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Today I am starting off a new section that I hope to turn into a weekly feature and hopefully later when I get my nerves under control, turn it into a podcast.
Blogging and online business world is a huge niche and there are so many successful entrepreneurs who have built up their businesses from scratch. I am just one person sharing what I have learned (and learning) and my views but I feel there are so many things and perspectives we can learn about from each other if share the platform with our peers. So I will be sharing interviews with other successful business and blog owners and also insights from those that provides services to this niche.
I am kicking off the interview section today with Alisha Arnold who I recently came into contact with. Alisha manages 2 successful businesses alongside her 9 to 5 job at the bank. Not only that, she is also a mother to 3 boys. That's pretty much 4 jobs.
I was amazed at how Alisha was able to seamlessly juggle so many roles. I struggle to keep up with my blog (sometimes I fall behind) and taking care of my 2 year old son on a day to day basis. I wanted to pick up some time management skills and learn how she manages to take care of 3 business and 3 kids all at the same time.
What does your daily routine look like?
I wake up usually between 5 and 5:30 am (unless I am up late the night before). During that time I do something for myself. Usually that is exercise or reading.
I set an alarm on my phone for 6 am and make sure I have a hard stop at that time. At 6 am, I wake up my two oldest boys so that they can get ready for school. My third son is two, and I do not dare wake the beast. He gets up on his own terms, it's best so that I can keep my morning as chill as possible!
After I wake up the oldest boys, I jump in the shower and get myself ready for work. I make sure to not leave my room until I am completely ready. I found out when I stepped out, either to get clothes out of the dryer or whatever it may be, there was always some drama that "mom" needed to attend to. When I was out of sight, there was never a need for mom, funny how that works out!
By 7am I peek my head out and make sure that my boys are all ready. On occasion I have to yell at my oldest to wake up and hurry because he might have fallen back asleep.
Both my husband and I have always worked full time. He is always out the door before everyone else, so I have never been able to rely on him for help getting the boys ready. So, I taught my kids to be self sufficient early.
Since the first grade, my boys have learned to pack their own lunches, brush their teeth, comb their hair, and by three years old, they were able to dress themselves.
So, by 7 I am ready and can concentrate on getting my two year old dressed, shoes on and teeth brushed. I try to pack his bag the night before, so I am not hustling pack it in the morning. We are out of the house by 7:30am and not back again until 5:30 or 6pm depending on traffic.
During my lunch, I am using that time to eat and build websites for BlueFox.
When we get home and unloaded, the oldest one's finish any homework they didn't finish in after school care. While they are working on homework, I am finishing making the dinner that my husband started. I only make 30 minutes or less meals during the week and keep more time consuming dinners for the weekend. If I am able to prep dinners for the week I will, but is not always something that I can do because I have cakes that I am baking throughout the week and decorating on the weekends. We always eat dinner as a family at the dinner table.
By the time we are done it is usually about 7:30pm. The boys are big on us being able to watch at least one show as a family. So we will watch an episode of something before bed. By 8pm it is bed time, everyone gets ready and put to bed. While the kids are sleeping I try to designate a few days throughout the week to watch a movie and spend time with my husband.
On Monday afternoons I meet with my business partner for BlueFox for an hour. I bake and cakes in the evenings after everyone is asleep during the weekday and usually start decorating towards the end of the week. Some nights I am up until 1am and others I am able to be done by 11pm. Regardless, I try to make sure that I do not let cakes interfere with my time with my family during the week and weekends as much as possible.
How do you organize your daily tasks?
I write a check list for what needs to be accomplished for the week. That list consists of family needs (homework projects, games, school events, etc), BlueFox, and Cupcakes and Sweets.
I break my list down into each day and make sure to spread everything out enough that if something doesn't get completed that it can move to the next day with little impact.
It is a balance, but I know that if I complete everything for my designated day and I still have time left to do more, I can or I can have time for me. I would be lost without a checklist.
Lot of us stay at home parents tend to run around and do a million things at once, yet it feels like not much got accomplished. What tips can you give to help accomplish daily goals?
I am not a stay at home parent, but I get that feeling on my days off, especially when I get an extra day off. I make plans in my head that cannot be realistically accomplished. So to ground myself, I stick to my list. The mess will always be there.
Delegating tasks is a big thing for me. I wouldn't be able to accomplish much without delegation. Here is an example: My 10 yo unloads the dishwasher and is responsible for washing, drying, and putting away his own clothes, he vacuums when I ask (I like to keep that one), cleans his own bathroom. My 8 yo gathers all dirty dishes and loads the dishwasher, does his own laundry like my 10 yo and cleans his own bathroom, he likes to cook, so I have him help with dinner, my two year old knows how to add soap and start the dishwasher, puts away the clean silverware, he helps me move clothes to the dryer and helps me make dinners (tossing food into the pan for stirring).
Sometimes I get stuck in a procrastination rut. What do you do to avoid putting things off?
I think that everyone gets into this rut. I think that having a routine, helps you stay grounded. If you just do to do, you will lose motivation.
You mentioned that you have an accountability partner. Can you talk a bit more about what that entails?
Early last year I decided that I did not want to work for someone else anymore. I stumbled on Virtual Assistants and I thought I could do that! I enrolled in a course called Virtual Savvies and quickly learned that being a VA was not for me!
Part of the course asked that you get an accountability partner to work with through the journey. I met Katie! We hit it off pretty fast too. The more we got to know each other we found out that we were pretty like minded, but she is definitely more operational than I could ever be! I helped her by bringing a different perspective to her VA business and she continued to encourage me to find what made me happy.
During our time, I started Cupcakes and Sweets. She continued to be my sounding board with my business. She was my non biased avenue for the conversations that I needed to have and that my husband wouldn't necessarily get.
During that process I was also learning to code. Because I enjoyed coding so much, I am continuing to learn that in between everything else I have going on.
Through her operational expertise and all my other skills, we decided to start an online business together and that is how BlueFox Digital Solutions was born. Now we are building websites and providing branding consulting to consultants, bloggers and online coaches.
Does having an accountability partner help you stay organized and how?
She helped me keep grounded with my goals.
When I first started Cupcakes and Sweets, I was terrified to make cakes. It was not something that I had ever done before and I told her that I was not going to have cakes as part of my business model. Well, the demand for cake verses cupcakes was so high that I decided to take the plunge. It was successful and she called me out on it too. It was great.
In December I took on too much work and it was so overwhelming! When I told her that I was going to slow down the next month, she was on my ass until she saw that I actually took action. I have provided her the same support. It is nice to have someone that is not going to sugar coat the truth.
What are some bad habits that you think send people down the rabbit hole of never getting things done or not having enough time to stay on top of their goals?
They don't have a clear perspective of what they want or they are not willing to work for it. As soon as things get hard it is easier to give up than it is to power through.
I have had many breakdowns this past year, but the work has been worth it. I am pretty sure every day in December I cried everyday.
So, it is a matter or complacency or perseverance. I prefer to preserver and show my children that I am a force to be reckoned with and still be the best mom I can be.
Are there any tools you use to stay organized?
Google calendar is my friend! Good old fashioned notebooks help as well.
I have one as a journal (for when I need to just get thoughts off my chest), one for BlueFox (ideas, to-do's, etc) and one for Cupcakes and Sweets.
I have a mind-mapping app on my phone that I like to use when I have ideas too. I don't use it as often as I should.
Are there any books you recommend that help?
How to Win Friends and Influence People is my all time go to. I will read that book over and over again!
Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk is pretty awesome too. Not useful for keeping your head on straight or staying sane as a mom, but are useful for practical everyday needs.