Being a female entrepreneur + a parent + working from home all bring about their own challenges. If you're struggling right now, read on to restore a bit of hope and get real-life tips from a Mom who's been working from home for a decade 💛
This post is Part 3 in a series about what nobody tells Moms about running a business from home.
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In part 1, we went over some ways to tackle productivity issues, and a few tricks you can start using today. You can read part 1 here.
In part 2, we went over how to tackle some common distractions. And though you can't completely eliminate all distractions (except perhaps by moving solo to a seaside cabin - sigh wouldn't be so nice?) you can certainly be proactive about removing a lot of unnecessary distractions from your life. You can read part 2 here.
In this post, part 3, we're talking about some mindset challenges. This is stuff that might be slowing you down that you're not consciously aware of.
Common Mindset Challenges (stuff lurking under the surface)
You might feel guilty, delinquent, or ashamed of yourself for any daytime hours that you don’t spend physically sitting at your desk between 9AM and 5PM (You’re a mom! You have so many jobs! You are not delinquent!). Let's look at what 9-5 even is, and reframe what it means for us.
Your mind might feed you a lot of unhelpful, garbage thoughts that can take the wind out of your sails and kill your momentum (“I’m not doing enough”, “I’ll never get there”, “who do I think I am, anyway?” or my personal favorite: “I’m so far behind!!” -- haha, what does that even mean?!) This has a name, and it's called Impostor Syndrome.
Even if you tack on extra work sessions in the early morning, or late-night after the kids go to bed, or try to do catch-ups on the weekend, you might still not shake this 9-5 guilty feeling... unless you’re consciously aware that it’s there. This is where we need to look at our boundaries.
And all of this is totally normal. If you’ve gone through or are currently going through any of the above, you’re not alone!
What is the point of 9-5 anyway?
Why is it important to talk about this? Why do we blindly assume we need to be available to others during these times? Why do we act as if we need to be accessible to anyone who wants something from us at any given moment? This thinking has led to a lot of poor boundaries and self-defeating people-pleasing behaviors for too long.
First things first: let’s remember that the 9-5 working model originated at the Ford Motor Company in the 1920s to prevent factory workers from being exploited, and then became law in the 1930s.
Here’s another interesting tidbit I learned: in the 1950s, the idea of trading time-for-dollars originated in the legal profession when lawyers began charging "billable hours" for every minute they worked on a client’s case rather than charging a fixed fee for a service.
Law firms quickly realized they could make a lot more money by making their lawyers work longer, so they set monthly quotas (which have continued to increase over time, hence making late nights another “norm” in certain fields). Meanwhile, the concept of setting a minimum number of hours being spent in the office spread to many other fields. (source)
"There for the Right Reasons"
Most people on an annual salary don’t make extra money for staying later -- it’s become part of our culture to arrive early or stay late just to show bosses how devoted we are (or to borrow a phrase from The Bachelor -- “we’re there for the right reasons” ;-)
We hope it will be recognized and rewarded later, but we don’t make any extra money.
The point is that as an entrepreneur, you are not clocking in and clocking out to meet some archaic or inapplicable quota. In contrast to our corporate work culture, where most people are paid based on the old custom of spending a full day in the office -- as opposed to the actual amount of work they produce in that time -- as an entrepreneur... that just won’t cut it.
The hours you put in are simply not as important as the results you produce. Not to your financial bottom line, nor to your sense of accomplishment.
On the bright side, it may not take you a full day to produce your desired results, especially if you’ve been doing something for a long time and have amassed a lot of skills.
Note that when you get paid for a result, not an amount of time, it can feel a bit counterintuitive or even a bit weird at first. This can come up when it comes time to charge for something that feels “quick and easy” to you.
Think of it this way: if it takes a professional designer 35 minutes to do something advanced that would take a beginner 14 hours to do, does that make the end result any less valuable? No.
People are paying you for the expertise and knowledge you’ve amassed, which typically culminates in some kind of "result", no matter what you do.
Another upside is that nobody’s breathing down your neck to come in early or stay late.
So you see, it’s not the number of hours that makes you a True Entrepreneur. We all hear stories of entrepreneurs who put in 100 hours a week for a few years so they can buy themselves time freedom for the rest of their lives -- but that just doesn't jive with motherhood.
It’s what you do with the time that you have that counts.
The only person who should care about your output is you.
Think about it: you probably left the corporate world seeking more time freedom, and the greatest obstacle in taking advantage of this newfound freedom is your own mind!
Perhaps your workdays will look nothing like you thought they would.
Maybe you work better in the wee hours of the morning, getting the bulk of your work done between 5-8AM.
Or maybe you’re a night owl and you hit your stride at 7PM, and you want to homeschool your kids during the day.
Maybe your ideal clients are only available on the weekend.
Maybe you need to set limited office hours during which people can pre-book time with you, as I have and you can see here, which are not “open” 8 hours per day.
You have the freedom to decide what works for you... and then keep tweaking to adapt it as your needs change. (And isn't that a huge reason why we left the workforce?)
Time management is but one piece of the puzzle. A bigger challenge is what’s going on in your mind about all this.
Working On Your Mindset Is An Ongoing Commitment
It’s the negative stories you create (and start to believe) about your worth as a person, in relation to your ability to output quantifiable progress, within a limited time frame... And understanding that they are just stories.