I am a working mom. I have three children plus a stepson from my recent marriage. I’m a successful entrepreneur. I’m a wife. I am a sister in a family of siblings whom I adore. I’m a daughter. To say I am busy is an understatement. I know you are, too. This life we have chosen is sometimes more than we can possibly take. I totally get it. And yet, it’s time for some tough love. Read on at your own risk.
Busy, busy, busy!
Practically every woman that I speak to on a regular basis is “busy, busy, busy.” They are so busy they can hardly breathe. They find themselves frequently overwhelmed, running behind, out of time, and out of energy. The life they have chosen is, at times, much more than they can handle. Sound familiar?
If I ask any one of these women how they are, their response will frequently be, “busy.” I empathize completely. I often feel the same.
And yet, if you’ve chosen to become an entrepreneur, being “busy, busy, busy” can hurt your business.
That’s because being too busy can mean that we’re not fully showing up for the things we are committed to do in business… and in our personal lives. We’re frazzled, scattered, late to calls, not prepared, etc. We’re so busy getting in our own way that we can’t really see how badly we need to get out of it.
Welcome to My No-Judgment Zone
This isn’t coming from a place of judgment. If you are a female entrepreneur and my words are resonating, trust me, you and I are so much alike. We have chosen to live a life that is so full it is literally bursting at the seams. And sometimes, it takes a giant riiiiipppp to acknowledge that maybe we’ve tackled more than necessary, more than it’s possible for us to handle.
In fact, I’ve made, and continue to make, every mistake on this list below which is why I know how much these missteps can hold you back, and how important it is that we make a huge effort to do better… right now!
Be on time
Obviously, I’m on time for client calls, but I used to always be late for internal conference calls because… I was so busy! And, truth be told, I knew I could be late without repercussion, so that gave me room to find one more fire that needed to be put out before I jumped on the team call. (And there are always fires!)
Then, someone shared with me the FACT that if I have 5 team members on a call and I am 5 minutes late, I’ve just wasted 25 minutes of time for our staff. WOW! Being 10 minutes late would cost us, collectively, nearly one hour of productivity. What a waste!
Also, what does a pattern of lateness communicate to my staff? Because it may just communicate that I don’t value their time, or worse, that I don’t respect them…which could not be farther from the truth.
If you are late to appointments with those working for you, either as part of your staff or as hired vendors, you are throwing away money and unwittingly communicating to people that they aren’t important. (Which we both know isn’t true.)
THE FIX: Fixing constant lateness mostly requires an attitude shift. After all, you probably are on time when you really HAVE to be. Again, I get it.
(Don’t even get me started on Orange Theory and how I reacted when they told me I could not work out because I was late. After all, I didn’t really want to work out in the first place!)
It also helps if you force yourself to add some cushion time between meetings and phone calls; add a 15 minute buffer so that if things run late, which they often do, you are still on time.
Countless studies have reported that multitasking is basically inefficient. So, if your brain is like your computer, and there are dozens of tabs open, you are probably not productive even though you’re working a lot!
THE FIX: Most tasks should have a time budget. But — I know — we are busy, busy, busy so we have to multitask, right? Try this instead: Cut the time budget for each item in half, which will give you much more time in your day, and then turn off your phone, email, etc. and dedicate 100% of your brain power to doing the task at hand. The results will astound you!
No matter how hectic your schedule is, go into meetings and phone calls prepared for the task at hand. If you don’t, you are wasting everyone’s time, but mostly yours .
To make meetings of the minds efficient, always set clear objectives in advance, be as decisive as possible during meetings, and agree on actions for follow up, typically in writing.
THE FIX: If you feel as if you don’t have enough time to prepare for meetings, try doing a 3 minute speed prep. Take 3 minutes and make a list of the top 3 things you need to accomplish.
Psssst! Are conference calls bound to be the death of you? Here’s a great read via INC Magazine, 7 Deadly Sins of Conference Calls.
I think I’m naturally decisive, so if you are indecisive, it’s probably tough for me to fully grasp the struggle. But what I do know is this, decisiveness is one of the most crucial traits to nurture as an entrepreneur. I have worked with many great business people who get completely off track when it comes to making decisions, and that affects everything.
But, like most other entrepreneurial challenges, with a little change, you can overcome indecisiveness.
Start by recognizing that there is no perfection. Ever. Stop searching for the perfect decision; it does not exist.
What you can do is make sure that you know, very clearly, what the most important long term goals are for your business. Then, when it’s crunch time, you can ask yourself which path gets you closer to your long term goals. That’s the one you pick.
THE FIX: When you have an important decision to make, give yourself 5 minutes to ponder it and ask this question: What are the possible outcomes? Can you live with one or both of those outcomes? If so, make a choice accordingly. If not, it’s back to the drawing board to find a solution that you CAN live with!
Avoid working with kids around
In a perfect world, you would never have to work with your kids in tow. In the real world, there may be times — errr, another snow day like today!— when you’re forced to get your job done and take care of little ones. That’s one of the toughest parts of being a female entrepreneur… the juggling act!
Whenever possible, respect the distinct yet equally important roles you play as a Mom and business woman by keeping those jobs separate. And, on the days you are forced to do it all, grab your “Chaos Coordinator” coffee mug, smile and make it all work. After all, we’re entrepreneurs; what others see as obstacles, we call opportunities.
Are you guilty of any of the above? Have you learned how to be present, productive and efficient? Do tell! Share your thoughts in the comments below!