Before going further into today’s topic, I’d like to thank Teresa for asking me to share my knowledge and experience with you. It’s an absolute honour.
Hi there, I’m Hollie Barac from Mayday VA. Mayday VA helps you move forward in your business offering services in event planning, copywriting, website customisation and design (WordPress and Divi is my superpower), and monthly general admin services. Built on almost 20 years’ experience in corporate and retail sectors, Mayday VA was founded in December 2018. While operating my (now hobby) business, Little Goldfish Designs, I found I was helping women in business with things they either didn’t have the time or skills for. And to be completely honest with you, helping these women brought so much joy to my heart. That’s when I knew I had to shift away from invitations and stationery. I needed to follow my heart.
But enough about me, let’s get down to why I’m really here: helping you to achieve that work/life balance we all dream of. By the end of this post, you will have an effective tool and several tips to help you create that balance.
So much to do, so little time.
Hands up if you know the saying “You have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé.” While this may be a fact, I bet you don’t have her income or employed help, meaning the only way to (un)realistically do all she does is work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s insane. I don’t dislike Beyoncé, I’m just realistic. I definitely don’t want to spend every waking moment, or every hour of the day, working. Ladies, that is why we have the eight-hour day. Eight hours rest, eight hours work, eight hours play.
In a typical place of employment, you’d work roughly eight hours. Sure, being employed by someone else is often much easier than being self-employed – did someone say leaving your job at the door?! – but some of us were born to be entrepreneurs. With the eight-hour day in mind, why do you think it is that, as a business owner, you work more than eight hours each day?
I know, there’s so much to pack into the day: emails, social media, stock updates, content creation, client work, photography, website maintenance, planning and forecasting, accounting and bookkeeping, professional development, networking…the list goes on and on. And that’s just work. What about at home? Laundry, cleaning, food preparation, household admin, school runs, extracurricular activities (for you and/or kids). So many things.
Until January this year, this was me. We’ve got one kid; she’s just turned three. She started day care towards the end of January. My goodness. I had no idea what to do with my time. She did half days the first week, so I don’t know that I used my time as wisely as I should have, but that’s not to say I didn’t achieve anything.
When time is on your side.
B.C. (Before Child), when I was working in and on Little Goldfish, I had all the time in the world. I’d been doing on and off since 2011 (as well as full time study and part time/casual employment). By 2015/16, I had graduated and was quite pregnant. As someone who thrives on planning and organisation, I was craving order in my day. I created a schedule for how my days needed to look. For the most part, I was pretty good at sticking to it. There were moments of distraction though, I was preparing to have a baby, and would often experience exhaustion thanks to the growing watermelon on board.
Fast forward to January 2019 and I knew I needed to get some structure back in my day. Somehow, the braincells couldn’t compute what I needed to do. Discussing with my biz bestie, she reminded me of her Ideal Work Week and the time blocking technique. Sometimes you just need a gentle nudge in the right direction to have everything fall into place.
Planning your time.
I don’t know about you, but I am a serial planner. Sitting here at my computer, I have my MiGoals Goal Digger planner (week to opening), my Makers Co Wall Planner, and my phone. In our kitchen, we have a huge whiteboard (from Costco) that I turned into a monthly calendar and meal planner. As an aside, I have a degree in (urban and regional) planning. You see, serial planner. I like to know what’s going on. But there’s actually more to it than needing to know. It helps me to stay focussed and organised (and if I’m honest, I’m pretty good with those too). I will admit that I can muck things up from time to time. Like the time I forgot to black out a day I wasn’t available then got an email for a discovery call. I admitted to the prospective client I mucked up. Owning my mistake is better than covering it up.
When it comes down to it, planning your time will save you time. You’ll eliminate the possibility of time-wasting, of wondering what to do next. And if you go so far as to plan your meals, you’ll know what you’re eating or need to prepare.
Time blocking is identifying the times you have available to work and assigning your tasks in those times. To learn more about time blocking and to get your free editable time blocking planner, read my post here.
Making time at home.
It might sound silly but being organised can make all the difference to having time. One of the biggest blocks for me is having an untidy house and workspace. To be perfectly candid, my workspace could do with a tidy up and a clear-out. The bin is full and there’s small piles of things on the flat surfaces. It’s not at a point right now that it’s stopping me from getting things done, but it could escalate quickly.
There’s a saying along the lines of a cluttered home causes a cluttered mind and I have to agree. When I’m overwhelmed, it’s usually because there is so much going on around me, I retreat away from my responsibilities (excepting client work, I always find the get up and go for client work, they are relying on me). I ghost social media. I avoid everything in general.
Recently, we had to move our kid to a different day care. It just so happens her new centre is at the end of our driveway. The time I save not having to drive means I gain almost two extra hours in my day. I don’t use this time for working in my business, I use it as both time for me and housework. Often I’ll sit down and catch up on some TV whilst I fold the piles of washing. My job is to fold and put away. Husband’s job is to wash and hang out to dry. When he starts to run out of things to wear, that’s when he washes. And given he has about a two-week supply of jocks…you get my drift. But once that clock strikes 10am, you bet your bottom dollar I’m straight to my desk and getting stuck into my work.
Time to outsource.
Last but not least, a brilliant way to reclaim your time is to outsource. I know that not everyone has the budget to outsource, but if you do, I cannot recommend it enough. I’m saying this as a business owner, not as a VA. But putting my VA hat back on, outsourcing can alleviate so many pressures for you. No time to write your blog posts? Outsource to a copywriter. Don’t have the skills to do your own website? Outsource to a web designer or developer, or a VA with intermediate to advanced web customisation skills. Need your books done? Outsource to a bookkeeper. Want to nail your branding? Your answer is a brand stylist.
I could go on forever about all the ways you can outsource. Outsourcing is such a brilliant way to gain time in and outside of your business.
I’m not perfect, I still steal pockets of time.
As I finalise this post, it’s 08:31 on a Sunday morning. I’ve been up since just after six. Why? Because Child. But Why didn’t I just go back to bed? Because I wanted to get a jump on my day. Because we’ve had a house full of sickness since mid-July. Because I’ve got a backlog of my own work to catch up on. But also, because our kid knows that when it’s still dark, she can have quiet time with the tablet in her bed. That gives me at least 90 minutes of work time. And what do you know, this borrowed time allowed me to finish this post. I’ve now got time to spend with my little family today.
I’d love to hear how you use your time. How do you achieve that work/life balance?
Thank you so much to Hollie for contributing this very helpful and informative post! Here is some info more about her and I hope you go on over to her socials and say hello!
Organised, creative, proactive, dedicated, and always looking to help others move forward in their business, Hollie Barac is the Virtual Virtuoso at Mayday VA.
Having worked in many industries – accounting, banking and finance, I.T., retail, government, and design, Hollie found helping others the most rewarding.
With qualifications in Business Administration, Retail Management, and Micro Business, along with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning, Hollie can help you with the overwhelm of the day to day business operations so you can focus on what you love and do best.
Mayday VA offers focussed, dedicated services to make your life easier. Working with her clients one-on-one is what Hollie loves and is why she works with a limited number of clients at any time.
When she’s not busy being Mayday VA, Hollie is spending time with her husband and their daughter doing lots of crazy and fun things – anything that makes their girl burst into fits of giggles! Hollie also likes to walk, but admits she needs to make more time for it and listening to music. Hollie says always music on whatever she is doing.
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Until next time,
T x