I have been asked over and over again, "How do you do it?" It's such a broad question but I've come to realize that people are genuinely interested in how I manage to run my business(es) every day from home while taking care of our little miss Riley. I am here today to give you a little insight to my life and how I juggle the chaos. Am I perfect? No. Do I have unproductive days? Definitely. Since starting my business over two years ago I have learned a thing or two along the way. Thanks to trial and error, successes, failures, an incredible network of fellow entrepreneurs in my life now, and the support of my family, I am proud of where I am today and the direction I am headed. I'm just a mama on a mission to share my journey in hopes of reaching other women who want to turn their dreams into a reality. It's a whole new ball game when a child (or children) are thrown into the mix because it gets a bit more complicated and difficult to be as efficient with our time. I'm here today to shed a little light into my life and how these tips have helped me better manage my time working from home and chasing a toddler!
Also, what do you think of my tripod set up "selfie"? Hehe. I was looking for the perfect picture for this post and I think I got it! I still have a lot to learn with the little remote and getting it just right but it was fun! I have a photo shoot this summer with the amazing and talented Nicole Conner, who started out as my photography mentor and has since evolved into a co collaborator and friend. I'm so grateful to her for taking me under her wing to become the best photographer I can possibly be. She is incredible and has helped me so much already, I look forward to where my relationship goes with her!
prioritize your lists
As a business owner & mom, the to do list never seems to end. I find myself jotting everything down, big or small. Sometimes I write down the most simple and mundane tasks just for the satisfaction of crossing it off. Does anyone else do that? I thought so. :) Okay, so you have your list. Now what? Start separating items by importance. Are you almost out of diapers and formula? That should probably go to the top. Does your dog need a trip to the groomer? That is probably important, but doesn't necessarily need to be at the top of the list causing you stress. Are you working on a newsletter that has to go out on Monday? That should probably go up top, too. Really sit down and sort through what is absolutely pressing and what can wait. This actually sounds easier than it proves to be. However, I've found when I take the time to first write all my tasks down and then take it a step further by organizing those tasks, I'm much more likely to complete the things that need to get done more quickly. Start here and see how it goes!
get yourself together
What does "get yourself together" mean? It's simple, really. Take a shower. Put some "real" clothes on. Heck, put on some makeup! Don't settle for the yoga pants every day. While studies have not proven that productivity can necessarily be associated to how we dress, it has been shown to make a difference. We as humans have a tendency to adopt certain characteristics associated with a specific garment. The clothes we wear are someway symbolic to us and hold meaning. That could be "professional attire" or "relaxing on Sunday attire", so when we wear one or the other our brains automatically behave consistently with that meaning. It's the same way we feel more athletic and fit once we put on that jersey, or smarter in professional dress. This topic brings me back to college and how I used to show up for exams. On exam day I always put forth an extra effort to "get myself together". I even remember curling my hair and wearing my favorite blouse. I always found that I was more confident in myself which seemed to help me perform better on my exams. I obviously cannot prove this, but I truly believe it made a difference. Working from home is wonderful for many, many reasons. One being that we don't have to wear professional dress every day or be uncomfortable in some uniform. I'm not saying put on a ball gown, all I'm suggesting is to ditch the sweatpants and sweatshirts when you are wanting to be more productive. I don't want to come across as a hypocrite because trust me, there are days I do not get myself together. There are days I don't even take a shower. Yeah, I know. Gross. I find that taking care of the baby sometimes means that my own needs take a back seat. Perhaps the baby didn't nap well, or by the time I finally had a moment to myself all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and watch Gossip Girl. Don't judge me. The struggle is real. Give it a shot for a week. I can almost guarantee you will not only feel better, but you will be more productive.
learn how to say no
I often find myself afraid to say no. We fear we might miss out on an opportunity and we worry about what other people might think of us. I can say this because I often find myself in this position. I want to encourage all of you to start building the confidence to say "no", without the guilt. Don't say yes to an opportunity or a project that is going to require time you do not have or possibly a project you are uncomfortable with. It is up to you to determine what may be a good fit for you, your business, and your family. When you are considering making a commitment, you should determine the costs. What will you give up to participate in this activity and/or event? Is it worth the time you are giving up when you actually want to be working on something else? If you are at all unsure, just say "no." Unfortunately, there is a stigma around stay at home moms that we aren't busy or that we can drop everything we are doing to be present at anything and everything. Oh boy does this get me fired up. I know I'm not the first to say (running a small business aside), that being a stay at home mom is a lot of work and it is a duty one cannot truly understand or relate until they do it themselves. I feel busier most days than I did when working full time, and I worked a lot of hours. So I encourage you to start weighing your options and start saying "no." I can guarantee you will feel fabulous, and much less stressed.
organize your inbox
I used to dread my inbox. Not the awesome emails I got from the things I enjoyed getting, but the organizing of it all and the overwhelming amount of "junk" looming in my box. Set aside some time to clean it all up! Delete old emails. Get on your desktop computer and start searching for specific emails that tie up so much space in your box and batch delete them all.
Do you get the same email every day that you never open? Here is a tip : unsubscribe! At the bottom of every single email there has to be an option to unsubscribe from the list. I do it all the time for things I once signed up for but have no interest in anymore. It is the best feeling when you click on that little link that is usually veryyyy small at the bottom and no longer get irrelevant information to you. My inbox is so much cleaner since I cleaned up what I'm subscribed to. I have emails that I absolutely love and look forward to opening and now I actually see the content I want to see.
Also, utilize folders. Did you know that you can set up your inbox to filter for you? So say you get those emails that you like to read, but you don't always want to read it right away, maybe later when the day is over and you have a spare minute to catch up on things. You can shoot specific emails to specific folders so that they aren't in your main inbox. This has come in super handy for me in so many ways!
get on a schedule
As my freshman year in high school Spanish teacher used to say, "Write it down, ah write it down!" Make a schedule. I've been guilty of not doing this lately. I have a million excuses but the biggest one has just been that I haven't felt inspired while living in my in laws basement for the past six months. Now that I'm back in my own space with big bright windows and an overall "emma style", I feel so inspired once again. I'm writing again and already making exciting plans for new additions to the shop. Now that I'm feeling settled, happier, and motivated I am making a schedule for my week(s). I am planning out different days that will be for writing, updating the websites, crafting, and family time. I'm trying to get myself to the point of doing nothing on Saturdays and Sundays but it never happens. And honestly right now my Husband is working 7 days a week so I like to be productive when he's gone and as present as I can be in the moment when he is here. The times in the past where I have taken the time to make a schedule, it has helped tremendously. I'm just getting back in the swing of this but it is already working and feels so good.
I will be the first to admit that this hasn't always been the easiest thing for me, personally. It wasn't until about two months ago that I decided to take my nutrition to another level. I am on a journey for a lifestyle change and I can honestly say I've never had more fun in the kitchen until now. I've stepped out of my comfort zone with different recipes and shopping at the grocery store. I'm a huge fan of meal planning. I eat bad when I don't have what I need at home, ready to go. This has become something really fun for me to do and I take it seriously each week planning it all! I basically plan dinners for the week, which roll into leftovers for lunch on most days. Breakfast is usually very simple for me so I don't get too crazy there. I have a Shakeology smoothie most days for either breakfast or lunch. Dinner has been my fun time. I used to load up on any and all carbs around me because it's so easy....but I've realized that my food was literally weighing me down.
Since I started eating cleaner, I am so much more energized. This has led to me feeling so much more driven to get things done at home. There are some very few and far between days I can't get through my day without napping when the baby naps, and I think that is perfectly okay. We all need breaks. However, since I started changing the way I see and consume food, I am much more productive (and happy), especially when she is snoozing. So start meal planning, ditch the cookies and chips...you will feel so much better and actually get more done.
Also, when I make my smoothies I always make extra! I use mason jar wide mouth lids and bought the little twist caps on Amazon, you can find those right here! Genius. I love them. I even make my Husband drill little holes in the lids so I can sip a straw through them, too. Riley thinks that is pretty fun and loves drinking smoothies with me. Mine are usually a funny green color but when I made these (pictured above) I was out of spinach!
find your window
At what time of the day are you the most productive? Are you a morning person? Perhaps you are a night owl? Find your sweet spot and what works best for you. Personally, I work best when Riley is sleeping during her morning nap around 10 AM and in the evening after she's gone to bed from about 7:30-10 PM. I try to keep my window clear through the afternoon because I like to try and be as present in the moment with her as I can be when she's awake. I also enjoy the afternoons to do things around the house like laundry, sweep the floors, vacuum, etc. With all the rain we get here it's been an adjustment for me getting outside to do things with the baby. We get out there any chance we can when there is a break in the rain. Right now it's pouring down rain and baby is sleeping so this is my sweet spot for being productive.
Everyone is different, and every child is different. I have found my windows based on Riley's schedule and it has been working very well for us. She still takes two naps so I'm sure once we drop to one I will have to readjust my "window". It's important to be flexible. There are some days I have SO many things I want to get done but then the baby is cutting another tooth and the only thing she will tolerate is being held. On one side I could be annoyed that I'm not getting done what I so desperately wanted to get done, but on the other I wouldn't trade the extra cuddles for anything. That's the beauty of working from home, you get to set your own schedule. Find what works and roll with it.
utilize your resources
I can't speak for you or what business you do from home, but for me the moment I started utilizing resources available to help my business grow, it became so much easier to be productive. I take advantage of the incredible Facebook groups I am part of as resources for growing my businesses. I am actively part of about 4 groups on Facebook that I absolutely love. I went through and deleted groups that no longer jive with anything I do and now focus on a select few where I stay engaged and get to connect with other entrepreneurs who are just like me, trying to make something of themselves with their business ventures.
I also have my iPhone, of course. This is my gold for staying "in touch". I think I'll write a post one of these days on my top 5 apps that help me stay organized. I honestly don't think I could successful run any of my businesses without my phone. I try to not be glued to it all the time, but it's hard, especially with what I do. It is a breath of fresh air when I go run an errand and realize that I left it behind every now and then. I finally have a phone upgrade in May just before my birthday so I am very excited to upgrade!
If you are like me and love to learn anything and everything that has to do with running a business, I'm a huge (new) fan of Skillshare. I recently paid for a membership to access all the material. It is already helping me SO much!
eliminate time sucks
I am honestly embarrassed when I look back on how many Netflix series I've gotten sucked into in the past. Do I still watch it every now and again? Yes, but nothing like before. I hit a point where I was completely wasting my time on useless television that did nothing to bring me closer to being successful. Once I turned the damn TV off, I got a whole lot more productive. Okay, I'm still guilty, HGTV is almost always on but I don't ever really watch it...not until the end of the episode usually when they do the reveals. I still have my go to shows that I love to curl up on the couch with my man after the baby is asleep like Better Call Saul, or Chicago Fire. I definitely have my favorite shows and watch them, but I don't binge watch Netflix anymore.
Another time suck for me was social media. Before I took Caitlin Bacher's Social Media Strategy course, I wasted so much time on the Internet. Now almost everything I do is a. enjoyable and b. productive. It's hard to explain this without going into serious detail but basically I have learned how to do what I love (being engaged on social media) but using it to drive my business. I still get the same satisfaction that I used to get scrolling through everything, but it's different now and I've made it possible for me to mix the pleasure with working.
do something for you
This goes without saying. Do something for yourself. I don't care what anyone else says or thinks because even us mamas who stay at home all day with the littles need a break. I'm so tired of the stigma around the words "stay at home mom", like we don't do anything all day. I know not everyone feels that way, but it is sensitive for me. We work so damn hard and giving little humans your 100% every single day, all day long, even when they're sleeping, gets overwhelming. We need to take care of ourselves and have time away from them. I have a hair appointment on Tuesday and I AM SO EXCITED. The babysitter is scheduled and I plan on just letting myself enjoy the few hours I get to myself. One thing I did recently for myself is put together a book club. I am a huge lover of reading and find myself truly at peace cuddled up with a good novel. Starting this book club was an idea I had to not only meet new people, but do something that I love and share that love with others. We just had our first "meeting" this past week and it was amazing. Good food, yummy wine, great company and conversation I was desperately craving with other adults! I don't know what is in store for our club but the overall consensus was to definitely meet next month so I think they had as much fun as I did. It was my goal starting this club that it was one night a month that didn't feel like a chore, but something everyone truly looks forward to attending. I want these other women (and myself) to get a break from the daily chaos of our family lives and just be together and have some fun.
So I challenge you to do what I did, step out of your comfort zone and do something that you want to do. Whatever that may be because it feels so good.
Until next time! Thanks for being here with me!
Just in case you have missed anything lately on the blog don't forget to check out my recent posts!
Also, feel free to check out the newest addition to Emma Rose Designs and the branding services I will now be offering. I am so excited to help other small business owners like myself turn their dreams for their business into a reality.