Three Crucial Steps to Getting the Most Done While Baby Sleeps

This one is for those of us who are mothers AND direct sellers. Too many of us leave productivity up to chance. Productivity is like some sort of muse that comes at random inexplicable times.

Create a realistic list of tasks that you can accomplish in the “typical” span of nap-time.

The number one way to feel accomplished at the end of your precious kid-free time is to check things off a to-do list. There are few things as satisfying as plopping down after having finished all the things you needed to do.

Now, not all to-do list’s are created equal.

In fact, most stink. They are unbalanced and guided mostly by anxiety. (Must get bills paid or else it’ll go to collections, for example).

I find that how you write your to-do list is more important that having written one at all.

Depending on the type of life you live, the list will be different for you but this is the formula I use: 2 business items, 2 home items, 1 self care item.

[If you’re not a businesswoman, maybe replace the business category with a project category or omit it all together.]

The business items are normally things like responding to email or working on a blog post. The home items are almost always picking up the 23467564 toys that my children keep finding and throwing all around the house. It also includes things like starting the crockpot for dinner. The self care item is either a shower, playing with my make up or even taking a snooze myself!

I find that having 5 items on my list is sufficient but my kids nap for a while and I tend to work quickly when I know what the next task is. When choosing how many items to put on your list, consider the amount of time it should take you to complete that task and give yourself a little breathing room. If your child naps for 1 hour, don’t put 15 items on your list. This is a sure way to feel totally unaccomplished at the end of nap time and that’s the exact opposite of what we are trying to do here.

Create this list in your mind as the morning progresses but jot things down on your phone or a notepad as time allows.

Prioritize that list (start with most time sensitive).

Now that your list is created, it’s time to prioritize the items on it. This is for two reasons:

A: You never know how long your tot will actually sleep. Sometimes my kids will sleep for 3 hours, and sometimes for 90 minutes, and sometimes 15.

B: So you don’t spend the whole time working on one of the tasks that could have waited a few days.

Prioritizing that list is fairly simple. I normally abide by 2 different methods of prioritizing, time-sensitivity and difficulty. If you HAVE to get a shower because you’re getting your family photos taken this afternoon, that’s at the top of the priority list because it’s definitely time-sensitive. That same shower would be near the bottom of the list any other day. If you told someone you would email them 3 days ago and you still haven’t, that’s time sensitive. On the other hand you have the “difficulty filter.” Difficulty can mean that it’s physically going to require the most energy or it’s the thing you’re dreading the most. Calling your cable provider to dispute an incorrect bill, for example, would be very difficult even though it’s just calling someone on the phone. Prioritize those tasks near the top of your list and do not skip them. After you’ve completed it, everything else is smooth sailing and really ends your work time on a positive note.

Do the list!

This one is simple enough. When your kids heads hit the pillow, you are already armed with your list and you need to jump on it right away. A common pitfall is putting the kids in bed and then collapsing on the couch to start browsing the web. Don’t let that precious time go waste. After you complete a task, take a second to indulge in the feeling of checking that item off your list. Cheer yourself on because you did it!!

Here are some bonus tips:

  1. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by things that didn’t make it onto today’s list. Your time is limited and you are doing the best you can. Give yourself a break!
  2. Stay off Facebook or whatever social networking site is your go-to when you’re bored. It’s hard to get back on task after that because there are links and notifications that will keep you occupied. Before you know it, you hear your kids waking up!
  3. Meal-prepping/ Batch-cooking is a great way to cut down the time allocated to cooking and eating your lunch. I know that sometimes lunch is my first full meal and I want it to be awesome but I need my time for other more pressing things. Preparing meals ahead of time gives me the best of both worlds! I get to eat something yummy but need only to re-heat it and eat it!
  4. Don’t wait until the kids are asleep to clean up the clutter. If your kids are old enough, incorporate tidying up into their pre-nap routine. It gives you the opportunity to teach them how to tidy up AND it takes an item off your list!

The Top 5 Reasons People Fail on Etsy

I’m sure you’ve heard this before but something like 97% of people in the small business sector fail. 97% is a BIG number but that doesn’t mean that you will fall into it. If you’re reading here, you’re already a step ahead of most of the people that never look to learn new ways to succeed, so GO YOU! Below I’ve listed some of the top reasons that people do fail in craft based businesses! Take this info and share it out to the people in your team if you want to help them avoid these oh-so-common pitfalls in our industry. Ready? Here we go!

They never brand themselves. Well, they do, but not in the best way.

When it comes to handmade sellers, the top performing shops all have one thing in common. A strong brand that’s evident through their products and social media outlets. This is one thing that really sets the pros apart from the amateurs. When someone is new to the handmade business world, they tend to post repetitively (but shyly) about their business. They stand on the products rather than building a brand around the products- and more importantly, the ideal customer.

Nothing is wrong with that but here’s what it accomplishes: Free Advertising. For who? Anybody who makes the “same” item as you.

If I hear Suzie Q word-vomiting  about how amazing her coffee scrubs are for people’s skin and how the caffeine does magic with skin cells and she never gets to why HER product is right for me, I’m only going to remember one thing. “Hm, I should look into coffee scrubs.” I’ll walk away from that conversation knowing that coffee needs to be all over my skin but I’m not really thinking about Suzie. Make sure that you don’t spend more time talking about your products features than you do connecting with who I am as a person and why I would like to be involved with your brand.

You can mention what your products do do but it’s in your best interest to spend more time talking about YOUR value proposition. What does this person gain by buying from you? Talk about that! People shy away from this because they are scared of tooting their own. Let that go. If you want to succeed in this industry you will need to let go of self-deprecation.

They never master time-management.

Time-Management isn’t this elusive thing that only super-moms can achieve. Let’s just establish that. The way to do this is fairly simple:

  1. Think of the most time-sensitive thing you need to do.
  2. Calculate how much time you need to do that task.
  3. Arrange your day so you can do that.

If you’re a mom like me, you’ll have to learn how to hack nap time to accomplish your tasks. I know that it’s so tempting to jump on Facebook or to play Candy Crush until you fall asleep but discipline is your best friend here. Dreams don’t work unless you do. Once your finances are in good shape, I also strongly recommend delegating tasks that suck up your time (like cleaning) to people who will charge a reasonable fee. This helped me a lot and has truly made a difference in my mental clarity.

They undervalue and underutilize follow-up

Following up is the simplest thing you can do that will generate income. People often forget to follow up or straight up avoid it which is just bad business. Setting up a calendar reminder to follow up with current customers is a great way to keep the money flowing. People are generally happy that you’re following up with them and your tone has a lot to do with that.

When following up with current customers, check for satisfaction! Make sure they are enjoying their products and if they aren’t, help them. Don’t become defensive if they are not totally happy with their purchase. Remain calm and offer your help. This helps with customer retention and builds so much trust.

Be creative, pleasant and non-pushy and following up will be a breeze. Also, if you haven’t followed up with someone, it is my opinion that it is never too late but take the time to rebuild a relationship if you fell totally out of contact.

They treat it like a hobby.

This one is a little double-sided. Some people really, truly want to make crafts as a hobby. That’s okay and there’s really nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is people treating their business like a hobby but becoming frustrated when it’s paying them like a hobby- AKA $0!

If you’re reading this, you probably want to be a successful handmade business owner but are maybe having a rough time. That’s okay! It’s never too late to fix this. Just decide, right now, that you will commit to treating your hobby based business like an actual business.

They never grow their list.

Your friends and family probably love you but are often times the least supportive because they feel targeted by you and being “sold.” Especially if you use terms like “Do me a favor” or “help me out.” You may get a few reluctant sales from family that way but that’s it.

Always continue to grow your list! You can do this by asking for referrals, marketing in various ways or networking online and in person. You can use the web to build an online list (this is what I teach on) or you can be super active in your community and be on top of getting people’s contact info build your list of potential buyers IRL. Either way is fine but the online route has a more passive cadence since you won’t need to be a social butterfly to rock this out.

I do want to say that you should only add people to your list that you’d actually like to work with and would actually enjoy your products (or be closely linked with someone who would love your products). Don’t waste your time getting the information from someone you don’t enjoy working with. You got into business for yourself so you could do business on your own terms so don’t feel obligated to work with every single potential customer.

Setting Yourself Apart

These are just 5 reasons why a a large majority of people in the handmade seller industry fail. You can set yourself apart by

  • building a strong brand that shows up in your products and social media,
  • keeping a consistent schedule,
  • following up,
  • being professional and
  • continuing to meet new to people.

Have anything to add? Share it in the comments below.