Four years ago, I hit two major milestones within months of each other: I welcomed my fourth baby to our family, and I brought in a six-figure income from my freelance writing business for the first time. Looking back, part of me wonders how I managed to pull it off, but a larger part of me knows exactly how: through hard work, sleepless nights, a lot of coffee and an arsenal of resources and tricks.
Of course, I don’t have all the answers to successfully working while raising young kids (does anyone?), but I can tell you about what has worked for me, my business and my family.
1. BUSINESS PODCASTS
I’ve learned many invaluable lessons from business podcasts such as best-selling author Rachel Hollis’s Rise. I recommend these two for female entrepreneurs. Both mix professional interviews, personal experience and real-life takeaways in a down-to-earth-way. For example, Jenna Kutcher of The Goal Digger spends one episode talking about how her husband learned they were expecting while he was, um, using the facilities — then she later discusses how she amassed multiple figures in her business. And if you’re looking for a brutal kick-in-the-pants to get you revved up about your business and personal goals, Hollis’s podcast is the place to go.
2. MOTIVATIONAL BOOKS THAT ARE ACTUALLY HELPFUL
I have two favorite books that delve deeper into how our mindset affects our actions: “The Art of Money” by Bari Tessler and “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. I recommend reading Tessler’s book first: She offers simple, effective suggestions to change how you think about money. She suggests approaching your finances as a treat, like allowing yourself your favorite chocolate as you pay bills. Her book was the perfect set-up to Sincero’s book, which is about the power of wealth manifestation and believing in yourself in a non-cheesy way. Some of my bigger business goals, like getting a book deal and making six figures, began with believing I could do it.
I abandoned traditional to-do lists a long time ago.
3. A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
I didn’t hire help until about a year ago, but I now realize I should have done it a long time ago. A virtual assistant helps me with key tasks I don’t enjoy or lack the skill set to do, such as graphic design and back-end marketing, which frees me up to take on more paid work within my wheelhouse. I found my VA by posting honestly on my website about what I was looking for. I liked having people who wanted to work for me as opposed to me chasing them down through another service or outlet.
4. ORGANIZATIONAL TOOLS
Every parent has to find the mix of hot mess and organization that works for them. In my household and business, this is what it looks like:
- A “happy notepad.” I abandoned traditional to-do lists a long time ago. I hated the constant feeling that I wasn’t doing enough if everything wasn’t crossed off by the end of the day. This year I picked up a pretty notebook that I use for journaling, doodling, or jotting down inspiration as it comes to me. The simple swap has made a difference in how I approach my tasks.
- Google Homes in my kitchen and kids’ bedrooms. I can make calls while I’m cooking, set timers to get the kids out the door in the morning, use the intercom, and every family member can easily add items to our shopping list.
- Paper and electronic calendars. I use one master calendar in the kitchen for the whole family, one paper planner for my work deadlines, and my phone calendar for all the things I need to remember, like what to buy for the class party and interview times for my clients.
5. INDULGENCES I REFUSE TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT
After almost six years working for myself, I’ve finally learned that indulgences make me more productive as an employee and my own boss. Even though I work from home, only a few steps away from my kitchen, I got a Nespresso machine in my office. I also make sure to use some of my earnings for a monthly gym membership, personal retreats and quarterly massages. I liken it to the snack room at an office or a gym discount for employees — they’re work perks that keep me motivated.
6. TIME TO CELEBRATE MILESTONES
Over the course of building my business, I hit some of my major financial goals: making extra mortgage payments on our new home, paying off thousands of dollars in interest, and paying down my principal early.
I realized I needed to celebrate my accomplishments. Because hitting our financial, career and even personal milestones is a big deal — and it will motivate us to keep working hard.