One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “how do you fit everything in?!” Honestly sometimes I don’t know how I do. I know I am someone who likes being busy and naturally I have a lot of energy, which definitely helps. But a few of you have asked for some pointers on how I manage my time with work and Jasmine, so I thought I would share them with you.
Jasmine is fourteen months old and goes to nursery three days a week. (I think this is useful to know for any other mums who are freelance or run their own businesses, as you can then get an idea of how much time I have for the office, etc.) On Friday, Matt or one of her grandmas looks after her, and on Mondays I do. On nursery days I do a couple of pick-ups a week and Matt does the drop-offs, then we switch and I do one drop-off and Matt a pick-up. So Tuesday to Friday, I have two days where I start early but pick Jasmine up around 4:30 and then two days where I start around 9am but can stay later until 6pm. This might seem like too much information but I think it gives you context – I certainly would be keen to know this from a working mum if I was trying to work out how it would all work! I am lucky that I always see her in the mornings and am always back for bath and bedtime.
On Mondays or on the days when I finish work early, I usually have to work for a couple of hours after her bedtime. On Mondays I organise my day with Jasmine so that we are at home for her nap so I benefit from that time and I work whilst I eat some lunch.
Other things that I have done to help me optimise the time I have to work are:
– Before going back to work whilst I was on maternity leave, I set up an office 10 minutes’ walk from our home. This means I now don’t waste time commuting. Jasmine’s nursery is also 10 minutes away from our home and the office. Having everything nearby saves me masses of time.
– I delegate A LOT. When I was on maternity leave, for four months the team ran the business. They did such a good job of it that when I came back I tried not to take everything back, and this has freed me up a lot. I am no longer involved with the day-to-day running of the business. I am involved in decision-making and problem solving where necessary, but day-to-day when things run smoothly, I keep out of it. I think this is beneficial for me and for the team; they don’t feel micro-managed and I have more headspace.
– I try not to book too many things in the same week that keep me away from my desk. For example, I won’t book a day-long meeting and a photoshoot in the same week. I plan for just one of these things a week so that I get the other three days to focus on my weekly workload. If not things start to spiral out of control and I end up working at weekends. I also try and organise meetings close to the office so again I am not wasting time travelling. Avoiding planning meetings in the middle of the day means I get a decent chunk of time to work either side.
– I try not to work at the weekends anymore. The exception is Sunday night when I will look at my emails and clear my inbox ready for Monday. Because Mondays are my Jasmine day I know I won’t have much time then for emails, so doing them on Sunday helps me keep on top of things. Plus that means then Tuesday won’t be so bad.
– I am super concise and direct in emails to the team. I often pop a question in the subject line and that is it. I have to warn new people starting not to be alarmed by this!
– I try to be strict about social media when I am at my desk. I don’t check it, and rather try to stay focused on the task I am doing. Although social media is work for me, I will check it when I am eating my lunch, or walking to and from places – hence why you see a lot of Instagram Stories when I am walking. I am time saving!
And finally I compartmentalise. I think you have to be able to do this as a business owner to stop yourself from getting overwhelmed. I think about one thing at a time. I may have loads of things that need doing but when I am doing one of them, I just worry about that. It’s as though in my head I have a noticeboard with lots of post-its on it, and I take one post-it off the board at a time. I rarely look at the full noticeboard in one go!
As for things I do with Jasmine to help, that’s when it gets a little bit harder. She’s a little person so I can’t organise or control much when it comes to her. But she is a good sleeper and from week one we started a bedtime routine. This has definitely paid off as she now goes down really easily and early (around 7pm) so that means I can get work done in the evenings. Matt and I also have a good system in the evenings in that he cooks and I sort! So I will tidy up the place, get her stuff ready for the next day, put clothes in the washing machine, etc, whilst he cooks dinner for us both.
Another great decision we made was to get a cleaner. I know not everyone can afford this but since we are no longer able to go out that much we can spend the money elsewhere! This makes all the difference as we don’t need to clean the house each week, which frees our weekends up for family time.
I think it’s important to add at this point that on a good week the above happens, but on a bad week it doesn’t. I end up working too much, Jasmine doesn’t sleep well, things go wrong at work, etc. So it isn’t all plain sailing! But on the whole these things all make it possible for me to run the business and have time for Jasmine. There isn’t much time for me but I think most parents would agree to that. We try to have an evening out each a week and we both get a lie in on the weekends. We just take it in turns!