Wednesday, January 11, 2012

 On the heels of yesterday's blog about courage, I'd like to introduce a new blog series for this week (and into next) entitled "LOOK WHAT I CAN DO (YOU CAN DO IT TOO)!"

I hope you took the cue from yesterday that courage is displayed in many ways. This new year I want each of you to have courage to be better. To do difficult, new, and way over due things (It's about darn time, right?!) That's what this guest blogger series is all about; to read about people who can inspire you and help you to accomplish more. Let's see what they can do...and remember...YOU CAN DO IT TOO!

Okay, let's get started. I'd like to introduce a long time dear friend of mine, Amanda Donaho. She is a very accomplished photographer (Winner of weddingwire bride's choice awards 2012- visit HERE to marvel at her talents), who does lots of work from home. She is a busy mother of three, a loving wife, and a good to the core human being. Here are her suggestions for working from home and balancing life in general.

Working from home.  Holding your sweet babies in your lap while you email clients.  Sipping on coffee in your PJs at your desk.  Eating lunch whenever & having access to whatever you want.  Taking breaks, maybe even to nap, as often as you like.  Sounds dreamy, right?  If only that was actually how it went down.

I’ve been a work-at-home mom for nearly 5 years now and while I do indeed end up working in my PJs a lot, it’s simply because I haven’t had time to shower. I’m a wedding photographer and a mother to three little boys – a 5 year old and twins who just turned 1 year.  Needless to say, it’s crazy in my house at ALL times.  

I've spent much of the last year especially being frustrated with my time management skills (or lack thereof) and feeling guilty.  If I’m spending time with my boys, then I feel guilty that I’m neglecting my work.  If I’m working, then I feel guilty that I’m not spending time with my boys.  I’m constantly feeling “behind” on something.  My to-do list is longer than I care to read.  In the last 4 months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to create that perfect life/work balance.  I’m still learning, but thought I would share some tips on what has worked for me so far.  This doesn’t only go for mom’s who work from home, but anyone who is trying to maintain a better balance in life, so you can actually ENJOY it.

*Whiteboards – I keep a large whiteboard at my desk that has all of my work “to-do” items in one spot.  Everything that needs to be done goes on that board and is erased when completed.  I have apps on my iPad as well to help me with these (I recommend the “Things” app if you don’t already have it) but as non-cool as it is, a simple board & marker actually help me even more.  It’s in my face constantly so I can’t forget anything. The feeling of erasing an item when it’s done gives me much satisfaction.  

*Have a system for everything – This is something I was already learning the importance of, but I attended a conference this fall that really drove the point home.  While it’s a daunting task to actually CREATE the systems & find out what works for you, once it’s done you’ll save yourself so much time.  For instance, there are few things I hate more than dragging out my double stroller and screaming children to go into the post office to mail out client DVDs.  I decided that instead of trying to talk myself into going multiple times a week, I would designate Monday mornings as post office day.  It can be as simple as that, or something more in depth like creating a more efficient workflow. Establishing systems is a sure way to start saving yourself some time.

*Create work hours & stick to them!  This is something I’m preaching to myself on.  It’s hard to do when a kid wakes up from a nap 40 minutes too early and it’s during your “work hours.” So, I’ve yet to nail down how best to establish this, but it’s a work in progress & something I think is key to getting your life back. 

*Plan for tomorrow – Every night before I go to bed, I look at my whiteboard & get out my calendar.  I think about any events going on that next day, nap times, etc. and plan accordingly.  I then schedule specific tasks from the whiteboard to be done at specific times.  I know that from 8:30-10:00am the babies will be napping and my oldest will be at pre-school, and I know these two whiteboard items will take about that long to accomplish, so that goes on the calendar, etc. Be very SPECIFIC with the tasks you need to do and the timeframes that you’re scheduling them in, it really helps you stay on task & know what items need to be done during that time.

*ALWAYS break for 10 minutes for a baby that needs to cuddle.  ALWAYS.

*Take a day off!  It’s SO easy as an entrepreneur to work every day.  There are always so many things to be done.  It’s crucial that you take at least one day a week to do NONE of those things.  Shut the office door, and spend the whole day with your family & friends.

*Schedule time for yourself – Another thing that I’m slowly learning how to do.  Find at least one re-charging thing for yourself each week and put it on the calendar.  Maybe it’s coffee with a friend, working on a personal art or project, a pedicure… just make sure that you’re getting time away from the house to recharge.  It’s one of the best things you can do for your family & your business.

*Schedule social media time – If you’re reading this blog, then chances are you’re reading other blogs.  Chances are also high that you spend some time on one of the many social media networks at our fingertips.  These are all GOOD things.  They help us connect outside our homes (which is fantastic for those of us cooped up inside working all day who rarely get to speak to another adult) and they can be great for our businesses.  They can also be a terrible waste of our time if not used with some self control.  J  Find out what works for you, but I urge you to find a few times a day to check personal email/social media sites & stick to that.  One of my “treats” is that if I’m able to complete the task that I’ve scheduled myself during a certain block of time BEFORE that time is up, then I can browse around online for the remainder of that time.  It gives me an incentive to get done what I need to do and helps limit my time in the great abyss that is Facebook.  J

*Say NO!  Learning to say “no” is a great thing.  Really spend some time thinking about what your priorities are. If you are asked to do something that doesn’t fall into those priorities, it’s okay to say no to it!  I have learned to make changes to the way I run my business and my personal life but, understand that while sometimes I feel like I’m Super Woman, I’m most definitely not and can not do all things.  Often the things I am saying NO to are even GOOD things, but at the end of the day if they cause me more stress, then I’m going to pass.

As we start a new year, it’s a great time to make changes like these.  I’m determined that 2012 is going to be the most balanced year I’ve had since becoming a mother & business owner and my happiest one, too!

Did you get all that great info. people?! I don't know about you, but I'm itching to go buy a giant white board now so I can write all these useful tips down...lol! Thank you so much Amanda and I know this year will be a great one for you. 

Check back tomorrow for another inspiring and helpful guest blogger!



  1. I loved these tips!! These are great even for mothers who aren't working. I've been trying so hard on the scheduling thing- trying to get my days more planned out so things run more smoothly and I get more done. This has me motivated to try harder! Awesome series Jody, thanks!!

  2. Great idea for the series, Jody. And Amanda was a great choice to kick it off.


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