Right about now for many of you, the summer season is taking its toll. Your child has that look. You know the one that stops you in your tracks and makes parochial school guilt look like amateur hour. Susie's mom is making homemade fruit sorbet or watermelon boats, has daily activities schedules and prepared from here until Labor Day and you are trying desperately to keep your head above water in a changing market with way more low tides than high. Makes a day at the beach is sound pretty appealing to you to given the circumstances -- right?
First of all, know that you are not alone. As our economy continues to shift, the percentage of families with two parents working full time grows each year. So, shake off the Cleaver & Brady Bunch mindset, ours is a different world, and with a few deep breaths, a lot of patience and some very effective time management techniques you can make the most your time at work at home. Pass on the guilt and prepare a plan to make sure your summer and theirs is all it can be.
1. Get creative with that calendar! Now is the time for true focus, whether you are working or playing, you have to be committed to the task at hand. As independent contractors you have the ability to maximize or minimize your daily work hours when necessary. Take a look at your summer calendar, plan the weeks you are devoting to family time. As for your weekly schedule, get creative.
Lengthen some work days so that you feel comfortable shortening others. Add an hour or two to three of your days and with a little time budgeting, you can eke out another day off! Change things up a bit, as well. Swap a Monday or Wednesday workday for a Saturday or Sunday. This will help when family activities find you at attractions where the lines are longer on the weekend.
2. Prioritize. To do lists are essential to your sanity. Before each week, and certainly every evening make a list of the top 6-10 priorities for the day. When you are traveling at what seems like the speed of sound instead of experiencing those lazy days of summer, your planner and priority list quickly become your best friend. You will find that much of the busy work that you encounter each day is truly filler, and if you concentrate on the top income producing activities, you can make the most of your days and free yourself up to spend quality time with your family.
Some top producers even work on a point system. They divide their goals into monthly activities so that they knew how many contacts they need to make to attend the appointments they need to have to list and sell the property they need to move to close on the desired amount of income. They numbers are up to you, but break them down in daily increments and strive to hit your number early in the day! Ready, set…go!
3. Take the tag team approach. Yours is not a unique situation. As you look around your office, neighborhood, school year car-pool candidates, understand that many of your friends in this sphere are in the same boat. They too need viable alternatives to keep kids occupied.
Create alliances which allow you to share the load and keep the balance. Find out who has the most time in the mornings to take the morning shift. For the early birds who are up and at it before the rest of the world wakes and have breezed through the bulk of their workload by 3:00 pm may be up for some afternoon game days. As with anything else in life, two heads are better than one, and when it comes to working parents, many heads, hands and hearts to help each other out equals a network of incredible people all caring for what for most of us is our TOP priority, our children.
4. Delegate. I don't know about your house, but summertime at mine means a lot less quiet and a lot more mess. Just by virtue of eight plus additional hours at home, things can run amok relatively quickly. While the focus can still be on fun, make sure you are not double or tripling your work load trying to keep up with the clutter alone while balancing work and family. A weekly chore chart which delegates household responsibilities to spread the wealth, or rather the work, amongst your family members is a great way to keep things under control and keep kids occupied.
Even little ones can pitch in with age appropriate tasks. Some parents prefer an allowance stipend for helping hands; others prefer rewards such as a trip to the local zoo or amusement park at the end of the week's accomplishments, or a combination of the two. Fun markers or beach stickers are a great way to mark off each completed responsibility.
For older teens not yet working, make some days a take your kid to work day and let them help out with filing, mailings or cleaning out desk drawers. I know agents that have employed their teens to do simple phone surveys which help gather needed data and give young adults a chance to shine as they touch their toes into the world of business.
5. Homework. Not for them, for you! If you do not already have a home office, set up a niche for yourself so that you have a place to organize, create, work on your business plan, make calls, set appointments and generally keep the business wheels spinning in those early morning hours before the sleepyheads in your home wake up. Take a look at our Master Marketing ScheduleTM for effective marketing ideas for the remainder of the year and set a plan in motion to put systems in place that will work for you, even when you are taking the day off.
6. Take it with you. We are a plugged-in, all-access society. You are a salesperson with a phone, a laptop, a planner and hopefully a plan. Double up your days when and where necessary. So you can't be in the office today? You promised your kids a trip to the beach? What can you do then? Trade the romance novel for a book on sales skill building or motivational CD. Bring your BusinessBASE™ of clients and weed through your contact sheets to cull the ones you no longer work with and add new facts and touchpoints to the ones you need to contact. Heck, make your beach trip work for you by having a custom beach umbrella or beach chair made with your logo and contact information. (Putting the sold sign on the sand castle may be taking it just a BIT too far, but you get the picture!)
All in all, keep everything in perspective. Your business provides the foundation for you to take good care of your family, provide for what they need and build a better life. Make finding the balance so that everyone feels comfortable a family affair. You will teach your children the importance of hard work, of compromise and the power of a team. Now, go work a little, play a little, and make some memories along the way this summer. Enjoy!