I came home from a client the other day to be presented with a lovely card from my children that said ‘Happy Business Birthday’ – to be honest I had forgotten although LinkedIn also reminded me that it had been three years, a day later- so it was a lovely surprise. It was, however, a day when I felt like my head was full of bumble bees because my list was longer than I could handle, I hadn’t finished off what I’d wanted to that day and generally felt pretty overwhelmed.
I cracked on that night, worked late and got myself to a better place, but…
It made me reflect on everything I have learned over the last 3 years, how much I enjoy helping my clients find more time by outsourcing the things they either don’t enjoy doing or don’t have time to do themselves. As a real people pleaser that’s what floats my boat! It also made me think that occasionally I don’t follow my own advice and I let things get out of hand. It’s not every day or every week but every now and then and for someone who does what I do, that’s not a great way to be!
That’s why I thought I’d give you a quick rundown on my favourite tips for organisation and keeping on top of things (and perhaps help me follow my own advice!!).
I am very lucky to have two beautiful, healthy children, I’ve also been lucky to have spent so much time with them because of the flexibility of Spinning Plates. All this time means that I know that I have two very different children who approach life in very different ways.
However, I didn’t follow this thinking through and it led to a bit of a revelation at parents evening last week.
My eldest has always thrived at school, she finds it easy and learns quickly. My youngest has struggled more, he’s an August birthday and seems so much younger than his peers. I was expecting an easy parents evening for the eldest and some more challenges for the younger with lots of development work needed at home…
How very wrong I was.
Eldest was as expected (I’m still incredibly proud of her by the way) but the youngest is doing well, attaining where he should be with only one area of real concern which the teacher is working with him on and we’re going to help too. I sat there a bit speechless, I had prepared for something opposite to this conversation. How had I got it so wrong?
Then I realised. Although I knew my children were different I’d been judging them on a curve. I’d used all of one child’s natural ability and achievement to yardstick the other rather than researching and understanding where he should be for myself.
I feel bad about that but I understand it now and I won’t make the same mistake twice.
It made me think about clients in a slightly different way, knowing people are different is one thing but then judging them against someone else is counterproductive, you have to arrange your thinking, ways of working or your approach against a common scale of measurement. Just because one client likes communication via email once a week and one likes a phone call every day doesn’t make one of them demanding; just because one client loves data in a spreadsheet and another likes me to draw out a picture it doesn’t make one of them more practical than the other. It’s these differences that should be understood and used correctly to up my level of service provision. My ultimate aim is to be a totally personalised service for each client and this can only enhance that.
I’ve got some thinking to do on this and how to change my way of thinking for not just my clients but also my children. Hopefully I can get even better at anticipating needs and meeting expectations and hopefully I’ll be a lot more relaxed going into the next parents evening!
Right now I can’t sleep.
Last time I wrote I was telling you about how I’m down south supporting my Mum post operation, I’ve been down here 8 days now and today is my 9th and last full day.
It’s been productive time, I’ve got myself ahead on my to do lists, I’ve written more than I ever have before and I feel great about it. In addition I’ve also relaxed, been out walking most days and spent some real time with Mum. I’ve also slept, which I don’t do well usually and slept a lot, my body obviously needed it.
This morning is the first time I’ve woken early (it’s currently 4.45am) and I’m wide awake. I was just pondering why that is as I scrolled through LinkedIn and I realised why. It’s because I have a list of things I’d like to achieve today – both work and personal- and I only have one day in which to do them. That fills me with an energy to crack on.
It’s made me realise how important deadlines are- not always big, official deadlines but self imposed ones too. They provide structure and goal posts and that increases my productivity and my drive. Am I the only one who feels this way?
I’m going to try a little experiment next week when I’m back at home and in routine. I’m going to rewrite my to do list with a deadline column and see if that has an affect, I’m going to experiment with – realistically – targeting myself each day by limiting time frames in an attempt to focus my brain and give me this extra burst of motivation.
I’ll let you know how it goes…
This week is a little bit unusual for me because my mum has been in hospital and needed some help so I’ve headed down South to look after her. I’m so lucky that I have flexible clients and a great support network that means I can do this although it’s involved some preparation and carting half my office down the M1 with me!
I arrived late last night and basically went straight to bed but I woke up early and went fir a brisk walk- I was aiming for 5km but it ended up a 6.5km route after I got a tiny bit lost (you can blame my mum’s awful directions) then headed straight to the hospital.
I’ve been sat here now since just after 9am, I’ve chatted to my mum and helped when she’s needed it; and laughed at her when she’s not. I’ve kept one ear on daytime TV and I actually stopped for lunch in the restaurant (and I never stop for lunch) and other than that I’ve done nothing but work- answering emails and drafting documents, sending out letters and so on.
Oddly though I’ve found that ideas are flooding into my brain today, so fast I can’t quite keep up. And do you know why I think that is? I genuinely think it’s because it’s so peaceful here, there is bustle and nurses coming in and out, there is chatter and noise but it’s not work related and it means that the larger part of my brain can just focus and deal with some of the client challenges I’ve been working on lately.
It’s not the same as working from home as the daily chores can distract me. It’s being somewhere where you have no a lot else to do, where working is honestly the better and more fun option.
I love it, I can’t recommend it enough- I wouldn’t have chosen to do it like this of course but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend time out like this to anyone. Get your brain working full tilt again!
Into his second year at school my son is heavily focused on learning how to write properly. In his first year he could write the letter A perfectly legibly, if incorrectly (pen off the paper, separate strokes); the funny thing is that all this teaching and practice means that now he’s now so set on not taking his pen off of the paper that he is currently writing something akin to a picture of a slinky, from above.
It made me think last night that sometimes overthinking can have the opposite of the intended effect. In a way I’ve done something similar with Spinning Plates. I have some fabulous clients with whom I’m kept just busy enough to get the over worked endorphins flowing and that feels great but it’s meant that I’ve taught myself to think that it’s enough.
The result of that is that the effort I used to put in- to my Facebook page or networking or general marketing has tailed off. Don’t get me wrong I am focussed on my clients and they receive the best attention and service I can provide but that’s not enough for my business and for me personally.
A mentor and I were talking the other day and they said an interesting phrase ‘if a business isn’t growing, it’s shrinking’ and although I’ve heard it a hundred times before I don’t think I’d ever really listened to it but it’s true- my business is perfect for me right now; but right now is not who I will be in a months time, a years time or further down the line.
I’ve got so caught up on keeping my pen on the paper that I’m drawing perpetual slinkies and that’s just not good enough. So I’m going to stop, look up, crack the letter A and move on to B. And hopefully my son will do the same!