Over the years, I've written about our husband and wife partnership as entrepreneurs building a business. I've covered living on the road while working and growing a family. I've discussed how to find your center when raising a family while building your empire. And I've shared work hacks to keep you on top of your game while traveling.
Across the board, I've emphasized the importance of a routine to ensure discipline and traction both personally and professionally when you're scaling a business and raising your tribe. I felt like my husband Buddy, and I had a leg up on working remotely and being productive.
If there were ever a time that could test my strategies and beliefs in my capacity for stress and change, it's government-mandated quarantine. Wow! Our family was sick with colds and cases of flu before the California COVID-19 quarantine, so at the time I'm writing this, we're actually in Week 5 of Sheltering in Place. Thank God it's Spring Break.
Seriously, I like my kids' schoolwork even less than they do, so Spring Break came at a much-needed time. I've always loved our children's teachers, but they have achieved a whole new level of greatness in my eyes. I don't know how you teachers do it. Then, many of you come home and do homework with your kids! I tip my hat to you all!
We lived in an RV with a toddler while I was third-trimester pregnant with number two, in North Dakota. We were 50 miles from the Canadian border, and it was the middle of December, yet we went to work on a construction site every day. Sounds grim, right? Well, I gotta tell you, that was easier than the past month at home with two kids doing "independent" online schooling — and a three-year-old running around trying to derail the train!
Our motto for many years has been, "the family that travels together, stays together." And now all I want is a weekend away with my girlfriends! Or better yet, a weekend alone, in silence, in an ashram. Do you remember silence? What I wouldn't give for a little silence.
In my last post: Finding peace amidst uncertainty, I explored some of the hacks we were using in an attempt to keep the peace in our little village! Fast forward a few weeks, and we've figured out a few more things, experienced some more failures, laughed, argued, had a couple of meltdowns, and learned more about ourselves and each other.
All of their lives, our kids have had front row seats for our American Dream-Chasing Tour. In fact, they've had backstage passes. So for them, watching mom and dad juggle schedules, tag-team work and chores at home, coordinate school pickups and drop-offs — along with work meetings and travel schedules — is nothing new.
What is new is that we've taken on the additional responsibility of trying to be teachers — and without the help we usually have (from a babysitter or family member.) Don't judge, or do if you want! But, if anyone tells you they keep their pace personally and professionally without any help —they're lying. Our life isn't one-size-fits-all, but we're fighting hard to design the life of our dreams, and most of the time, it works for us. When it doesn't, it can get a little messy.
As bootstrapping entrepreneurs, I think we are pretty nimble and innovative. But pack all five of us, and our French Bulldog Lovie, around the clock in a home with no office, garage or den, and even the greatest domestic diva would be tested. Oh, did I mention it's been pouring outside for days on end!
It's been a learning experience, and no doubt will continue to be for the foreseeable future. I think I can safely say we are starting to make a little more progress each day. As partners, as a couple and as parents, we're getting better at coordinating our schedules in advance to prioritize the kids and their school schedules, along with needs for physical activity and play. We're organizing our schedules to allow time for each of us to work on our professional and passion projects.
What we haven't mastered yet is much time together as a couple. These kids are ALL UP IN OUR BUSINESS! The big kids are still a little young to babysit the three-year-old. Besides, I'm convinced that if they were alone on an island, he would be named Lord of the Flies. Date nights are a nice idea, and an overnight getaway is a distant memory of days gone by. We have to shelve any real chance to connect until we get the kiddos in bed, schoolwork reviewed and uploaded, and the casa cleaned. Then we pour ourselves into bed, both exhausted from schooling, parenting, housework, and work.
Next week, we're going to work on prioritizing our time to talk, plan, and connect during the little man's nap time. Look out kids, mom and dad are going to start having a lot more "conference calls" midday, so no knocking on the door, it's an important meeting!
Sometimes, the days are long and other days seem even longer, and then there are days when I feel like we're in our element and could take the kids out of school, move on to a boat and sail around the world! For clarification, this feeling lasts for about 3.2 seconds, and then the baby spits milk across the room in an effort to make his siblings laugh, and I'm jolted back to reality. In all seriousness, though, I know we'll look back on this epic, scary, and crazy-beautiful time in our lives, years from now and long for these days with our babies. Humor is just one way I choose to find joy, and hopefully, bring a little joy to you as well!
At the end of the day, isn't how we choose to control our attitudes part of this whole endeavor? With so much out of our control, our perspective is one thing we can control. We have to work at it, but we do have choices. It's too soon to know what the future will hold or the shape of our "new normal." But one thing is already certain: There is an opportunity in this for us all. We each have an opportunity to learn, evolve, and to grow closer as a family and as a community. What will you choose?
Long Live the Adventure,
My husband and business partner, Buddy, and I have owned and operated businesses together for over 16 years. We have established and sold two companies and are now working on our third venture. Over the years, we have spent a lot of time traveling, both for business and pleasure. When on vacation or business travel, the work back at the office doesn’t pause or slow; it continues to build. Having a structured remote work routine can be the key to your success, allowing you to stay on top of business even when you are out of the office.
Growing, and scaling, our businesses over the years has required a great deal of commitment and time and often required us to travel, sometimes at length. We embraced the philosophy, “the family that travels together, stays together,” and took our children with us whenever possible. We also turned many business trips into a vacation to make the most of our time somewhere. One summer, we drove cross-country on two different highways, taking crew members to dinner and conducting job interviews, while stopping to tour national parks and visiting family members along the way.
When your spouse is your partner, and you’re traveling together, (meaning you are both out of the office), you need even more self-discipline. Striking a balance can be challenging when working remotely. For us, it’s been a learning process, and sometimes I feel like I have to learn the same lessons over again. Here, I’ll cover some tactics we’ve learned over the years that might help you manage your existing workload, gain traction on new initiatives, spend quality time with your family and explore new places and adventures on your journeys.
A theme in our family and my life is: Work Hard, Play Hard. You’ll find this underlying message in all my writing, speeches and videos. I believe in embracing life to the full and living purposefully every day with that objective in mind. Yes, at times, this intense lifestyle can be exhausting. I have to live very intentionally to keep pace with our self-imposed chaos. This starts with a relentless morning routine. I also work to incorporate meditation, a healthy(ish) diet, adequate sleep and other beneficial daily habits. Let me disclose; I’m never 100 percent. I never fully crush it in every area, but I am always trying and that helps keep me centered amidst the mayhem.
Travel is part of that mayhem, but it’s worth the effort. Travel will enrich your life and create impactful experiences and memories to share with your family. It can also expand your business, and I’m not just referring to the big meetings and conferences you attend while on your trips. Exposure to new cultures, excellent customer service and interactions with new people can serve as an opportunity to broaden your experience and foster an environment for creative innovation within your own business.
Here are some Work & Travel Life Hacks to help you prepare for your next business trip, family vacation or hybrid of the two. You’ll be excited and organized with a smart plan that will allow you to stay on top of your work life as you embrace the next adventure with your littles!
1) Prep hard before leaving: Plan ahead to take as little work with you as possible. I work like crazy when preparing to be out of the office. I make a list of all of the tasks that I can complete before leaving, so I go into my trip feeling really good about all the momentum I’ve made.
2) Put everything in a planner: I know it’s 2020, but I still use a planner. I also use my Outlook/iCal, and my husband and I share calendars, so we don’t double book each other. When I’m preparing to be out of the office for a while, I find it a helpful exercise to write everything down and to see it all laid out in one place. I can review it daily to see what the week and specific days look like at a glance.
3) Set up autoreply for voicemail and email: I used to be wildly insecure about using autoreply, I thought my clients would lose respect for me if they knew I didn’t chain myself to my work desk. Now, I use my autoreply as a chance to gain respect and build trust with my clients and team members by keeping them informed.
Here’s an example of how I structure an autoreply:
I’m working remotely from Monday, Feb. 17 through Friday, Feb. 21. I’ll be responding to emails and messages twice daily, so there may be a slight delay in my response time. If you need immediate assistance, please reach out to XXX at (XXX)XXX-XXXX. Otherwise, I’ll be in touch shortly. As always, thank you for your trust and confidence in our team.
Long Live the Adventure, Nikki
4) Streamline your meeting schedule: Once you’ve organized your schedule, identify what you can delegate to minimize the number of conference calls you need to attend. Delegation is essential to scaling a business. You must have a capable team that you trust. That's why you hired them, right? If you aren’t a natural delegator, start working on this skill now. It will empower your team and elevate your capacity to focus on areas of your highest and best use. (Now that I’m thinking about it, I think I’ll write a blog about this soon.) Also, assign someone to take notes in meetings and to email you a recap for your review during your scheduled work period (see below).
6) Tag-team: Cover for each other: You both don’t have to be everywhere at once. Decide who needs to attend what meetings, and let that person recap the other when possible.
7) Schedule working periods: Schedule working periods twice a day to check and respond to emails, review recaps and take action on any outstanding projects. Ensure that these time slots are short and as efficient as possible. Mitigate distractions so you can dive in, be productive and then get back out to your family, who will be anxiously awaiting your return. Note: Don’t take calls on the botanical garden hike to the waterfall with your kids. Be present. They deserve it.
8) Wake up early: We are relentless about our morning routines, even when on vacation. We still wake up early and tackle our individual routines, first thing. Early morning is a great time to knock out your first working period of the day. The kiddos are still sleeping, and you both can be extremely productive without distractions. You can get through all of your morning emails before the team is in the office, and can still hit the slopes for some morning turns.
9) Maximize flight/naptime: I try to maximize flight time, to get the extra edge before starting a vacation or returning to the office. I use this time to work on big initiatives that I might have put off. Our kids don’t have access to tablets, unless we’re traveling a long distance, so during this time, they’re pretty captivated. I’m working on writing, preparing a presentation for an upcoming speaking opportunity, building a budget, or reviewing contracts, while they’re watching the newest movie we downloaded before the flight. It’s amazing how productive you’ll find yourself on a plane! If your kiddos are still young enough to nap, this is another perfect time for scheduling your working periods. They won’t even notice that you’re growing your empire while they’re sleeping peacefully.
10) Play hard: Lastly, remember what’s important. Work hard during your scheduled work periods. Stay on top of your emails, so you don’t fall behind and bottleneck your team. Empower and build trust in your leaders — your company will be better for it. Be in the moment with your partner and children. Focus on each other and cherish the time together. Abstain from checking your phone while you’re with your family, and don’t feel guilty. Life is short and they’ll be out pursuing their own adventures before we know it. Prioritize your family; don’t fit them in around your business. When you schedule your priorities — instead of prioritizing your schedule — you are in control of what you deem is most important. What’s most important to you — the journey or pursuit of what’s at the end of it?
It's the final countdown! (yes, I am singing Europe in my head right now)
It's currently December 30th and there is one full day remaining in 2019. 364 days of this year are over and we have 1 day left to prep for the start of 2020.
Since we've been talking a lot about goal setting lately, I wanted to take a few minutes to detail what I've been doing to get focused on 2020. My hope is that it may help some of you get inspired. Below is a quick and dirty summary of my 2020 gameface workout.
Rachel Hollis's Last 90 Days Challenge:
- Goal Setting
- Start Today Journal
- 5 to Thrive
You can do this anytime! It doesn't have to be the last 90 days of the year!
Developed a Disciplined Morning Routine
In addition to the 5 to Thrive mentioned above, I've incorporated the following:
Pray - I start my routine in prayer everyday. It helps me to center my heart.
Bible Study - I read a passage from the bible
Meditate - I operate in a lot of chaos, so incorporating meditation into my morning ritual, and throughout the day, has been a huge blessing.
I do my gratitude journaling, workout and try to drink as much water as possible in the morning, so I'm starting my day off on the right track to completing my 5 to Thrive.
Over the Past Week
That's it ya'll! Yes, I've been prepping for the past 90 days, but checkout what the past week has entailed. This is SO doable! I'm encouraging you to start tomorrow, but you can do this anytime. It is ALWAYS the right time to decide that you have a calling on your heart and to spend time loving and bettering yourself. Living intentionally will not only improve your own life, but will positively impact the lives of others around you. This is not selfish. I repeat, this is NOT selfish. This investment in yourself will have immeasurable rewards. Now, go out there and live the life you were made for!
Long Live the Adventure!
We're a family who loves living life to the full. We try to live each day with intention in an effort to find gratitude, seek wonder, show love and a experience a ton of laughter.