Raising children and running a successful business at the same time can be a daunting undertaking. Monika Kristofferson, a Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultant, raised two girls and has successfully run Efficient Organization, a company she started over a decade ago. Her tips on parenting and managing a business can save you time and headache and bring you the professional and personal fulfillment you desire.
Monika Kristofferson has always been very organized. Over the years, several people have validated her skills on countless occasions. Monika’s close friend’s mother succeeded in convincing her to start her own business. That was in 2006 when Audrey, the younger of her two girls, was ready for school full-time.
Although Monika, a former medical assistant, had no business experience, her excitement to help other people motivated her. She soon found that it was different to be an organized person yourself and then teach somebody else how to do it or take somebody else through the process. With persistence, she built her business from excitement and passion and being good at what she does.
“It’s been a real adventure. It’s changed a great deal over the years, too,” Monika says. At first, she thought she was going to help mothers stay organized. Today, Efficient Organization helps clients of all stripes to organize their homes, not just stay-at-home mothers. In addition, Monika offers business services to companies in the Pacific Northwest, coaching entrepreneurs, training corporate leaders, and doing public speaking.
Here are some suggestions distilled from our interview with Monika, the author of two books and journals. Your parenting situation and your business environment may not be the same as hers. Nevertheless, these tips can be adapted to suit your circumstances.
1. Parenting: A Teachable Skill to Learn
Learn about parenting. Monika took parenting classes, read books about ages and stages, and applied what she learned to her two daughters. For example, she learned to set boundaries and share her expectations with them for behavior. As she remembers reading to them before they slept at night, it brings memories of a special time. She suggests finding parenting resources.
2. A Group Sport
Parenting is not a solo undertaking. Make friends with other parents. When Monika’s family moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where her now deceased ex-husband, Mark, was hired as a consultant, she found it useful to connect with other parents, becoming friends with some of them so she could have adult conversations and exchange parenting ideas with them. She visited the local library where she participated in numerous free programs for toddlers and older.
Get support and help with children especially when they are very young. It may mean hiring a babysitter or having a family member or friend come over while you’re still at home. Having someone attend to your child’s needs while you have a dedicated time to work in the office could be very helpful. “It’s really hard when you’re trying to balance talking on the phone or writing a business proposal and the child needs a snack. A divided attention makes it a lot harder to be successful,” Monika says.
3. Adapting To Evolving Needs
Identify the specific but evolving needs of your child and plan to meet them. Although it seems obvious, some parents fail to adapt to the developmental level their child has grown into. Do not treat your teenage child as if they are in kindergarten. Although some things change with age, aim at raising hardworking, confident, and independent children.
Listen to your adult children because parenting is a two-way street and you can learn from them as well. For example, Monika built her Instagram presence after her daughters introduced her to social media. Your children can become special friends as adults.
4. Organization 101 for the Parent Entrepreneur
As a business person, the best way to use your time efficiently when working and balancing a family is to have a foundation of organization and structure. If you’re working in a cluttered office with stacks on your desk, it may be hard to sit down and get right to work. The more time you have to sift through things, the less time you have to be productive and work on critical tasks that move your business forward.
Reminders about how you can organize your desk:
Have a recycle bin, a garbage can and a shredder nearby. As you process your mail, make quick decisions to get rid of pieces of paper that you don’t need versus setting them aside in a pile. If you set them aside in a mass, you’re going to waste time looking at them again in the future.
Keep office supplies like pens, staplers, sticky notes, and paper clips that you use often close by. Organize them in a drawer for easy to access. What you don’t need all the time such as extra printer paper, excess office supplies, and extra binders should be stored farther away. Our desk area is our prime real estate and we should keep it uncluttered, organized, and easy to sit down and get to work.
Have organized files in a file drawer or cabinet for documents that don’t require action, but that you may need to access in the future as a resource or reference. Label hanging files with file tabs and manila folders. No matter how nice your handwriting is, you can’t beat the clear, concise text you’ll get from using a label maker.
Ways to have structure:
Have systems that you can repeat for consistency in working with your clients or customers. This is also important for the day you may have a helper or employees so you can teach them how to continue the amazing service your company gives. Every business looks different, but here are some examples: Information to ask on the phone when new clients or customers call, how you track orders, how you remember to get back to people to follow up on your service or to schedule an appointment.
Monika works directly with clients in their homes or businesses, so she sends a questionnaire to each new client via Jottform, an online form making service. This is where she finds out how clients want to be contacted, whether they would like to be added to her newsletter, or any other special instructions. In addition, she has a list for each client to check off when she has sent them copies of paperwork, when she’s mailed their thank you card, and who referred them to work with her. She’s able to have consistency and build confidence in each client as she guides them through a process.
5. Efficient Time Management
Better time management is crucial. How are you using your time to avoid distractions and multitasking? Do you work with the list so that you’re focused and know what you want to accomplish each day? “It’s also just being very efficient with your time when they’re in class because that time goes by very fast during the day,” Monika says.
Create your to do list in the evening for the next day. In order to be realistic about what you can complete, do your best to estimate and write down how long each task will take. It’s common to underestimate how long things will take in our heads and then feel frustrated at the end of the day when we don’t have everything crossed off of our list.
Enlist the help of others to use your time and expertise wisely. Whenever you can, hire others to do the work you don’t love. For example, bookkeeping, web design, and research. Have a parent helper come over to spend time with the kids while you work in another room. Trade babysitting with another parent or create a schedule with your spouse or partner so you can have kid-free time to work.
Can you have your groceries delivered? Can you hire a housekeeper do the deep cleaning or a neighborhood teenager to mow the lawn? Remember, “Done is better than perfect”. If someone else takes over folding the laundry or loading the dishwasher, it may not be how you do it, but that’s okay.
A great way to motivate yourself is to set a timer. Parkinson’s Law says that we will take the amount of time that we give ourselves to complete something. If you give yourself the whole day without any structure, you may drag something out all day. But if you give yourself two hours to get something done, chances are you’ll get busy, get focused and get it done or at least come close.
Break projects down into pieces. When you’re balancing a business and a family, you may not have the luxury of work for long hours at a time. Even if you only work for 30 minutes at a time, if you’re working without distractions, you’ll make progress!
6. The Self-care Imperative
To be a successful parent and business person, remember to take care of yourself. Take vacations. Enjoy your child’s activities. Be flexible because that is one of the perks of being your own boss. Avoid burn-out. Have fun joggling the two commitments. Monika refers to Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas where author James Patterson lists five components of a balanced life to keep in mind: Family, Self-Care, Work, Integrity, and Friends. Self-care is an important part of poise and it includes sleep and exercise. Having adequate sleep and exercise leads to an increase in productivity. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself. Pamper yourself and take care of your health. In fact, it’s a good example for your children to learn the importance of self-care. When your batteries are charged, you can better take care of your family.
7. Parenting Becomes Easier
As your child grows, parenting becomes easier. There’s light at the end of the parenting tunnel. Monika’s older daughter, Amanda, 22, has finished college and is getting married this summer. Audrey, 19, currently attends college. Although your adult child still needs you, the demands are different and, hopefully, easier if you succeed in raising a well-organized, hardworking, and independent individual.
Have any more parenting tips for entrepreneurs? Let us know down in the comments.
This article was originally published on GREY Journal.