The summer breezes are starting to subside. Back-to-school shopping is in full force. Time to switch from a summer mindset and schedule to a fall one. With the kids (school-aged – middle to high) back in school and activities starting up, it’s vital to setup your fall schedule.
As Entrepreneurs with kids, our schedules vary from regular business owners. My schedule is not based on the fiscal year or calendar year – but on the school year. And there are big shifts depending on the time of year (school vacations, summer, etc.)
It’s important to nail down all of your kids’ schedules as soon as possible – bus times, after-school activities, sports practices and music lessons. I am open with all of my clients that I work only part-time from 10am-2pm. I usually am able to find some additional time for work in the evenings ( at soccer, piano, etc.), but 10 to 2 is the time frame that my clients know we can schedule calls, etc. That’s my main work block.
Either on paper or in a spreadsheet, mark off all the time that you work and that you’ll be involved in your kids’ activities, including morning time spent on getting them ready for school. Once you have everything plotted – you will see where you might need to find activities to occupy your kids’ time in order to work enough hours. Creating the schedule allow you to complete your priority tasks and spend time with your children. (Need some help with your weekly schedule? Check out my guide for creating your Time Block Schedule!)
In addition, I always make sure to have my Mobile Biz Kit so that I make the most of any “free time”. If I go to sports practice, I am able to use the time there to catch up on reading, schedule tasks for the next day, or even write blog posts (like this one!). Since I work part-time I need to make my work time extremely productive!
Now that you have your schedule down pat – you may realize that you need more time to do actual work. Like in the summer – you will need to come up with strategies for when your kids come home from school.
- Babysitter – depending on the age of your children, this may or not be acceptable. If your children are older, I have dubbed them “Transportation Assistants” since they basically take them to and from activities. If I know that I have an important call or deadline, having someone take the kids away can be priceless.
- Activities – kids will usually have sports or musics lessons. At least a couple days a week, these activities will give you an hour or two of time to work. If you have more than one child, TRY to schedule both of their activities on the same day.
- Friend Swap – Other parents may work at home. If you can, swap days when all the kids come to your house after school. That will give both of you at least a couple of hours after school when you can focus on your business. If you don’t have another work at home parent, try attending some small business community meetings – and you might meet someone.
- After-school classes – most schools provide some after school classes – debate, computer, etc. Sign your kids up for one of these each quarter – to give yourself a little extra time. They usually are not too expensive, let your kids try a new skill or improve an existing one, as well as spend time with their friends.
- Schedule of Chores, HW and practice – If your kids are older, they can begin to schedule their time as well. If they have a routine when they come home from school – that will make your life easier as well. For instance, maybe they come home and have a snack. Then they do homework, practice piano, and clean their room. They are old enough to understand that you’re still working and that they need to quietly go about their after-school routine without bothering you.
Thinking of your potential plans and strategies in advance will help to alleviate too many issues and too much down time.
- Calendar App – Once you have your time scheduled, then you will need to transfer it and or your actual tasks into a calendar program. Google Calendar is free and easy to set up. You can also share it with others. I have created multiple calendars including an “activity” calendar” with all my children’s events. This calendar I share with them and my husband – so we all know what’s happening and when. Use the calendar app that you like best it doesn’t matter which one. You just have to use it!
- Task App – while you have your schedule set out you will still want an app to keep you on track and completing tasks. (Note: Some use their calendar for that…though if you’re working with someone else, a task app is useful. In addition I like clicking boxes when I finish a task – there’s something satisfying and motivating about it.) There are a lot of simple task apps – Todoist, Wunderlist, Any.do etc. I tried many and like certain features of several. While they are free, many require a payment for some features (reoccurring tasks, reminders, etc.). There are also more in-depth task programs such as Asana, Trello, Nozbe, etc. Most integrate with other apps as well – Evernote, Google, etc. I think you need to try them for a little bit in order to find the one most suited to your business and lifestyle. Once you’ve tried a couple, pick one and stick with it.
- Capture App – When you’re on the go, you’ll need to have something to capture your moments of brilliance. There are simple “notepad” apps as well as more sophisticated ones like Evernote and One Note. I use Evernote and have made it my information hub for my business. (Check out my blog post My Journey with Evernote.)
Winging it can work for a time, but is NOT a long-term strategy that will help your business move forward. Planning your schedule in advance allows you to complete more tasks and still spend time with your family – as well as maintaining your sanity.
What strategies have worked for you? We’d love to hear!