3 Reasons to Join me at Platform University

Platform Conference with Michael HyattWhen I started a freelance writing business more than 20 years ago, the goal was to be independent. I didn’t want a boss. I wanted to do it all myself. On my time. On my terms. It was a challenge as a young wife in a new city, with no friends or family or professional contacts. But I eventually grew my “business” into a 60-hour workweek, writing and editing for local businesses from my apartment. I was so proud of myself for “succeeding” — and so grateful for the flexibility and financial freedom that accompanied my success.

What I didn’t see right away – and I can be a little slow sometimes – is that this success was leading me along a path to nowhere. A path to longer hours and larger paychecks, but less time for my family and for myself. A path to busy-ville. And a path to loneliness.

I think that happens to a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners. They work so hard to build something, only to discover that they are creating an overwhelmed life of isolation.

After I had three babies in five years, I came to the conclusion that this kind of business no longer served me. I craved balance – between work and family. I longed for boundaries – between business and personal time. And I desperately sought mentors to build me up – and teach me what I needed to know in order to create a better business and life. [Read more…]

Simple Time Saving Tips for Mompreneurs

Simple time saving tips for the mompreneur The other day I admitted to a group of friends that I had forgotten to pick up my son from swim practice. The women immediately chimed in and tried to “one up” each other with stories of motherhood failures. Each one had a story. Like forgetting to feed her family dinner before bed. Or sending her kids to school in the clothes they slept in. Or the time I entirely missed my daughter’s poetry reading at school. There’s something about sharing our failures that makes us real. It gives us assurance that we’re not alone. And it gives us a reason to share encouragement and advice as well.

That’s one of the things I love about my friends – they are so full of helpful tips and so willing to share what works for them. (Which means I get to share it with you!) So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and less than perfect right about now, try these simple time saving tips. You’ll feel more in control of your schedule and better equipped to handle the occasional little failures that seem to accompany motherhood!

1. Plan Your Meals for the Week. I know this sounds way too organized and Type A for some people but hear me out on this. You don’t have to do it perfectly. You can just have a general plan. One of my friends has a daily breakfast schedule. Her kids know what they’re eating for breakfast every day of the week. It’s always cereal on Mondays, eggs on Tuesdays, etc. It’s a little too structured for me but it works for them. I also have friends who use meal planning services like eMeals or The Scramble. And others who make freezer meals.

Here’s how I do it. When I do my grocery shopping, which is usually on the weekend, I plan 3 or 4 meals in my head. I buy all the ingredients I need for those meals. Then I make a list of those meals and the side dishes that go with them. As the week progresses I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner – I just choose from the list based on how much time I have to prepare. And I always have 2 or 3 staple meals I can make in a hurry to supplement the planned meals.

2. Prep the Night Before. This is critical if you have a busy morning routine with several kids leaving for school at various times. Teach your children to get everything ready the night before – bookbags packed, lunches made and in the fridge, shoes and clothes out, etc. It not only saves time but it also makes for a more relaxed morning because they don’t have to go searching for anything. Of course, the downside of this is that my kids will often discover at 10 pm that a uniform needs to be washed or we’re out of bread for sandwiches. But I guess it’s better than finding out at 7 am!

Another trick about prepping the night before is to get your workout gear ready if you plan to exercise in the morning. Having everything out and ready provides one less reason to skip the workout!

3. Clean as You Go. This is more difficult to do if you work outside the home but it makes a huge difference on the weekends. I try to keep up with laundry by doing a load or two every day (I’m not great about folding it and putting it away but at least I don’t have piles of dirty laundry to fight on Saturday). And I wash dishes as I cook so that I’m not stuck in the kitchen all night after dinner. The kids keep the dishwasher emptied every morning so I don’t have to look at dirty breakfast dishes all day. And I make my bed every morning, if for no other reason that to start my day feeling organized. [Read more…]

Tame the Technology Beast in Your Business

TameTechnologyWhen it comes to technology, I know just enough to be dangerous. I get ridiculously excited about a new tool I can use to gather data or share information or create something clever. And I embrace every opportunity to “fix” a problem with an app or device. But I’m not technologically savvy and I get easily frustrated with the implementation. As a result, I tend to adopt new technology faster than I can figure it out. And I’ve been known to buy shiny new tools without researching them or considering whether or not they’re truly necessary. It’s no wonder I sometimes feel like technology has taken over.

If you’re equally enamored by and afraid of technology, you might find yourself a bit overwhelmed as well. Take a look at these simple suggestions for taming the technology beast in your business.

Five Ways to Tame the Technology Beast

1. Stop confusing your customers with too many options. If you’re a DIY website owner then you’ve probably fallen into this trap before. You read about an ad network that promises to generate income and is super simple to use, so you start advertising on your site. Then someone tells you to install a new social media sharing widget because it will increase traffic to your site, so now there are ten options for readers to share your latest blog post. And you hear that videos improve your engagement so you throw one together and slap it on your homepage. All of a sudden, your website is so cluttered with the latest technological capabilities that your visitor has no idea what you offer or how to hire you.

If this sounds like you, perhaps it’s time to simplify. Take a critical look at your site and see if there is anything you can remove. Remember what your goal is and ask yourself if each tool helps contribute to that goal.

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1939 Click to Tweet!

2. Don’t spend all day creating graphics on Canva. I’m a huge fan of platforms like Canva and PicMonkey because they allow me to do simple photo editing that used to cost me a fortune. I love finding just the right photo and then editing it with a border or text overlay, playing with fonts and colors as I work. But when I find myself spending hours, instead of minutes, editing a single photo, I know it’s time to stop. Because every hour I spend tinkering with technology is an hour I lose for my business or my family.

So now I use a timer when I’m working with photos – just to make sure I’m not getting distracted. Your downfall may not be photo editing, but I’m willing to bet there is something you like to dabble in. Something you indulge in to the point of distraction. Try using a timer to keep tabs on yourself. [Read more…]