I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I’m crafty, so naturally I’ve wanted to be a creative business owner since before I knew what that really meant. It took me a while to find my ‘thing’ (wool felt!), I first tried several other crafty ideas. I’ve also always wanted to be a stay at home mom, so I had to find a way to make those two dreams work together.
It’s hard work to be self-employed and work from home with kiddos running around, but it’s possible if you’re determined! I want the flexibility of being self-employed so that I can be here when the kids get home from school, or if they need to be picked up. There’s no need to miss a meeting or a soccer practice because I set my own hours. I have systems in place that help me stay on track and succeed as a small business owner. And here’s a great, free printable workbook full of pages to help you set attainable goals and become a master of time management!
1. Time Management
Being excellent at time management is kind of a necessity when you’re a work from home mom. The only time you might get to work during the day is at nap time, so you must make the most of it! You never know when the tiny humans might come down with the flu and there goes your work day! Maximize your time, plan ahead and take action. I have a million alarms set on my phone to remind me do regular tasks, that way I don’t have to use precious brain space trying to remember everything!
Organization goes hand in hand with time management. You need to have a plan in order to succeed because you don’t have time to try something 2 or 3 times before you get it right. (Try, try and try again? Pfft, moms don’t have time for that!) Plan your days ahead; if you take the kids to a library program can you edit photos while they play? Can you take them to a play cafe with internet access so you can answer emails? Can you plan your business errands around your daily outings (I stop at the post office on my way to pick up my son from school almost every day).
Keep your days organized with the help of a gorgeous planner like this one from Well Planned Paper. (Use code laura10 for 10% off too!)
3. Set Goals and Divide into Tasks
Split up your work into manageable chunks. Sometimes if a task is too big it can be overwhelming to even begin. Divide the work and tackle one small task at a time. If you only have small chunks of time to work then you should have realistically sized tasks to accomplish. Use the Goals worksheet to help you set realistic goals!
4. Use Hours Other Than Nap Time
What tasks can you accomplish while the little ones are underfoot? Save those tasks for non nap-time hours and the trickier tasks for quiet times. For example, my son likes to help me put the tape on boxes while I pack up orders. My younger son ‘helps’ set up my props when I take photos. If I’m patient with the process then the work gets done and the boys are thrilled they got to help!
I’m so blessed that my husband is incredibly supportive. He has never once asked me to get a ‘real’ job, and he helps me whenever he can! But I’m aware that not all partners are like this. Try to have a talk with your partner about your reasons for wanting to work from home and the potential benefits to the family. Explain to them why it is so important to you, and what they can do to support you.
6. Time vs. Money
Sometimes you need to make decisions in your business that will cost you either time or money. You’ll need to decide which is more valuable to you. For example, should you invest the money in taking a photography class or invest the time in teaching yourself photography skills? I know it can be really hard to spend money you don’t have, but it can be worth it in the long run if you’re saving yourself lots of hours and headaches.
Try to answer emails, messages and comments as soon as you see them. You run the risk of forgetting to respond if you put it off till later which can cost you valuable opportunities. Also, the person contacting you may still be online if you respond quickly which goes a long way to ensuring a positive result while it’s still so fresh in their minds.
Be honest about your limitations. There are many things I have taught myself to do during the course of my business but there are also things I could never do as well as a professional. Don’t try to do everything yourself, you will end up discouraged. One of the best investments I made in my business was to hire a graphic designer to create my logo and graphics.
9. Embrace the Process
And the process is slow. I’m not gonna lie, it takes much longer to complete tasks while being a full time mom. Try to focus on your ‘why’ and accept that chasing after the kids is going to slow you down. That’s ok. It’ll all be worth it in the end.
10. Set Deadlines
Give yourself deadlines. Working with deadlines forces me get stuff done. I don’t always meet my own deadlines but that’s the beauty of being self-employed, I don’t answer to anyone. It means I’m flexible to take the kids to a last minute birthday party. BUT If I didn’t give myself any deadlines, I’d be drowning in procrastination. No matter how much you love what you do, sometimes you’d still rather be watching Downton Abbey.
How do you continue to work toward your goals while doling out juice boxes and goldfish crackers?
ps. Did you forget to claim your free workbook? No worries, just click the image below! Enjoy!