We’re thrilled to have Sharon Rowe, founder of Eco-Bags Products and author of THE MAGIC OF TINY BUSINESS, here to share her secrets for building a business without sacrificing your family life. Sharon has beaten the odds and built a thriving small business and even, made time to write a book about it. Today she is revealing her insight into determining the real “sum” of your life.
To start, I want to tell you a little about my past so that you can have an idea of where I was at before I started my business. I had a newborn son (my first child). My husband was a freelance musician and teacher. I’d been an actress with a day job I hated. We lived in NYC and needed two incomes to pay the rent and other expenses. We only had a tiny bit of savings. I took two months off after having my son making the decision to start a business because I wanted to be the boss of my time. I needed to make a living and I wanted “it” to fit my life.
Determining The Real “Sum” Of Your Life
Every hour is precious. Your income may go up or down but the number of hours in a day remain the same.
Whether your office is in a separate room, where you can close the door, or on your kitchen table, in order to make your work life work for you (and your family), it’s important to establish rules around when and where you work. Allowing work to bleed into everyday family activities is not only draining but can lead to some pretty ugly situations and mistakes. I remember having to extract sharp scizzors from my toddler’s grasp while fumbling to put a call on hold with an important customer.
Make your work life work for you. Be mighty and go TINY!
Before you make harsh work rules, start with your “why.” Ask yourself, why are you working. Go beyond making a living. I’m going to assume that’s important. Make a list and prioritize what’s most important to you and for your family. Look at the time you want for holidays, weekends and vacations and look at what everything costs. For example, I decided it was better to eat at home than go out (or take in) so my husband and I focused on becoming really great cooks. We also decided to pack picnic lunches and bring our own drinks on road trips instead of eating out. It cost less, was healthier and I didn’t need to work to make the money to cover those.
How do you want your day… your weeks to look?
Do you want to be home for meals, all or some? What does that look like? Do you want to go to the park in the middle of the afternoon? Do you want to take days off during the week?
Family First: Create a schedule and block out the time you want with your family, first.
Then block out time for you to exercise or meditate…whatever you need to replenish and stay healthy. If you’re going to be the engine for a business, you need to keep your tank full!
Lastly, block out time for working. Focus on work in these time-blocks. This is not something that will happen automatically. It takes discipline. This is not when you make doctor appointments or anything else. It’s when your only task it hand is to build your business. It’s when you “show up” to work. Think of yourself like a pianist. If you want to learn a piece, you have to practice.
Building a business takes practice and… practice takes practice.
And, just like a musician that practices daily, stop when it’s time to stop. When your work timeblock has ended, prepare what you will do the next time you are at work and walk away from it all – from your computer, your studio, your phone. Go to your next activity. You will be tempted to check messages but don’t. Set the expectation with your customer, or partner, of when you will return to the office or respond by, and leave work to be with your family or friends. This is where you will see your WHY and realize you are building something beautiful with your life because relationships are really the sum of it, aren’t they?
Leave the busyness of your business to build something with your life.
As I write this I can hear myself saying “really?” The truth is your business goes wherever you go. You cannot leave it but you can step away from the “busyness.” By doing so, you will see what the business really needs and you will become even more efficient with your time. You need time to work on the business which is very different than working in it.
20% of 80% or go get a glass of water.
As with everything in life, nothing goes perfectly as planned. This is true, here, as well. When everything falls apart due to a sick child or a customer blow up, unless you’re in a life-threatening situation, go get a glass of water. Breathe. Whatever just blew up your day may feel like an emergency but sometimes a simple phone call to a client to let them know your child is sick is enough to buy you the hours you need to create a fix.
Disclosure: We have included our Amazon affiliate link in this post.
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Sharon Rowe is the author of The Magic of Tiny Business: You Don’t Have to Go Big to Make a Great Living (Berrett Koehler Publishers, May 2018), and the CEO and Founder of Eco-Bags Products. The “Original Reusable Bag Company,™” ECOBAGS® Brand, is recognized as a category leader, since 1989. The company is known for their commitment to outstanding quality, socially responsible supply chain and innovation; “cleaning up the planet one bag at a time.™”