As if being a single parent wasn’t stressful enough, being an entrepreneur completely changes the game. Balancing daycare, doctor’s visits, and school functions alongside running your business is tough. If you’re already a single parent and small business owner, you know the sum of things and people that need your attention is colossal. Failure to balance these two roles can lead to an unmanageable stress levels and guilt over your divided attention.
But there is hope. There are millions of other kindred spirits just like you who are facing the same struggles. Here are the five best tips to rock your roles as a single parent and as an entrepreneur.
#1: Anticipate & Organize
In addition to being a parent, there’s added stress and responsibility of being in charge. Without proper organization and time management techniques, you’ll end up reacting to everything that comes up in the spur of the moment.
Instead, anticipate your needs and plan ahead. Common daily routines won’t work because, as a business owner and a single parent, your day-to-day routine isn’t routine at all. The key to successful time management is getting organized ahead of time. Update your next day’s to do list with important family activities and business meetings. Making a habit of organizing your day and planning ahead is the key to efficient work and increased productivity.
#2: Choose a Time Management Technique
We’re all racing against the clock to finish tasks and meet deadlines. But what if instead of struggling against time, you learn to work with it? Once you’ve figured out what you must do for the day, find a system of prioritization and time management that works for you.
For example, the Pomodoro time management technique uses a timer system to minimize distractions and boost your productivity. A timer notifies you when your Pomodoro, or fixed time window, starts and ends, and you work on a single self-assigned task until the timer rings. The Pomodoro technique is unique in that it includes short breaks for non-work activities in between tasks, which helps with stress management.
If the Pomodoro method doesn’t appeal to you, there are many others available. The Franklin Covey system is well-known thanks to their ubiquitous line of planners. The GTD and Eat That Frog systems are appealing to many due to their immediacy. And in recent years, Tim Ferris’s Four-Hour Work Week has become a favorite of entrepreneurs. The point is that there are many available techniques, and you can find one that helps you maximize your productivity.
#3: Master the Art of Delegation
A good leader must know how (and when) to delegate tasks. However, for a single parent business owners, mastering the art of delegation can mean the difference between success and failure. By using these simple tips for deciding when you should (or shouldn’t) delegate, you’ll find more balance and have more time to spend with your family.
- Focus on High Value Activities. You have both strengths and weaknesses. By listing these for yourself and each of your employees, you’ll be able to assign tasks to the right person. Also consider outsourcing to virtual assistants and focus on matching High Value Activities (HVAs) with the right person to get tasks done faster and better.
- Communicate Guidelines and Update Manuals. For standardized results and quality, establish and communicate firm guidelines – even if the task seems obvious to you. Your employees can only exceed your expectations when they know what they are.
- Trust your Team. Once you establish the HVAs for each person, communicate guidelines, and express expectations, focus on building trust between you and your team. Show them that you trust them to do their jobs without micromanagement. As you gain confidence in them, delegate more responsibilities.
#4 Hire Household Help
Another form of delegation comes outside the office when you hire help to handle basic household responsibilities. Over the long term, it costs you less to hire help than to attempt to squeeze chores into your already over-packed schedule.
For single parents, hiring a babysitter to look after a child is a non-negotiable solution to balancing your role as a mom or dad while running a business. Online services let you search for trustworthy individuals to clean your home, do your laundry, and do handy tasks like landscaping or small repairs. These services let you reduce your workload while making sure that someone still does the literal dirty work of keeping up your home.
#5 Prioritize Your Health
Making your health a priority requires more than an occasional visit to the doctor and drinking plenty of water. You have to make time to eat right, exercise, and manage your mental health to sustain your momentum as a single parent and business owner. With 86% of business owners reporting they suffer from some form of depression, ADHD, or anxiety, you can face debilitating side effects if you don’t prioritize your health.
Running a successful business and being a single parent is a balancing act. However, if you find yourself changing your mind more often or find it increasingly difficult to make decisions, you need to take a step back. Your staff and, most importantly, your children need a leader and role model to learn from and follow.