When the 9-5 Stops Working For You

When the 9-5 Stops Working For You

As a working mom, you might have a season when you realize that managing all the things in a typical 9-to-5 situation in an office simply won’t work. You can’t or don’t want to walk away from your career, so what do you do? You might be returning from maternity leave, needing or wanting more time with a young child or teenagers, or perhaps you’re having to spend more time taking care of an aging parent. Consider negotiating some kind of flexibility or non-traditional situation such as work-from-home, part time, or job share.

Where do you start?

You know you want more flexibility or part-time hours, but how do you make this transition happen?

Start with your why. Take the time to understand why you want a change instead of jumping to the solution. Your original solution might not be what you actually need to solve your challenge(s).

This why can help guide you in your decision-making and creating the right solution at work and at home. You will also know what to negotiate with a manager or senior leadership. You can start to think about what it looks like and who you need to help support you (e.g., a significant other or a particular team mate, etc.).

Think about it another way. If you decide that a part-time role is what you want without doing the inner work and then realize you really wanted a full-time work-from-home scenario, it’s hard to renegotiate with your manager or senior leadership. While you can make adjustments, it’s hard to completely shift gears in what your flexible role looks like. Need help with doing your inner work? Download my Know Your Why Guide.

 

Thinking through Changes at Home

You know why you want a change and have an idea of ultimately what you want it to look after some self-reflection. It’s really helpful to think through how you’ll make that change happen. Take the time to understand the impact of this change on your family. (We’ll cover your work team below.)

More flexibility can impact your family. When I interviewed more than 110 working moms, they shared that more time with family was the chief benefit of having more work-life balance. There can be great opportunities to spend more time with your kids. That might mean that you need less babysitter time or time with grandma. You might get to be more engaged with an initiative at school or after-school activity.

If you are reducing your hours and potentially dealing with a drop in income (please note that this is not always the case), you might need to scale back on kids’ activities. This is likely something you want to talk to your kids about. I have a whole chapter on the financial side of things when you want to reduce hours, so this is a big topic to cover, including a conversation with your significant other.

There might be implications to your current childcare solution. Your day care might not allow you to only have your child there 4 days a week since you plan to work from home on Fridays and you’re hiring someone to help you at home for half of the day. That might mean you need a new day care option.

Set up time to speak with your significant other about the changes you want to make, especially the financial ones. Talk about areas that you might need help with. See how you divide up your current household and childcare duties and see if you might need to make changes.

Requesting more Flexibility at Work

Your work team dynamic will likely change in some way if you’re asking for more flexibility. If you’re trying to create a job share with a fellow mom, how will you coordinate together and with the rest of the team? How does communication need to work if you’re asking to work from home or reduce your hours? Work out those details before you make the request. And many of the moms I interviewed talked about creating a proposal. I share two versions of a proposal template that you might find helpful.

At some point, you’ll have to negotiate for more flexibility at work. You want to be strategic with how you speak to your manager. See how you can create win-win, so that both you and your team/employer benefit from your flexibility. Highlight your strengths as an employee and focus on what you continue to do, even with more flexibility. Be able to speak to accomplishments and what you bring to the table. You want to show you’ve been a big contributor over time and that will continue, even with more flexibility in your work day.

Once You Get Started

It’s rarely perfect right out of the gate. Give yourself some space to get into your groove. If you see something that really isn’t working for you early on, make some small changes to help. Try not to revamp anything early on unless it’s literally becoming a roadblock. That said, don’t feel like you must stick with a solution when it’s simply not working.

 

What about Leaving the Workforce Temporarily?

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking you’ll take off a year or two and then you’ll head back into the work force. The thing is that it might not be that easy. There is almost always an opportunity cost, whether financial or slower rate of progression in your career, and then there are the challenges of getting back in to the workforce. It’s even more the case if you’re in a highly specialized or competitive field, so keep that in mind.

 

What are you going to start working on to make the change to a more flexible work arrangement? If you’ve already made the shift, what helped you make this change? What advice would you share with others wanting to make a change?

 

Health & Wellness For The Whole Family
Suzanne Brown is a strategic marketing and business consultant and work-life balance speaker, consultant, and author of two books for working moms. She empowers working moms to create the balance they crave with small changes that make a big impact over time. She covers topics such as productivity, time management, engaging mentors and sponsors, and being intentional with your time. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two young boys. Find her books online at: http://bit.ly/mpauthorpage.

Suzanne’s latest book, The Mompowerment Guide to Work-Life Balance is now available! Buy it on Amazon HERE.

 

 

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How to Better Manage the Elusive Work-Life Balance

How to Better Manage the Elusive Work-Life Balance

I thought I was figuring out work-life balance. I send the kids to school just before 8 am, work like a mad woman until 2:45 pm, and then rush to pick them up, usually late. And that was supposed to be the end of the workday for me so that I could be available to help with homework, make dinner, keep up with the house.

That was the plan.

But then, I started taking on more work. I needed to be able to contribute more financially to the family. With the increased workload, I’d rush to get the kids, speed home from school, throw a snack at them and bark some directions at them, and hop on a phone call or two. I might shut down my computer by 5 pm, or I might continue working later. Then, I’d realize I had not prepared anything for dinner, and I’d totally lose my cool as I tried to create something quick and healthy and delicious… or just order pizza.

I took on more work and it extended from these hours to working in the evenings and through the weekend too, to get it all done. Plus, I was still responsible for doing all the home and family stuff. Not because my husband demanded it, but because that was our arrangement, and I didn’t want to admit that I’d taken on so much work, I could no longer keep up with everything.

In March 2018, I was about 3 breaths away from having a full-on nervous breakdown. I felt like a rubber band about to snap – sure a panic attack would ensue at any moment. I was gaining weight rapidly, my health was in decline, I yelled at my kids all the time, I gave very little to keep my marriage happy. But I pressed on, pretending that I had it all under control.

And then my dad died.

My world came crashing down, and I realized I was no longer “living the dream” but I had found myself in Hell. My whole world was chaos. The children were suffering, my marriage was suffering, my clients certainly weren’t getting my best, and I was falling to pieces.

Something had to give. Immediately. I could no longer work at this rate. I had a total shift in priorities.

Balancing your business with raising a family is no joke.  A business is just as needy as kids, but it’s a different kind of neediness. I confess that I used my work as an escape when my kids were little. My work allowed me to be something other than mom, to use my brain in a different way, and engage with actual adults.

Then one day I realized that my little kids are not so little anymore. My youngest is in kindergarten and my oldest just turned 11. I actually want to spend time with them, instead of always looking for a break from them,  and enjoy them as people, not just as little kids that need me all the time. While the older two no longer crawl all over me, demanding physical attention, they still need me, just in a different way. They are growing into independent, funny, opinionated, intelligent conversationalists. If their babyhood went by fast, I know these years will go by even faster. And YET, I still have a business to run. My business has grown along with my children and I feel like I’ve reached the point that while my peers are talking about scaling UP to bigger and greater things, I am looking for ways to scale DOWN. Or at least transition to more passive streams of income and a lot less one-on-one work that requires all of my attention.

Here are four changes I made or am making to make that happen:

  1. The Four Day Work Week: With all of my children in school all day, there was no reason why I couldn’t limit my work schedule to the school day, plus have a free day to do other things. As I finish up long-term projects, I’m being more considerate of what I take on going forward.
  2. Bumping Up My Passive Income: I had the realization that I was sitting on a goldmine of assets that could be sold through an automated sales process as long as I was smart about marketing them!
  3. Just Say No: I touched on this in #1, but a big part of creating a work-life balance is learning to say no. In the early days of my business, I felt like I had to take on every client and project that came along because I wanted the income. My business is a little more established and I don’t have to work as hard to get new clients, so I’ve learned to break the habit of saying yes to every project that comes along. Sometimes, I need a gut-check from my team before taking on a client but there is no longer an automatic YES from me, and that has been a game-changer.
  4. Build Up Systems and Processes: I have a great team that helps my business run, but my team can’t do anything if I don’t have systems and processes in place so that things can run without me, like client in-take, answering FAQs, and managing my online community. This is a work-in-progress for us but it’s also a real game-changer.

To be honest, I’m still working on managing the balance between work and family. I’m not at the point where I can say that I’ve nailed it; but as we head into the summer months I feel pretty confident that I’ll be enjoying time with my family instead of hiding out in my office, trying to get all my work done and feeling guilty about it. We actually have a vacation planned, and instead of panicking, I’m excited about the systems I’ve put in place so that my business will keep on keeping on while I’m hopping giant waves with my little people. It’s gonna be swell.

Health & Wellness For The Whole Family

Alexa Bigwarfe is a wife, mother, author,publisher, and podcaster. Her writing career began after her infant daughter passed away at 2 days old. She has published numerous books of her own and for many other writers and entrepreneurs through her author coaching and publishing business writepublishsell.co and hybrid-publishing company Kat Biggie Press. She loves sharing resources with busy moms and talking about things that matter most to moms on her podcast Lose the Cape! She helps busy moms learn how to make money through writing so that they can stay home with their children like she has been blessed to do. Sign up for a free trial module in her course Make Money Writing at: http://writepublishsell.thinkific.com/courses/writer-biz-workshop You can find her on Facebook @WritepublishsellLLC and on twitter @katbiggie.

How to Avoid Creative Burnout When Your Hobby is Your Business

How to Avoid Creative Burnout When Your Hobby is Your Business

You’ve probably heard the popular saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work  a day in your life.” While there’s some truth to that sentiment (because there are definite perks to doing what you love for a career,) when your business is centered around one of your favorite hobbies, burnout is a very real risk. Whether you own an Etsy shop or are a blogger, if the products you create are based around your favorite pastime, suddenly there’s a lot more pressure on an activity that you used to do for fun. When you’re a mother and the primary caregiver, if you feel like all of your time is either working or taking care of your family, this pressure increases your chances of experiencing burnout.

 

I have first-hand experience dealing with this. I’m a writer and blog about planning, journaling, and creativity. A lot of my posts on both the blog and social media include pictures of my weekly layouts and journals. Even though I write about embracing imperfection in my posts, there still is the added pressure of deadlines to my pages I create. It’s not always making a layout for the pure fun of it; it’s more of an “I have to get this done now or I’m behind schedule” mentality. I’m sure other creative entrepreneurs, from those who sell their crafts on Etsy to those who sell eBooks on Amazon, can relate to this mental shift. With that in mind, read on for my five tips for avoiding creative burnout when your hobby is your business.

 

Schedule Time for Only Your Hobby

This may sound like an obvious suggestion, but it is easy to forget to make time for your hobby when you’re in the thick of deadlines and creating content. It’s important to allow time in your schedule to only do your hobby or practice your craft, whether it’s creating scrapbook pages, sewing, gardening, writing, or making art. Don’t allow yourself to worry about whether what you produce is good enough to post on Instagram or your blog. In fact, I would suggest if it has been a long time since you’ve been able to do your hobby only for fun, don’t take a picture and Instagram it. You don’t want to either lose your precious time getting pulled into social media or worry about whether your picture looks good enough.

 

If your free time is limited because of your family responsibilities, if you have a partner, see if you could trade off a few hours with each other for having some free time to pursue your hobby in exchange for your partner to have some time to themselves. If your partner isn’t available, consider either hiring a babysitter or asking extended family to watch your children for a couple hours.

 

Splurge on New Supplies

Sometimes, when I’m feeling uninspired in my planner layouts, all it takes for me to find inspiration again is allowing myself to get new supplies for my pages. This doesn’t have to be expensive. For me, this could be as simple as new washi tape, journaling cards, or stickers. If your budget allows it, though, maybe indulging your hobby by letting yourself pick up new supplies that you’ve been coveting for a while now, but haven’t gotten around to buying (or you’ve convinced yourself you don’t have time to use new supplies.)

 

Learn a New Technique

When I’m feeling stuck on my art journaling pages, sometimes picking up a magazine with fresh techniques gives me the push I need to try out new ideas and I don’t fall into a rut trying to come up with only picture-perfect pages. Learning a new technique is a great way to break the tedium of creating content for your business and can be liberating. If money is tight, YouTube has so many great tutorials on it for creative projects that you’d likely find some great ideas for inspiration. You could also check out Pinterest and blogs for ideas, too. Be careful of falling into the comparison trap, though. Remember, you’re trying to learn a new technique for you, not for your business. If the new skill ends up helping out your business, that’s wonderful, but that shouldn’t be your focus at this time.

 

Journal

Before you turned your hobby into your business, there was a reason you loved doing your hobby. Spend a few minutes journaling about what you love about your favorite activity and why you started it in the beginning. Not only will this help you remember all the reasons why you love doing your hobby, but this is a great way to reconnect with your personal “why” for your business and can give it you a renewed sense of purpose.

 

Try a New Hobby

If your workload for your business has left you feeling burned out about your hobby, then maybe spending some time trying a different activity in your spare time may help shake off the blocked feeling. For example, if you’re a writer, you could try your hand at sketching. It doesn’t matter if it’s an activity that you’d be good at; in fact, a beginner’s mindset will help you feel like you have a fresh outlook in other areas of your life, too. It’ll help you shake off boredom if you’ve been in a constant creation mode and break the cycle of repetition.

 

Your Turn

If your business is based on your hobby, how do you avoid burnout? I’d love to read your suggestions in the comments!

 

Health & Wellness For The Whole Family

Kelsey Josephson is an introvert who enjoys connecting with others through writing and mixed-media. She lives with her husband, two young children, and a very sensible cat. She can be found blogging about planning, journaling, creativity, and how those three things tie into self-care at www.simplykelseyjo.com.

How to Write a Sales Page Without Feeling Super Gross

How to Write a Sales Page Without Feeling Super Gross

How to write a sales page without feeling gross

I know writing sales copy kind of sucks sometimes. Self-promotion can feel icky. One post should be enough…right?

Nope, nope, and nope.

As women entrepreneurs, it can be hard to write sales copy especially if we are promoting what is essentially a personal brand. Which means, selling and promoting…who we are.

YIKES!

I know.

But what a sales page really is is a journey or a story explaining how you can help your ideal clients. It’s a way to take your people on a journey from “I know you have this problem and it sucks” to “this is exactly how I can help you and make this thing better! yay!” Doesn’t it feel better to think of it that way?

So how exactly do you do that? Well, a couple steps to go ahead and implement:

1.) Get over yourself. Yes – just know that you’re running a business, sister. It’s time to treat it like that. It’s not about selling your soul or being obnoxiously self-promotional. It’s about letting people know what you’re a rock star at and how your gift can help them.

2.) Get to your happy place. Romance your inner writer. Go to your favorite writing spot, bring your favorite coffee, wear your favorite leggings and listen to your best writing music. The happier you are when you’re writing, the better your writing will be. (It’s also key to have your fundamentals taken care of too – get enough sleep, eat, and drink water before sitting down and expecting yourself to bust out some kickass copy.)

3.) Get writing. You’ve gotta take action eventually, right? You can do the mindset stuff, do the planning and get yourself to your happy place. But then you gotta do the writing, my love. If that freaks you out big time, I’ve got you. My Sales Page Bootcamp helps you write your whole darn sales page in small chunks that can be done in about 30-45 minutes a day. And then 10 days later- voila! Sales page written!

Health & Wellness For The Whole Family

Tara Bosler – Writer Gal Extraordinaire – loves to help highly-motivated creative women entrepreneurs grow their biz with engaging copy & content. She has always loved writing. Before becoming a copywriter, Tara taught Communication and Gender Studies at the university level for over eight years. When she was told that her contract wouldn’t be renewed because she didn’t have a PhD, she launched her business. Tara writes for some of the most incredible women she has ever known. Women who are launching their own business, rebranding or leveling up. They also work from home with kiddos running around. They also have big dreams and passions they are crafting in their own ways.

The Power In A Guest Post

The Power In A Guest Post

Whether you blog as your business or blog to drive traffic to your business or if you do not even have a blog yet, there is power in a guest post.

A guest post is simply content that you write for someone else’s blog. It will usually center around a topic that centers something you provide, either a product or service. Usually, the host of the guest post, will allow you short bio and a link back to your your site or shop. You can see how this can be valuable. There are many reasons why there is a power in a guest post (more…)

Know When To Outsource In Your Biz

Know When To Outsource In Your Biz

Know when to outsource in your business

You are rocking in your biz and that’s great! But do you ever feel like you are stuck working in your business all too often? Do you spend hours at the computer instead of spending time with your family?  You may have reached a point in your business that you could benefit from outsourcing certain tasks so you can focus on the things you love to do and focus on the people you serve. Get out form behind that laptop and spend time with your kids by outsourcing some of your business tasks. (more…)

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