Sometimes having kids in the house makes it maddeningly hard to get things done for your ittybiz. But hope is not lost! There are strategies that can help you.
Thousands of ittybiz owners like you have to work with their kids in the house – and many of them homeschool or unschool as well – which means those kids are ALWAYS around.
How do they get their work done and keep their business growing?
They use kid-specific strategies that help them work around their parenting responsibilities – and you can use them, too, once you know what they are.
Read through these easy-to-implement strategies and start using them today, and you’ll be able to accomplish more than you ever thought was possible for you.
1. Observe their rhythms.
It’s easy to think that it’s hard to get things done whenever your kids are in the house, but “whenever” isn't entirely accurate. Sometimes it’s hard to get work done – and other times it actually works out pretty well.
But in the same way you don’t really think about the plumbing until something goes wrong with it, you’re not going to recall all the times when “getting things done” actually happened without incident.
To combat that bias towards negativity, keep an eye on everything throughout the day. There are times when your kids tend to need you less, or they’re particularly preoccupied with something that is not you (hooray!), and there are patterns in that.
If you start looking for those patterns – actively looking – then you’re going to notice opportunities that you didn’t see before. So keep an eye on the rhythm of the days for a week or two, and you’ll begin to see where pockets of usable time live. (You might even be able to use that data to make more of them happen, too!)
2. Get really clear on your “monkey work”.
“Monkey work” is any task that can be done when you are at your least resilient and most fatigued. These are simple tasks that you could (colloquially) give to a trained monkey to do.
Writing blog posts? No. Formatting blog posts and adding links? Yes.
Answering hard email? No. Answering easy email? Yes.
Shooting video? No. Rendering and uploading video? Yes.
Creating a Facebook ad campaign? No. Showing up and casually engaging people on Facebook? Yes.
You have a whack of monkey work in your business, and if you tuck it away for the times when you are most distracted and occupied, you can get a lot more done. A person can click that little heart 100 times on Instagram while breastfeeding, or fold laundry while watching Netflix with their 3-year old.
Not all work demands a sacred space. Know what to do in monkey time.
3. Build sandwiches.
By and large, small children get structure and sequencing, and you can use that to your advantage when you need to get more done. To sandwich things, choose a work block in between two things you’re going to do with your child.
“Hey sweetie, I’ll play blocks with you, then I’m going to do email for 20 minutes, and then we’ll go to the park.”
“Hey little dude, I’m going to finish this (thing), then we’ll watch 2 shows together, then I’ll take my consult call.”
That’s leadership and initiative – and that’s something your children want to see in you. You’re the big grown up who keeps their world stable, and when you sandwich, you help them get a sense that there’s someone competent at the wheel.
4. Separate “kid” problems from “you” problems.
Brace yourself – sometimes the problem is you. Yes, your toddler is always pulling at your pants leg asking “Why?” about something when you’re trying to get to work, and that’s distracting.
But at the same time, maybe you’re also getting distracted yourself. You finally get a slice of time for work, and you choose to start off by opening low-priority emails, cruising YouTube or playing around on social media.
Your kids introduce their own specific difficulties to your work zones.
So do you.
You can take back a lot of your time by figuring out which liabilities come from having kids, and which ones are all you, and solving for the latter.
You might just discover how to get a LOT more done – starting immediately – without changing anything related to your kids.
5. Know your next action – always.
Tons of time gets lost in your workday by the simple fact that you don’t always know exactly what you’re doing next.
When you’re in that spot, you’re in Decision Junction. What do you do now? Answer emails? Create content? Research something? Clean up the mess of files on your computer? Go through that product you picked up in the Karma Store?
There are a million things you know you could be doing, but when you’re hanging out in Decision Junction, you’re not sure what you ARE doing.
That’s where the Next Action comes in. Whatever projects you’re working on, each one has a very-next-step that you need to be crystal clear on. There may be 100 steps in each project, but there’s only one you need to do next.
Know that for each of your projects, and you can avoid Decision Junction altogether, and immediately make good use of any time you end up encountering.
6. Track your accomplishments to deconstruct your biases.
Remember the plumbing, and how you don’t notice when it works – but you always remember when it had problems?
The same is true for what you accomplish. You can get to the end of a day, or a week, and maybe you accomplished a lot – but all you can think of is what you didn’t get done. And then you’re going to think that it didn’t get done because “there wasn’t the time”.
Track your accomplishments on a daily basis, and you’ll begin to recognize what you did get done and put it in context. You’ll realize you’re getting more done than you think, and part of the reason you didn’t get that other thing done is because you were kicking butt on other things.
That’s good for your peace of mind, and it’s also highly encouraging and motivating. It’s not such a cluster after all!
On top of that, you’ll also be able to see where things are improving. Right now, your current normal is “normal” to you. But if you put these strategies in place and get, say, 25% more stuff done, that will become your new “normal” and you won’t internalize it as improvement.
And that would suck for you. So track your accomplishments as you work these strategies, and watch how much more you start getting done.
7. Train your eye to find “I can do that” tasks.
There are all kinds of business-related activities you can do when other things are going on, especially if you don’t have to give 100% attention to what you’re doing.
These are times like when your child is immersed playing with toys, and you need to be “there”, but you don’t have to participate. You just have to be present to be there when needed.
There’s a lot you can do in those times. Twitter chats? Social media? Watching crappy sales webinars? All of these things can be done with one eye on little Liam.
You can get far more done with kids in the house than you imagine.
Having kids around the house doesn’t have to destroy your ability to get things done for your ittybiz. You can use these strategies to take your productivity through the roof while not taking anything important away from the children you love.
Pick something from this list today and start putting it into action, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can start getting more done!