Make a Game Plan for All the Stages
So as I said before, this is the process. Eliminate the non-essentials, if it's not important for you to do you want to consider ditching it. Streamline and develop systems for things that you need to do. Delegate important tasks. Either to yourself when you're able or to someone else and pre flexibility in our schedule. So now that we've analyzed our business and our schedules what we wanna do is work on creating that streamline system. Okay, so that's what we're gonna do. The first thing I wanna talk about is eliminating excess. So if it's not a priority for maintaining your business, if it's not a priority for your family, cut it out. So for some people this may mean things like meetings for me personally I meant things like interviews. These were not money makers that I just couldn't justify spending the time on and yeah there's a bit of.. you can't do an interview this year. But no I couldn't. I had a very limited amount of time available and I had to eliminate things that weren't...
on the path to making me money. Absolutely every minute of your time is going to become very valuable. So you wanna start thinking do you need to check email six times a day? Do you need to check into Facebook ten times a day? even though it may not show up in the time of those worksheets I showed you earlier. Start thinking about the little minutes that slip by reading a Blog, things like that. So my system is I do one touch email so if I and I only check it once a day. So in the morning I get it and there are no emails just sitting around in my inbox that have had nothing done. I bounce back a question or I put it in my to-do list. Right, my email is not allowed to take up a lot of my time okay, I get the message and I decide what to do with it and that saves me a lot of time. another place where a lot of people spend time is social media. Until this is when you have to start thinking about how many Instagram posts are important per day? What's really essential to your business and how can you scale it back right. If you're just kind of looking and liking things because it's fun. That's completely different than having analyze my business needs to do two Instagram posts a day and that sort of focus laser focused you know purposeful activity is now something we can talk about delegating to someone else or you put it in your calendar and you just do it. Okay, so let's talk about things that you need to eliminate and this can be, this is all across all the categories. Work, home, leisure. Remember our Pi. This giant wedge has to fit in. So think about your leisure time too. Maybe you're not gonna clean your carpet anymore or maybe TV isn't going to get watched. What are the things that you can just without thinking about, thinking a little bit. They're just gonna drop right off your list because you can already tell they're not things you have time for in your new life. There's a lot of great apps out there to tracking your time. So here's something called help rescue time. Lawyers keep track of the time in 6 minute increments so there's no shortage of apps. That will help you track your time so for example you know you look at little graphs or whatever you need to do. Some people may feel like, they don't need an app to tell them how they're spending their time. Although people may really find it really surprising that, "Oh, I did spend that much time on Facebook, cool" So if you think you're one of those people who really need like a kick in the tosh How you're time is going down and you get to the end of the day and you're like, "Oh, where that day go?" Then maybe a app or one of these programs is right for you. Okay, the next big major thing we wanna do. Is streamline and develop systems, okay. So streamlining is making tasks that you need to do Super, slick and spelt. You are doing this thing in the skinniest simplest most efficient way possible. Okay. And one way of implementing the streamlining is develop systems for things that you do frequently. So developing a system is just another way for coming up with the ideal sequence of actions to get a consistence desired result. So these two things, I am talking about them together because they really go hand in hand. Every task that you do should take as little time effort, money as possible, okay. This step doing this exercise can be so hard because we get stuck thinking of, doing this same things we've always done. But when you go back to your worksheets and you look at the time you've spend. You might to start notice, "Wow there's that one thing, I mean, I have to do it. It's kind of important, but it takes way too long." Or things that just do over and over again and you're like, "Do I need to do it that many times?" These are like little cues for things that we might wanna streamline. So I'll give you a great example from my own website. Back in the day I had PayPal buttons for the products I sold. So for every button there was a weight. For the products these I sell craft eyes. So these are... The weight of like, you know the little, that everyone giggles. They're the little plastic craft eyes use for stuffed animals. I would put the weight of the eye into the system and then I would have a chart and I was telling PayPal the weights between this and this then you charge this much to ship. Well, a couple times a year you maybe familiar with our postal system. They raised the prices. Wow! Okay. And this... The prices are different for International. Priority Mail first class. This is just one of the 84 files that you can download from the Post Office. Different for priority, different for all these different weight classes. I would have to go into my website every time the post exchange by hand and type in, "Oh, well now one ounce package will cost this much to ship." Super tedious super boring and really something I didn't need to spend my time doing. So I looked around and I found a plug-in for my website that called USPS shipping method and it would automatically check with the USPS for how much it would cost to send a package. So now all I do is I have the weight of each individual item and I say ship by weight, it tallies it all and it checks the exact price of the package and sees what it should charge the customer. If the rate changes I don't have to do anything. So this is an example of streamlining, it cost me a little bit of money I had to buy an app but it saving me time and most of us are about to go into a phase of life where we are really time poor and it's worth spending a little bit of money to earn some of that time back. Because we'd rather be doing other things during this brief time period. So creating system so you want to create systems that work for you and a eliminate your work. A great example of this is a frequently asked questions page if you're getting the same e-mail over and over again that's a sign to you that you need to present the information in a way that works better for your customer. So you can stop spending the time answering that same question over and over again. What are some signs that you need a system? If you're having a lot of oops season your business your misplacing some items that you need you're doing the same thing over and over again. You find yourself ready to do a task you're already to sit down and so your product. Oh and then you don't have what you need right. You didn't check that you had the inventory available and ready for you to start your work. Each task that you're doing takes a lot of time and a lot of thought to kind of get in the zone. These are all signs that you need to have a system. So my dad visited me a couple months ago and every time he left the house it was like, "Wait!" Do I have my keys? Do I have my phone? Do I have my... That's a sign he needs a system right. So every time I leave the house I have my phone in one pocket I have the keys in one pocket and I know all I do is pick up my bag and go. The system like doesn't fail I do the same thing every time. So if some and it's probably just because he was visiting me and not his own home but you get the point. So if there's something that's just taking a lot of time and effort you need to streamline it and develop a system for it. So here's some small some examples of systems now these are really small ones because you know the actual systems you're going to develop for your business are going to be so specific to your business that you know it's hard for me to give like big examples, but simple things like entering your receipt into your software soon as it comes in. Writing a blog post every Monday morning, some of these you even just call habits. Automatically downloading your photographs at the end of the day and backing them up every Friday. If you're a photographer you might already have a system for doing these sorts of things. Always keeping a spare full battery in your camera bag. That is a great system, that's helping prevent failures in your business. Prepackaging inventory as soon as it comes in. Spending that time to get it ready so that you're shipping process is as fast as possible and like I said these are just super tiny examples because every business is so different you're probably going to develop systems that are incredibly specific to your business. That are just too big to go into right here. One really great example of systems is tutorials, so for users of my website they get tutorials for absolutely everything because I'm trying to eliminate the number of customer emails that I get. So I have, I run a forum and a membership site called Omi club and it's kind of hard to figure it out for the first time to figure out how to use the tutorials. They get a PDF download. Super cute sea at that step by step tells you how to do everything. It took me time upfront to develop this but it's cut back on the amount of questions that I need to answer because for me that had become a really big part of my business was constantly answering the same questions over and over again. And that's the place where I could really streamline. Tutorials is if you have a product and you also have a blog. Putting tutorials on your blog is a great place to put information that comes up for your customers again and again. So now if I get a question about, "Oh, I'm not sure how to do this." I just say that's a great question here's the tutorial, bam! And I'm not spending that time repeating information over and over again. One person who does this like absolutely fantasy is Stephanie from Space Cadet Yarn. So she has the best product listings so she has a couple different clubs and the order page or the product listing page is almost like she's talking you through which you should order right. So you go down and it's like, "Do you want the one with a lot of color or do you want the hombre one? Do you want to have it deliver this many times or this many times right and so it's almost like a friend is talking you through how to order and she also links to a FAQ page and that's at the end of the day saving her so much time and effort. Because she's answered all of the questions for customers right there. So this is spending time in advance. Maybe in your pre-baby preparation so that when you're up and running it's a sleek and as fast as it can be. My product listings. Every product listing has the actual product and then it has a full section about my eyes in general. The quality guarantee the selection that I offer. A lot of people are interested in what kind of backing it has all that information is pasted into every product listings that information is available for when people need it and it's saving me so much time. So now it's your turn, you want to come up with ways that you can streamline and new create systems so because we want to be our most efficient selves. So you've already eliminated all of the things right so let's talk about listing some recurring tasks that you just do over and over again. These are real candidates for streamlining. Other tasks the just take too long like they're important you know you need to do them but why are they taking so long. And now let's brainstorm how come, what can you do with these tasks? What can you do to eliminate these tasks? How can you slim down on them? Okay. And this is another one of those things it's going to take you a lot of time. It's not just a two minute exercise but you're creating your dream system for your business. Now I want talked about something super boring but I love it manuals. Okay, I'm going to just tell you I'm giving very little personal advice but I'm just going to tell you like it is. After a baby arrives in your home you're kind of going to be a drunk comatose asleep version of the way you are right now. That's life. So be kind to your future self and really document these great systems you came up with. So that then in the future when you're asleep drunk comatose whatever. You can just read. I'm so in love with what pre-baby Stacy did for me. You can just read the instructions for what you're supposed to do and you can help yourself keep your business rolling as usual. And so I wrote... I'm such a believer in manuals. Writing down all of these steps that you go through that seem like no brainers maybe. But writing them down so that you have a manual of how to run your business that you can consult and it's really worth doing after you've done the streamline step because you've just thought so deeply about the procedures that are ideal for you to go through. So why don't we just write them down right now. So Sara Holoubek has this great quote so she is different from many of the other entrepreneurs that I've interviewed for the class because she's a CEO of a company with a large staff right and she said she realized from client history to passwords my staff are immediately recognize the first hurdle to my maternity leave. The company was too reliant on my brain to answer daily questions right. So this is when she realized all the stuff that had been going on from day to day that was stuck in her brain needed to get out and get on to paper okay. And so this is what we call institutional knowledge so there are things you know and even if you're just a business of one. Just because you know it right now doesn't mean you're really, really tired self is going to remember it in the future. So all Rock Star manual includes lots of things so documenting recurring procedures. If it's something you do over and over again just go ahead and write it down. Because one thing the manual is gonna be really helpful for is when we talk about delegating and hiring someone to help you with these tasks you can just be like here. This is how to print my shipping labels. Go ahead and do it and it's, it's basically you're making a bit of the training manuals that you need for your business. You also want to make sure you're document important but non frequent procedures. So something like how to file sales tax I only have to do that once a year and every time I'm like how do I do that again? But having a page that has your EIN number, your license number whatever you need and then you go to this website and blah, blah, blah. Even instructions for how to download the records of how much sales tax you've paid for your website. These are really great things have down. Login information. Important account numbers like EIN number. Having them in a secure location is great then you're not reliant on your computer and your saved passwords. You have that information available if you need to work somewhere differently or if you need to hand something off to someone else or even like worst case disaster like your computer blows up you don't want to be paralyzed in your business because one thing that happens as you have less time available. Is you have less time to manage a crisis right. So if you're counting on only working four hours a day your computer blowing up can now take four work days to fix right. Whereas before it was just one really late night. And you also want to have emergency contact information and procedures. So for example if something takes longer then you thought it would in the hospital or there's any kind of emergency. There are some instructions where someone could say like I know how to post a blog post or announcement or whatever and that's important to have as well. So this is just an example it's so boring. Here's how to print postage from my computer to ship a package. it goes on and doesn't stop at the twelve step. So you open up the program you put in the address blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I've documented all of this because it's something that you need to do for writing my business which is shit packages. I wrote it for myself I would forget and I wrote it for someone else. In case someone was going to come to my home and help me ship packages. So this is the sort of detail you want to get into and it is way easier to do one a week. Two a week then "Holy cow, I have to hire someone and now I have to do this for my whole business freak-out sort of. Another thing I encourage you to do is to write an annual calendar for your business so pay attention to when your website license needs renewing. When you need to do this your sales tax filing? What are important upcoming you know if you have to order fabric for the holiday season. You have to do that by July. Having a calendar written out can be really helpful for your business because it will allow you to plan for the time that you need. And you want to go I do this on the smaller scale too. So my calendar has daily tasks and weekly tasks so the weeklies I call them. I would write in there like Instagram post right and I would just be able to check off five times a week I've done that and that's a really easy add a glance way to see if I've done small tasks. So organizing your time into annual, weekly, monthly, daily just this is all is part of streamlining your life in a way that's really helpful and keeps things moving smoothly. The next big chunk of things that we need to talk about doing is delegating tasks that aren't absolutely crucial for us to do ourselves. So there's two ways to delegate one task one is you can delegate it to yourself before you have a baby and that's what I call the work ahead list. The other thing is you can delegate to someone else so we're going to talk in a future section about how to do the hiring and how to do those bits and pieces. But right now we're just talking about delegating tasks in general. So you want to delegate tasks that are super cheap or easy to hire out. Maybe there are things that are really tedious. Things that are taking up way too much of your time so you remember we want to be focused on things that are absolutely essential for us to be doing in our business and that may or may not mean shipping out packages. Things that cause conflicts in your schedule so for a lot of new moms this is things that aren't flexible. So let's say you work while the baby's napping which is what I did for a very long time. You can't count on at 10 am you're going to have a quiet hour that may or may not be when the baby decides to sleep that day. So things that are of likely to cause scheduling conflicts maybe things that you would want to delegate. And things that just take too much energy or maybe you just don't even like doing them. And it's super important to point out all the tasks that you need to delegate better be ones that are essential for doing your business. We're not delegating things that are non-essential crud because we've already cut them out. So now let's do another worksheet. I want you to think about what are some things that you can delegate and right now I don't want you to worry about who's going to do it? How much is it going to cost? This is brainstorming. I'm going to show you how to do it later on but right now we want to think about what are these tasks that are taking up what feels like a disproportionate amount of time. What's eating up too much energy? What are the things that are going to be really difficult to schedule when you have a baby around, okay. Just sort of think about these things and kind of think about your fantasy life like what I love to not have to worry about and then in a future section we'll come back to the how to's of how to delegate those things. The last component to our system is breeding flexibility, okay. So like I said I turned down interviews just because I couldn't guarantee that I would be available in a quiet house with nothing to do for an hour a chunk of my time. Also wasn't clearly a moneymaker for me. So breeding flexibility in your schedule and thinking about how to get rid of tasks that aren't compatible with the kind of life you're setting up for yourself, okay. So I want to emphasize having a baby at home doesn't necessarily mean you have less time. Little people especially the very little people don't really do a lot they like eat and sleep. So you might find yourself with actually a lot of time but that time is not... You're on your own schedule right. so you may find you can do lots of things and have lots of hours but it's just not nine thirty am. So I for example did way more Instagram marketing when my little one was at home because that's quick and that's easy and I had the time to do it. But I couldn't have met you for coffee at nine am. So things that require certain times a day are going to be tricky okay. So photography if you need a certain kind of lighting. Any kind of client work that you need to do that requires a certain time. Client, calls, interviews things like that. If you're a crossing guard, man. You cannot just do crossing guard duties in your baby's nap. I don't know how many people in that situation. Teaching in person classes right. These are things that you can't just say "I'll squeeze in while my baby's napping." if you can eliminate or delegate these items then you're going to have to find work on a path that allows you to find specific hours of childcare and that's not impossible we're going to also be talking about that as well. Tasks which require long durations are also something that are going to take planning right. So things like dyeing yarn if you're not familiar. You can't just like walk up, "Oh, I'm done like let me take a break in the middle." Dyeing yarn is incredibly intensive you make sure you have to set an item up. You have to, you're in it for an hour or two. When you're doing this is your job. So those sorts of things that require a long duration are also going to be things that you need to plan care for. Difficult translation work so. Things where you really need to get to a certain headspace that's quiet. Things that require commute if you're going to be commuting part time. You know going to a job. You can't just commuting half hour. Up wait the baby needs me and I go back home you know five minutes later that's not going to work out. Baking maybe working around hot oven things like that. You want to streamline these tasks and then our goal is to find specific hours and reliable hours of care right. Because you need to set aside a whole chunk of time. These aren't things that you could just do for five minutes and drop later on. Things that are flexible are going to be things that are super easy for you to do. Packaging, shipping some kinds of later production if you're doing some hand sewing things like that. Depending on if you're just doing light Instagram photo editing. Purchasing supplies online. These are things that are pretty simple to just like pop open your computer. Oh good the baby just fell asleep. I'll do them now, why not you know. And my experience of talking with lots of different people is that even with a pretty fussy baby it's pretty standard to be able to find four hours a day to squeeze in these kinds of tasks. Between naps and between maybe waking up early or staying up late. Most women with a small person can manage to find four hours a day to work on their business. But they, it's easy if it's the right kind of task right. so those scheduling ones tend to be difficult you need to work on Child Care Solutions that work for you. Usually a lot of people can fit in four hours a very flexible work. Averaged over a long period of time and so if it's a priority for you to minimize childcare costs. You want to start thinking about which tasks are flexible and if you can steer your business more in that direction. So how do you decide what in the world to do it's really hard so just as a case study. I get eyeballs I packaged them into little baggies right. So this for sure was something I want to keep in my business it earned money, it was reliable. It was flexible I could do it at any time I could do it ten pm at night. I didn't have to take photos you know I'm just like doing it and it's also maximally streamlined like I have this down to a science. It's also super easy, super tedious and not a high value task. So I chose to delegate this kind of task, right. It was pretty easy for me to find someone who would do this for me. But it very easily could have been something that I did in my evenings. So this is one of those time money things how do you choose to spend your time and there's no right answers for anyone. A lot of social media tasks are really flexible. I call them thumb tasks you know things that you could just do with your thumb. So posting to Instagram. If you have some photos that you took in good lighting I keep a folder of stock photos that I can just post from. Sending a tweet, commenting on a blog post writing a blog post, sharing a Facebook post all of these things are super easy little thumb tasks that you can fit into a spare couple of minutes. So, I encourage you to think about things that need a chunk of time and doing them when you have the chunk of time and saving these little couple minute things for when you have just spare moments in the rest of the time. For sure you want to determine when and where you're going to work, okay. So depending on the arrangements you set up you're going to have different chunks of time available. Do you need three and uninterrupted hours? Or is it a job that you can do if you're wearing a baby in the sling? Can you telecommute? Do you have a lot of flexible task that you do want to squeeze in during the baby's nap? Where you going to need help? These are all different things that you're going to have to work out for the kind of business you run and the kind of work you do So when he tells us from the time period until her baby is about you know, a few months old or so I just put my daughter in a boppy I just put a boppy pillow around my waist and typed over my daughter while she slept and nursed I waited till my husband was home to make any phone calls so I would make sure I wouldn't be interrupted. so that's a great example of she just worked. Well the baby now napped nothing special needed but she saved these tasks that required something special like an uninterrupted phone call until a time when she had someone else to care for the baby. Stephanie from space cadet who runs a business that I told you was very family friendly all of the women who work for her children she says we all have kids and work to suit I have one employee that works from 8:00pm to midnight and another who works super early in the morning they don't have to fit my hours. So remember I told yarn dyeing is an example you can't just do it for ten minutes and then drop everything and leave you need sustained duration to do these kinds of tasks. But it doesn't matter what time of day you've done it so her business runs by letting people work chunks of time when it's available to them and when it works with their child care solutions. She also tells me their hours fluctuate wildly sometimes someone comes in on a weekend, sometimes, you know, sometimes it's an early Sunday morning because it matters what work is getting done not the specific hours and what the work is being done so this is totally different from someone running a coffee shop who has to be in from 8:00 to 10:00 in the morning, right. All right, so, now, we want to revisit the previous list and create your work ahead schedule, right? Write down, plan out, what are the things that you would rather do ahead do in advance, okay? Really, ideally, you'd like to get all of these tasks done about a month before your due date because you actually have no idea when the baby is going to come. I wrote a blog post one a week for a year like, I started when I was five months pregnant I just kept doing it, so for the first year my blog posts were taken care of, I also I ran a kit club where I would ship 600 packages a month. I packed my first month's shipment three weeks early which turned out to be perfect because my daughter came two and a half weeks early. So you might be tempted to think "Oh, I don't have time right now to do extra work" and you know what you're not going to have time later either so go ahead and make time. Set aside your TV watching if you have to Make it a priority to get tasks accomplished now because you'll really thank yourself later. Some ways to work ahead planning advertisement campaigns that you want to run, go ahead, set them up, schedule them do the hard work of thinking about like what demographic do I want to target? And get it running, get it scheduled. Write blog post or your newsletter posts. Make a limited edition product to drip release so if you make physical product you can actually make the product in advance and not tell your customers about it and then release it so you have a steady amount of things to keep going and limited editions are a great way to like create some cache something exciting, something fresh and you're not tied to having it available all the time. Finishing deadline tasks a little bit early is a great thing to do just because you never really know there's downsides to working ahead so like I said I wrote a heck of a lot of blog posts in advance at the end of the year. Blogging wasn't as much of a thing anymore so right if I had been doing it all along at some point I probably would have been like oh I really need to write so many blog post but I did it in advance, I mean, nothing bad happened it just wasn't you know as important as I had probably thought in advance. Another thing you want to do is prepare for what I call thumb work so. Anything you can do to set yourself up for that situation where you can just spend a minute and do something really efficient is perfect so adding blogs to your Feedly or however you read blogs following some Pinterest boards, creating email templates, setting up text expander. So those are things where you type in a small amount of text and it expands it to a larger amount of text. Creating email folders and sorting algorithm so you can go through your mails faster creating hashtags on social media, installing apps on your phone, taking stock photos so that you can pull and put them up on social media these are all things you can do in advance so that you really can just take out your phone for a minute you're actually getting some work done and this is just creating systems that let you work flexibly, right? So it's about thinking in advance about what would be beneficial for you and doing the legwork you need to do. I always encourage you at this stage to embrace technology and training the help that you need to train so I told you about the software I got to help shipping with my eyes shipping rates other bits of technology buffer, Edgar, Facebook, scheduling these all allow you to schedule things in advance schedule out your social media and email newsletters focus on what's crucial and money earning for your business and you can make sure that it doesn't miss a beat. We're going to be talking about how to hire help later on. But for right now just getting it in the back your head that hiring someone is not something you want to do like on your due day you want to plan in advance so that the person is fully trained and they're hitting the ground running when it's the time that you need them. A lot of times, by the time you think you need help it's kind of too late because it takes a while to train someone to do the job you want them to do and find the right person who's a good fit.
If the term “maternity leave” makes you nervous, you’re not alone.
The big challenge: stepping away from life for 3 months with the expectation of returning to work after maternity leave like nothing happened. Many working women already put in 12 hours a day, so how does one manage with fewer? This common practice is particularly detrimental to small business owners, who find their business slipping away during maternity leave, along with confused and disappointed customers, even when the business has returned to normal.
There’s a better way.
Instead of a traditional maternity leave, in How to Take Maternity Leave without your Putting Life on Hold, Stacey will show you how to put your business into maintenance mode for as long as you want: keeping your business functioning at a high level to keep your customers happy, but not requiring your full-time attention. It will make returning to work after maternity leave much more seamless.
Many business owners spend time on tasks that are not essential. By eliminating these excess activities, you can distill your business into a few hours a day of powerful productivity. Keep your business going while still spending the time with your family that only comes once in a lifetime. When you’re returning to work after maternity leave, you’ll find that your newly-discovered efficiency has transformed your business. You may even decide to limit work to a few hours a day, permanently!
You’ll Learn How To:
· Determine which tasks in your business are worth your time and attention
· Streamline your business down to the bare essentials, creating successful systems
· Calculate how much money you need to earn during your leave, and work the minimum number of hours to achieve it
· Take advantage of ‘down time’ in productive ways
· Decide when to hire out tasks, even if you’ve never considered hiring contractors before
· Find non-standard childcare options… there’s more than full-time daycare!
· Effortlessly shift your business back into ‘full-rev’ mode
During Stacey’s daughter’s first year, she earned 65% of what she earned the previous year, working during baby’s naps and in the evenings. She was able to do this by streamlining her business and working on only what brought in results, cutting work time down to a couple of hours a day. Her daughter entered traditional daycare when she was 20 months old, with a transition that was seamless to customers, because it appeared as if she had been working full-time all along.
Learn how you can apply Stacey’s techniques and strategies to your maternity leave plan. Even if you’re not a small business owner, you’ll find ways to assess and streamline your work, make time for this once-in-a-lifetime period, manage childcare, rev up and get back in the game.