Chronicles of a #workfromhomemom Part 2

Chronicles of a #workfromhomemom part 2. Yesterday, was my 2nd recorded episode with my girls over at @inspirethevibe and I was SUPER excited. We had my good friend and owner of @bluescoopcreamery Kim join us, as well as THE Nikki & Nicole from @nikkiskitchenyl . Anyways, I wanted to share another behind the scenes look – and well, let’s just say, that the call itself was AWESOME but the home front, not so much. Here’s what went down…

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🎬First, let me set the stage. The kids have been warned again to only interrupt in case of emergency (meaning fire, or possible death). Dog has been given a new bone. Everyone is where they need to be. We’re off to a great start.

📡The first hiccup arrives. The internet here is acting a bit tired & overused (kind of like me at times). Perhaps that’s what happens when we turn on 3 iPads, the TV, my laptop and phone. This lead to a very shaky internet connection where I missed the 4th word out of everyone’s mouths for the first 5 minutes of the call. But ok, we’re still doing fine. I caught the gist of it all.

🐶At a certain point, the dog gets a little antsy and decides to sit on my lap AGAIN. Fine. He’s easy enough and not TOO distracting. His barking later on, however, that was distracting. I am getting very good at quickly maneuvering to the mute function.

👧I’m almost up on the call and I have so much to share! Then I hear the door creak open and all I can think is, “WAIT! I’m almost up, PLEASE DON’T COME IN WHILE I’M ON!!!” What happens? My 7 year old comes in while I’m on. Her emergency? The TV isn’t working and her iPad only has 10% left. Well, that’s basically the end of the world isn’t it? Should I hang up and call 911 now? At this point though do I even remember the important points I wanted to share on the call?? I somehow did and got mostly out what I wanted to share.

📞The call continues on with lots of success, it was oh so fun and I was so inspired. I go down to yell at the kids to find the dog has somehow peed all over my brand new floors (but hey, they’re super durable at least!)

All in all, still a total success guys. I LOVE these calls with inspiring women and my kids are learning how to be #futurebusinessowners from the pros.

Cheers to #kidmoms and #dogmoms everywhere, this s**t is HARD! #reallife

Chronicles of a #workfromhomemom Part 1

Since we entered this weird period of time about a month ago (thanks Coronavirus!), I’ve realized exactly WHY I send my kids to school and why homeschooling is not my first choice. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love my kids and there are some serious pros to having them home right now (i.e. PJs alllll day.) But, when it comes to actually getting work done…that’s the hard part.

Last week, I joined my favorites over at Inspired Vibe on their new weekly zoom episodes aimed at Inspiring Conversations. AND I FREAKING LOVED IT! Here’s a look at what went down…

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What does a typical #workfromhome day look like for you? Not gonna lie, trying to work from home while attempting homeschooling is NOT something I ever imagined for my day to day. I recorded my first video session with Inspired Vibe earlier this week and while onscreen went great, the BTS….not so much. 🤣 #workfromhomelife ⁣⁣ Read on ⬇️⁣ ⁣⁣⁣

🐕The second the video begins, my puppy starts barking at absoluely nothing. I quickly mute myself, pick him up & put him on my lap to keep him quiet. He can’t quite get comfortable, so he continues to shift around for next 10 minutes casually popping his head onto the screen a few times.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣

🧒👦The kids have been given freedom to use iPads, get a snack, watch a show – basically anything to keep them quiet fro 30 minutes. And they are! I don’t hear one peep from them. HOWEVER, I walk downstairs after the video is done to basically a kitchen armageddon. They have decided to play their version of Iron Chef which includes lots of ketchup & sticky maple syrup…which is now everywhere. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ I’ve worked from home for the last few years, but this is what trying to work from home looks like to me now.

🤣 Add in the “homeschooling”, and trying to manage the house full of people all day and we’re basically a disaster. ⁣🙃

Stay tuned for Part 2!

The ART of Time Management (my favorite topic, seriously.)

Yes, you read that right. For context, my husband and I have been known to have long discussions surrounding Powerpoint, Excel and the like, so this being my favorite topic is kind of fitting for me. But I digress….

If I could pin point one area where I have constantly received positive feedback, and questions on how I do it, it would be time management. I always thought that was an odd thing to receive such positive reviews on, but I honestly don’t know any different. For me, time is more than of the essence. Time is my love language, it is how I measure my relationships with others (clients included!), and it is quite possibly my #1 reason for success. Now, I know you must be thinking that I’m getting a little overworked about something like time, but here is a story.

When I was working in the Corporate world as a young newbie, I was asked by a very senior leader to put together a Powerpoint in record time. Everyone around me was panicking about this ask, but for me it was a simple question. How much time did I have? What were the base requirements? And for myself, how can I make this great? Those 3 questions lead me to create an awesome deliverable in a very fast turn around. Before this ask, I doubt this Senior Leader could have told you one thing about me. But this Powerpoint was on an area of opportunity that I was interested in. And that small deliverable stuck in his mind, proving to him that I was capable, efficient, creative and had what it took to test the waters in a new position. This did not happen over night. But it put me on the map and eventually snowballed to many career opportunities. See time is critical, and how we use it masterfully is a way to set us apart from those sitting next to us.

It’s not just about being efficient, and doing a great job. It’s how we use our time to be as effective as possible. And how we use this capability to further ourselves with our clients, customers, senior leaders, etc. If you are a customer inquiring about a product on Facebook Messenger, what are you hoping when you pose a question to the Social Media Manager? My guess is, a fast turn around with an appropriate amount of information. See? Time. I’ve been asked over and over by peers, clients, and friends- how do I do it? How do I manage to get the work done effectively (with value add of course!) in such short periods of time. Given how much this question has come up, I figured I’d write a blog to share my tips with you all!

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT procrastinate.

Your Mom was right, procrastination will never work for your benefit. Why do tomorrow what you can do today? True story! When I have something come my way, whether it’s a text message from a friend or an ask from my client, I respond literally as soon as possible. If I can, I will drop other things I’m working on to get it done. The longer it sits, the more it sits on my mind occupying space and my creativity suffers. I want it done, finished and out of my head to make space for everything else! I heard the advice once that if it’s something that can be done in a minute or two, do it NOW. It’s a simple, quick task and you can cross it off immediately, so just get it done!

Value your OWN time

As a business owner, you MUST value your own time. We know we do not have infinite amounts of time in this world, but yet we often push the boundaries of doing what we are capable of within the limits of the time we have. Time Management is not just about getting the work done, it’s about focusing your time in chunks. Studies will tell you that we are not productive if we continue at full force for hours at a time. We NEED breaks, we NEED time away from our jobs, and we NEED to have full lives outside of work. Prioritizing your time to include all your values will ensure that you are putting the most effort in when you are on, but it also requires you to switch it off when possible. When I’m at a kids performance or a team party, it’s so easy to want to grab my phone and check my email quickly. But I try to remember how valuable my time is with my family, and then I find pockets of down time to get the work checked. Now, if it’s super critical, of course I will make sure I’m on top of it. But when you know that your time is important, you can value everything else against it more easily.

Value OTHER’S time

I am basically never late, in fact, I am pretty much always early. My kids tell me my most frequently used word is “hurry!” Now, I’m not necessarily proud of that, but my reasoning is pretty sound. I value time in general, including other’s time. When you show up late to something and someone is waiting for you, you are not valuing their time and therefore not valuing your relationship with them. This is simple. Prepare yourself to be where you need to be, when you need to be there. IT IS SIMPLE. Yes, things pop up, but plan for it. I know many people who are chronically late and it’s often a running joke. But seriously? Respect others time, respect your own, and be there on time. You will find yourself feeling less stressed, and you may even find yourself with the added benefit of adding chunks of time to your productivity – see below for more on this.

Little chunks add up

This can work in both a positive and negative way. Because I am never late, and never procrastinate, I often find myself early. I am a strong believer that the early bird catches the worm, but I will admit that at times I am a little TOO early. The benefit of this? I often find myself with 5 or 10 minutes to spare to catch up on work. Maybe I create a to do list, send off an email, or get my creative juices flowing by brainstorming in a note pad. Whatever it is, I use my time to my benefit. If this happens 2 or 3 times a day, I’ve just found myself 20 minutes to get stuff done. It’s amazing what I can accomplish when I focus my energy for those short periods of time on a set goal. Find what works for you. If you are sitting in the passenger seat and have some down time, what can you focus on to accomplish in that small moment of time? Make it worthwhile.

Be Focused

To do lists are key for me. I always have a mental or physical list of what I need to do, in which level of priority and by when. This helps me focus my time when I have it. I typically try to accomplish the thing I most don’t want to do first to get it out of the way. By knowing what I need to accomplish and being clear on my priorities, I can focus my time and energy on the task at hand and then move on to the next.

Ask for help

This is a big theme of mine, and not my biggest strength. As I’ve said before, time is not indefinite, and our abilities to do everything aren’t either. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. Outsourcing work to others, whether its in work or outside of it, allows you to have more time, period. People these days try to be everything, and do everything perfectly. But that is not only impossible, it is exhausting. Several years ago a boss of mine pulled me aside to ask me where I wanted to go – you know, the typical, what do you want to be in 5 years question. He told me that I was really good at so many things and had so many options available to me. The problem was, that I wasn’t focusing on core areas and asking for help, I was trying to be good at everything instead of GREAT at a few things. Learning to ask for help allowed me to hone my skills in the areas that mattered and put me in the direction of learning to be great. So ask for help, save some time, learn to be great.

At the end of the day, you are in control. Time is yours to do with what you want. But be specific with how you spend your time. Prioritize your life, and know what you need to be successful. If TV is your way of unwinding at the end of a long day, then go for it. But find an appropriate amount of time that allows you to unwind without killing your day.

Focus your priorities, be on time, get things done when they need to be done, ask for help where it’s needed, and use time as an advantage to you. At the end of the day, you make the choice of how you spend your time, so make the choice to be deliberate and see how much your life can improve because of it.

Why Hire Freelance?

Ok, Ok. You’ve seen the articles, you’ve heard the stories. But you’re still a little unsure? I mean, you’ve made it this far doing it on your own, why hire freelance now?

For starters, have you read my recent post about the 3 hardest words for Business Owners to say? “I need help.” We all do, you’re included. So let’s start with that.

  1. You hire freelance help because YOU NEED HELP. You are not a robot with endless time and energy. You are a human with a very full load, and very likely managing way more than you should be.
  2. Are you juggling a million different hats? Are you a Coach who only spends 10% of your time coaching and the other 90% on accounting, writing, marketing, etc.? Today’s business owners are executing so many different priorities all at once, and still trying to do it in the most cost effective and simplistic way possible. The problem with that, is you are NOT an expert in everything. You just aren’t. Nor, should you expect that of yourself. A simple business philosophy to follow is that you do what you love and you do it well, the rest? You hire someone else do it. And guess what? That person you hire likely will get to do what they love and do well.
  3. It’s likely more affordable than you think. Most freelancers, myself included, have flexibility in creating different packages and price points to match what you are looking for. So if you want A to Z, but can only afford A to B, then why not hire freelance to help you at least with A to B. It’s a start. And eventually, you hope that you can build on that support and stretch it out more. There is creativity and flexibility in hiring someone who wants to be hired at a fair price, but is typically willing to work with you to see if something can be worked out. By not hiring an agency, or an employee, you are likely saving yourself many of those hidden and non-hidden costs associated. You pay for exactly the work you need done, and THATS IT. Simple right?
  4. Freelancers know what they are doing. They are specialized in a specific field with a targeted outcome. They come with experience in your specific need area, and are solely there to support you and your business in that specific area. They are not distracted by office politics, or other common distractions. They are working with you and for you to accomplish your shared objective.
  5. You can find a freelancer to do just about any type of work needed. Need content written, books cleaned up, social media strategy created, training program created. You name it, you will find it. Rather than throwing extra work on employees (or yourself!) who are not experts, hire a freelance for a retainer or project when and where needed.

With so many options out there, freelancing is a solid way to lift some weight off your shoulders, hire expertise and benefit both you and your company. Social Media Management and Content Management are just some of the examples of the freelance work that is available to you. The question is, will you ask for help today?

Growing my Skills through Non-Profit Work

Everybody has to start somewhere.

For me, it was customer service at a local grocery store. Truth be told, I detested it. But I also learned a great deal from it, and would likely not be where I am today without it. (Regardless of the fact that I met my now husband there.) The point is, we all have beginnings, we all start as nothing with the dream of becoming something. Some of us get a leg up from family, or friends, and some of us have to do everything on our own from the get go. Regardless of the help we get, we all have an enormous amount to learn, but also an enormous amount to give.

bloggraphicWhen I started my business, I had a lot of corporate experience. I had used the skills I now deploy in my business every day and in a variety of ways, but I was still missing some things. I knew where I wanted to be, and I had some ideas of how to get there but I struggled to close some loose ends in my work history. At the same time, I had skills I wanted to use to help others in a meaningful way. I feel like we all have the ability to help those around us, and for me, it is a huge part of who I am. So how did I end up bridging this gap?? Read on!

  1. Have the desire to serve, and the willingness to do it. My desire to help non-profits, coupled with my desire to grow my skill set was a perfect match.  I was not in this solely for me and to grow my skillset, I truly wanted to serve and impact others. And it also aligned with my desire to grow my business skill set.
  2. Dive into the non-profit world. Find a non-profit you know or are familiar with. I knew I wanted to improve my social media management skills so I reached out to a non-profit I’d worked with in the past, and offered my services. It was the perfect opportunity to grow my skills, grow my confidence, and have an impact at the same time. And they were excited for the support (didn’t hurt that it was free I’m sure either!) But honestly, it was a win win for us both.
  3. Practice truly makes perfect, or close to it at least. Practice your skills in a safe manner and get comfortable with the new lingo, tools, timing, etc.
  4. Get feedback and improve yourself. Be open to others input and don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. Failure is a part of learning and we all are imperfect. Try your best, but expect to make a few mistakes along the way. Be thankful to those around you who are willing to show you where you could use a little correcting, and take their feedback to heart. The only way to improve yourself in this business is to accept that you are in a constant state of learning, and be open to getting feedback from others.
  5. Practically speaking, you need referrals if you want to be successful. Use your non-profit experience to not only build up your resume, but get any positive words from your non-profit partners that you can use to help sell your skills to others.
  6. Time. We are all so impatient in this busy world, but we owe it to ourselves to learn, correct, readjust, repeat. Use as much time as you can to give yourself over to this process and truly learn what you can. You can read all day about Social Media Management for example, but until you’re in the weeds with it, it’s hard for it to all sink in. So let it sink in, marinate a bit, and use your PRACTICAL experience to move forward.

At the end of the day, my non-profit experience was exactly what I needed, and from there I was able to confidently acquire the additional skills I needed to get my business started. My non-profit experience gave me the time needed to grow my social media and content management skillset, but it also fulfilled my desire to give back. And for me, there is nothing better, than to have the right balance between helping and serving others and growing my own business. In this case, it was good for them, and good for my business.