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Working smarter, not harder

Working smarter, not harder

Working smarter is the key for entrepreneurs juggling business and family.

Jil O'BrienThings have been moving fast in the world of Borrowed Size this month. We’ve secured our first investment, completed another round of market validation and brought on a new advisor! I’ve been constantly busy and have come to the realisation that I’m only going to get busier after our launch.

Since we started working on the Borrowed Size concept I’ve remained adamant about my son remaining my first priority.

More specifically, I’ve been adamant about continuing to commit to the attachmentparenting principles that we’ve adopted as part of our parenting style.

On-demand breastfeeding, no sleep-training and keeping away from daycare are a huge part of the way we’re raising our child, but how do I reconcile them with getting the work done?

Investors aren’t interested in my staunch commitment to putting my son first – they want to know I can deliver.

So how do I manage the conflicting needs of family and business? I guess that’s the ultimate question. In an effort to quell the nagging doubts about my ability to manage this ever-increasing workload, I’ve taken a serious look at the way that I work and started to make some changes to the way I manage my time.

Filling in the gaps

Assigning the required amount of time for a specific task and then focusing on that task is no longer an option. Long, glorious stretches of time in which to be productive are few and far between when you have a baby. My initial plan of working during morning and afternoon naps and after bedtime kept work and family time distinctly separate. I do the bulk of my work during these times but I no longer draw such definite lines in the sand.

I can accomplish a lot by working on tasks for five to 10 minutes at a time, quickly replying to an email or spending 10 minutes on social media engagement. It’s not ideal to chip away at complex tasks in five-minute intervals but I’m becoming more adept at speedily shifting my concentration with practice.

Tackling work immediately also removes my tendency to procrastinate; I find it far too easy to shelve tasks that I’m dreading until there’s ‘more time’!

Releasing perfection

I’m a bit of a perfectionist at heart and have struggled with the concept that not everything has to be perfect.

In an ideal world, I’d be able to commit as much time and energy as needed to complete tasks to the highest standard possible.

However, this is not an ideal world and I am many light-years from approaching perfection. In reality, good enough is, well, good enough! Most of the time, the extra energy needed to take something from good enough to exceptional is better spent elsewhere.

Tools of the trade

My new-found proficiency as a multi-tasking genius occurred to me in the supermarket last week: I was doing the grocery shopping, while carrying J in his Ergo pack (a seat that straps him to me) and breastfeeding while discussing our advertising attack on my cell phone!

Certain tools have really helped with timesaving and multi-tasking and I have to confess to my love affair with my new iPad. Not only is it a thing of beauty but it means I can work while I’m breastfeeding and it’s so much easier than trying to juggle a baby with my laptop or phone.

Asking for help

Gracefully accepting offers of help from well-meaning friends and relatives has never really been my forte but, from offers of babysitting to hiring some domestic help, I’ve learnt not to look a gift-horse in the mouth.

My time and energy are, unfortunately, not infinite resources!  I’m trying to focus on using them for maximum impact and delegating the rest wherever I can. This week I had someone come and take care of our housework to free up more of my time to concentrate on the all-important financial projections; next month we’re bringing on a virtual assistant to take on the admin work and assist with marketing.

So, even though I’m currently functioning on even less sleep than I ever dreamed possible and, I’m not really sure what month it is, things are developing rapidly and we’re bringing on board a fantastic team for our launch. Times are exhausting and exciting and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Jil O’Brien is co-founder of Borrowed Size  and can’t decide whether she is a mother, blogger, or entrepreneur, but is usually all three at some point each day.