Day in the Life (of a Mompreneur!): Julienne DesJardins

Day in the Life

Day in the Life of a Mompreneur

Welcome to Day in the Life, where we peek into the lives and schedules of solopreneurs and freelancers. Today we’re chatting with Julienne DesJardins, a virtual assistant at juliennedesjardins.com and very new mompreneur.

Julienne DesJardins - baby Luke

6:30 am: I sleep until the baby (Luke) tells me it’s time for his breakfast. Spending quiet time with him is such a nice and relaxing way to start the morning. (And being home with him is one of my favorite things about being a One Woman Shop!) Towards the end of his feeding, he gets sleepy and closes his eyes so I grab my phone and sneak in some work while he finishes up. This usually means checking my Twitter feed and replying to emails.

7:45 am: Luke is all cleaned up and usually takes a short nap around this time. That means it’s time for my breakfast. I’ve had to become intentional about eating breakfast in the morning because I tend to forget. I eat the same thing every day -- coffee, toast and an apple with a bit of cheese. (I’m not sure there’s anything better than fruit and cheese!)

8 am: I grab the baby monitor and head to my office. (We recently bought a house, so no more working in the living room for me -- it’s a dream come true!) I finish checking my email and then open Insightly, my CRM. This is where I keep my task list, so I know exactly what I need to get done each day. I always start by linking up in the promo threads of my favorite Facebook groups for entrepreneurs, like Freelance to Freedom Project and Savvy Business Owners. (These link ups drive a lot of traffic to my site and help me find fresh content to share on social media!)

8:30 am: Break time! By the time I finish my “promos” for the day, Luke needs to eat again. (These breaks always involve a quick diaper change and some extra cuddles.)

9:30am: When he’s done eating, the baby and I like to play with his toys and read some of his favorite books. (He loves Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss!) I’m able to enjoy this time every morning because I’ve planned for it the night before. I do things like make a to-do list for the next day and answer some short client emails to get them off my plate. This way, I can enjoy my baby time with no hesitations or stress! (That, to me, is the perfect solopreneur life.)

11 am: By now, the baby usually eats a quick snack before falling asleep again. 🙂 I lay him down and head to the kitchen to grab a quick lunch. I love things that are grab-and-go for this time of day, like yogurt or my favorite homemade muffins.

11:15 am: I’m settled in now and focused on direct client work. (I like to do a little bit of work for each client every day. This keeps me from falling behind on projects. I keep a list of their names in my planner and cross them off as I wrap up what I need to get done for them.)

12:30 pm: The baby wakes up around now for his lunch! I text my husband a few pictures of silly faces he makes while getting his diaper changed.

1:30pm After eating, and reading a few more books, the baby falls asleep again. This is his longest nap time, which means it’s my most productive time of the day.

1:35 pm: I take a break to throw in a load of laundry. This gives me a chance to take a walk and stretch my legs. Plus, I always feel super productive when the laundry is going while I finish my work for the day. There’s something about being able to multitask that feels like such a mom/business owner win for me.

1:45 pm: I get back to my client work. I use a project management tool with all my clients, so I start there when I’m ready to get back to work. Most of them use Asana, so I keep it open all day. I open each client’s workspace and jump into the tasks assigned to me for the day.

3:45 pm: The baby wakes up ready to eat. Just like in the morning, I usually reply to some emails after he’s closed his eyes toward the end of his feed.

4:30 pm: My husband (James) comes home and takes over for me. He spends some time with Luke and finishes getting our dinner ready. Having a 50-50 partner is key for me, personally, to making my business run. I usually take these few minutes for a little self-care. I have a snack and watch a few minutes of one of my favorite shows on Netflix. (I usually watch reruns of Gilmore Girls or Parks & Rec!) Even a few minutes of quiet time makes a huge difference for me.

5 pm: I pick one client project to work on for a bit before eating dinner. This is usually something that’s easy for me to start and stop -- like curating content for social media.

5:30 pm:The baby and I both attempt to eat dinner simultaneously! (It gets a little crazy.) I sneak a few bites in while he’s eating -- and then finish up while James burps him.

6 pm: I get some client work done that I wasn’t able to complete the during the day. I also prep for the following day. I sleep so much easier knowing I have a plan!

8 pm: The baby eats again before going to bed. I usually put my phone away for this one. My husband sits with us, and he and I catch up on the day.

8:30 pm: When Luke’s done eating, his dad changes him and puts him to bed. I grab my laptop and work from bed while I wrap up a few more tasks. (I know, I know -- that’s not a great habit!)

9 pm: Self-care alert: I have to make a conscious effort to save my energy and stop the habit of working all night long. I check back in and take a few minutes to wrap up my day. I look at email, Facebook and Twitter again. And then I close up shop for the day!

Questions for Julienne? Ask them in the comments!

PS - Liked getting this behind-the-scenes look? Check out the rest of the Day in the Life series!

Is It Time to Outsource a Task? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions

outsourcing for your solo business

outsourcing for your solo biz

Editor’s note: We’re kicking off outsourcing month here at OWS! This post serves as a primer for deciding what tasks you might want to hire a pro to take on.

For many of us, we start our businesses out in bootstrapping mode.

You Google search. You consume blog post after blog post. You ask for advice in Facebook groups. Basically, you biz hack.

And even though this is more time consuming (and can be more frustrating) than turning to an expert, the DIY method does have some tangible benefits for a new business.

For one, it gives you as the biz owner a clear picture of what it takes to complete a task. (This is helpful intel to have when you do eventually hire support.) DIY-ing can also save you some cash in the short-term, something that is usually crucial for new business owners.

Let’s be honest, though. No matter how much of a well-oiled machine your one woman shop is, you’ll eventually need to call in reinforcements.

As your income streams diversify, you may no longer want to do your own bookkeeping. Maybe you'd like to hire a copywriter to really get that sales page converting. Or you might need a VA to get your newsletter off your plate and on a regular schedule.

Everyone will need support at some point. But how do you know when it’s the right time? How can you tell if your biz has hit that magic tipping point where your energy is better spent on other parts of your business? When I’m trying to make that call, I do a mini biz audit.

Here are the three questions I ask myself that help me know when it’s time to outsource a task:

1. Is it out of my zone of genius?

Does copywriting or web design stump you? Is it stopping you from expanding your biz? Could your time be better spent elsewhere?

No need to fret if you’re not great at a particular task. You’re good at what you do, so don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about the things that keep getting pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. While yes, there’s a case for learning some skills (read more about how to evaluate where you invest in your education here), unloading the tasks you’re not suited for will free you up to better serve your clients.

2. Is it a have to and not a want to?

Are you capable of completing this task, but you simply don’t want to? Is it simple, but too time consuming? Does it light you up, or inspire an “ugh?”

If you don’t want to do it, then don’t! It’s important to build a business you love. Naturally, there are going to be tasks that you aren’t enamored with as a business owner, and it’s normal not to love every minute, but there’s no sense escaping the 9-5 and bravely launching into self-employment just to feel like every day is still a drag, right? So go ahead -- outsource that stuff, girl.

3. Is it necessary?

In other words, should you even be going after this at all? Or is it a dead end? A shiny object project? Should it be on a stop doing list?

In Good to Great, Jim Collins says that successful businesses should not just have to-do lists but stop doing lists. Some things just distract you from doing what you do best and they need to be cut out for your business to meet its goals and grow. IF it’s a “stop doing,” it might not even be worth outsourcing -- but you won’t know until you evaluate all of your tasks and activities by these parameters.

How did you answer the three questions above?

If you’ve found a task that’s out of your zone of genius, is a “have to” and not a “want to” and is absolutely necessary to your success, don’t be afraid to don the boss lady pants and consider outsourcing.

Get your mini biz audit on, and get outsourcing

It can be a scary thing to bring another person into this business you've built with your own two hands. But taking the time to reflect will really make you more confident that you're making a smart move -- one that could propel your business forward.

One Woman Shops: What have you considered outsourcing -- and what’s holding you back?

PS -- Outsourcing isn’t limited to “business tasks.” Why not outsource some of your personal life, too?

Weekly Finds

Weekly Finds for the Solopreneur

Welcome to One Woman Shop Weekly Finds – where we members of the community scour the web to bring you a curated list of posts, links, and resources that we they think will help your business—and maybe even your life! This week’s curator: Julienne DesJardins, virtual assistant for solopreneurs who are ready for major growth in their business.

Have you ever wondered what your readers think of your site when they visit? Then you need to try Peek! Enter your website and you’ll be emailed a 5-minute video where you can listen to one of the Peek testers check out your site. (My tester even opted-in to my list during the video!)

When I found Coolors recently, I was over the moon. This awesome tool will help you choose a color scheme by generating new options for you with a simple click of your space bar. You can even lock in a particular color, or add one by Hex Code, and Coolors will build around that!

If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for really great stock photos that are copyright-free and safe to use on your site and posts. Well, you’re going to love these (and these!) super feminine, styled images from Ashley Ella Design that are free to download!

When you launch your own business, you learn a ton of new skills, right? In my experience, some of those new skills came more easily than others. Learning how to talk about myself has not been a walk in the park, and Melissa Cassera’s free Write a Better Bio challenge has been a great help!

I love working with ambient noise on in the background. I’ve found that it really helps my focus. Defonic is a great tool for this because you can customize your sound for a particular work session! You’re able to turn on and combine the different tracks, like lightning, coffee shop or moving train.

If your opt-in hasn’t been converting, or you’re stuck on what to offer at all, Helene Scott’s free BOP your OPT-IN training is a great resource for you. These worksheets helped me break through and start offering an opt-in that was of real value to my audience.

OmmWriter is an amazing writing tool that I use it all the time. (I used it while writing this post for you!) You can customize the look and sounds for a distraction-free, writing experience. Best part: it’s pay-what-you-can (although, the minimum price of $5.11).

Preparing for a Long-Term Hiatus From Your Solopreneur Business

Solopreneur Sanity

Small business owners are some of the most passionate and driven people I’ve ever met. It’s an entire niche of builders and makers who are totally and completely dedicated to their work. They believe in it. And they have big, crazy dreams.

But sometimes life asks us to take a break; to step away and care for those around us; to recharge.

Sometimes you’ll have enough lead time to plan ahead. (Like, if you’re getting married or taking that big, European trip of a lifetime.)

But sometimes you won’t have that luxury and an extended leave could happen suddenly. (Maybe a family member becomes ill, your baby arrives early, or your own medical issue springs up.)

Here are a few ideas for how to prep your clients, your biz and yourself for an extended leave:

1) Give yourself the gift of planning ahead

If your break isn’t hitting suddenly and without warning, you’ll most likely want to consider some pre-planning. Since, for a lot of us, consistent blogging is what brings a lot of our site traffic, this is a good place to start.

In addition to writing and scheduling blog posts you’ve personally written, you could work with other solopreneurs and freelancers to book some guest bloggers for this period.

Leah Kalamakis did this recently with the Freelance to Freedom Project. When she took some time off for her wedding & honeymoon, she had Featured Writers whose posts published even while she was away. (Our very own One Woman Shop has already contributed this post and this one!)

If you’re not sure where to begin networking with potential guest posters, start by checking out: Freelance to Freedom Project Community, Freelancers Union Hive Groups, the monthly One Woman Shop Twitter Chat or The Careful Cents Club.

Another place you can plan ahead, should you have the luxury, is with finances. If you have the benefit of time, you may want to consider setting a portion of your money aside for a few months prior. That will give you a nice financial cushion when it’s finally time for your leave.

To help with finances while you’re away, evergreen sales are key. You could schedule blog posts or social media posts ahead of time that share your digital products or affiliate links with your audience. With this, you have the potential of generating income -- but, of course, this is a little riskier because how much you’ll earn isn’t guaranteed.

With planning ahead for a break, creativity is key. You can customize this by considering those parts of your biz that are prep friendly. When you’ve identified them, use your imagination to intentionally craft a strategy that will help your shop run while you’re gone.

2) Automate it, girl!

This one also depends on how much time and notice you have before your leave. If you do have some time, you may want to work on getting some automation pieces in place -- or better yet, set yourself up now, even without a long-term hiatus in the plans, so that when it does come up, you’re ready.

This could include things like: setting up recurring invoices; scheduling social media (editor’s note: we love Edgar!); installing and utilizing Gmail apps like Boomerang; setting up an email autoresponder that states your approximate return; scheduling newsletter campaigns; delegating a small budget for Facebook Ads for passive marketing of e-courses or products.

The benefit to automation is that the administrative pieces of your biz are still functioning -- even while you’re attending to life.

(My fellow One Woman Shop member Brittany provides a great tutorial on automation with IFTTT and Zapier here.)

3) Don’t be afraid to be human

Your clients are real people. Don’t be afraid to be super clear and honest with them. They’ll respect you for it! If you have the benefit of knowing about your leave in advance, tell your clients as early as possible.

If not, be sure to send over a quick email that has some clear details on your leave and your plan. That plan could include info on:

  • Why you’re taking the break
  • How you’ll handle meeting their deadlines
  • If there will be any interruptions to their invoicing

Another way to ensure your clients are well cared for is to put a referral system in place. I use the Canned Response feature in Gmail to get this done.

I have pre-drafted emails with referrals for other biz owners, like copywriters and developers, who may have an opening to help the client. When a client asks for a service, I just click and send! (Most of my suggestions in my canned emails come from the One Woman Shop directory because I really trust my fellow shops there.)

It may also help to put a waiting list notification on your hire form on your website. That will ensure that you don’t burn any bridges if it takes you a few days to send a reply email to a potential client.

4) Look forward to creative bursts

When Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, took an extended paternity leave, he said that he found a ton of clarity around where to take his biz next.

To me, this feels akin to the idea of increasing your productivity with ambient background noise. (Like the philosophy behind Coffivity.) When we take some time to step away from the activity trap and the hustle and grind, we’re able to see things in a new way and experience biz breakthroughs that were impossible before.

5) Be kind to yourself

Make sure you’re gracious with yourself when you return. When you can, build in a few days or weeks to get back in the groove. If you have time before you step away, I suggest taking some time to get a clear productivity plan in place that you’ll follow once you’re back.

When you have jumped back in, try deciding on three MITs for each day -- Most Important Tasks. You’ll focus on completing those three things before anything else. Apps like 30/30 (which uses the Pomodoro technique) and Swipes (an easy-to-use to do list) can help you if productivity is a struggle at the start.

Easing back into your biz will make it possible for you to feel a sense of accomplishment every day -- even if you don’t accomplish those 100 things you had on your dream to-do list.

Now, I want to hear to from you! What are some other ways you’ve prepared for an extended leave from your biz?

Want more tips + tactics for maintaining your solopreneur sanity? We've got you covered. Just released: The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook, inspiration and action for finding the intersection of productive and sane to maximize your time working so you can maximize your time living. Ready, set, sanity!

Solopreneur Sanity Handbook