Productivity

  • How to set boundaries in your business and avoid mental fatigue

    How to set business boundaries in your business as a solopreneur.

    The truth is, as a mompreneur, you never get to a point where your task list is completely clear. This is exactly why you need to set those boundaries in your business fast. So that you can give yourself the self-care and self-love outside of your business, and burnout-proof your business.

    Why you need boundaries

    You need to rest

    Planning ahead of time ensures that your business will still be intact if you take a weekend off or even a few days away. You can do this even when you are running your business as a solopreneur! The most important thing is that you are using the available systems and tools to automate what you can, and you plan for the time off, ahead of time. Don’t plan to launch a new product a few days before your vacation!

    Boundaries help others respect your time

    Imagine if you replied to all your emails and texts within minutes of receiving them. You immediately create an expectation that you can be contacted on any day at any time. And an instant response is the bare minimum that your clients should expect from you. When you set your boundaries, then others around you know the limits and will work within the limits. 

    Just like any game has rules, your business should also have rules. Anyone who is really interested in working with you will be respectful enough to play by these rules.

    It is a form of self care

    If you don’t set boundaries, you will always find yourself working into the wee hours of the night. Just like corporate work, there will be season where you may find yourself working a little bit more than usual but this should not be the norm. Find a way to balance your business with you.

    Avoid burnout and overwhelm

    I see so many mumpreneurs getting into the trap of overworking themselves thinking that more work means more sales. This only leads to overworking themselves even more, eventually leading to burnout and falling out of love with their business. 

    When you have clear boundaries around your business time and your personal time, you find a way to make your business work within those boundaries.

    When should you set your boundaries?

    Immediately!

    Don’t get into the habit of not having boundaries, thinking that you are losing out on sales and potential clients. 

    The very opposite is true. The more often you can take a break away from your business, the more time you can spend thinking about the bigger picture, vision and direction of your business. And making those CEO-level decisions without getting distracted with the busyness and everyday tasks.

    5 Ways to establish your business boundaries

    Set your office hours

    The same way you have office hours at your day job is the same way you should set office hours for your side hustle. You could even include these in your email so that people know when you are online and able to reply to their messages.

    Plan ahead of time

    Pencil in your holidays and leave on your business calendar so that you don’t have important business projects ongoing close to your time off. 

    If you work with other people in your business, then it would be a good idea to share your Google calendar with them. By sharing your calendar they know when you will be away. It is also courteous to drop them a reminder at least 2 weeks in advance before you take your time off.

    Plan your finances

    The truth is, there is no business that can generate 100% of its income passively. For a solopreneur some work definitely needs to be done to ensure that your business generates enough cashflow while you are away. You might want to host a promotion or a launch before you go on leave, so that the cashflows can sustain you when you are taking your time off.

    You also need to be aware of the minimum cash expenditures you should set aside before you go on leave, just in case your business generates less sales than expected while you are away. This will reduce the level of stress and anxiety that you might experience if you don’t plan ahead of time.

    Be clear on your accessibility during your time away

    Inform your team and your customers as to when you will be out of the office and how they can reach you in case of any emergencies. It’s always best to make it clear that you intend to rest, and that you should only be contacted for urgent issues. This way, your time off won’t become a working holiday, which happens commonly when boundaries are not clearly communicated.

    Unplug from social media

    Create your social media posts before you take your time off. That way your page remains fresh with new and valuable content for your followers, while you take time to rest. Use apps like Canva and Planoly to schedule your posts. Enable automatic posting if you want to be 100% off social media during your time off.

    One of the best pieces of advice I have come across is to simply delete social media apps from your phone. Do this over the weekends, and this applies too when you want to completely unplug. Resist the temptation to check a thing or two (which often leads to mindless scrolling) by deleting the apps. Then reinstalling them when you are ready to get back into the grind.

    Your settings will remain intact so don’t worry about losing anything if you delete your social media apps.

    When you are on social media, set boundaries between your business time and your social time. During social media business hours, the end goal should be very clear as well as the maximum time you will be on social media. Make sure you know what you aim to achieve so that you can hold yourself accountable to it.

    Respect other people’s boundaries

    You have to respect the boundaries other people set. This is one of the things I have learnt from some of the leaders I have worked with in the corporate world. You can’t expect people to respect your boundaries if you are constantly treading on theirs. 

    Final thoughts on how to set boundaries in your business

    If you don’t know how to set boundaries in your business, you are likely to go through overwhelm and burnout more often than is necessary. Take the time to determine what your ideal business hours are, and your ideal working style. Set boundaries to protect your time, and respect your boundaries as well.

    If you need more tips on how to maximize your productivity, check out this post or this post, that I wrote recently.

    Do you have boundaries? How do you ensure that they are not broken or compromised?

    How to set business boundaries in your business as a solopreneur.

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  • 8 powerful time management techniques for overwhelmed mompreneurs

    8 powerful time management techniques mompreneurs should know about.

    So you are ready to take on the world with your online business, but in between work, motherhood, and life, you are struggling to find the time to work on your business. And even if you are finding the time to work on your business, more often than not you are sacrificing time away from your family to get things done. It doesn’t have to be this way. I am going to show you why, with these 8 powerful, practical, and doable time management techniques if you are a busy, overwhelmed mompreneur.

    So many people talk about building a business on your own terms so that you can have the time to do the things that make you happy. While this is true, it is only true if you know how to manage your time well. Otherwise, you might end up working on your business every single free minute of the day. 

    This is what I did for years; promising my toddler son that I would make time for him on the weekend, never fulfilling my promises. Working into the wee hours of the night and getting up in the mornings frustrated that I 1) didn’t have enough sleep and 2) didn’t have enough time to finish what I was working on. I learnt from this painful experience that being busy working around the clock doesn’t necessarily translate into success. Here are a few time management techniques to help you get back control of your time and start working on your business without burning yourself out.

    1. Figure out your availability for your business

    When do you have time to work on your business? Before you start working on your business, you need to make a realistic estimation of how much time you have available. Trust me, you have more time than you think.

    Block out time for critical/necessary tasks:

    •  Sleep
    • Work
    • Kids playtime/ Family time
    • Cooking/cleaning

    Make a decision on how many minutes/hours you can give to your business on a daily basis and build it into your daily routine. Consistency is what will bring you results, so don’t do this as a one-off exercise, do it daily.

    2. Create your daily, morning and evening routines

    I can’t stress the importance of routine in leveling up your productivity and managing your time. The more predictable you can get your normal day to be, the easier it will be to plan around it. With the kids around, I find it easier to stick to a quick 30-minute morning & evening routine. Even if you can only get 15 minutes of time into your morning & evening routine, it’s a sure way of getting better at time management. Use this time to plan the day ahead, and keep focused on getting your most important tasks done.

    Start your day earlier than everyone else, this gives you some time to yourself. Use this time to boost your energy, exercise, meditate, pray or read. You could also get the kids’ lunch/break prepared during this time as well as everyone’s breakfast. By the time the kids are up, you are set and ready to go.

    An evening routine would involve putting the kids to bed early enough. This spares you sometime during which you can review the day that just passed, plan the next day’s activities, review homework and school prepping etc. The most important thing is to come up with a routine that works for you, aligned to your business and family and most importantly stick to it.

    3. The 30-minute formula

    I created this time management technique from the Pomodoro method, but it’s really about using the limited time you have to work on one task and work on nothing else. This is how it works: 

    Block out your calendar to work on a specific task for 30-minutes. For example, writing up a blog post or creating a social media post. 

    Set a reminder 10 minutes before the scheduled time so that you can prepare and get whatever you need to complete the task. It’s important to have everything set and ready so that you don’t start fidgeting around during the 30-minute period instead of getting the task done.

    Set your timer when the 30-minute period starts, and stay away from all distractions while working on this task. Close off any tabs that are not being used to get this task done. 

    Do as much as you can until the timer goes off. If the kids haven’t broken down the door to the room where you get your work done, get back at the 30-minute formula after taking a 5-10 minute break.

    4. Say NO more often

    As moms, we can take on a lot of duties that we don’t have to. It is okay to say NO to anything that doesn’t align with your goals and vision.

    You have to make yourself a priority, for the good of your personal, family and business life. Think of saying no as a way of saying yes to the things that really matter. This way you are freeing up your time to work on the things that are a real priority to you.

    In the beginning, it will be hard but it will help you save so much time, free up your schedule and give you peace of mind of focusing on fewer things and not being busy ALL the time. 

    5. Ditch the to-do list, use the 3×3 rule instead

    Your to-do list will never end as an entrepreneur. The more things you tick off the list, the more things will get onto the list. So instead of using a to-do list to manage your business take time every week to apply the 3×3 rule. For your family, personal and business life, create 3 priorities for the week. On a daily basis, select 3 key actions that you need to take in order to get the priorities done and dusted by the end of the week. Schedule in time on your calendar to get these things done on a daily basis, and use the 30-minute formula if you don’t have a lot of time to work on these tasks.

    This way, you are focused not only on ticking things off your to-do list, but 

    • focused on the needle-moving tasks,
    • there is a balance in your personal, family and business life
    • you have scheduled in time to work on these tasks

    6. Stop multi-tasking

    If you’re like me when it comes to multitasking, you probably think that it’s a good skill to have. When you are a busy mom, it’s probably a necessary skill. When you are working on your business, it’s not a good idea to multitask.

    Studies have shown that multitasking worsens your short-term memory among other negative effects. You will complete tasks faster if you focus on doing one task at a time instead of trying to get 3 done at the same time. 

    How do you stop multitasking?

    Batching similar activities, using a timer to focus on one task at a time and just stopping yourself from multitasking on business activities. You can still listen to a podcast while cleaning your kitchen sink, but don’t try to check your emails as you complete your blog post. 

    No one can take better care of yourself than yourself. If you want to manage your time better you have to take better care of yourself.

    7. Schedule in resting/self-care time

    Things like adequate sleep, regular exercise, meditating and bath soaks are good examples of self-care tips you can apply immediately. Self-care is a form of rejuvenation that helps reset and gets your mind cleared up from any hesitation that’s blocking you from getting things done.

    When you’re well-rested, you’ll be in better control of your schedule and the time you have set aside for the different tasks in your business. Don’t trade time on your business for time to take a rest. Always rest and listen to your body. 

    8. Use a task management system

    Another great time management technique is use of a task management system such as Asana. This will help you organize and manage the various tasks, so that you can improve your time management technique. With a task management system, you’ll be able to list  all your tasks, change the status of your tasks, assign tasks to people in your team and mark them as done once completed.

    A task management system will help track the progress for each activity or task and it saves time you’d have spent trying to find the list of tasks from the multiple pages of your notebook. With a task management system, you can also manage your team’s tasks, assign tasks to them and track their progress as well. Go ahead sign up and download that task management system! I use Asana, but any tool will do if you are using it consistently and following up by actually getting the work done.

    8 powerful time management techniques mompreneurs should know about.

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  • How to manage burnout as a solopreneur

    We’ve all heard about it. We don’t want it. We think we won’t get it if we try to do all the things. This is the typical story I hear when my clients try to explain the overwhelm, anxiety and stress they are going through as solopreneurs in their businesses. It can all be summed up as burnout. But how exactly can you manage burnout as a solopreneur?

    If you have ever felt like you are spinning your wheels, putting out fires left right and centre in your business, while juggling your family and work life, chances are you are burning out.

    As your stress levels increase, you begin to lose the interest, consistency and motivation that you need to keep running your business, and more often than not feel like quitting is the best solution. 

    First of all, you are not alone. Any successful business owner will truthfully tell you that some of these moments are inevitable. But your entire life doesn’t have to be one where you are constantly burning out. There is a way to live your life and business in full control over how, when and where you spend your time.

    The secret? Burnout-proof systems. There is a lot of criticism over systems in business because of the argument that systems kill creativity. This is QUITE the opposite. When you have systems, you have more time to be creative. More time to live life a little more and more time to be in your zone of genius. So how do manage burnout as a solopreneur and step into the confident CEO that get things done consistently in your business?

    Be very clear on your priorities

    This will take some planning and just like any strategy, you will have to make choices. Making choices means that there are some activities/projects that you will forgo in favour of others. Not because the forgone activities are not good, but also because you won’t have the time to execute them well.

    Take time off social media

    Sometimes you just need to switch off from distractions. Social media is arguable one of the biggest distractions you will face. Take some time off, so that you can get back in your zone and forget about what everyone else is doing. 

    Workaround your schedule 

    If you want to manage burnout as a solopreneur, you will need to get super focused and protective over the time you have set aside to work on your business. How much time do you have to work on your business? Are you overestimating your available time?

    Stop trying to pack in all the things, and do an amazing job at 1 or 2 activities a week. This way, you can easily track what is working, focus on the task at hand and execute to the best of your ability.

    Create systems to make activities less time-consuming and stressful

    Is your business systemized? Do you have a working plan for how to make systems happen in your business? Are you continuously doing things on repeat? Do you find that you have to say the same things multiple times to your clients? What can you automate and duplicate in your business so that you can save time? Even if it’s 10 minutes a day that you are saving, it is well worth your time! The key here is to incrementally save more time by making your repetitive tasks more efficient. Systemizing your business will greatly help you manage burnout as a solopreneur.

    Know when to hire help

    You can hire someone to help you in almost any task in your online business for as little as $5 on sites such as fiverr.com. But you need to be able to clearly atriculate what you expect from the person you are hiring. You also need to  give them the necessary support so that they can do a great job. 

    As a mom, there’s a lot that we need to get done by the end of the day from kids, house chores, business etc. Delegating some of your other roles would make it easier for you to juggle all the roles you play. For example, you could hire a chef to help with cooking or having someone to help with babysitting.

    You could even play tag-team with your friends and help each other with 2 hours of babysitting every week so that you can catch up on business. Get as much help as possible so that you can leverage off other people’s time. And see this expense as an investment in your energy management and wellbeing.

    I must warn you that hiring help might be time-consuming. But in the long run you’ll save up so much more of your time.

    Set your boundaries

    Working from home solopreneurs have a difficult time setting time apart to log-off work. As solopreneurs we tend to think that any free time we have on our hands should be spent trying to build the business. 

    The truth is, if you want a more balanced life and manage burnout as a soloreneur, you are going to have to create boundaries and respect them. Create working hours for your work, working hours for your business and stick to them. The quicker you do this, the better for your wellness, your sanity and your family.

    Celebrating Small Wins 

    As a solopreneur we all have this vision or goal for our business that we have set our minds to achieve and more often along the way we tend to get obsessed and engrossed to achieve it. This makes it very difficult to accommodate “change” over which we might not have control.

    When the business is not progressing in the expected direction, we tend to get frustrated and stressed. This is a clear sign that burnout is on the way, and we want to manage the burnout before it gets the best of us. 

    It is important to celebrate the small wins as they gear us towards achieving the ultimate goal. This means you deserve to pat yourself on the back for the daily progress, you deserve that toast, the spa treatment or any form of celebration you choose.

    Time-Out

    Our bodies get overwhelmed and this easily lowers our productivity. It’s important for solopreneurs to take time outs to recharge and rejuvenate. Go on that vacation, road trip and staycation. Time-outs not only refresh and relax the body, they also stimulate the mind with new ideas, strategies etc. since a good idea can come from anywhere it’s not pegged to your work station.

    In Conclusion

    What tips do you use to manage burnout as a solopreneur, keep calm and get work-life-business balance? If you have found this post useful and would like to get more tips delivered into your inbox, download the business organization and planning toolkit below.

    how to manage burnout as a solopreneur

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  • How to work from home productively in lockdown

    How to work from home and be productive during lock-down.

    With our lives revolving around home almost since the start of the year, we have had to make adjustments. We have to make our homes a place where we can actually get some work done. The fact that the kids are also at home doesn’t make it any easier! With your toddler shouting your name while you are on a Zoom call or the babies crying their lungs out just when you start to get into your zone of genius, yeah, been there done that!

    As a solopreneur with a full-time job, I feel like this season has had its pros and cons when it comes to working from home. From skipping out the traffic that literally wastes at least an hour of my day to being able to jump into the next room to check out on the twin girls, it’s been a blessing in that way. 

    So here is how I work from home productively:

    Dress for the occasion

    Dressing up for me is an energy booster, a great motivator and I just ooze confidence. A great outfit can be what gives you the much-needed energy and focus to achieve your daily goals. When working from home it’s very easy to just spend the day in PJs or loungewear coz I mean they are comfortable and very freeing. However, the loungewear sets the brain in lounge mode aka airplane/chill mode. And all you want to do is take a nap or binge on Youtube and Netflix (this is very necessary but it’s not productive if you are working from home).

    Dressing up for work helps in uplifting one moods. It motivates you to be at your best basically it jump-starts your day. And in Brandi Michel of Family Felicity’s words, “Getting dressed provides the kick in the pants your brain needs to get into the work groove.”

    If you are a business owner, I would highly suggest that you get into the habit of dressing for the occasion. Now I know that there are those days when the day gets to 5pm and you wonder how, still in PJs! This happens to all of us moms so I am not talking about those days. For the most part, try to get dressed up so that you can condition your mind into work mode earlier on in the day.

    Getting into a routine

    Yeah, you are probably wondering: Which mom has a routine? I have twins who are 6 months old and my routine gets sabotaged almost everyday. But there are things that I can do while the kids are asleep, as my non-negotiable routine activities. Some of these include:

    • Doing my top 3 business priorities for the day
    • Reading for 20 minutes before the kids wake up
    • Catching up on my daily 20-30 minutes of Instagram so that I can be fully present for my kids when they are awake

    Does my routine always work? No, but it definitely would never work if I didn’t plan for it. You would rather plan to have a routine while working from home than not have any at all!

    Before you think that I am done with this point, getting your kids on a routine is the best thing you can do if you want to work from home without continuous interruptions. Getting your kids on a routine as soon as possible should be your main priority. It can be as simple as getting their nap times right or their screen times in check. The more predictable their routines are, the easier it is to plan your schedule while working from home.

    Planning daily tasks

    Moms have the longest to-do lists that cut across various activities. From kids’ stuff, house chores, grocery shopping, school projects and somewhere at the bottom you squeeze in your business tasks. A long to-do list can be overwhelming just by looking at it and that just drains any energy. It creates a mindset where the focus is on ticking off any completed activity. 

    First things first to ensure productivity, separate the business tasks from the home stuff. This will ensure that you prioritize the business tasks from the most urgent to the least urgent. Remember, if there are tasks that can wait until the next day, then schedule them for the next day. This frees up time for today’s activities. 

    My actual advice: Ditch the to-do list, use a schedule!

    A schedule works best as opposed to a to-do list when you are working from home. It will not only get you to start thinking about how realistic that to-do list that is as long as the river Nile is, but it will also get you to determine exactly when you are going to get everything done. What’s the point of using a to-do list when you know that you won’t even get half of the things on the list, done?!

    Create Systems and Structures

    Systems and structures help you organize yourself and your business even better. In fact, if you don’t have systems and structures in your business, you can say goodbye to growth. A system is just a well-defined way of doing something. 

    You don’t have to be a techie to systemize your business. You can get someone else to help you with this critical part of your business as you focus on your zone of genius. 

    Getting systems in place will save you so much time, and get you more time to focus on your strengths in your business so that you can scale up faster. 

    Besides business, having systems for various things around the house such as cleaning, cooking etc. helps in better time organization and management. 

    Self-Care

    You are your business’s greatest asset! If you don’t plan and spend time on taking care of your well being, then working from home will be an uphill battle.

    As moms we tend to always put ourselves last, we prioritize everyone and everything else besides ourselves. This leads to burn outs, feeling overwhelmed, unhappy and drained. It’s important to take time out for ourselves to decompress, rejuvenate and re-energize. 

    So take that nap if you are tired, take a break and watch an episode of your favourite Netflix show. Take a walk around the block to clear your mind. Soak yourself in your bathtub as you catch up on a book. Do whatever you need to, to keep your well being as a top priority. Check out this blog post where I share a few self-care ideas in quarantine.

    What are your top tips for working from home productively while the kids are at home?

    How to work from home and be productive during lock-down.

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