I’m thrilled to welcome Charlotte Speak from Power of the Parent to my blog this week. Charlotte helps mums return to work and have confidence in their career. Here, she shares her tips on how she gets organised and on top of her business admin:
My role means I’m always wearing different hats, including founder, CEO, sales director, HR manager, and IT department. I could go on but you probably get the picture! With all of these roles there’s a creative side and an admin side. Creativity is a strength of mine and I love any opportunity to get stuck in. Admin is something I can do and I’m relatively good at, but it doesn’t spark me in the same way. I like to be organised and have a plan, but I loose interest in lots of instructions, or things to fill in. I pay much more attention when someone talks to me about it.
In reality, it has the potential to cause me a heap of problems. The admin side of my business is a necessity, and my volume of work doesn’t justify anybody else helping me (yet..!). So, I’ve had to get tough with myself and I’ve recently made some decisions about the set up of my business to get my mindset whipped into shape.
Here are some tips that have helped me to keep on top on my business admin:-
1. Setting up as a Limited (LTD) company
I’ve happily been a sole trader for the last 12 months, as it felt comfortable, low risk and a safe way to test if I could make money doing what I love – coaching and supporting maternity returners (and their accompanying businesses).
I’d been toying with the idea of being a LTD, but the only reason I could articulate for wanting to make that change was because ‘it feels more professional’. I gave myself a hard time for that being the only reason, but it turns out that really is all it takes.
I spoke with a friend who gave me some straight down the line advice and mindset questions about what becoming a LTD was going to mean. She spoke about her relationship with her LTD business, and that it puts positive boundaries in and gets her to think decisions through in a different way. It’s exactly what I needed to hear. I have been putting things off because I don’t feel established enough and forgetting that when I’m courageous I feel good. It will automatically put me into a rhythm and routine with my financial admin. Accountability appointments go a long way!
It won’t be for everybody and one of the outcomes of me doing this is that I’ll be working with an accountant (so, spending!), but from what I’ve experienced so far, it’s going to be a brilliant investment in me and my business.
2. Working in chunks of time
Most of the time I work to the Pomodoro method of 25 minute chunks and accompanying breaks. I don’t have a really long attention span when I’m working solo, but once I’ve set that timer on my phone I’m heads down and cracking on. I set the alarm as a song I really like, so that means no shrill default tones for me!
3. Plan your day around your energy
I know when I’m really alive and productive, so I plan my day to use that time for the stuff I don’t really enjoy, or could put off. The times when I know I’m low in energy and likely to get distracted, I fill that with work that I love. I adore writing, but I’m rubbish between 2pm and about 3.30pm so I’m currently writing this in that slot! So far so good!.
4. Protect your family time
This is a struggle in the world we’re in and it’s hard to talk about without sounding preachy, but I’ll have to give it a go!
Family time will come in all shapes and sizes. Time with kids if you have them, time with your partner if you’re with somebody, opportunity to go visiting friends, and importantly time for you.
Self- care gets banded around a lot, which I think is a good thing as long as it doesn’t become wallpaper. Taking time away from your daily grind is important and keeps your resilience topped up.
The nature of being in a freelance type role is that you feel like you have to always be on incase you miss the project of a lifetime, but the reality is there is no ‘one’ project, and opportunities can come from nowhere and everywhere. There’s no way to predict, so you really have to live in the here and now. That will mean you have to have down time, burn out is the enemy!
I need to break up with my phone a bit at the moment, so I’ve turned that screen time alert thing on that comes with iPhones and I’m keeping a much more educated eye on my habits.
5. Thinking and planning time
There’s a lady called Nancy Kline who has a coaching and wellbeing business called ‘Time To Think’. She’s written articles and books all about this topic (Look her up, her story is ace). One of the biggest things I’ve taken away from her is that the quality of everything we do is based on the quality of thinking we do first. Without a bit of thinking, chaos can ensue. I mean, chaos can arrive anyway, but at least if you’re wading through with a rough plan you’ve got a bit of a fall back! It doesn’t have to be detailed but just mapping out the two or three things you need to achieve in a day can help you formulate a plan, and most importantly celebrate getting through the other side!
I see lots of people talk about lists, to-do books, etc (to be fair, I’m one of them), but they seem to get used as a tool to create anxiety as much as anything else. Changing your relationship with your to-do list or equivalent, is really important if you’re currently going down the habit of telling yourself off when you don’t get through it!
6. Keep it simple
I’m such a stationery lover. I’ve counted this week nine notebooks ready and waiting to use. I still have a paper diary, but my husband will refer to an online family calendar I set up (queue lots of transferring between the two, and that includes work appointments!).
The last couple of months I’ve simplified my methods, in that I use my paper diary for my to-do lists, a notebook for meeting notes or planning posts, and an online calendar for all appointments and outings, with no transferring to paper.
I’m still adjusting but it already feels so much better. You might read that I wonder why on earth I was being so inefficient, but honestly my levels of OCD when it came to planning and the materials I did it with, it’s been a long road to change!
*About Power of the Parent*
My name is Charlotte, and I coach and support maternity returners (and their accompanying businesses). Through strengths based coaching and workshops, we are positively challenging the experience of returning to work after parental leave. http://power-of-the-parent.com