Dishes. Diapers. Dirty Laundry. Let's add a small business or blog to manage on top of this mess. But just as you eventually find a routine to have clean dishes and clothing when you need them, you can find a groove to make managing a small business less overwhelming.
Whether you are working sometimes, part time (like me!), or all the time on your small business, there is a way to make it work! I'm excited to join Eleri from the Sew and Tell Project blog as she shares her tips for peace and lasting organization.
[tweet "Organizing tips for #workathome moms: #smallbusiness strategies with @faithandfabric"]
Two years ago, I started a sewing blog with 3 other Catholic women. Our blog started as an outlet for our shared interests such as making handmade items for First Communion. In addition to my primary focus on growing and developing the Sew and Tell Project with these talented women, I also do occasional freelance photography, devotional writing, and various side jobs in the independent sewing community. Taking a few simple steps to be more organized has helped me to balance the growth of my business with the obligations of family life as a busy homeschooling mom.
These are my key areas for developing good organizational habits to allow your business to thrive.
Growing a small business (or blog in my case) will require using your time wisely. My primary role at home is as a homeschooling mother - anything I am asked to do outside of that is drawing water from a well with a limited supply.
- I use a free blog planner to allow me to see all the projects on my plate at a glance. This way I can decide if I can commit to any more work at the moment. For me (with a household that does not depend on this income), I have found that I can usually commit to 3 creative projects a week - this can be photography, blog posts, article writing, or more involved sewing projects and promotions. Sometimes I have room to do more and I work ahead, but I try to never have more than 3 things on my plate at once.
- I also keep a To Do list. For me this includes sending in proposals, updating blog monetization records, website housekeeping. Some of the work I do has a tight turnaround and I need to make sure that I have the supplies on hand to meet deadlines.
- I try to stay on top of e-mails by responding to them first thing in the morning before I am social media weary. I also make it very clear across social media that e-mail is my preferred method of contact so I'm not constantly responding to messages on other platforms.
- Streamlining my work: if I'm taking care of a website issue, can I take care of multiple website issues at once? If I know I'm going to need to take pictures of a particular garment for my blog, I will often look at my list and see if I can finish a few other things that will need to be photographed so I'm only doing one photo and editing session.
Work Space: Whether you have a whole home office (or in my case, sewing studio) or one small box to stash your supplies, I have relied on having a workable space from day 1.
- My blog and freelance work relies on actual production of handmade goods from me. I do have a large table that is comfortable for me to sew several garments in a few hours. I also have organized my area so that more dangerous items (cutting tools, pins, etc.) are out of reach from my children at a moment's notice. After several months of blogging, we assessed my needs and I reorganized our play area to give me this advantage. This has really helped me be more productive with my time, and allows my work to not distract me in other areas of our home such as when we are doing school.
- The second major component of my work space is actually a binder. I keep a large 3 ring binder filled with deadlines, patterns in progress to make or edit, accounting, affiliate programs, and inspiration for devotionals and articles. The idea behind this binder is that I can get some work done ANYWHERE. The idea is not that I end up working all the time, but that I can work when I'm waiting at the doctor's office or outside of basketball practice. I can also jot things down as I think of them. (I do also keep some home management, 4-H, and homeschool related information in this binder). I should also note that I do use a fair amount of digital resources to organize and communicate with my team but that would require a whole different post.
Diet and Exercise:
- If you happen to be running a WAHM business, it is likely that you are also still cooking your family's meals. I know my most productive time for work is between 2 PM and 6 PM when we are finished with homeschool and my youngest is napping. I try to make sure I have a plan before dinner sneaks up on me. Bonus points if you menu plan for the whole week to make grocery shopping easier, too.
- I also try to exercise first thing most mornings. I have found that it gives me energy that helps me focus on my daily tasks without feeling the guilt of I should be cooking . . . I should work out. . . .
Spiritual Life and Mind: this is last on my list but definitely not least. While my blog has grown out of a sincere passion for a hobby, I am married to a small business owner so I have seen necessity to address this no matter the scale of your operation. Operating a small business can very quickly take all your time. There will always be one more thing - one more idea - one more sale - one more e-mail - one more post - one more opportunity. And guess what, most of them will still be there the next morning.
- Give yourself permission to not respond to e-mails/messages until it's time to "clock back in." Give yourself permission to dial back on opportunities if you are already busy with solid leads. I have discovered that many of the collaborative opportunities that come before me will often still be available later when perhaps I am in a position to do a better job.
- Continue to pray about the direction of your operation. Are you still as passionate about this as when you started? How is it affecting your family? How can your family support you in this endeavor.
- To avoid burnout set aside a period of time regularly to review your goals, successes, workflow, current resources and untapped resources.
Last but not least. striving for organization will not only increase your happiness, it will allow you to provide better quality work for your clients and partners. Even small steps toward better organization in your work area will improve your overall business. If you would like to see more of how we roll, you can follow me (Eleri) on Instagram as well as Sew and Tell Project.
Copyright 2017 Jen Frost
About the Author
Jen Frost is a Catholic quilter and crafter who evangelizes through fabric and loves talking about small business strategies. She’s a pattern writter, quilt designer, and book author. When she’s not in front of her sewing machine, she can be found at the beach with her husband and son, toes happily buried in the sand. She loves Instagram, and writes and quilts each week at Faith and Fabric. Join in the fun the first Monday of the month at 12pm PST.