How To Do It All, Staying Productive With a Family

By Paul Milano

Stay productive, build a business and grow your career, even with a family.

“Being a parent is hard. Being an entrepreneur is hard. Being both… you might just be a little crazy! (And we are.)”  

Tom Sylvester – Serial Entrepreneur. CEO of a VC Firm.

Awhile back I interviewed a number of startup founders on how they get things done.

One individual in the comments wrote that the tips were great but how do they apply when you have kids and a family to take care of?

A great question, that I did not know how to answer.

Not having made this journey myself, I decided to reach out to my networks and find out.

When you become a parent, you add a few new roles to your life and career resume.

(It is a full-time job after all). This new role of taking care of a family will conflict with everything else on there.

Many think it’s a choice between either building a business and growing a career or having a family.

I know I certainly fear the loss of freedom and productivity, but is it possible to do both?

I interviewed a number of amazing mom and dad entrepreneurs and while not easy, they have not only sustained their business while raising kids but actually grown it because of things they had to learn when kids came into the picture!

Here are their top 4 biggest lessons they shared with me on how to stay productive, stay organized and build a business while being a parent.

Put your own mask on first.

“I believe in the philosophy that when the plane is going down you are instructed to put your own oxygen mask on first. This equips us with the fundamental elements of being effective and efficient with our tasks and responsibilities.”

Ronnie Fischer – Real Estate Investor, Success Coach.  

I know this one won’t come easily to many parents, as their child is their number one priority.

Think about it this way though…

If you aren’t taking care of yourself, it’s almost impossible to take care of anyone else (your family) or anything else (your business/career).

As an entrepreneur, you know how critical making time for personal development, fitness, and healthy habits are to maintaining a high level of productivity.

When a family welcomes a child, they become the new #1 and many new parents now feel guilty about taking this time for themselves. Tom and Michelle, entrepreneur parents I spoke with outlined to me below why we shouldn’t feel guilty about this.

“I personally did not feel guilty but my wife Ariana, on the other hand, struggled with this and it was at a detriment to her personal happiness and well being. It took time and many exploring conversations to determine the reasons why this was but once we identified her perception of what it means to be a mom and an entrepreneur, we were able to see that she had some unrealistic expectations and some changes needed to be made.“

Tom Sylvester – Serial Entrepreneur. CEO of a VC Firm.

“As a parent, you soon see how little time you have for yourself, so I stopped feeling guilty when I did take that time for just me. I asked what would contribute to me and to everything I’m working on and made sure I got the time as it ultimately made me more successful in everything I do.”

Michelle McDonald– Serial Entrepreneur. Consultant. 

Your Actions:
    1. Don’t wait until you’re already exhausted to get your personal development time, aim to set expectations and have this planned from the beginning.
  1. Discuss schedules with your partner or find ways to block out “personal time” on your calendar so you never go too long without it. This time to recharge will keep you going. 

Having your own mask securely on first will keep your body and mind well taken care of to deal with the many challenges of raising a child, staying productive and building your business or career.  

Ask for 10% more help then you need

Ever try to solve everything on your own?

I’m completely guilty of being a notorious perfectionist myself. I think many of us in the entrepreneurial mold are similar, wanting to resolve everything ourselves. This attitude as I’ve come to learn is not in your best interest when building a business or staying highly productive.

Danny Iny, CEO and Founder at Mirasee told me it becomes even truer when raising a child at the same time.

“Ask for 10% more help than you actually need. Make sure, to be honest, and communicative about what your needs really are. Most people will tend to downplay their needs or think asking for assistance is a sign of weakness.  Asking for a break-even amount of help is not enough, get 10% more so you can actually be on top and push things forward and make it sustainable. ”

Being open and asking for more help than you think you need will be counter to a lot of people’s natural state but will go incredibly long ways to making your work sustainable.

“Ask for help to the extent that is within your ability not only as a parent but also empower your people to fix things instead of taking it on yourself in your business.  Whatever you’re doing has to be building sustainability. this is true for both building a business and becoming a parent.” Danny Iny – CEO / Founder at Mirasee.

Your Actions:
    1. Write down how much and what you think you will need help with as both a parent and entrepreneur.
  1. Take this list and then add 10% more on top of it. 

Embrace systems, routines, and automation.

Any great business scales and succeeds when systems and routines are embraced.

Personal productivity as well also thrives on this.

Managing your new role of parent and entrepreneur together will require an even deeper level of thought towards building these systems and routines.

Routine is an absolute must. You need to have your children in a routine of eating, sleeping, going outside, etc. You don’t have to be a drill sergeant about it, but you can’t be all over the place on these things because you’ll never have dedicated windows to do your work.

Stuart Knight – Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur.

Your workload is increasing so you need more organization then you had before. One critical key is to be proactive rather than reactive. At times you will need to judge what tasks are critical and what can be pushed aside.

“On days where business and family commitments collide and I’m short on time, I write a to-do list and then ask my business (yes talk to your business) “Which activities are required today to grow my business” which gives me clarity on my top 1-3 priorities.

Michelle McDonald– Serial Entrepreneur. Consultant. 

While difficult to do, this forces you to become more effective and efficient in filtering out the most important things to be done.

Being forced to become more efficient can have powerful results, as Danny Iny, CEO of Mirasee outlines below.

“My business is in better shape now, than before I had kids. It’s because I had to become more effective and more selective in justifying what needs to get done and putting the proper systems in place to make it happen.”

You most likely have a calendar for your business but do you have one for your personal and family life? Tom Sylvester explains how he and his wife stay on top of everything.

“We created a weekly sync and had a calendar for each of us, as well as for each kid and one for each business. We would start by scheduling the important family or individual time on the calendar first. From there, we would go through each business and determine what activities we would dedicate to each business to move them forward towards our goals. For this, we used a visual task board based on Scrum/Kanban. This essentially had a list of things to do, with our personal life and each business having their own color code.”

Your Actions:
    1. Create a calendar for your business, your child, and your personal life. This provides a clear visibility and method to manage expectations and allows you to carve out blocks for everything, keeping things much more sustainable for you.
  1. Select your top 3 important tasks to push your business forward and set aside or delegate the rest until those are complete.

Mindfully separate your time and environments

In today’s ultra-connected world, separating work from relaxation is more difficult than it ever has been.

To avoid burnout and stay highly productive, it’s incredibly important though to separate our planned times of focused work from our relaxation time.

This becomes more amplified with a family, not only for your energy levels but also to make sure you don’t miss life’s amazing moments.

“Control your environments. Have work space setup for work and play space setup for play. You can’t mix the two or do both at the same time. Which ever it is at that time try to put 100% of your focus into it.” Martin Boeddeker – CEO at FindFocus

Your goal should be to aim to create:

    • Planned times for work
    • Planned times for your child
    • Planned times for your partner
  • Planned times for you.

Author, speaker and entrepreneur Stuart Knight outlines why this is so and something that can get regularly overlooked.

“After creating time for your business, you have to schedule fun time and connection time with your children every day. If you don’t, you can easily let the business you run be your true child and you will end up missing out on those important years that you can’t get back.”

He also mentions the importance of making planned time for your partner as well.

“Something often overlooked is to make sure you schedule time with your partner and schedule during times when you are both at your best. Don’t wait for all of the business stuff to be out of the way and the kids to be in bed by the time you finally hang out and have a glass of wine. You’ll both be exhausted at that time and it’s almost impossible to connect when you’re two breaths away from falling asleep.”

Your Actions:
    1. Create separate environments and time slots for your time for work and time for family. Be 100 percent focused and don’t mix the two.
  1. Don’t wait until everything else is done to spend time with your partner or child. There will always be more work to do but your child will only grow up once.

Use your family as motivation

I believe it’s only natural to initially think that adding a child will come as being a burden to all your daily entrepreneurial habits and routines.

If we can modify that mindset though, changing it from being a burden to a strong motivational force that will only make us better, we can truly enjoy both and keep our productive momentum going. 

Whether you’re an entrepreneur with a family already, or it’s in your near future the individuals above have shown that doing both IS possible.  You don’t need to give up your entrepreneurial dream or fear your productivity will go down to zero.

Even better, the growth you get from being forced to be more mindful of your time, priorities and organization can actually have positive gains in everything you do.

Thanks to those I interviewed and here’s how to learn more about them:

Danny Iny. CEO & Founder of Mirassee. Learn more.

Tom Sylvester. Helps entrepreneurial families. Learn more.

Michelle McDonald. Entrepreneur & Consultant. Learn more.

Martin Boeddeker. Founder at FindFocus. Learn more.

Ronnie Fischer. Investor. Success Coach. Learn more.

Stuart Knight. Speaker. Entrepreneur. Learn more.

If you’re now thinking, how can I find the time and energy to take on these actions, then check out our free EverProductive course.

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