Balancing home life while building a birth business takes practice and experimentation. Many birth professionals are also mothers of young children, and much of the work we do to manage our businesses is at home while we're also mothering and running the household. As business owners, how do we make time for it all? Here are five tips that may help.
You don't necessarily need to create a 10-page business plan with financial projections and detailed market research for your birth business. It does help, however, to create goals spanning out 6-12 months, and maybe as far out as 3-5 years. What is the ideal number of clients you will have each month? How much money do you want to be making in a year? And what steps do you need to take to get there?
Identify the important roles you play in real life
For example, I am a childbirth educator, birth doula, a business coach, a mother, a wife, and the shuttle bus driver for my kids between home and school and all their activities. Within each role, I have a number of responsibilities and need to make time for them all.
Create a schedule and start with the "big rocks" first
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote about and presented a demonstration at his workshops to show people how most of us typically fill our time and calendars, and an alternative that can help us do more of what really matters. I'm surprised the original video is so difficult to find on YouTube, but maybe I shouldn't be, since I first saw this almost 20 years ago, but I finally found one that's subtitled in Chinese. There are a lot of people who have tried to imitate this, but I still think Covey's original video illustrates this principle most powerfully.
Covey starts with an audience member and a podium that has two containers and several large colorful rocks labeled with words representing important people and activities. After discussing some of the audience member's responsibilities and activities that take up her time, he brings out a container of pebbles and pours them into one of the empty containers, and instructs her to put the large rocks in the same container, but the rocks can't go above the top of the container. After struggling to do the task, he tells her she can start over and put all the rocks and pebbles into the second container. She adds all the big rocks, then when she pours in the pebbles, they easily fill in all the cracks. This exercise is a metaphor for scheduling the "big rocks" first, or the activities that mean the most to you for the roles in your life. The rest of your responsibilities can then be fit in the spaces of your schedule.
Schedule in regular time for personal renewal
Self-care is critical for maintaining energy and emotional and physical health. Be sure to schedule time for yoga, lunch with a friend, or those music or art lessons you've been wanting to take on a regular basis. Define what your self-care "big rocks" are going to be so you can be sure to nurture yourself and the important relationships in your life. You will find that the time you invest in your self-care will give you huge returns in your energy level and business and household productivity.
Create structures in your life to support your family and your business
A structure is a system or routine that you follow to ensure certain areas in your life run more smoothly. This will help you to sustain your energy and create more time for the things you enjoy. An example is a structure for getting your house clean. Will you do it? Will your kids help? Will you hire a housekeeper? Another structure would be for your business and how you track your paperwork. Will you keep paperwork in a binder or manila folder? What information will you include for each client, and where will it be stored? Will you print out several sets of paperwork at one time or on a per client basis? Yet another structure can be created so you can find care for the kids when you get called to a birth. Is there a list of people to call? Do you have backs packed and meals made while you're at a birth? What does each child need if going to a friend or relative's home?
The initial time investment that it takes to do these tasks may seem large, but by creating supportive structures, understanding your roles and responsibilities, scheduling time for self-renewal, organizing your responsibilities by priority, and identifying goals to move towards, you will find that you are more focused and productive when you work, and your time outside of work is more rewarding and less stressful.
I'd love to hear how these tips help you in your life. Come and join the Inspired Birth Pros Facebook group to connect with other birth professionals.