How becoming a mom has made me better at business

As moms, there is no doubt that we wear many hats throughout the day. Mom, wife, employee, boss, chauffeur, maid, chef, referee.

Anyone who has been a working mom for more than a day knows that each of these hats is not mutually exclusive either. I don’t stop being a mom just because I step into my office {hello, work from home because my kiddo is sick days}. Also, I can’t completely turn off work when I’m spending time with my family, even though I do try!

I’ve talked to so many women who decided to continue their careers after becoming a mom, but are worried that somehow they’ll now fail at both. They won’t be able to give their employer their all now that they really have to leave at 5 to get to daycare on time. Or they’re going to miss out on important milestones with their child while they are at work, somehow making them less of a mom.

Sound familiar?

While these feelings are totally normal, I want to let you know that I truly believe they are all in your head.

Are moms better at business?

I’d argue that being a working mom actually makes you better at the office and at home.

Not only are all of our hats not mutually exclusive, I believe they actually strengthen each other.

I was always a strong worker. Reliable. Innovative. Efficient. But one of the unexpected benefits of becoming a mom has been that it’s made me more business savvy. And frankly, working while raising kids has helped me as a parent, as well.

Here are the ways becoming a mom has made me better at business, and vice versa.

Negotiating

Before I had my daughter, I never asked for a raise. Not once. I just accepted whatever was offered at my annual review. I also didn’t negotiate my salary when accepting a new job. After I became a parent, I started valuing my time away from my family in a whole new way. If I was going to give a company my all from 9-5 each day, I was going to be compensated appropriately.

These negotiating skills come in handy with my tiny tots. My husband isn’t a fan of the television, but my kids love it. Negotiating is about coming up with a solution that everyone can be on board with, so we agreed that the kids are allowed 15 minutes in the morning before school. But there’s a catch: get dressed, brush teeth, shoes on. If they aren’t completely ready to leave the house, no show.

Delegating

I used to be the kind of worker who thought it was easier just to do things myself rather than teach someone else to do it. Not anymore! There are no end of the year bonuses for martyrs. Turning over a task to someone else isn’t just an investment in their professional growth, it’s just smart time management on your part.

At home, I delegate simple chores to my 3 and 5 year old. Parents totally underestimate what their children are capable of! My oldest can help sweep the floors and my toddler can wipe down counters {after I spray them} after meals. Is it perfect? No. I could totally do it better and faster. Are they learning to contribute to the household? You bet ya. Plus, it’s one less thing for me to worry about.

Multitasking

As women, most of us naturally have this in the bag compared to our male counterparts. But let me tell you, nobody multitasks like a working mom. I resist multitasking when working on a project {I’m big into time blocking} – I know it will actually slow me down and diminish the quality of my work. However, I listen to podcasts to help my professional development if I’m doing mindless activities or while exercising. I also use commute time to cross things off my mommy list like making doctor appointments.

I make an effort to spend quality time with each of my children every single day, not just be in the same room as them. Story time is one time when multitasking is a big no-no. At the same time, I want to teach my children to be independent and comfortable with entertaining themselves. I set up stations on the counter for them to color while I make dinner and check emails, or they will help me sort the laundry while I fold and catch the news.

Prioritizing

As a working mom, my work day – at least while I’m physically in my office – has to come to an end. This means that in order to get stuff done within a clearly defined time frame, I have to be really good at focusing on what really matters. By prioritizing the most important tasks, I’m also extremely valuable to my clients because I’m not going to procrastinate on projects or waste billable hours.

At home, prioritizing looks a little more like picking your battles. Once my oldest hit toddler years, I learned pretty quickly that I didn’t want to take on every single fight with her. Hitting is a non-negotiable. On the verge of a meltdown at the park over another fruit snack? Not worth the tears.

Committing

Becoming a mom is undoubtedly my single greatest accomplishment. My kiddos gave me my “why” to start my own business in order to spend more time with them while pursuing my career aspirations. When we moved, when I had morning sickness, or just whenever it seems like too much, my family reminds me why I’ve committed to building a business for myself to have the work/life balance that I want. I want my children to see that I never gave up and take that with them when life gets hard – and it will.

Being a working mom has its challenges – no doubt! But I also believe it’s sharpened my skills as a parent and career woman.

Do any of these resonate with you? What do you think – are moms better at business? I’d love to hear in the comments how being a working mom has helped you kick butt at home and in the office!

3 reasons why you should always respond

why you should always respond

I’m a firm believer that you should go after what you want, because the worst anyone can tell you is no. But what happens when that person you’re reaching out to isn’t saying no, they aren’t getting back to you at all?

It can be frustrating if you’re on the receiving end of the phone that doesn’t ring or the email that never gets answered. Maybe you’re even guilty of being the one failing to respond from time to time.

I’ve written about why I think it’s important to care about what other people think before, but I think it’s even more relevant in the workplace, especially if you own a business. By failing to respond, you may be doing some permanent damage to your reputation.

How do you resist the urge to ignore? It can be tough. For one thing, sales calls can be extremely irritating. If you’re like me, you may not pick up when an unknown number calls. For two months straight I received a call at the exact same time every day on my cell phone. I complained about it to anyone that would listen. Why wouldn’t they take a hint? When would they stop calling? The nerve!

Then one day I answered. It was a very nice salesperson. Person. There was actually someone being paid to harass me everyday at the exact same time. I kindly told him that I wasn’t interested and could he please remove my phone number from the list. I never received another call. The worst he heard was no.

We live and work in a highly distracting world full of social media networks and open office floor plans. Achieving efficiency is hard enough, and now you’re supposed to carve out a part of your day just to get back to people? Yup.

While not every group email requires a reply all, it’s important to consider whether any damage could be done {to you or the initiator} by not getting back to the people who reach out to you.

Here’s three reasons why I think you should always respond when people contact you.

Responding makes you reliable

I used to work with someone who was notorious for not responding to emails. I’m not sure if he never read them or actively chose not to reply. Either way, he quickly earned a reputation for not being a very reliable employee. People began questioning his ability to do his job and stopped soliciting his contributions to projects.

On the flip side, Facebook actually rewards businesses with a badge when they have an impressive response rate. Who wouldn’t want to work with a business that’s been endorsed for their dedication to customer service?

Responding builds relationships

We all know the saying, “treat others how you want to be treated.” I’m not sure why, but most people don’t seem to be applying the golden rule when a phone or computer come into the picture. Do you like being ignored? Me neither!

The truth is, communication builds relationships, and these days a large majority of our communicating isn’t taking place face to face. Get comfortable on the phone, learn email etiquette, and understand what is {and isn’t} appropriate to put on the internet. Then take the time to respond and engage and watch your relationships flourish.

Responding creates opportunities

There is a lot of junk mail out there, so I understand the temptation to send to spam. About a year ago I received a pretty generic sales pitch on LinkedIn about bringing a women’s organization to Kansas City. Other than my name, nothing about the message was customized. And it was sent from a complete stranger from halfway across the country. I almost deleted it. I think about my decision to respond all the time. The messages turned into phone calls which grew into an amazing community for local professional women and business owners and has contributed to my personal and professional growth one hundred times over. Imagine the opportunities missed by not getting back to someone!

I’m not saying you need to chime in at the end of an unnecessarily long email chain that lost it’s productivity nine emails ago. In fact, please don’t. But before you decide to leave someone hanging, I do encourage you to ask yourself if turning a blind eye could come back to bite you.

Do you ever think it’s appropriate not to get back to someone? Tell me in the comments.

Get more done by adopting this one habit

After a week at home for the holidays, my kiddos are finally out of the house. My coffee is hot. My desk is organized. The day is young. I finally sit down to work.

I know I need to write another blog post, but first I think I will open up Facebook and schedule a few social media posts I’ve planned for a few of my clients for the New Year.

Then my phone pings. Someone liked my most recent Insta post about working on my business goals and plans for 2016. It’s so exciting to see new followers {strangers even!} finding my blog and corresponding social pages.

Back to Facebook. Okay, one post scheduled.

I better check my Femfessionals email. I haven’t checked it since before Christmas and I really need to finish my plan for our community in 2016. I fire off a few emails to fellow Kansas City business owners about some event ideas.

I return to the browser with my Facebook page open. I scroll through my news feed, just once, and an article called “21 Annoying Facebook Status Updates that Need to Stop” pops up. That looks interesting, and I definitely need to find out what those things are {to make sure I’m not an annoying Facebook status poster}, so I click on it.

I skim the article and go back to my news feed, fully confident that all of my friends totally are not annoyed with my posts. Cute pictures of my friend’s baby’s first Christmases rotate with puppies and snow and more click-worthy articles from Buzzfeed and the Huff Post.

And then I glance in the upper right corner and realize an hour has gone by already. And I haven’t even started this blog post yet.

I’m not much of a gambler, but I’m willing to bet some version of this has happened to you before. Our phones and computers have become major time sucks thanks in large part to social media. But it isn’t just mindless scrolling that can cause us to lose track of time and productivity. I didn’t have a plan. I sat down to accomplish one task, but immediately moved on to other things on my to-do list and then became distracted. While my email sending and social media managing still chipped away at my overall workload, I lost valuable time and creative energy bouncing between tasks. Not carving out specific time for particular projects prevents us from packing in a fully efficient work sesh. So what should I have done differently?

Start each day with not only a list of top work priorities, but a schedule for accomplishing them. This technique is called time blocking and it is a powerful tool that can truly help you get more done if you make it a habit. So how can you {we} become better at time blocking a get stuff done? Try these 4 tips to time block like a pro.

1. Block time to time block

You shouldn’t spend your freshest moments of a new day mapping out your time blocks, so plan them in advance. Carve out time on one of your least productive day, typically a Monday or Friday or even the weekend, to evaluate what you need to get done for the upcoming week. I use Google Calendar for everything, both work and personal, because it actually looks like little colorful blocks that can be shared with others so they know when you’re time blocking a.k.a unavailable.

2. The early block catches the worm

I’m a morning person. I’d say 80% of what I get done in a day happens before 1 p.m. Be sure to schedule your time blocks when you work your hardest so they don’t fizzle into a procrastination period. Just keep in mind that you should aim to get your highest priority work accomplished before you move on to things like meetings and emails. So if you’re a rare breed who perks up after lunch time, don’t over commit in the morning or meetings may intrude on your precious time block.

3. Tune out to block in

When it’s time to time block and you’re ready to dig in to that super top priority thing to do, eliminate distractions. No social media. No emails. No phone calls. No office visits. It’s go time.

4. Don’t over block

When you schedule out your time blocks, it’s important to keep windows in your day. Projects may come up that you weren’t anticipating and certain jobs make take longer to accomplish than you originally thought. No need to fret if you’ve left some holes in your day to work on these things, as well as catching up on any outstanding emails or phone calls {although I do recommend carving out an email time block if you receive a high volume of them}. Finish that important task before your time block was over?

Do you time block to reach maximum productivity during your work day and make sure important tasks get done first? What works or doesn’t work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Happy time blocking!