The number one question I get asked is, how do I balance work and motherhood? But aren't we really asking how can we find the time to do it all? Most mom entrepreneurs love working and could work endlessly if it weren't for the desire to care for their children, spouse, home--the list goes on forever.
To find more time for all of us, I just finished reading the 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. At first, the concept seemed so unbelievable that I almost discounted it. But then my curiosity drew me back. Maybe he was on to something: He chooses a modified work week so he can "live the life," whereas I need a shorter work week so I can spend more time being a mom. To do this, Ferris talks about everything from outsourcing to mini-retirements as well as these tips that apply to mom entrepreneurs:
1. Go on a diet--a low information diet. We're bombarded with so much information every day that we're constantly swimming to get through it all. So cut it back--way back. Toss catalogues and junk mail without feeling the need to read through them.
2. Be an e-mail ninja. It seems like e-mail has become our number one time sucker. It's hard to step away because we have such a need to see an empty inbox. But stop that right now. You can't get anything done if you're drowning in email, so make sure you:
- Delete e-mail jokes and chain letters.
- Use a spam filter.
- Set up auto e-mails with FAQs so they can get some answers on their own
- Be brief.
- Choose one set time for e-mail and then walk away. If you keep responding to people, they'll keep responding back and the conversations don't end. No one should expect to hear from you in less than 24 hours.
3. Batch your work. Most of us juggle motherhood, e-mail, phone calls, mail, filing, etc. all at the same time. The 4-Hour Work Week teaches you to batch your work for better efficiency. Choose certain times for e-mail, certain times for phone calls, etc. Instead of trying to write an email while entertaining your toddler at your side, play with your child. Give him or her your full attention. Then, when he goes to sleep or daddy gets home, you can write that e-mail in two minutes vs. the 20 minutes it would have taken you during the baby juggle.
4. Become a speed reader. You don't have to read every word to get the point. The book gives you some tips on this, but Ferris does not claim that this is a speed-reading lesson.
5. Stop Interruptions. This is a biggie. Your work time is particularly precious because you probably don't work traditional hours as a mom entrepreneur. Don't let personal phone calls, small talk from the nanny or the ding of your laundry machine throw you off course. Sit down to work and be totally focused. Teach others around you how to respect your work time.
6. Outsource everything. This isn't always possible because not even I have totally embraced the book's suggestions about outsourcing overseas. When you can afford to, however, outsource everything that can't be done by you. This may include anything from housekeeping to food shopping to bookkeeping. You think you can't afford it, but how much more money could you make if you weren't distracted by everyday errands?
When you read the 4-Hour Work Week, you'll probably think that this doesn't apply to you as a mom, but Ferris actually does refer to some moms in his stories. Whatever you take from it, realize that while we can't make more hours in the day, there are ways to make better use of your time.