I was sweeping up in my mom's hair salon, just like I had done dozens of times before. And my mom was sitting counting out the drawer. I remember the look of concentration on her face as she made sure that the right amount of money was there. She smiled up at me and told me I was doing a good job. And then she went back to counting. I still remember how proud I felt when Mom told me that.
Mom worked hard her whole life to help provide for our family. She was a wonderful example. All these years later, I'm still using the lessons I learned from my Mom in my day to day business. Here are 7.
1. Things Don't Have to Be Done All At Once
It's very easy to get into a project and feel like it needs to be done all right now. But my mom was a master of making "the little things count". Whether that was straightening a display as she walked by or by prepping tomorrow night's dinner from today's leftovers, Mom always made her time count.
In my business I use this same principle. If I have a few minutes to spare I will work on clearing out email or getting a quick phone call in. It might not tackle a complete project, but it will move something forward. And moving things forward in small ways often gets them done.
2. When You're Done Work - Focus on Your Family/Life
Mom worked incredibly hard at building and growing her business (she still does) while I was growing up. But there was one thing I could always count on. When the work day was done, we were a family. We spent time together, being together.
It's very easy to let working at home take over your whole life. But it's important to take a little bit of time for yourself and for the people in your life you care about - friends, family, and volunteer connections. And when you do take that time, shut off your cell and close your computer. Your friends and family will thank you.
3. Get Out of the House - Seriously, Get Out!
One of the reasons my mom worked is because she liked to "get out of the house". She always said that if she had to stare at the same 4 walls every day that she would go bonkers.
When you are working at home this can be a real challenge. One of the strategies that I use is to make it a point to get out of the house and work at least a couple of times a week. I like to go to Starbucks myself, but anyplace with a decent Wi-Fi connection can work. Being around other people and getting a change of surroundings will often make you far more productive and give you ideas you may not have gotten at home.
4. There is No Substitute for a Good Work Ethic
My mom worked hard to make a successful life and she never slacked off. And she made sure I worked hard too (thanks Mom!).
When it comes to finding success in your work, there is absolutely no substitute for an excellent work ethic. You can dream about success and make vision boards (which are a good idea), but you need to make sure that you put the work in that it will take to get there. There is absolutely no substitute for a good work ethic.
5. Focusing on the Right Things is Important
My mom taught me about work ethic, but she also taught me that hard work alone won't get you to success. You have to focus on activities that bring leverage. That's why both of my parents were business owners, because owning a business gives you leverage. You can make money from other people's efforts.
When you are working from home you want to focus on your highest leverage activities. For some people this means learning a high-in-demand skill. For others it means setting up e-commerce stores or publishing a book. The big thing is that you want to focus on the activities that give you the most bang for the buck and outsource the rest (more on outsourcing in another article). It's well worth it.
6. Guard Your Time
When Mom was at the hair salon it was time to work. She would say hi to friends and neighbors if they came in, but she didn't sit and gossip all day. She was working and she needed to get things done.
When you work from home, people think that you are available all the time. And it's up to you to set boundaries. Stay off Facebook. Don't answer phone calls from friends. Be ruthless with your time during your work day. If you don't, then people will call and stop by. They will ask for favors and you won't get the things done that you need to get done. Guarding your time during your working hours is critical.
7. Do Things You Love
Mom worked hard, but she also had a huge zest for life. She enjoyed her work. She enjoyed her family, and she enjoyed her life. Part of the reason for that is she made sure to carve out time to do things she loved.
When you work from home it's super easy to be "on call" all the time and feel guilty for taking time for yourself. But it's important not to lose who you are to your work. I personally love to watch Big Bang Theory and go to sushi bars, so I make sure to put those things in my schedule. I also love to travel, so I've arranged my work so that I can do speaking and travel and see the world while I work.
Thanks Mom for all you taught me, and for helping me become the success I am today.