Are you ready for some tips?
Here is how I got through 5 weeks when the best laid plans TRULY went awry.
By talking about this, I realised that nearly every working parent will at some point struggle to juggle it all.
Can we really juggle it all?
I often feel that almost everything is doable, as long as my 3-year-old is not sick. To offer some context here, like many working parents I juggle many roles, including:
- Motherhood – Every day is rewarding but sometimes really exhausting, too.
- Being a proud wife – Many exotic holidays and a rather energetic toddler later, we still make each other laugh after 21 years. As parents we make a good team: my hubby does most of the cooking and takes equal shares when our son is sick. We both avoid buying clothes that need ironing which is a big plus.
- Being a loving daughter – My step dad sadly passed away 3 years ago and it’s been a tough time for my mum and me coming to terms with this great loss.
- On to work – Delivering successful marketing strategies for my ambitious and adventurous clients, while further developing my own marketing consultancy, Lollipop Social.
- Actively enjoying being part of some seriously helpful professional networks – #DMCollective and #Atomic to name two.
So how did my best laid plans go awry?
Over the last 5 weeks (it felt longer, I can tell you that!), my boy changed rooms at nursery and also had a cold with an on and off temperature.
Luckily it was nothing serious, but it still meant he couldn’t go to nursery and would only sleep after 1am – if I was in the room.
I’m usually a tough cookie – being from former Eastern Germany means I’m made from some tough stuff.
But I really felt the lack of sleep over the last 5 weeks and realised that juggling it all was not always possible. So what are the 4 things that helped me through it?
If you love lists, you haven’t lived until you’ve signed up to Trello
I only learned to use this amazing productivity and collaboration tool about 2 months ago. The app allows you to maintain virtual lists, on the go or at home, to record deadlines and collaborate on projects with different people.
There are so many helpful functions in the free version, I could talk about Trello all day (get in touch if you want to know how to use it!).
Fully utilising Trello meant that I could quickly identify which tasks were most urgent, in my own life as well as for each of my clients.
I’m a bit of a worrier, and there’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night worrying that I’ve forgotten an important task.
Trello has helped me to identify which tasks would be good to do at some point and which tasks need doing right now. It’s great for focusing the mind.
There is also something really satisfying about ticking off tasks I have completed. So while I didn’t have much time to do everything, I could trust that my prioritisation was spot-on and use that mental energy for dealing with the lack of sleep instead. Obviously, coffee really helped too.
Work with clients who are right for you and trust you to do your job
My needs have changed as a working mother. I used to pride myself on the fact I never took a day off sick when I was working full time. But nothing can prepare you for the times your little one will pick up bugs and will need you to stay at home.
I enjoy working 2 days a week at one of my client’s offices. The founders are parents themselves, as well as highly successful entrepreneurs, so they understand when I need to leave early or have to change one of my working days to stay at home.
They know I’ll get the work done and trust me to deal with my main projects, whether that’s in the office or over the weekend – I always meet key deadlines.
The main things that helped me with all of my clients was keeping everyone in the loop and always allowing a little bit of wriggle room when I set deadlines.
In my former corporate life, I spent a year as an events director and the required project management skills I learned are handy for everything else I do.
Boost your concentration tips with apps like Focus@Will
Yes coffee helped me stay awake, but the app Focus@Will is what I really needed to concentrate and complete some of the tougher tasks.
It allowed me to set several 20-minute intervals during my working day, which I spent listening to classical music. This helped me take a step back to really focus my mind.
For example, I’m currently in the middle of the all-important ‘TLC’ stage of boosting a LinkedIn profile for one of my entrepreneurs.
At this early stage it feels a bit like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, where a few are likely to be missing.
Normally I really enjoy this, it’s very similar to creating awards entries, but with a lack of sleep it’s hard to focus. My free trial of this app is coming to an end, but I’ll continue to use the approach of ‘work intervals’ signaled by relaxing music.
Don’t be too proud to phone a friend
This is probably the most important point. Admit to yourself, and the people in your life, that you need help. This is sometimes tough when you have a ‘I can do it all’ attitude, which probably also makes you a successful solopreneur.
Having a great network around you and asking for help is a must:
- When I simply couldn’t complete a copywriting task, I asked one of my highly trusted associates to help out. This worked so well that we’re considering stepping up our collaboration.
- We don’t have any family nearby, so I arranged extra babysitting to give me some breathing space.
- When I felt like cancelling seeing a friend for lunch or doing a Skype call, I still went ahead. We all need some TLC and laughter sometimes to recharge our batteries.
- Sharing with other #Atomic members and some of my fantastic #DMCollective peers helped me to feel like I wasn’t on my own. Every business owner will feel pressure points, as life just happens. What a beautiful thing that is, too!
What are your tips for coping when the best laid plans go awry? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.