This summer I chose to be the primary caregiver of my kids.
Well…now that I read, say, and type out that previous sentence, that sounds a bit ridiculous. I’ve always been the primary caregiver, but this summer I decided to approach our summer from a different perspective.
Let me explain.
In previous summers Camden (my 6 year old) has gone to camps all summer long and while he had TONS of fun, as far as I was concerned it wasn’t money well spent. He would go for a week and then be done. There were no deeper relationships formed, it was just stimulation day after day, with no REAL substance.
Don’t get me wrong, he had fun and he was very well taken care of, I just thought it was a bit shallow and wasn’t a great use of our resources. AND he was on a schedule, and if you know me, I’m not a HUGE fan of scheduling our kids all the time. I think downtime is essential in their development, and it’s not something he had a lot of during the day. There is a time and a place for structure, and every single day in the summer isn’t the place for it, we’ve got enough of that during the school year. I notice that when he has unstructured independent play time he is more imaginative, more curious, and a whole heck of a lot more patient. And that works for me and my family.
And now with 18 month old Nora, things are a bit more complicated.
So this summer I said no to most camps and activities and decided that I would just work less, that’s all there was to it.
Now I should say this (before I dive into this content), I did hire a babysitter for 6 hours a week and I did send Camden to two weeks of t-ball camp because he LOVES it and we know the camp staff and have a relationship with them. There was that connection which made me feel ok about sending him there. We also had two weeks of vacation built in, so for our 10 week summer, he was occupied for about 4 weeks of it.
But for the rest of the summer it’s mostly been me wrangling our amazing (and high-energy) 5 year old and 18 month old.
So here’s what I I have in place to maximize my time, to make the 6 - 10ish hours of work I do have a week, count.
1. Set CRAZY boundaries.
When it’s time for me to work, I WORK. Like no interruptions, don’t bother me unless the house is on fire, kind of work. For me, I have to be very clear with my boundaries not only for my kids and husband, but also for myself. I’m very much so an all or nothing kind of person, and so this kind of commitment works with my personality. So when it is time to work, I work, when it is time to play, I play. And while I’m certainly not perfect at this, I’ve gotten A LOT better about being fully present with my work and my play this summer, and I’m pretty proud of that.
2. I’ve maintained.
Now, I’ll be the first to own that this is the LAST thing I want to do. I do think there are certain aspects of your business that should be growing at all times, but this summer I made the commitment to allow myself to maintain the active work my business. The active work that I’ve been doing, didn’t grow anything, I’ve been staying where I am. And I had to come to grips with the idea that this is ok. At the beginning of the summer I had to have a “come to Jesus moment” and grant myself permission to maintain during the 2.5 months that is our summer break. I had to tell myself that my worth as a business owner or the validity of my business isn’t because it’s growing, it’s because my business and I show up for my existing audience and my existing clients in the best way I know possible. And I’m consistent, value-filled, and effective in how I support them.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t grow my business this summer, but what I want you to know here is that I maintained anything that required me to work actively. Any growth (which I’m about to talk about here in my next point) is because of the strategy I have in place.
3. I’ve automated my businesses’ growth.
Any growth I’ve experienced this summer has been because of organic or paid efforts.
Organically, I’ve grown my Facebook Group by 400 members because of the strategy I employ inside of my Group in how I relay and share content. I know how to strategically share content inside of my Group that gets my Group crazy visible and Facebook then pushes it to new audiences and those new audiences request to join my Group. It’s a strategy I teach inside of my course, From Wallflowers to Groupies: the ULTIMATE Facebook Group Course.
Now regarding paid traffic, this one is pretty simple. I ran a Facebook Ad all summer, that was for my most downloaded freebie, the 33 Places to Promote Your Lead Magnet, which funneled my new email subscribers into a nurture sequence, then an engagement sequence, then a pitch sequence for my membership site the Lead Generation Lab.
And the goal here was to break even every month with the Ads. So as much money as I spent on Ads, I wanted to bring in as much revenue as I was spending on the Ads. Because the Lead Generation Lab is a 12-month subscription-based program, I was ok with the first payment from my new clients enrolling in this program to maintain the Ads and not actually build my business because I knew that the revenue would be there the next 11 months because again, of how the program is set up and my clients’ 12 month commitment to the program.
4. I focus on the #1 sales driver.
Our businesses need to make sales. Otherwise it’s just a really expensive hobby. It absolutely needs to make money and so it’s important to know HOW your business makes money. For my audience I’ve focused on email marketing to grow my business from day #1 because it works for me. It can be entirely automated. You can schedule content for months in advance. You can create triggers through habits within your email marketing, and you can funnel your subscribers to content that will serve them better based on those habits.
In short: I think email marketing is amazing and it’s how I’ve built my business.
So in this season of limited time, I’ve relied on email marketing to not only serve, but to create the sales. I haven’t actively sold in over 3 months. It’s all been done through email marketing.
And while live selling gets amazing results, as far as I’m concerned selling passively through email marketing is what dreams are made of. If I don’t have to hop on Facebook Live and do a hard pitch for a program, I have no desire to, and if I can have systems do that for me, yes please give me some more!
Leaning on the systems (and email sales sequences) I already have in place feels amazing for me.
5. I track what I actually spend time on and the return on investment (ROI) I see from that activity.
I use an app called Toggl that helps me to actually see what I spend time on each day (I’m a ridiculously visual person). What this app helped me to see is how much time I spend doing what, and then figure out the ROI I experience from that task. And now sometimes the ROI isn’t financial. If it buys back my time, sanity, or is more predictable, I’m all for it. If it’s one of those three plus revenue-producing then that’s the holy grail! If there was no ROI then it wasn’t worth it and I got rid of it. If there was ROI, I analyzed what I was doing to see if there was a system or automation I could employ to help me reduce the time I spent on that particular task.
Additionally, when I was tracking my daily tasks I also recorded how I was feeling when I was doing that task. I can’t do things I don’t love or feel stressed about for a long period of time. And really, I shouldn’t have those things in my business anyways, so this activity really helped me and allowed me to make some big moves when it comes to simplifying and streamlining tasks in my business.
Something that I learned from this was that I was spreading myself thin when it came to managing two Instagram accounts: one for my business and one for the podcast. I didn’t love managing two accounts, I wasn’t fully committed to either account, it stressed me out, and I wasn’t consistent. So why bother? The stress of having two accounts and doing them both well wasn’t worth it, because I wasn’t doing either one of them well. So I got rid of the podcast’s account and just went back to having one account. As soon as I did it, I felt like a load had been taken off my shoulders.
6. Visualize my day.
You create your reality, so it’s imperative that I know what I want my day to look like and how I want to feel while I’m in my day. Overwhelm can happen (if you let it) and can derail your entire day (again, if you let it), and so when you’re growing your business it’s important to know HOW you want to feel, work, be, exist, and do in your business.
I’m not going to get into specifics (that would take a really long), but it’s something I do in the very beginning of my work day. I close my eyes and imagine how I want to work, how I want to interact with my clients, my audience, my contractors, and my colleagues. Connection, joy, meaningful work, presence, and wins are always a part of the exercise. I then imagine my family time, my personal time, and my time with Teer.
Going through this exercise reminds me of how I want to work, how I want to exist, and how I want to live my life. So when overwhelm, disappointment, doubt, or whatever else negativity can and will start to creep in at some point that day, I go back to my visualization and imagine that higher version of myself and react in the way that she would react, not how I want to react while I’m dealing with the situation. It’s helped me to put out fires easier and make smarter decisions faster.
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