People often ask me how did I manage to launch a website and ebook while having a baby and working full time.
Just this week I was in Starbucks in Tokyo and a woman called out to me and said “Hi Kate! I follow your website! It is so great to meet you in person!”
I was so excited that she reached out to me. We started chatting and I realized I remembered her from her comments on my posts on Facebook and Instagram. It was so great to meet her face to face.
One of the things she commented about was she didn’t know how I do it all.
I shook my head and I said I really don’t know!
Which made me think, how DO I manage to squeeze everything in to my days?
It is certainly not an easy thing to do, but I realized I do have some techniques which have helped me to remain focussed and to keep growing my business.
Here I have tried to summarize into my Top 10:
- Step by Step – when you have a baby or young children, it is completely normal that you never get a minute to yourself. But to be honest, SOMETIMES you DO get a minute. Maybe 5 minutes if you are lucky. This is when you can truly focus on writing on your blog or writing your new book. You may think “I can’t achieve anything in 5 minutes!”. But the truth is, you can!! If you spend 3 x 5min per day, this is already 15 minutes. And if you do it consistently every day for a week, this will already be 100 minutes. If you continue for a month, this will be 7 HOURS!! This is a huge achievement. I started my website 6 years ago, so if you consider working 15 minutes every day for 6 years, then I have spent the equivalent of 540 hours working on it. Of course some days I take a rest, and some days I work for 3 hours on my website (if my kids have a long daytime nap). There is definitely room for flexibility. But the trick is to be consistent and take it as baby steps to get where you want to go with your business.
- Decide what to focus on in advance. Don’t look at social media all the time! Use every minute, every second productively. If I know that I will have 2 hours today to focus on my website, then I mentally make a plan for one thing that I will focus on. It might be: a). Complete 1 blog post, b) Complete the editing of 1 video, c) Update 10 locations in my ebook for the next edition. Don’t aim too high. Even just completing one thing is a huge achievement! The most important thing is to FOCUS. Don’t get distracted by social media. Sometimes I hear my phone ring and I look at it, and then 3min later I realize I am still looking at my FB feed. I mentally tell myself to switch my phone off and return my focus to my commitment, which was to work on my website which is important for the future.
- Balance writing blog posts with preparing a product or service that will monetize your website. If you spend your whole time writing blog posts to try to increase your visitors or increase engagement, you will never have time to write an ebook or create an online course that will actually make you money. It is important to write engaging free content for your readers, and it is fun! But the reality is that it won’t make you money. If you are already spending an annual fee on your website hosting, domain name, newsletter, and other software, then you need to be prepared to spend time on how to offset that cost by monetizing your website. So how do I do it? It is a constant battle actually. I am always afraid if I don’t blog regularly, that I will lose customers. But the reality is that if I don’t produce an ebook or course that I can sell online, then I won’t be able to continue with my website at all. I would have to close it down, and that would be a shame. So I have to take a leap of faith, trust that my readers will stay with me and continue to follow my blog, even if I don’t publish blog posts as frequently anymore as I need to spend time to make an online product or service. If your readers really love your work, then don’t worry. They will understand and they will wait for you!
- Don’t be afraid to stop blogging for a few months to make a new ebook or course. This is similar to #3, but a little more deep! I first learned this from Paul Jarvis. He actually stops blogging for about 1-2 months over the Christmas/New Year break. He gives his readers a heads up, and then he doesn’t send any emails during that time while he takes a break or focuses on creating something new. As a working mother, it is super important to do this! Otherwise you will NEVER have the time to create the information product that you dream of. When I wanted to make my ebook for my website Tokyo Urban Baby, which is a travel guide about how to enjoy Tokyo with children, I honestly dreamed of making this for about 2 years before I actually sat down and did it. I had a 2 year old and a newborn baby, and I literally had very little time to focus. But I was really determined to achieve my dream of creating an ebook, so I sent an email to my subscribers that I will stop blogging for a few months so that I can spend every second I have on completing my ebook. I really wanted to publish my ebook in January 2015, so I stopped blogging from Oct-Dec 2014 in order to get it done on time. And do you know what? I did it! I published it in January 2015 and it was such a huge feeling of achievement. So my advice is, in order to improve your productivity and achieve your dreams, don’t be afraid to focus on this one thing for a few months in order to get it done. Set yourself a goal and a timeline, and put all your spare time into achieving your goal.
- No TV! You can see my tips here in my previous post. This has been a huge turning point for me. Whenever I go back to Australia and stay at my sister’s house, I am always surprised how much TV they watch! I don’t think I could get anything done if I watched TV every night. Many people love watching TV which is fine, but I really believe that not having a TV has improved my productivity, which basically means getting more work done in the same period of time, which also then gives me the freedom to enjoy more time with my kids and to get to bed early in order to start the next day fresh and ready to focus again.
- Answer customer inquiries during the train commute. I live in Tokyo, so catching the train is common (I don’t have a car) and instead of looking at social media, I focus this time on answering customer inquiries. Often my customers ask me questions about traveling in Japan with a baby, so I can usually reply to them from my smart phone, and it is easy to copy paste links into my reply to help them with references. The key is, if you are a working mother, you will have very little time to yourself. So any time you find yourself on your own without the kids, this is your chance! Of course it is important sometimes to just take a break and sit down and have a cup of tea, but if you really want to start your own business then you will need to utilize some of this “alone time” to work on growing your website and engaging with your customers.
- Whiteboard! This was an investment that has really paid off. I had trouble keeping track of my business in a notebook, so I bought a huge whiteboard on a stand with wheels and have it set up in my kitchen. It is fantastic! My sisters laugh when they come to visit as it seems so odd to have a big whiteboard in your house (it is really big, like the ones you have in a company office). But I really love it. I can write my next steps for my business and a timeline, and cross it off each week with what I have achieved. It is wonderful for visualization and to look at what you have achieved. As a working mum, you can often feel like you are running around with a thousand tasks and you can never keep track of what went right and what could be done better. But having it all written up on a board is a tremendous help so you can see every step and all the tasks you have completed, while looking forward to the future and see what you can work on ahead. It cost 10,000yen (about $100). Definitely consider this!
- Sleep. In Dec 2015 I actually burnt out from my full time job and trying to manage everything (plus some other stress I was going through at the time). I actually got shingles on my back across my ribs and had to take a week off work. It was an extremely stressful time and really shocked me. I had always viewed myself deep down as a strong person, but this made me realize that I am also human and breakable. I realized that in order to be productive and achieve my vision of a happy life, I had to say no to things that were not working. I suppose my advice on this point could be how to say “no”, but I have focussed on the word “sleep” as this feels more positive! Sleep is essential. if you don’t sleep, you can’t get anything done long term. It may work for a few months with 3 hours sleep a night, but this is definitely not sustainable. If you are tired and exhausted and drained, then you will not be able to focus on your tasks and this can reduce your productivity. So above all, make sure you look after yourself, eat healthily, and get lots of sleep. I now sleep at the same time as my kids and wake up together at the same time (sleep by 9pm and wake up at around 6-6:30am). This has been an enormous change in my life to improve my productivity and long-term sustainability.
- Never give up. Sometimes people say that you can’t do it. You won’t make any money from your website. Nobody will buy your product. I remember when I discussed with some friends about launching my ebook on Tokyo Urban Baby back in 2014 – one of my friends said that she didn’t think people would buy the ebook, as most people are just looking for free advice. But based on my research I really believed this was the best way to deliver value and help my customers. So I did it. And you know what? It was a huge success and was a huge turning point for my website! Of course it is important to do your research, learn what the top online entrepreneurs are doing, and listen to your customers in order to understand deep down what information they really need. And after your research and planning, if you really think your product or service will meet the needs of your customers, then try it! It could be a huge break through for you and your business.
- Vision. Many people are amazed that I have continued with my website for so long, despite having 2 young children and working full time. Do you want to know what keeps me going? It is my vision of my future. My vision of what I see as happiness and having a business and life that I want. My vision is having the flexibility to enjoy my life and to be there for my children when they need me. When my children are sick, I don’t want to have to call my boss at the company and say sorry that I can’t come into work today. I want to be able to make the decision myself without having to apologize. I want the freedom to make that decision for the welfare and happiness of my children, and for me. I want to be able to take the day off and take my children on a mountain hike or swimming at the beach. To enjoy nature and experience everything in the world. I want the freedom to take a month off once or twice a year and go traveling, without having to worry if I have enough annual leave left. Wouldn’t that be awesome?!
I hope these points help you to consider how to improve your productivity in order to achieve your dreams.
Never give up on your dreams.
You can do it!