Tag Archives: time management

Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Amy, Infant & Child Sleep Consultant

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I present you with Amy’s story. Her clients are the teeniest of tiniest and she helps parents regain the sanity that comes with a good night of sleep. She has a strong background in maternal and child wellness and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Clinical Therapy. Let’s check out her hustle!

“An Infant & Child Sleep Consultant, what in the heck is that?” Well, for starters, that’s me, Amy Douglas of Baby Sleep Central. I get that question a lot when I excitedly announce my career of choice. In a nutshell, I help sleep deprived parents of babies and toddlers take back their sleep. This involves helping little ones learn to love the act of sleeping, while also uncovering any potential issues that could be bothersome or disruptive to children. Boy, I know what you might be thinking… “Sleep is so boring!” To the contrary, I can talk sleep for days and my head starts spinning with wild ideas when I connect with new clients. I was once an exhausted parent myself. My first born was anti-sleep (or so I thought) and preferred to throw angry parties in his crib about 10 times each night. Flash forward to today – nothing brings me greater joy than helping families like mine restore their sleep. And not just in my wonderful city of Columbus, Ohio, but all around the world. So how do I accomplish this? Well, there are no two days alike, but let’s take a recent Friday as an example!

7:30 – 8:30 am – Wowzers! This day has me out the door early (so much for working from home and making my own perfect schedule – ha!). I find myself in a nearby suburb picking up some tasty gluten-free pastries for a local pediatrician’s office. They’ve recently been referring sleep deprived parents my way, and I’ve been wanting to thank them properly. Eh, doctors eat pastries, right? Too late, I’m here with the staff and they seem really excited. Phew!

9:00 am – In the last half hour I’ve rushed home to relieve my husband, so he can get to stepping! He mainly works out of our home, but he is very diligent with timing – that’s the key to success my friends! It’s a preschool/daycare day, and I’ve gotten the kiddos fed, dressed, and out the door in quite a jiffy. I won’t get to spend much time with them today, so I hug them long and hard at drop-off. Don’t worry, tomorrow I have a plan for us to bake and decorate sugar cookies. Geesh, what’s up with me and the sweets today?

9:30 am – Driving to Powell, Ohio while listening to my favorite Podcast: Momcast. I was a guest on their show last week discussing sleep hacks, and man – I wish I had one of their sultry radio voices. I sound like a chipmunk in comparison. Hey, at least I had a ball!

10:00 am – 12:00 pm – These 2 hours are spent doing something I especially LOVE to do. Once a month I visit my favorite local coffee shop and host complimentary mini-sessions with parents and professionals. This allows me to give back to the community and offer free tips and advice when I can. But more importantly, this time is for individuals to give me a glimpse into their world. I often hear personal accounts of how lack of sleep affects day to day activities, influences parenting decisions, and even impacts careers or relationships. Sleep deprivation has no boundaries, folks. The info shared is confidential, but it dances around in my brain as I determine if we’re a nice fit for each other for future consulting services.

12:00 pm – Commuting back home. Borrrrring.

12:30 pm – Nourishing my body with real food. Soup and salad, though it may be hard to believe me based on my documented love for sugar.

12:30 – 2:00 pm – Did I mention I am a part-time student? I spend this time submerged in my Abnormal Psychology textbook. I’m inching closer towards a Master’s in Clinical Therapy. It’s certainly a work in progress; taking 1-2 classes at a time will have me there in about 100 years. Never give up, folks!

2:00 pm – Yes, time for an appointment! I have a follow-up call with a family I’ve previously helped. Baby was sleeping through the night, but due to recent illness and holiday travel, they feel they’ve veered off course. It happens. And I advise them how to get back to a good place with sleep – for once and for all!

3:00 pm – Catching up on social media and e-mail responses. 12 messages have been ignored for hours, eek! After further review, it’s not bad – a couple new client inquires, and a few spam too (boo)!

4:00 pm – I’m back at it again! Driving 20 minutes north for an In-Home Sleep Consult session. Some people like driving; I’m not one of those people. I’m anxiously awaiting the invention of the flying hover-board and thought we would have that by 2017.  

4:30 – 6:30 pm – I’ve arrived safe and sound. Dearest toddler is in and out of his parent’s room all night long. He’s lost his blankets, he needs another drink, and he’s too tired to sleep. Yep – you read that right! I have a real soft spot for the toddler crowd. I go easy on him, and help his parents create a gentle plan they can self-implement. No question goes unturned before I head back home to see my family.

6:30 pm – Picking up fast food for the kids. Hey, I’m not perfect. Wendy’s it is! I get nuggets (that’s “chicky nuggies” according to my 2-year old) and I’ll round those out with steamed carrots and blackberries from home for a complete meal. Voila! Praying my husband already ate, because I forget I own a crock pot sometimes.

7:00 pm – And, he is amazing. He not only picked up the kids from daycare with his tight schedule, but he’s also prepared dinner for us both. We eat, talk about our day, and we laugh. Always.

7:30 – 8:30 pm – Connecting with my kids for a bit before my husband and I divide and conquer bedtime duties. The toddler wants rocked by Daddy, and the almost 4-year old is in full on diva mode wanting his mass-sausages (I don’t have the heart to correct him to say massage. Before long he’ll be saying it the right way. And I’ll be so sad!). They are great sleepers, and we won’t see them again until 7:30am.

8:30 pm – Circling back to social media and unfinished email business. (Follow Baby Sleep Central on Facebook & Instagram for free sleep tips and some laughs!) There just aren’t enough hours in the day!

9:00 – 11:00 pm – Sometimes this chunk of time is spent video conferencing with clients in other countries (Australia later this week!). That pesky time difference sometimes has them waking up to my going to sleep. Tonight, is NOT one of these nights! Instead, I get to relax with my husband. I make a very tough decision to “put my phone to bed” at 9pm, and not look at it until morning. We watch This is Us on Hulu (please tell me you all watch this) while I draft out a new blog post.

11:00 pm – Aww, shucks. It’s bedtime, but I was going to prep some cookie dough in advance. Nothing a little Pillsbury can’t fix in the morning. It’s off to Sleeper’s Town I go, and I rest my head on lavender sheets. Tomorrow is a new day –  a slower one for work, but much busier with the ones I love.

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Amy! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you work with parents or cater to teeny-tiny clients, too?  

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

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Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Megan, Book Coach

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I present you with Megan’s story. She’s a book coach and literary agent whose passion for the written word runs deep. With a baby on the way, Megan is not only juggling her expanding career but an expanding family as well.  Let’s check out her hustle!

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Hello!  My name is Megan Close Zavala and I am a literary agent and book coach. While I do still represent clients from time to time, I am currently focused on my coaching practice.  Just like a health coach helps their clients find ways to make their bodies the best that they can be, I do the same with authors and their writing.  I also provide editorial services, so I am often busy proofreading and copy editing various documents.  When I’m not reading for work, I’m reading for fun, and I love what I do!

7:30AM – Wake up and have breakfast.  Secretly wish I hadn’t given up caffeine when I got pregnant.  I usually try to give myself a few minutes before I start looking at emails, so I go on Facebook for a while.  I also like to read something more substantial than Facebook in the mornings, and it is usually a writing- or publishing- related magazine.  Today I’m reading Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly.  In addition to helping me wake up and get into the right mindset, magazines always give me inspiration for services to offer, blogs to write, and ways to help my clients succeed!

9:00AM – Now it’s time to really get to work.  I look over my to-do list for the day, in case there is something urgent that needs to be attended to first thing.  Luckily, today there isn’t anything super pressing, so I begin to sift through emails.  I respond to a few client emails and a few requests to appear on folks’ podcasts or blogs.  I look over my calendar to make sure I know what I’m supposed to be doing for the rest of the day!  Then I spend some time updating my social media, especially Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

9:30AM – Call two potential clients to give them quotes on services that they have requested.  Potential clients are able to schedule calls with me through my website.  I post my starting rates there, but very few projects are exactly the same.  Once I finish my calls, I invoice the clients for the agreed upon amount.

10:00AM – Draft two guest blogs.  One is on how publishing a book can help entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their business, and another is on keeping yourself on track when it comes to finishing your novel.  I really like doing these – I think they’re helpful for people who read them, and it’s fun to get to be the writer once in awhile!

11:00AM – Phone call with monthly consulting client.  We discuss his latest pages and some steps he can take to improve them.  He needs to work on his dialogue – he is having difficulty giving each of his characters a distinct voice, and we brainstormed some ways that he can get through that.

12:00PM – Work on improving website.  My new website just launched, so I am constantly trying to improve the copy and fix little issues I find along the way.  There is always something to do!

12:30PM – Begin proofreading for client.  Proofreading is basically just looking for punctuation, grammar, or spelling errors, and is less involved that some of the more in depth editing services I offer.  

1:00PM – Take a quick lunch break and watch a couple episodes of Forensic Files on Netflix.  Contemplate taking a nap (I’m seven months pregnant), but decide I better keep going with my day!

2:00PM – Complete proofreading for client.  I will send her the final, clean version tomorrow once I take one last glance at everything.

2:45PM – Prepare for a podcast interview by re-reading the questions they sent over and doing some research on the podcast and my interviewer.  Put on a nice scarf and some perfume – I find that when I feel professional, I’m more likely to come off that way!

3:00PM – Podcast begins.  I’m grateful I gussied up a bit because the first section was done via webcam.  Give myself a pat on the back for changing out of pajamas!  I get to talk about my circuitous path to becoming a book coach, give some advice to writers, and make a great new contact.

3:35PM – Podcast is over.  I give myself a little break and then start going through emails that have built up throughout the day.  I receive an invitation to appear at a writers’ conference but have to turn it down because it is only a few days after my baby is due.

4:00PM – Read through material sent over for a 1-on-1 coaching session tomorrow and take notes.  Clients who do coaching sessions send me their book project (in whatever form it is currently in!) in advance, I review it, and then we discuss what is great and not so great when we talk on the phone.  These are really gratifying to do, and a lot of time these folks turn into monthly coaching clients as well!

5:30PM – Take a marketing webinar.  No matter how much I think I already know, there is always more to learn.  I always take advantage of free webinars or interesting newsletters that I get introduced to.  This webinar talks a lot about Facebook ads, which is definitely taking some time for me to master!

6:15PM – Wrap up my work day.  Respond to last emails, clean off my desk, and do some necessary filing.  I find it’s much easier to start the day with a smile on your face when your desk is not a total disaster zone.

6:30PM – Curl up with The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, my pick for book club.  I am hosting on Sunday, so I want to make sure I finish reading in time!  Start brainstorming food ideas for our meeting.

7:30PM – Dinnertime (breakfast burritos!) and hang out with my husband.  Talk about baby stuff.  Learning how to balance my time has been a big hurdle to get over, and time management is always a struggle.  But I have gotten a lot better at it, and I think the time I spend on each area of my life is more meaningful than it used to me.  We watch a little TV and I check in on the Facebook groups I am part of.

10:30PM – I put together my to-do list for the following day.  This helps me feel organized when I go to bed, which has helped to prevent many sleepless nights of lying awake thinking, “Did I do that?” and “When is that due?”  Tomorrow I will be doing more coaching calls and work on the website, and I am going to pitch some article ideas to a few different periodicals.  I’m also hoping to get more of my webinar slides completed for an upcoming presentation!

10:45PM – Read more of The Nightingale – it’s really good!  It’s so nice to be able to actually give myself some time to read “for pleasure.”  Husband reads his book, too: my idea of marital bliss.

11:30PM – Finally fall asleep.  I look forward to starting another busy but enjoyable day helping authors!

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Megan! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you work in the literary world? Would you like to?  

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

6 Ways to Find More Free Time

6434 (9003179) Natalie WOOD (re., *20.07.1938 - 29.11.1981), amerikanische Schauspielerin, mit einem Pudel springend, vermutlich während Dreharbeiten. Links ein Crewmitglied des Drehteams. Ort unbekannt, undatiert ca. Ende der 60er Jahre. [SPERRVERMERKE BEACHTEN | PLEASE CHECK RESTRICTIONS! Nutzung nur mit Genehmigung und gegen Honorar, Beleg, Namensnennung und zu unseren AGB. Nur zur redaktionellen Verwendung. Honorare an: KEYSTONE Pressedienst, HASPA, BLZ 20050550, Kto. 1235130877];, Außenaufnahme, color, 20. Jahrhundert, 1960er Jahre, Personen, Schauspielerin, brünett, Brünette, rot, rotes, Kleid, Sommerkleid, Schuhe, rote, Kopftuch, Pudel, Hund, weißer, springen, springend, springt, lacht, lachen, lachend, Dreharbeiten, Stagehand, Crew, Crewmitglied, Name= Wood, Natalie, a00669

A few months ago I conducted a reader survey to find out more about the folks dropping by. I asked a myriad of questions but the one which garnered answers I found the most illuminating was, “What challenges are you currently facing in your life?” There were certainly some trends. Overwhelmingly, answers discussed difficulties with carving out spaces for self-care, new interests/passions, and hobbies. This is a tough one. It’s tough to create time for yourself amidst a busy schedule.

A couple weeks ago I talked about how and why to invest in yourself, but how do we create those little pockets of time in our day to do so? How do we make time to do it all? While my answers to these difficult questions are certainly a matter of “practice what you preach,” I hope they’ll still prove helpful.

1. Track your time

Spend a few days with a pen and paper (or the Notes app on your phone) by your side and keep tabs on yourself. This is a great way to visualize your day from a new perspective and find moments that went unused, under-used, or used in a way that didn’t necessarily serve you. Pockets of time may rise to the surface once you actually have to write down “Scrolled through Instagram feed from 7:46pm-8:17pm” or when you notice you cooked really elaborate meals 5 days in a row instead of eating up the multitude of leftovers in your fridge (and you don’t even like cooking!)

2. Find things that fill you up

It’s a lot easier to make time for or prioritize your passions. If you’re having trouble identifying things you’re passionate about then definitely check out this post. Still at a loss? Pay attention to what others are passionate about and see if it sparks a little joy in you, too. When a friend beams when discussing a dance class, and you love to dance, see if you can tag along. Once you’ve identified a few loves, schedule them! Pencil them into your planner each week and stick to it.

3. Stop making comparisons

One of the quickest ways to guarantee a “full plate” is by looking to other’s lives and drawing comparisons. We see someone else doing x, y, and z and suddenly we feel the need to pile those things on our To Do list along with a, b, and c. I find this especially prevalent in the social media age. Friends who post about jet-setting to another country, keeping up a fabulously decorated house, and doing wonderfully creative things litter my newsfeed. And that’s fantastic! But as soon as my feelings go from “How awesome for them!” to “Shouldn’t I be doing these things too?!?” — I need to click that unfollow button. You can’t compare what someone else is doing if it’s their passion and not yours. Don’t pile a bunch of unnecessary crap onto your life for the sake of keeping up with the Jones’s.

6. Multi-task!

On average a person spends 45 to 62 minutes waiting every single day. Waiting in traffic, waiting in line at the grocery, waiting on hold, etc., etc. Add to that some of the more mindless activities we have to do to live our lives (Think: walking from Point A to Point B, blowdrying hair, chopping vegetables, folding laundry.) and you’ve just stumbled upon a whole bunch of untapped potential. Are there things you could be doing in these extra minutes that might bring you some joy? Could you multi-task in a more fruitful way than just pulling out your phone? How about bringing a podcast along for that morning commute or how about always having a book on hand in case you have to wait in line!

7. Say “No!”

I talked about saying “no” in this post but there are more than just financial reasons for doing so. Doing it all and saying “yes” to all sorts of invitations and obligations can cut into much needed free time, too. The same principles apply though. If you’re worried that saying no means you’ll never get asked to do anything EVER again!!! I think the best way to combat this is with honesty. Tell whomever extended the invite what circumstances are causing you to pass on this particular invitation. Giving them context lets them know that your answer is “No, not right now.” and not “No, NEVER!”

8. Ask for help from loved ones

Let those you hold near and dear know that you’re working toward a more balanced, joy-filled life. They can help hold you accountable by encouraging you to take time for the things you love once and awhile instead of just holing up with your work for hours on end. When someone else is asking you to go for a walk with them or encouraging you to spend some time scrapbooking instead of scraping dishes, these things will feel a lot more like a luxury than an item on a To Do list. An item that can easily get pushed to the bottom of the page or even eliminated completely.

Have any tips for carving out some free time in a full-to-bursting schedule? What’s your favorite way to spend your hard-earned, well-deserved time? Share below!

(Photo of Natalie Wood and her dog, circa 1950s)