One of your primary reasons for starting out as a work at home mum (WAHM) be because you want to have more time to spend with your family. Unfortunately, when starting out in self-employment, you may find that you’re spending even less time with them than you were before, simply because there’s so much to do. It can all be a bit overwhelming – but luckily there are a few ways you can streamline your business processes to make your working day a little bit easier.
Keep a clear desk. A tidy working area – or at least one where you can physically see the surface – psychologically puts you in an ‘uncluttered’ frame of mind. Before you stop work for the day, spend five minutes tidying up.
Colour code files and folders – use colours that you associate with specific emotions to help you decide: i.e. you might have a green folder for marketing activities (green for growth) and perhaps a black folder for the dreaded tax return!
Disable the new email notification so you won’t be distracted by it popping up on screen. Better still, only check your email at set times of the day: first thing, last thing and lunchtime can work. If you’re worried about being out of the loop, set an autoresponder that will tell people that this is what you’re doing and they won’t expect an instant response.
The trick to keeping on top of the paperwork is to deal with it as it arrives. If you don’t have time to do this, you need to set a time aside daily or even weekly to go through your in-tray. Try sorting it into four categories: Action, File, Bin/Recycle, Shred.
Automate what you can
Use an email service provider (ESP) to send out email newsletters. If you’re collecting email addresses to add to your mailing list you should be using an ESP anyway, to have a ‘double opt in’ mailing list. This ensures that only people who want to receive your newsletter will get it delivered to their inbox. You can write your newsletters and set the time for their release, days or weeks into the future.
If you use a WordPress blog, did you know you can preschedule your blog posts? If you write a month’s worth of blog posts in one go, you can then schedule them to be posted at whatever date and interval you like.
Software applications like Hootsuite can also preschedule your Tweets so you can write them and then schedule them to be Tweeted at whatever time you want.
You can buy software which will automatically send your articles to hundreds of different article directories across the web. Most are available on a month by month basis, so if you’re planning a big article marketing campaign, it might be worth signing up for a month or two.
A lot of marketing can be done at anti-social hours, particularly on-line marketing, which is brilliant as it means you can crack on with it when the children are asleep. As well as automating your Tweets, you can also use inbuilt buttons on your blog and website to automatically link up your new blog posts to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
As a business owner and a parent, your time is doubly precious. Don’t waste it – streamline your business processes and start enjoying more of the work/life balance you promised yourself when you started out as an entrepreneur.
Celina Lucas is author of How to Run a Work from Home Business When You Have Small Children: The Secret to Achieving the Work/Life Balance You’ve Dreamed Of, How To Be A Virtual Assistant, and How to Start a Business When You’ve Got No Time (or Money)
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