3 Steps to Help You Overcome Overwhelm

overcoming overwhelmGuest Post by Cathy Alessandra

Are you ready to exit overwhelm? I know I am! I have been so busy with two companies, mergers and my kids, that I have been totally overwhelmed. And I know many of you are feeling the same.

Life is often overwhelming when you are a mompreneur and we are often fighting “SuperMom Fatigue.” Our multiple roles as an entrepreneur, mom, caretaker, philanthropist, partner, friend, taxi driver, cook, maid and volunteer are all screaming for our attention. There are three steps for exiting overwhelm:

Step 1: Set boundaries.

As a mompreneur, especially if you are a home-based mompreneur, it can be very difficult. When I began my first company and worked from home, I didn’t really act as if I had a business…that I was the CEO of my company. I was available when anyone called — to volunteer on the playground, have lunch with a friend, or help plan the fundraiser. I needed to set the same boundaries as a mom who worked outside the home: office hours; days available; not answering the home phone line whenever it rang; participating in what I wanted to, when I wanted to; and only making exceptions when I wanted to.

Step 2: Consider commitments versus obligations and choose them wisely.

Learning to say no to some things allows you to say yes to things you feel passionate about. In the past, I have had a difficult time saying no. But I am spending more time making those decisions — contemplating my commitments and obligations. I commit to things I feel passionate about, things I enjoy doing and feel good, things I can share with my kids. I am learning to say no to the obligatory commitments — the ones that I am doing for someone else, that I am pressured into and that don’t feel right.

Step 3: Find your rhythm.

I love the song Life is a Highway by Rascal Flats. Life is a highway and I am in the drivers seat and living it by making choices. And if you are going the same direction with me, then hop on and hold on because it is exciting. But if it is going to cause me total overwhelm, then I am taking the next exit and getting off the highway! When you remove the things that cause the overwhelm and discord, you can hear the harmony in the distance.

Being in overwhelm serves no one — and certainly not you! In fact, I believe it does more harm than good to your relationships, your stress level, your body, and your mind. Take a step back for a moment and see where you can exit. I challenge you to set some boundaries. Think about your commitments versus obligations. Learn to say no so you are ready for your YES opportunities!

Cathy is the CEO of Alessandra Media Group LLC and has published the successful niche magazine, What’s Up For Kids™ (circulation: 20,000), serving families in Los Angeles for over 17 years.  In 2011, she took her expertise in publishing, marketing and business to launch Today’s Innovative Woman™ (circulation: 10,000), creating a niche publication serving smart, savvy women business owners. Cathy also hosts the weekly radio show, Innovative Women in Business, interviewing successful women entrepreneurs.

Working With a Spouse While Working From Home

I admire couples that can work from home together and not strangle each other by the end of the day. It’s not that I’m unreasonable, bitchy or territorial (at least not all of the time), but there’s no way I could stand to share an office with a spouse. Period.

Part of the reason is that I’m from a family of five kids which makes me want my own space, my own supplies and as much privacy as possible. I like working by myself in a quiet home office.

The other part is that too much of a good thing can be bad. You may adore your spouse, but if you spend every day and night with him or her, you may drain the fun out of your business and your relationship.

If you’re still willing to work with your spouse, there are a few ways to keep the peace so no one considers hiring a hit man by the end of the day.

Buy duplicate supplies.

No one likes to reach for a stapler and realize it’s on someone else’s desk or in another room. Get creative and buy two sets of office supplies in different colors. While you’re buying extra supplies for your spouse, pick up more sets for the rest of your family.

Use separate equipment.

There’s nothing wrong with cutting costs, but sharing a computer will cost you more than money. It can affect your working relationship, and more importantly, your productivity. Whether you use a desktop and your spouse uses a laptop, each of you should have your own equipment. If one of you prints more often than the other, you may want to have two printers. Otherwise, share one.

Leave the room when you need to take a call.

Unless you can talk quietly and not bother your spouse while he or she is in the office, leave the room during a call. Another option is to use a headset and of course, talk quieter. It’s a good idea to leave your desk throughout the day anyway, so why not leave during a call?

Use separate workspaces.

Whether you use two desks, or install a long counter with enough room for two people to work, keep your workspaces separate. This is especially true if you have two different working styles. Someone who is a packrat will drive a perfectionist crazy with piles of paper, cups of coffee and the leftovers from his or her last snack. The perfectionist will do the same thing by complaining about the mess and throwing things away without asking.

Compromise on the temperature.

You may like the office to be as cold as a meat locker, but not everyone likes to wear three sweaters, a hat, and gloves to work. Consider using a fan for your side of the room and keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature.

Working with a spouse can be the perfect arrangement for some couples and a recipe for disaster for others. In fact, I’m a firm believer in everyone working together, but not always in the same space.

4 Ways to Balance Your Home and Home Office Life

When my older son’s grade school held career day, he told his class all about his dad’s career. When he described me, he said that I didn’t do anything.

I couldn’t believe it.

At first I was hurt, then I realized he answered that way because he rarely saw me work. The only time I worked was when he and his brother were asleep, with a sitter, or at school.

Now that my sons are older and don’t need me as much as they did before — they get better grades when I don’t help them with math — my challenge is to stop working so much. I’ve recommended strategies for balancing home and office life to my clients for years, and now I’m following my own advice. [Read more...]

Does Your Home Office Wardrobe Affect Your Productivity?

source: Rubbermaid Products

Not long ago I asked home office professionals around the country to describe what they wear when they work from home. The response was mixed.

Half of the group responded that they don’t dress up to work from home, while the other half said that they can’t work without the corporate look. A few people shared their creative twists to their work-from-home wardrobes, while one person put a slight spin on “casual Friday.”

I couldn’t believe the number of e-mails I received about this topic. While I can’t fit all of the responses in this blog post, I’ll share more in future posts. [Read more...]

More Tips For Working From Home With Kids Around

working from home with kidsIn my last post I shared several ways to work from home while the kids are out of school. In this post, small business owners share their tips for keeping kids busy so you can continue to stay productive while working from home.

“This summer my youngest will go to summer school from 8-12.  The older two don’t wake up before noon, and if they do, they certainly are half asleep. During that time, I am able to get some work done without interruptions.”
—Melissa Perlman Chelist, StorkGifts

“I plan to set up hours for fun camp, as well as hours for quiet rest, reading, and movie time. I know that if the kids have a chunk of activity time, they will be more likely to want ‘down’ time when I can work.”
—Jessica Fisher, aka FishMama  Life as MOM

“My kids are a little older this summer, 14 and 12, so they will go to a few camps. I have encouraged my 14-year-old to find summer work at the local skating rink since he is a hockey player. Since they are older and will sleep in, that should give me a good 4-5 hours a day of work I can get done before I really have to do things for them.”
—Christina Daves, CastMedic Designs [Read more...]

How to Decide Whether or Not You Should Work From Home

I wouldn’t trade working from home for anything. There’s no dress code, it’s easier to stay focused, and if I want to work late at night I have a three-second commute. But working from home isn’t for everyone.

If you’re thinking about working from home or questioning your decision to work from home, consider these pros and cons.

Pro: Your overhead is low and you can furnish your office however you wish.
Con: You’ll need to carve an office out of living space in your home.

Pro: You can set your own hours.
Con: You have to be disciplined and keep some type of schedule. By disciplining yourself and getting on a regular schedule, you can still be productive while enjoying the benefits of working from home. [Read more...]

12 Rules For Working From Home

When you work from home, there aren’t any official rules. That, however, didn’t stop me from creating my own.

1. Bathe daily and try to change your shirt and underwear at least every other day.

2. Clean up your office once a week (even if you just remove coffee mugs and food wrappers).

3. Limit your work hours…you need to sleep.

4. If you have a deadline and you want to stay focused, turn off your e-mail alert.

5. If your home office is a mess, meet with clients somewhere else. Clients may say they don’t mind your mess, but they do, and they may try to figure out how to fire you.

6. If possible, don’t let your kids use your computer. If you get a virus, you can’t work. If they get a virus, they can’t play computer games. Do the math. [Read more...]

How to Work from Home While Homeschooling—Without Going Insane

balancing homeschooling and work

Source: chefranden

Guest Post by Michelle Shaeffer

Homeschooling a child is a challenge.  Working at home is a challenge.

Combine the two and you’re facing a really BIG challenge.

But it can be done, and it can be done well, if you’re determined to make it work.

I’ve been homeschooling my three children while working from home for the past 7 years and I have a thriving business, three well educated and social children, and I haven’t crossed the line into insanity yet.

And I’m only one of many moms who have decided that the reasons and rewards are big enough that it’s worth the effort.

Here are a few things I’ve learned that help me through the day:

1.  Always keep things in perspective and know your “why” for what you do. [Read more...]

Could You and Your Spouse Share a Home Office?

Some couples get along well in all aspects of their lives together except for one: sharing a home office. One spouse may like keeping papers in files, while the other likes piling papers on the floor. Still one spouse may be fine with one or two work surfaces, while the other needs as many surfaces as possible to store “stuff.”

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t work with your spouse — and I know many people who work together perfectly. Yet some couples say that the reason their business is thriving is because they work in separate home offices.

Consider these questions before you share a home office with your spouse.

  • Do you have compatible work styles? Your spouse may like a messy desk while you like to have a clear space to work. Use separate desks to solve or avoid that problem.
  • Are your internal clocks synchronized? If you’re a morning person and your spouse likes to stay up late, you may run into problems — including being kept awake by a noisy printer or phone calls. Invest in earplugs, add a door to close off your office (if possible), or convince your spouse to print in the morning.
  • Does your home office have to be quiet for you to be productive, while your spouse needs background noise to work? Get him or her a set of headphones. While he or she is enjoying music, you can enjoy a quiet office.

Sharing a home office with your spouse may be the perfect solution for your business, or a bad idea. It’s important to keep in mind that what happens in the bedroom doesn’t necessarily dictate what happens in the boardroom — even if both rooms are in the same house.

Do you share a home office with someone?

Take Back Your Time By Saying No More Often Than Yes

source: Horia Varlan

When my sons were younger, I was at the top of the volunteer list (translation: sucker). Whenever someone called me to help with an event, class project or anything else to do with school, I said yes. I did the same thing with two professional associations I was in.

One day I had a revelation. I was spending more time volunteering my time than growing my business. I’m all for helping others but eventually you have to say no more often than you say yes.

How many times have you said yes when you meant no? There are only so many hours in a day and if at some point you don’t say no, you’ll never get ahead (or get any sleep!).

Before you say yes to everything, consider a few questions.

To read the rest of my guest post on Success Your Way, click here.