Nearly a year ago a small, smiley baby came into the life of my wife and I and turned everything upside down and back-to-front.
After taking about 4 months off to enjoy those special first days, it was time to return to working on my business which brought a new challenge: How can I be a parent who works from home and still contribute to the day-to-day running of the household?
Finding quality time to work on my business between everything else has been really tough. My empathy levels have skyrocketed for parents who are trying to juggle running their business on top of never ending loads of washing, cooking, shopping, pick ups, drop offs, etc., etc.
Last week I published an article about how to make the most of a 60-90 minute period of time to work on your business. One of the trainers in our mastermind read it and said something along the lines of:
‘Ha! Like I ever get 90 whole minutes to work on my business. It’s more like 20 minutes here or there.’
I get it!
In theory you should be able to get lot’s of stuff done during the day, even with a small child around, but the reality is that every time your focus is broken by a child yelling out to you or using your leg to stand up it breaks the flow of what you were doing and you totally lose your place. Which means you then have to take a couple of minutes to get back on track.
If you are reading this nodding your head and thinking, ‘Damn right Kyle, the struggle is real!’ then good! I think I can help you by sharing some ways that I, and other trainers who run their own business, find time to get their business work done.
Before I go ahead I should mention two things:
- There is no one right way that works for everyone. It’s totally a case of experimenting and seeing what works for you which is why I want to share a few different options below.
- The other thing is that you’ll probably find that one tactic works really well for a while and then stops working. That’s normal. Don’t give up, it just means it’s time to try something new.
Now you know what to expect and that this will take some ongoing trial and error, here are some ways that might work for you for carving out important work on your business time.
1. Get better at setting boundaries
I’ve gotta start here because none of the tactics you try will work if you don’t get good at setting boundaries. A boundary like ‘no disturbing mum between 4pm and 5pm while she works’ can seem cruel but it actually makes everyone’s lives happier. I’ll explain why.
First, Mum gets a whole hour to work on her business without interruptions. Second, your kids know that they need to be self sufficient or go to the other parent during this time.
This is better than you getting frustrated and annoyed at them when you’re trying to work and them getting frustrated and annoyed that you’re not available. The expectation has been set.
Initially, setting boundaries is tough. Just like if everyone is used to taking a shortcut through your backyard and you build a fence along the boundary, people will try jump over it and tell you how infuriated your fence makes them. It takes time and reinforcing to get a new boundary to stick.
If your kids are old enough to talk, you can work out these boundaries as a family so that everyone is clear and on board. For example you could say:
‘Dad needs to get some work in each week, on Monday after breakfast until lunch time don’t interrupt him in his office if the door is closed. Does that make sense?’
They might respond that they love spending Monday mornings with Dad but that Tuesday mornings they don’t mind so you change it to Tuesdays. And Mum wants to go to the gym on Monday mornings so she would prefer Tuesday mornings too.
2. Raise work on your own priority list
If working on your business only gets done with any time that’s left over after everything else gets done, you’re going to struggle.
Get used to occasionally leaving some dirty dishes in the sink. Hire a cleaner if you want, there is no shame in paying for help.
Have your partner take over a few of the things you normally do. Plan your meals out for the week so you don’t have to go to the shops everyday.
Make getting work done your top priority for the day.
3. Arrange a child sitting swap with a friend
If you have preschool aged kids who are home with you all day, it’s important to get in some time where you can have some quiet to get work done.
One simple way to do this is to arrange to look after the kids of a friend one morning a week and have them take yours on another morning.
Just think, a child free house to get work done in! Think of how much you could get done!
4. Work early or late
If you’re an early bird or a night owl that get’s their best work done early in the morning or in the evening, then that is when you should aim to work on your business.
This does depend on your partner’s work schedule and assumes you have a partner which you may not.
If you’re an early bird and you already run an early session at 5:30am then you might make your work time from 5am to 8am. After you run your session use the remaining time to work. You might even go to a cafe to work before heading home which will help create a boundary around that time.
If you’re a night owl after dinner is done you might have your partner do bedtime by themselves 2 nights a week so you can work from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.
These work periods will need some good boundary settings so see number 1 again and get good at it.
5. Get out of the house
One of my favourites is just to get out of the house for a bit each week and work somewhere else. For me it’s a cafe with wifi, for you it might be a park or the library or a coworking space.
Again, you’ll need to set good boundaries around this. Try to pick a consistent time each week that you go do this.
There are five tactics to experiment with around finding time to work on your business, not just in your business each week. Remember that not every method will work for every person or family and that one method might work for a while and then stop working. When that happens, keep experimenting.
Now out to you Mum and Dad? How do you find time each week to work on your business?
Do you use one of the above or something else?
Kyle Wood created Bootcamp Ideas in 2010 when he was hunting around on the internet for workout ideas. He ran a successful bootcamp in Victoria, Australia and spends his spare time managing this site, adventuring (or lazying) with his wife and find new ways to make bootcamps even better.