30Stories started as an impulsive birthday project in which I offered to answer 30 questions from my blog readers in 30days. The 30days part proved to be too ambitious, but I adored all the questions so I’m continuing to work my way through the list.
This is story number 22, and it comes from Becky Knight of Living Sexuality who asks:
Q: “How do you balance “spreading your wings” with tending to your “nest.” As someone who works full-time outside the home and has three kids, I don’t sit down until 9pm every night. I have very little time or energy to put into the things I want to do for myself professionally. Do you have advice or suggestions on how to balancing the obligations I have to myself with the obligations I have to others?”
A: I work with a lot of solopreneurs, and believe me, you are not alone in this challenge. We could write a whole unit on each of the three categories you’ve mentioned here: home, work, and self. But for now, let’s focus on how to find time to do what you want to do professionally, while still keeping the home fires burning.
Let go of being houseproud. When I was a newlywed in 1992, I read a modern British housekeeping book that encouraged scrubbing the toilets and sinks every day. What?! This in not the 60′s and you are not on the cast of Mad Men. Put down the vacuum cleaner and let the dust accumulate on the mantle piece. Martha Stewart is not coming to dinner and those who love you are not going to look under the bed. It’s amazing how little housework you can do — and still have a safe and relatively tidy home. Here are some things I can think of right now that will release you’re time: ignore the cobwebs; be okay with “assembled” dinners; let the junk drawer stay junky, don’t clean bits of the “guest” bath that never get used until right before a guest comes; don’t by stuff you have to iron (you’re never gonna wear it anyway.) There. I bet you feel better already.
Enlist Your Family. America, we are coddling our children. Preschoolers can serve themselves dinner from a common serving dish, kindergartners can sort the laundry, grade schoolers can take out the trash. Why are you doing it all? Here’s are my number one and two tips for releasing your time by enlisting your family. 1. Teach everyone to load the dishwasher. 2. Sort the clean laundry into a basket, one for each family member. Holler at the family members to come take their basket upstairs. Viola. You are done.
Don’t Over-Program Your Kids. The fewer soccer/ballet/fencing/potter classes you run around to, the more time you’ll have for your own personal development. We are designed to be life-long learners. That means Mom’s get to learn and develop themselves too. Period.
Know Your Purpose. I’m taking a course with Gary Barnes right now, and his big premise is that the results you are getting are on purpose. If you are getting results you don’t want, stop and make sure you have the right purpose. What do you want to do for yourself — professionally or personally? Write your purpose statements down, post them, make them your priority. This will take a lot of trust. You’ll need to trust that it’s okay for the the stuff that falls away to go away. You might end up living a simpler life — a life that looks much different that your neighbors and peers. But you will be living according to your passionate purpose. And that will be totally worth it!
Build a Support Group. If you are trying to develop something professionally for yourself “on the side” — either in addition to your regular work, and/or in addition to your family life, you’re gonna need a team. Find just two other people who are also setting on-purpose professional goals. You can meet with them in person, or on the phone with free conference calling websites. Set quarterly goals and check in with each other once a month to see how things are going. Brain storm through your stuck spots, and offer each other tips. You’ll be amazed how much this helps!
Reconsider your Finances. Your time is valuable, and the time you invest now on meeting your professional goals will pay off in funds later. That means you might have to invest some funds now in services to help you reach those work goals. Some counter-intuitive ways to make more money is to hire a once-a-month housekeeper, pay for an after-school babysitter, or even get a virtual assistant to help you with some of the grunt work. Even in a tight budget, making time for your personal business project by investing in home-life help can bring in a big bang for you buck when your business is up and running.
Use What You’ve Got. If you’ve been working on a professional project for awhile, you probably have more resources than you think. That flier you wrote would be the good basis for a class at the community center. Those blog posts could turn into a for-pay ecourse or ebook without much effort. Those lectures you presented at your professional association could be re-presented in front of a webcam and turned into a video series. I’ll tell you a little secret…shhh…not everyone has seen your work yet. Take a hard, creative look at the materials you’ve already amassed and package them for re-sale.
Acknowledge the Small Steps. Chances are, you are spending a lot more time on your professional development that you think you are. Writing one blog post, sending out one resume, making contact with one potential client — these are all big achievements when your world also happens to consist of a full time job and parenting a couple of offspring. Keep an achievement scroll handy and write down every small step you take. Don’t fall into the trap that you can’t get anything done unless you have a big block of time. Winnowing away at a larger project ten minutes a day will get you to the same place that spending 3 hours on it in one day will. Maybe not as quickly, but what’s the important part? Getting there quickly, or getting there at all. Accept your small opportunities and watch the build into a big dream. Or keep resisting the small options, wait for the big break, and be right where you are this time next year.
Accept the Seasons. Toddlerhood. Health Crises. Moving. Job Loss. There are times in life when it’s just all hands on deck for the homelife. It’s okay. Seasons come and seasons go. Winnow things down to the basics, don’t take on more than you need to, and trust God and The Universe that things with turn, turn, turn.
What about you? What are your tips for finding time for your personal projects? How have you made space for professional development when time and money is tight? And how do you balance being a parent and being a person. Give us all your best tips and stories in the comments below. We need you! Because “there ain’t no place to go, but together.”
30 Stories : 30Days – The Collection
Story 1: What is the intersect between work and play and how can I find it?
Story 2: How has your spirituality shaped your sexuality?
Story 3: IRL and Online Friendships: same? different? balanced.
Story 4: How can I connect with my neighborhood?
Story 5: What do I do if my partner and I have different faiths?
Story 6: What are you doing to make a difference in this world?
7tory 7: What is your highest high and what can you learn from it?
Story 8: What role has massage played in your life?
Story 9: How can I make administrative tasks a creative/spiritual practice?
Story 10: What has it meant to you to have your birthday so near Halloween?
Story 11: How can I manage resistance around my art?
Story 12: I want to establish some kind of spiritual practice. Where do I start?
Story 13: What is your primary spiritual practice?
Story 14: Do you prefer living in Europe or in the U.S.?
Stroy 15: How does nature affect your spirituality, and why do you say you have a soft spot for Pagans?
Story 16: As your spirituality expands, does God stay personal?
Story 17: How can I pursue my dreams, do the have-to’s, and not burn out?
Story 18 How can I create a spiritual community?
Story 19: What has it been like returning to the U.S. after living abroad?
Story 20: How can you create balance in your on-line life?
Story 21: How can I start a soultribe?