all again an hour after they get back?
What if you spent that 2 hours really focusing on one particular goal that you’ve had for ages (like starting a business!)? What if you left the other ‘stuff’ until the kids had gone to bed and you knew it was going to stay ‘done’ at least until they get up again?!
It’s difficult isn’t it? It’s very easy to get totally caught up in trying to be everything to everyone – trying to be a supermum – but there really does come a point where you have to make some decisions about what you really want for you and your family IN THE LONG RUN.
Now, seeing as you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’ve made the decision that you would like to take steps to find a better work/life balance, and to do that by starting a business. I’m also assuming that your no. 1 priority is your family.
That’s certainly the case for the mums I’ve worked with so far and it is for me.
Virtually all the mums I speak to, with very few exceptions, say that the main reasons they want to start a business are a) they want to (or need to) spend more time with their family or b) earn more money to enjoy with their family or both.
So, accepting that family comes first, we have to find a way to give enough priority to starting a business in order to actually make it a reality while also recognising the whole reason why you’re doing it in the first place.
You need to find a balance between spending the time you want to with your family AND dedicating enough time to following this path to creating a better life for you all.
Now, I’m not going to say it’s easy – because I’d be lying.
But if you’re determined to create a business you love that can provide for you and your family for years to come AND give you the life balance you’re looking for, finding time to plan it properly is absolutely crucial.
The following tips for finding the time you need to start planning a business around your family come straight from my Amazing Business Creation pre-work. We use worksheets to help us with most of them but you can do the work without. I hope you find them useful:
Find the ‘leaks’ in your time.
Take a pad of paper and write down every single thing that takes up your time during the day. I mean EVERYTHING! Work tasks, kids tasks, the school run, shopping, meeting with friends, running errands for parents, walking the dog, updating Facebook – whatever.
Once you’ve done that, cross out all the things that, if pushed, could go altogether for the next 6 months. Now identify the areas where you could SAVE or MAKE time – limiting time on Facebook for example or, better, getting rid of it altogether (unless it’s for business purposes!); staying up 20 minutes later on a night to prepare packed lunches, set out uniforms and lay out breakfast things; doing your food shopping online.
Maybe you could meet friends less frequently but for longer, or meet them at your house instead of travelling somewhere? Could you use the time when your baby or toddler is asleep, instead of catching up with the laundry? Could you arrange for your child to go to a friend’s for tea after school and offer to return the favour another night? Could they go to after school club for a while?
Once you’ve identified what you COULD do, commit to actually doing it!
Remember, action is what’s needed here, not just ideas. It’s all well and good completing the worksheets and saying ‘well I COULD DO THIS’ and ‘I COULD DO THAT’.
DO IT NOW!
And it’s important not to get fed up about it – remember, it’s not forever, just for right now to allow you to focus on what you want out of life. Then you can slowly start to add things back in (and actually, some things you’ll probably realise you’re just better off without doing altogether!)
Identify your goals
For each area of your life (we do some work on all your individual ‘roles’ during the workshop), start to create a list of all the goals you’d like to achieve.
So create a ‘mum’ list, a ‘wife’ list, a ‘business owner’ list, a ‘daughter’ list and so on.
Write down everything you want to achieve on those lists – long term and short term goals all count here.
Do you want to help your children learn to read? Do you want to re-connect with your parents? Do you want to move to a new house in 2 years? Take the kids to Disneyworld? Do you want to be able to buy your partner a new car or to retire at 50?
Take an hour to really think about what you want your life to look like in a few years time – from all angles.
Lists, lists, lists
From the goals you’ve identified, break them down into the tasks you’d like to do each day/week/month to bring you nearer to those goals.
Spending 30 minutes each night reading with your children, dedicating 1/2 day each weekend to spending with your parents, spending 1 hour 3 times a week dedicated to planning your new business – whatever you think you need to build in to reach the goals you’re setting yourself.
Take Control Of Your Time
The next step I recommend (and it sounds a bit extreme but it works!) is to take an appointments diary (I use the Franklin Covey planner system and provide this for mums who join my longer term programmes) – one of those that breaks each day down into 15 or 30 minute slots – and schedule your next week.
Try it once and see how you get on with it.
Plan slots for everything you want/need to do each day and try to stick to them. Try scheduling your WHOLE day for 7 days and commit to trying to stick to it – 1 hour to get the kids ready in a morning, 45 minutes for the school run, 1 hour to work on planning your business, 1 hour housework… whatever suits you. But remember to build in slots for all the roles we covered above. Just try it and see if it works for you.
I even used to schedule in time for the kids bedtime routine – to make me concentrate just on them for 45 minutes… nothing else. You’d be amazed how quickly they went to sleep afterwards! It has to be said, sometimes I really need to make an effort on the parenting front, I’m ashamed to admit!
Of course, things change, and you have to re-arrange things during the day, but having a plan to work to can really make a difference… if you want it to and you’re willing to really commit to giving it a go.
Well, there you go – just a few tips to get you started… I hope you’ll give them a try.