Why your kids need you to protect your work time

The constant triage of mamahood never really goes away—do I finish making dinner, or stop my boy from wiping Vaseline on our suede couch? (My boy really did this. Ahh!) Do I watch my pregnant friend’s kids for her while she goes to the doctor or take my girl to dance practice?

These kinds of questions get more complicated as a business owner, especially if you work at home part (or all) of the time: Do I play outside with my kids or stick them in front of the TV while I work on marketing content? Do I finish the laundry or schedule meetings with clients?

Your attention will always be desired by more people, activities, and goals than may seem humanly possible. Even for a super mama like you!

But fear not. What you CAN do is protect your time by scheduling specific “chunks” that are dedicated to your business.

It may seem counterintuitive, but when you protect work time, you’re also protecting time for your family.

why kids need you to protect work time

Why is this?

We’ve met with moms who feel overwhelmed with the time required to run a business. It feels like they are constantly checking their email or on social media. And they want that to change.

They want to be present, happy moms. They also want to climb after business dreams. We fully believe BOTH are possible. But it requires protecting your time.

When you protect your work time, you are showing your kids:

·         Your work matters to you.

·         You set healthy boundaries.

·         You honor the creative process.

·         You value what you’re sharing with the world.

·         You will be available to them when your work time is over.

That last one is important – without setting specific times to work, you risk blending business and family so there’s no intelligible difference between the two. That’s “anything goes” territory becomes an exhausting, overwhelming downfall for too many mamas in business. It’s not fun for you, your partner, or your kids to have an overworked mama.

So don’t let it happen to you. Schedule work time, and stick to it.

Does this make you selfish? No, Mama. Think about the commitments your kids have. For example, if your son is on a soccer team, you both know he’ll spend Tuesdays from 4-6 at practice and Saturday afternoons at games.

Do the same for yourself. Schedule a babysitter for the hours you want to commit to your business, and show up. Get your work done. Then when you get back to your kids, you’re fully present. And we think a mama who values herself and what she’s sharing with the world is the best gift she can give her kids.

We’d love to help! To identify your best time blocks and create an ideal life/work situation that works for your work, schedule a PowerStep Session.

7 Free Business Apps that Save You Time

One of the most-asked questions we get from mamas in business is, how do I make the TIME for business while raising my babies?

It’s a legitimate question, especially for a go-getter mom like you who wants to do it all, and do it well. (Right?) The truth is, we all have access to the same number of hours each day. But there are ways to multiply yourself with a team and with tools that maximize your time.

free business apps that save you time

So, without further ado, here are seven FREE apps that save us time—and sanity—so we can spend more time with those we love most, and that's what we call a h(app)y hour!

All of these apps are free—some start with a free trial, but at least you can getting a taste and know if it works for you. For full disclosure, some of these are affiliate links. But that just means we both benefit from sharing them!

7 time-saving apps for business

1. Freshbooks

Wanna make invoicing easier and even, dare we say ... FUN? For two years I've relied on Freshbooks for invoicing clients. It's sleek, easy, and the support team is super helpful. You can a free 30-day trial by clicking here.

2. Typeform

Typeform lets you build beautiful online forms & surveys with great completion rates. Click here to try it out. If you upgrade, we both get 10% off for life!

3.  Doodle

Doodle is a free polling app, specifically for setting meetings with multiple people. Instead of sending out an email, “Let me know a time that works for you in the next two weeks,” and being bombarded with emails to sort through, you set up options and your attendees pick their preferred date/time. Once you’ve Doodled, there is no going back!

4Later

A social media scheduling tool, we’ve been using Later to plan our Instagram account for more many months now. As of this writing, Instagram does not allow pre-scheduled posts. But clever Later lets you write posts in advance and be notified when you’d like them posted. With a quick click, it’s shared. We love that Later gives us an advance peek of what our Instagram grid will look like. 

5.  Calendly

This free scheduling app gives you a slick way to automate appointment scheduling. We use it to have mamas schedule 90-minute PowerStep sessions for clarity on their ideal Life/Work Vision and baby steps to climb after it. 

6.  HelloSign

As the name suggests, this easy-to-use app helps you send agreements and get signatures easily. We use this for our #MamaSpringBreak Alumni to sign our Event Waiver before our amazing retreat.

7.  Asana

We could just HUG the team at Asana because we use this project management app all the time in our business. You set up projects and invite contributors to those projects. Everyone has visibility into upcoming deadlines. You can upgrade for more permission-based access, but for our purposes, the free version has worked really well.

And here's a bonus No. 8, just for you!

8.   MileIQ

We’d rather eat last week’s burnt leftovers than sit down and track business miles. MileIQ is the #1 mileage tracking app, trusted by hundreds of thousands of users every day! It’s just not our thang. So, when we found MileIQ, we were pretty happy to find an easy solution that pays us back at tax time. Try it for free and get a 20% discount when you upgrade.

Which of these apps have you used? Any others you recommend? Pop in a comment below. 

Check out how we can help you MULTIPLY YOUR TIME with a talented business team here.

10 Reasons Why You Need a #MamaSpringBreak this year

It's your year. Your year to face your business fears, try something new, and surprise yourself with what you can accomplish. 

Why not you? And why not 2018? 

You'll find just what you need at #MamaSpringBreak Business & Adventure Retreat. Here are 10 reasons why this special event is made especially for the adventurous mamapreneur. 

When & Where: It will be March 15 - 17, 2018 in gorgeous St. George, Utah.

 1.  Get business training from experts.   In one weekend you'll learn how to protect your business legally, be smart with business finance, set up processes, master your leadership mindset, and take notes on marketing strategies. We've lined up  a keynote you'll adore  who is gonna let you know why being a woman and a mother are your biggest assets!  2.  Adventure outside in gorgeous Zion's National Park.  Forget a stuffy seminar. No, Mama! This retreat is about fresh air, happy vibes, and climbing greater heights. What better way to do that than with a hike? We'll see the sights from atop  Angel's Landing , a famous hike in the southwest.  3.  Forge lasting friendships with like-minded mamapreneurs.  You'll meet women who love their babies AND their business at #MamaSpringBreak. They are coming in from across the U.S. We've got mamas signed up from Illinois, California, Utah, and Oklahoma ... all there to learn with you.  4.  Attend a Pat Benatar rock concert at the gorgeous Tuacahn Amphitheatre . Because who doesn't want to rock out to "Love is a Battlefield" from the legend herself?  THIS  will be so rad.  5.  Give yourself a kid-free getaway that's a  business expens e . Because we all need breaks from diapers, dishes, and laundry that never seems to end ... right? It's just three days, and they will sure be glad to see you when you get back.  6.  Bring home more than $200 of sponsor gifts!  Our sponsors are ahhh-mazing and you'll get gift cards and products from:  Chatbooks ,  RadSwim ,  Baby Cubby ,  Modern Piggy,   Mommi,   Brightbox ,  YNAB ,  SmartShyp , and more!   7.  Bring home an exclusive #SeeMamaClimb t-shirt.  Designed only for event attendees, you can show the world you're climbing after your business dreams. (Because you are!)  8.  Enjoy having your food taken care of!  No cooking or cleaning for you, Mama. We've got you covered. All meals and healthy snacks are included.  9.  Shake what yo' mama gave ya.  We'll have our own dance party, just for attendees. Woot.  10.  Relax in a soothing yoga session.  We've got an incredible instructor coming who will get you feeling serene.  Convinced you need a #MamaSpringBreak in your life this year? Sure, we'll have a really, really good time. But we'll also stretch our hearts, bodies, and minds so that we can all climb (literally and in business) in 2018. Invest in yourself, and your business. See you there, Mama.

1. Get business training from experts.  In one weekend you'll learn how to protect your business legally, be smart with business finance, set up processes, master your leadership mindset, and take notes on marketing strategies. We've lined up a keynote you'll adore who is gonna let you know why being a woman and a mother are your biggest assets!

2. Adventure outside in gorgeous Zion's National Park. Forget a stuffy seminar. No, Mama! This retreat is about fresh air, happy vibes, and climbing greater heights. What better way to do that than with a hike? We'll see the sights from atop Angel's Landing, a famous hike in the southwest.

3. Forge lasting friendships with like-minded mamapreneurs. You'll meet women who love their babies AND their business at #MamaSpringBreak. They are coming in from across the U.S. We've got mamas signed up from Illinois, California, Utah, and Oklahoma ... all there to learn with you.

4. Attend a Pat Benatar rock concert at the gorgeous Tuacahn Amphitheatre. Because who doesn't want to rock out to "Love is a Battlefield" from the legend herself? THIS will be so rad.

5. Give yourself a kid-free getaway that's a business expense. Because we all need breaks from diapers, dishes, and laundry that never seems to end ... right? It's just three days, and they will sure be glad to see you when you get back.

6. Bring home more than $200 of sponsor gifts! Our sponsors are ahhh-mazing and you'll get gift cards and products from: Chatbooks, RadSwim, Baby Cubby, Modern Piggy, Mommi, Brightbox, YNAB, SmartShyp, and more! 

7. Bring home an exclusive #SeeMamaClimb t-shirt. Designed only for event attendees, you can show the world you're climbing after your business dreams. (Because you are!)

8. Enjoy having your food taken care of! No cooking or cleaning for you, Mama. We've got you covered. All meals and healthy snacks are included.

9. Shake what yo' mama gave ya. We'll have our own dance party, just for attendees. Woot.

10. Relax in a soothing yoga session. We've got an incredible instructor coming who will get you feeling serene.

Convinced you need a #MamaSpringBreak in your life this year? Sure, we'll have a really, really good time. But we'll also stretch our hearts, bodies, and minds so that we can all climb (literally and in business) in 2018. Invest in yourself, and your business. See you there, Mama.

#SeeMamaClimb Series: Finding your forever body (and your brand)

It's new year's resolution season, and if you're like millions of other moms out there, you might be thinking more about your body this week. Am I right?

And did you know 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies? #sadface

Looking to change those statistics, I'm really excited to introduce this month's #SeeMamaClimb interview.

Author and body love coach Kimberley Record shares how to change your relationship with the scale … forever.

Finding your forever body book

Kimberley's a mom on a mission to build a business that helps women love their bodies. Her new book, “Finding Your Forever Body,” breaks down why most diets don’t work—and how to love the skin you’re in.

At the moment of publishing this post, I have Kimberley's book on my bedside stand. I know her in real life, but it's been such a pleasure to get to know her writing voice. I've personally enjoyed her insight, humor, and research-backed tips that have changed my paradigm about the scale. She's got a really powerful message.

Enjoy this interview (and her book) and let me know what you think!

10 tips for faster, better business writing

Let's give your business writing a one-two punch. Here's your pep talk for better, faster business writing.

First, let's establish that words have incredible power to connect. Writing is the core of building business relationships. When you use them right in your business, you establish thought leadership, build brand credibility, and ultimately attract your ideal clients. 

As a professional writer and editor, I've lassoed sentences for companies like HP, Sony, and Microsoft in my former corporate life. I lead a writing team in my own business. I've also been a university adjunct instructor for communication classes ... so you can say I've picked up a few tricks for punchier business copy. Here are 10 for you!

10 quick tips for better business writing

1. Power-punch your first words. With an attention span less than that of a goldfish, people don't stick around for words that don't grab them immediately. Hit it hard in the first line.

2. Picture your people. Who is the audience for your blog post, email, Insta post, etc.? How can you speak in their language?

3. Stick to your purpose. Don't know why your reader should care? Neither will they. Be clear and deliberate about your message.

4. Catapult ideas with strong verbs. The trick to punchy writing is NOT in adjectives, or the describing words. It's avalanching sentences with verbs that matter. (Notice what "avalanching" does in that sentence?")

5. Write tight. Every word counts! Cut out fluff.

6. Say less whenever possible. Enough said.

7. Type your thoughts. For speedier writing, whip out those words as fast as they come to mind. You can tighten them up after they're on the page.

8.  Pay attention to punctuation. Getting grammar right really matters. Know when to break the rules, gracefully.

9. Dish out to your best ideas. Give, give, give and you'll be surprised at how your writing generosity pays off. People are drawn to caring thought leaders. 

10. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Everyone needs an editor. Double check everything you write before publishing and if it's especially important, have a second set of eyes review it.

Let me know: Which of these tips will you use for your business? Any writing tips YOU would like to share?

Why appreciation needs to be part of your business: Send a ripple of gratitude with #MamaMailLove

You know those people in life who make you feel truly appreciated, and how you’d do anything for them? This post is about how you can BE one of those people as you lead your business.

In another phase of my career, when I was working my way up the corporate ladder, I noticed something intriguing about leaders. Some are exceptional at offering gratitude, winning their team’s trust, loyalty, and hard work. Other managers miss the mark on appreciation, and drive their people away.

We’re not talking about some soft-skill bumbo-jumbo. Appreciation is tied to monetary outcomes. A study in Psychology reveals gratitude is one of the most accurate predictors of job satisfaction. When individuals feel appreciated they are more engaged, and highly engaged organizations are 21% more profitable.

On the flip side, when managers get gratitude wrong, organizations pay for it. As this Tedx Talk shares, a mighty 64 percent of recently departed workers left their jobs because they didn’t feel appreciated. That’s an expensive mistake!

My published study on gratitude in the workplace

This idea intrigued me enough to make it the topic of my master’s thesis and dedicate two years to researching, writing, and sharing about it. My published research, “Perceptions of Thanks in the Workplace,” became an internationally recognized study on the way employees receive expressions of gratitude from their managers.

I did an in-depth survey of 883 full-time employees and conducted three focus groups, digging in to find out, “What form of gratitude works best?” and “What mediums of gratitude should be avoided?” which led me to shining the light on seven dark sides, or ways that managers get gratitude wrong.

The results surprised me.

When asked about six different mediums (verbal one-on-one, verbal in a group setting, tangible gifts, handwritten notes, electronic notes/email, or monetary rewards), the most craved form of appreciation was not extra money.

Employees ranked VERBAL one-on-one as their MOST wanted form of appreciation. "Thank you" is free, but those two words are valuable!

You can see more about where I've shared this research here, and highlights from the study here.

Why appreciation matters in YOUR business

I’m climbing my own ladder now, so I don’t have a manager. I’m my own boss, and the fact that you’re reading this means you’re probably entrepreneurial, too. As a mamapreneur, you can take what I found about gratitude at an organizational level and apply it to your growing business—and even your family.

Remember, people want to be recognized as important and valued. Everyone has their own appreciation preferences (think of it like their gratitude love language), but you can’t go too wrong when you’re being sincere. Sincerity comes down to being specific, timely, and personalizing your message.

When you give authentic appreciation to clients, partners, vendors—anyone who helps you in your business—you give them much more than mere words and a reason to feel good. You give them:

  • A reason to remember you and your business (because genuine gratitude is rare)
  • A reason to be loyal (they’ll want to come back for more)
  • A reason to share about you and refer business your way (who doesn’t want to work with a grateful person?)

The world needs more “thank you” cards: 💌  Introducing #MamaMailLove

Knowing how important appreciation is in business, I’m really excited to announce our free gratitude-centered campaign hosted by The Mama Ladder™ International: #MamaMailLove.

Together, let's start a ripple of gratitude at home and in small business. From November 13-20, 2017, sign up for #MamaMailLove and we'll send you a letter with a blank thank you card, so you can pass on the love. You'll also see instructions on how to invite your mama friends and receive up to 16 more free thank you cards.

Sign up here to join #MamaMailLove, and THANK YOU for reading!

(Feel free to share this post. The more, the merrier. Thanks!)

Love, 

Crystalee

 

The Problem with Perfectionism: Let it go, mama!

Have you ever held off starting something (like your dream business) because you were scared you couldn't do it perfectly? Or beaten yourself up emotionally because you made a mistake? Or spent so much energy trying to impress others that you aren't actually YOU?

I've been there. In fact, I call myself a "recovering perfectionist" because I used to be far too hard on myself. But I've learned as a mamapreneur to let go of perfectionistic tendencies. There simply is not time to focus on my failings, and I no longer feel I need to.

The problem with perfectionism is it stops us from progress. 

Perfectionism robs us of our potential. And that's tragic, because we can never get where we want to be if we don't take the first step.

It seems our picture-perfect culture is ripe with wanting to look/be "perfect." Filling little squares with posed images causes documented "compare and despair," yet it is still so enticing to put our very best face forward. 

We say, throw that perfectionism out the window. Shatter it, and be surprised at how refreshing it feels to be really YOU.

Listen up: Here's my not-so-perfect podcast interview on Plaid Radio.

In a newly released podcast interview with Plaid Radio, hear my uplifting conversation with Sarah Webb, president of Plaid for Women called, "Perfectionism: If you've got it all together, this is not for you." I think you'll love it. It's one I'm repeating for myself when those perfectionist tentacles try to reach for me.

There's no need to be perfect. Just be you. That is always enough!

 

 

 

Interview on Plaid Radio: Why I traded the corporate ladder for The Mama Ladder™

After several good years in the corporate world, when my first baby came along, I felt super torn. I'd worked hard at my career, earned a master's degree, won international awards for my work ... but this new precious person was (and still is) my proudest achievement. I refused to miss her babyhood.

Although I'd negotiated to work from home two days a week (thanks to a great manager), I felt constantly torn between being an employee and being a mom. I wanted to make a change, but wasn't sure how. Sometimes when we deeply desire something, surprise doors open.

I was unexpectedly laid off, due to corporate downsizing.

My girl was one and I was 15 weeks pregnant with my second baby at the time. Fast forward a year later, after having my baby, chipping away at self-doubt, changing my mindset, investing in mentors/training, and taking bold action ... I got a business license.

Now, instead of climbing a complicated, full-time corporate ladder, I’ve created my own ladder that fits my mamahood. My talented team of writers and I help remarkable people and organizations tell their story. We have a lot of freedom to work when and how we want, and deliver high-quality content for our growing list of world-class clients.

Listen to my recent interview on Plaid Radio to hear: 

  • How I work less, enjoy better compensation, AND enjoy the privilege of motherhood
  • My daily mamapreneur routine and why it makes me so happy
  • What I tell myself when things get tough in business (spoiler alert: it happens!)
  • My experience working with a business partner
  • Why shifting from employee to business owner puts you in the power seat

The Mama Ladder™ International is all about mamas helping mamas. Want help translating your corporate world skills into your own business? Let's connect.

Much love, 

Crystalee