Stephen Covey passed away earlier this week. This makes me a bit sad, as his principles of time management and organization have helped me so much over the years. My personal favorites are the time managment matrix, the progressive task list and, of course, the seven habits themselves.
I think they are my favorites simply because no matter what company I was working for or what my job was, I could always count on them to help me sort through the crazy, find the priority and be sure I was focusing on the right thing at the right time. They were easy, they made sense to me and they worked.
Now that I have the flexibility to work at home and take care of baby at the same time... these tools are more important than ever. So, in honor of the great Covey passing away, I've taken some time today to look at the 7 habits and apply them to current role of business owner / work at home Mom with an infant.
Habit 1 - Be proactive. I try and plan meetings and work on the important tasks in the morning, when I can count on the baby taking longer naps. When this works, I am still in good shape in the afternoon when she might not sleep at all.
Habit 2 – Begin with the end in mind. My favorite habit ever!! I start each day knowing what has to get done in order for the day to be a success. For me, that includes figuring out the baby's schedule, personal chores and essential work tasks.
Habit 3 – Put first things first. The baby is young enough that she remains a priority. Keeping her on a schedule – that includes playing with her – is the most important thing I can do every day. On days when she needs more attention I am there to give it to her. If that means I don't work all day, that is okay right now.
Habit 4 – Think Win-Win. This office functions as a team so every day we need to make sure that everyone’s priorities and concerns are tended to. Making sure that everyone - from sales to installers to customers to the baby feels they are taken care of each day is a as important as moving the business forward. It actually is HOW the business moves forward. So when other people’s priorities “invade” on my list, they have a right to. This is the hardest one for me because there are days when that sweet baby girl of mine doesn't nap all afternoon. I make it a win-win by enjoying all the extra cuddle time I get with her.
Habit 5 – Seek first to understand – then to be understood. In my mind this habit is very connected to the last one. It's about listening. I'm lucky that my husband and I are pretty connected in terms of what needs to happen each day. As a business owner I didn't get maternity leave. I was still in the office for at least a little while every day. I understood that baby or no baby we needed to keep the office under control. He understood that work or no work I needed to keep the baby under control. Magically, it worked out.
Habit 6 – Synergize. My husband and I work well together because we both have very different strengths. He is more visible and I am more behind the scenes. With baby in the picture synergy is even more important. To be successful we need to keep juggling who is responsible for what, and when. Like right now, for example. I am writing and he is cleaning up from dinner and entertaining the baby.
Habit 7 Sharpen the saw. Never has this been more important. I need time each week to spend reading the latest novel, visiting with friends or getting a pedicure just to try and balance myself out personally. Professionally I need to carve out time each week to keep learning about the things I am passionate about. I love reading articles and topics on internet marketing and baby development. It is fun for me to learn something new and be able to apply it. It keeps me sharp. Like a saw.
Every day can be a challenge but we work hard to stay focused and to stay sharp. We do not succeed at everything every day; but we never stop trying.
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