One of the questions that I get asked the most is, “HOW do you do it all?” To that question I always laugh, get awkward, and reply, “Well, I don’t.”
It’s taken me the past 3 years to really figure out my balance of how to juggle work and home life when it all seems to be in a blender on high speed and I can’t find the off button anywhere. It’s something that I will spend the rest of my life trying to perfect. Being a mom is full time, running a business is full time plus some, being involved in church and a wife and trying to keep up with friends and traveling for business that takes me away and volunteering at my kids schools so I don’t feel like a total loser and trying to make time for the gym and remember to feed my dog and not go crazy while all of this is happening really is a circus act. I’m running a circus.
Welcome to the greatest show on earth.
No matter what stage of your business you are in, I hope that what I’ve learned can help you feel in control of your life. Running your own business is not for the weary, so congratulations, you already have one foot in the game and are realizing that it is hard!
Let me paint this picture for you right now of my life: I got back in town last Sunday after being gone for almost three weeks on and off for work. We had to move offices two days later, get 100 new wholesale orders ready to ship and deliver, prepare for the largest retail order we’ve ever received that goes out in two days, hire two new people, plan our fall campaign and start finalizing our new product, all while still accomplishing the other standard work tasks. That was just at work. At home, I had to get the kids ready to go back to school today, execute my husbands surprise 30th birthday party over the weekend, deal with some ongoing family issues that take a lot of emotional and physical attention, then my mom was admitted to the hospital unexpectedly and is still there, take Zoe to her dance auditions for a performance group almost every day last week, make sure both kids got to meet the teacher night on two separate days, and prepare a lesson for church that I taught on Sunday while giving my family, who are my priority, the time and attention they deserve.
The last thing I am trying to do right now is say, “Look at me! Look how busy I am!” It’s actually disgusting and not something to be proud of. Being busy doesn’t equate to success. I think people mix things up and think that if someone is busy, that means they are running the world and are rockstars that have unmeasurable success. That’s far from the truth. The reason I tell you this is so that you know that what I’m telling you on how to deal with business and life are things I’ve personally experienced, and continue to experience on a daily basis. I hope that you feel excited to tackle your life in a different way, and that you find relief in knowing that you’re not crazy, we’re in the same boat.
The Secret to “Doing it All.”
1- You don’t. Let that sink in for a minute. You don’t have to save the world, you don’t have to be so overwhelmed with everything that you could collapse at any moment (been there, done that… it’s horrible), and it does not mean that you are weak if you round up troops to help get things done in your life that are important.
Thats the ultimate secret that took me so long to not only figure out, but be okay with. We moved close to my parents last year so that my mom can help watch the kids after school a few days a week. She only has them 3 hours on the days she watches them, so it doesn’t make me feel horrible, and I’m able to still focus on what needs to get done at work during that time. Once I’m home, because I am able to get a full day in at work, I am able to spend quality time with my kids and shut off my work mode until they go to bed.
Once a month I hire house cleaners. The money I spend to do that is nothing in comparison to what I’m able to accomplish at work during that time. At first I felt like a horrible house wife, and then I realized that I’m not a house wife, my work calls me other places, and it is okay if I need someone to come and help at home.
In the beginning of The Shine Project, I had 2 interns. It was sufficient for the size that we were. This year, we are up to 16 employees. Sometimes I have to make the jump to hire another employee before I feel ready to do it, but it allows me to set our company up for success because I am then able to focus on the more important things that make business grow, instead of doing small tasks that other people can take charge of. I’ve been trying to set us up for success, instead of trying to catch up with success because I was short handed. Doing this this year has completely turned our organization and planning around in a positive way, and the impact has been huge. Because I have more help, I am less stressed, am able to produce more valuable ideas and work, and have a strong team that picks up everything else that needs to be done.
2-Set office hours. In the beginning, I worked from home. It was hard and we didn’t even have kids yet. Because I was always there, I felt like I always had to be working and it was so easy to just keep going at projects that I was working on because they were right in front of me. Mixing home and work life is not healthy when it’s happening every day. I started feeling like I was doing horrible at work because I was thinking about everything I needed to do at home, and I was horrible at home because I was thinking about everything I needed to do at work.
Set hours, even if you’re working from home. Designate a specific work area. It could be an extra room if you have one, or a table set up in your living room (do NOT work from your bedroom, I repeat, do NOT work from your bedroom!) but set a specific work place up that is dedicate to your business. It will make a huge difference. When you are done working, focus on your family. Spending quality time with them will rejuvinate you, connect you to the biggest support system that you have, and make you feel less overwhelmed because you’re putting the important things first.
3- Sacrifice. As a business owner and life liver, you’re going to have to make sacrifices that most people never even think of making. I sacrifice time with friends, sleep, extra activities, leisure travel and time, sanity (haha, but seriously), and other things. Notice that I said sacrifice, but not give them up. If you give up any of those things completely, you officially have lost control of your lives. One thing that I have completely given up is watching TV (except for the Bachelor). You are sacrificing things that most people wouldn’t, to live a dream and a life that most people won’t. Oh, and if you notice the picture above, I’m missing polish on half of my fingers… get used to it 🙂
4- Take care of your body physically and spiritually. A few months ago I was feeling really depressed in the mornings and it was hard to get out of bed. I started working out 5 days a week to keep my body active and alert and it has made the biggest difference I can’t even believe it. Make sure you eat throughout the day and don’t think you are too busy to do so. I’ve done this, and it was horrible. I have a personal relationship with God that I try to develop every day which gives me more peace and guidance in my life. You are important, and you need to put time into making sure you are the best version of you possible. Whenever I feel the weight coming, I also go sit on the couch and my trusted counselors office. There is nothing wrong with this so don’t fool yourself. I remember the first time I went I cried because I was so embarrassed. Then I thought, what is it that I’m actually embarrassed about? That I want to have control over my life? Remember, the trick is that you can’t do it alone.
5- Be Creative With Your Time. Today, my husband and I are meeting on “our lunch breaks” to go to a personal appointment. It’s hard for us to leave mid day for appointments that aren’t work related, so we use our lunch hour to do so. I actually hardly ever take a lunch break unless it’s for something like this, or to meet up with Mike or eat with a friend I haven’t seen for a while. Because of the location of the appointment, I knew that if I worked from home today that I would get more done than if I had to drive into the office. I woke up earlier than normal to account for that time, and also wanted to get the kids from school because it is their first day back. What I do not finish this afternoon, I will finish tonight after they are asleep.
If I am required to travel for more than three days at a time, if the kids are out of school I will bring them with me. They are my first priority, and bringing them on trips is actually so much fun for all of us.
You’re a boss. You’re actually, THE boss. Make decisions that set you up for success and remember working harder doesn’t always equate to working smarter. Go rock our world with what you have to offer, you can do it.