As Bman grows close to five and a half pounds and gets ready to join our crazy little family, I’ve been in super-preparation mode. Life for me, lately, has been all about simplifying, de-cluttering, streamlining and getting ready to welcome the most important little miracle into our lives. This post is one part personal and one part business – though it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that it’s impossible to separate the two when you’re actually living and doing what you love.
One of THE best decisions I made in 2010 was to take one full week OFF to work. Yes, TO work – to prepare, to organize, to take care of all the business to-do’s I’d pushed to the back-burner when client work got too busy during the year. I took a week OFF from my clients so that I could give MORE to my clients and really improve my client experience. I chose the week between Christmas and New Year since I knew it would be a slow week anyways as many people were traveling, on vacation, etc. On Sunday evening before that week, I set up an auto-responder on my email letting everyone know that I’d be unavailable for the next five days as I prepared for a “spectacular 2011!” And I did just that.
During the week, I kept Mac Mail CLOSED and allowed the auto-responder to respond to emails. On Monday, I wrote the-worlds-longest-to-do-list (literally) of everything I wanted to accomplish that week. I:
- Sorted through all the files on my computer and on my laptop – deleted about 50%.
- Synched the fonts and files on my computer and laptop
- Wrote and added my “maternity leave” NOTICE to my email signature and AUTO-RESPONSE to my response queue (so that its ready to go when Bman is ready to go!)
- Finally bought a new desk to enhance my workspace and make room for Bman to play in his swing near me.
- Cleaned out, purged and organized every drawer, box, file and shelf in my office
- Documented all my business processes, then edited and edited until they were as simple as possible (This was THE hardest thing I did during my week “off” – I did this so that I could easily ask for help during and after my maternity leave.)
- Created documents, shells, templates and informative PDFs to gather information, present proposals, share information, etc.
- Updated and revised all of my websites
- Designed, updated, ordered and printed new mailing labels, seals, etc.
- Organized my iCal so that projects are carefully spaced and scheduled in a way that allows me to devote wholehearted love and attention to each.
Along the way, since that week “off” I’ve stopped myself any time I noticed that I was doing something repetitive that could be automated. I “cleaned out” everything I could and took time to really evaluate my client experience and put sincere thought into how to take that up a notch. I like to think of my client experience like everyone I work with is a bride. Brides are stressed and overwhelmed – the best gift I can give them is an easy experience. I make it as easy as possible for them so that there’s no clutter surrounding the quality of my finished product.
Have I been nesting in my house too? Oh you better believe it. But not as much as I have with my business. I’m very proud of the systems I’ve put in place and the way I’ve already made my life easier (and thus my client’s experiences MUCH easier). When Brady arrives, I’ll be able to spend my time (which will suddenly become limited) on the work I love (design) and not on the work I don’t love (repetitive work, figuring out a new process or system with each project). Here are some of the tactical ways I’ve streamlined things to prepare for the life of a working mother.
How do you simplify your work to make room for your life? To enhance your customer experience?
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Image above: Pottery Barn Daily System (Im drooling over it).