If there’s one thing I’ve learned as I grow my business while remaining a stay-at-home parent, it’s this: simplifying is everything. It was a huge adjustment when I left my full-time corporate job to stay home with my 9-month-old (and the second baby in my belly!), and I’d say it took months to find our stride with our new family structure.
The second we did, I gave birth again.. and then launched Hello & Co into the world less than a year later. So you could say I’ve gotten pretty dang good at prioritizing and simplifying where I can! I don’t think I’ll ever be perfect at this (what even is perfect, anyway?) but there’s certainly many, many tools I’ve found that are making it was simple as it can be. Here’s 5 things saving my life as a two human toddlers + a business baby!
1 | Loom
Loom is first on this list for a reason! It’s a screen/webcam recording software that allows you to video yourself + your computer at the same time, then quickly send a link to the recording to whoever you need! It allows me to work asynchronously by taking the place of meetings, but still allows me to visually explain what I’m working on for clients! And then they can replay it again and again as needed.
Off the top of my head, I’m currently using Loom for:
- Sending personalized welcome videos to new clients to show them around their project workspace and Google Drive folder
- Explaining branding drafts/adjustments (in the screenshot above, I’m walking Brandi through some finer points on her branding for Honest Therapy)
- Showing changes to website pages
- Recording tutorials for clients and content
- Adding a personal touch to just about every step of my client process!
It’s truly the most wonderful tool, and saves me SO much time.
2 | ClickUp
Full disclosure: I was NOT having it with ClickUp at the beginning. I’ve used several project managers, most recently Basecamp & Asana, and this felt like a steep learning curve. I switched back and forth through softwares several times, until I realized that ClickUp is the easiest way to do every single thing I need AND some stuff I didn’t even think of.
I have a template for branding & website design projects that gets duplicated and personalized for each client! It lets them know what files and copy I need from them at different points of our project, reminds me to keep my client delight process on point, and ensures that I don’t miss a detail when designing and wrapping up.
It can send forms/questionnaires, accept file uploads, and is super customizable to how I need things to look so that they make sense to my brain.
An example of how I use ClickUp to manage tasks:
I recently changed business bank accounts to begin using the Profit First system! I was overwhelmed by all the places I needed to update my banking info, so I created several subtasks for each place/service/software and set ClickUp to show me a progress bar as I checked them off. It was weirdly motivating to keep going, and super easy!
3 | Zapier
If you’ve ever sighed in frustration at your computer thinking, “I just wish this app could talk to this other app,” then SAY NO MORE. Meet Zapier, your new software-connecting, automation-creating superpower. You can use Zapier to connect thousands of different apps to each other, with triggers to start an automation in basically any iteration you can think of. It takes a little playing to get things just right, but the end result is so worth it.
My current favorite Zapier automation (Zap)
When I book a new project, Zapier does the following:
- Creates a new Google Drive folder for that client’s project
- Copies and pastes several templates for copy, branding work, etc. into the folder
- Creates a ClickUp project using the template I mentioned above
When I do this by hand, it’s at least 15 minutes of busy work – which may not seem like much, but I want to be doing the deep work when I have the time to sit down with my laptop!
4 | Plan to Eat
It’s not work related, but we all have to eat – here’s how I make meal planning and grocery shopping SO much easier and faster for my family! It’s maybe one of my favorite tools for working parents – or really, just anyone who eats!
Plan to Eat is an app I’ve been using for years, and it’s only gotten more valuable to me as the number of eaters in my house has grown! It’s basically a recipe book + meal planner + list-maker in one. You can import recipes by hand OR just add by URL, which I do 99% of the time! Once your recipes are in, you just drag them to the calendar and generate a grocery list like magic! You can also add ingredients manually, so any time we’re out of something, we added it to our Plan to Eat list and I make sure it goes into our next pickup order.
5 | The Magic Question(s)
This question comes from the self-help genre book that has changed my life the absolute most: The Lazy Genius Way. It’s 10 principles to help you be a genius about the things that matter, and lazy about the things that don’t. In it, Kendra Adachi recommends you ask yourself this magic question:
What can I do now to make something easier later?Kendra Adachi, The Lazy Genius way
This often comes in the form of quick, practical things like laying out kid pajamas in the morning for later in the day, prepping dinner while we all hang out and munch a morning snack, or even just setting out an outfit for myself each night.
Then there’s the larger-scale things, like asking, “What can I do in my business now that will make it easier and more successful to work in later?”
One example is taking the time to set up my Canva brand kit and social media templates correctly. Not only does this make it easier when it’s time to create the visuals for content, but it saves me time that’s then freed up for client projects and other, deeper work. It also ensures that my visuals are consistent, which is a major part of brand recognition.
The second and unofficial magic question (to me) revolves around another Lazy Genius principle: Asking yourself what matters most.
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record about how I’m juggling my children and my business, but it’s truly the biggest aspect of my life right now! This question allows me to focus on my priorities in life, be with my children in a fully present way, and devote myself to work when it’s time for that. It also lets me roll with the punches of, well, life in general – and it helps me recognize what I really need to sit with and what’s just noise.