Like most of the successful business owners I know, Nicole Avery knows the value of working ‘on her business’ as well as working in it. She and I spent a couple of hours together recently chatting about how she can help even more mums simplify their lives and be more present with their kids through her website Planning with Kids. We also started hatching a plan for how she can make adventure travel with her five children more possible!
I loved our time together and felt completely inspired by what Nicole is doing in her business and her personal life. She manages to fit in daily exercise (as well as running a marathon here and there), she cooks healthy meals for her family and she makes time to meditate and play with her children. What a woman! I’ve just signed up for her eCourse, Planned and Present because I know that there’s always room for improvement in how I juggle business and life, even though I’m no longer actively parenting my own kids. Maybe you’re interested to join me?*
Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
My business was created from the platform of my blog Planning with Kids. The blog started with the goal of helping families organise the chaos of family life through tips, plans and strategies that I would share on the blog.
The blog has evolved since it started and it provided a platform for me to have a book published, create an app, create an online course and undertake freelance work. The aim of all the work I do now is to help other mothers to become more planned and present in family life.
What do you love about your working for yourself?
I love the flexibility it provides me to be with our five kids. I am at home before they go to school and at home when they come in after school. Working for myself has challenged me to continually learn and grow with what I do, which makes it interesting. I have been able to blend my work with personal interests which makes working easier and enjoyable.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I am an early riser up by 5am weekday mornings. I will do a short run, then CrossFit class. I love starting the day out with something for me! Then it is home and I switch on to mum mode and am present as the kids get ready for school/university. The kids are aged form 8 to 18 but are all very independent at organising themselves in the morning. The morning is a great time for me to connect with the kids, so once they are ready for school we will often play a game of cards or board game. I then walk the youngest child and the dog to school.
Once home, I spend 15 – 30 minutes on home stuff, then meditate for 15 minutes. I find this helps me switch from home mode to work mode. I use the time blocking technique with my approach to work. I have a list with no more than three key tasks for me to do for work and I focus on the task that requires the greatest focus, energy and attention. Product creation and writing will be done in my first time block which will be at least an hour. I will take a small break and do something around the house then get back to work until lunch time. I used to be the person who would eat their lunch at their desk and keep on working, but I realised that was actually very unproductive. I now try and find some sunshine somewhere in the house and sit in the sun and eat my lunch.
After lunch I work on the tasks that require less of me – things like social media, email, invoicing, admin etc and will work on this until about 3pm until I have to pick the kids up from school. I like using the natural boundary of school pick up to ensure that I don’t spend too much time on these tasks.
What’s one thing you would do differently if you had your time over?
I would have worked less hours when starting up. I used to work late into the night thinking I was being productive and getting things done. The reality was, I was completely inefficient working at night-time and because I wasn’t getting enough sleep, my productivity during the day was also impacted. There will always be times when I have to work extra to meet deadlines and that is okay, but making working late a habit is something I wouldn’t do again.
What’s been the best thing you’ve done to grow your business?
Cultivate and nurture my newsletter list. I send out a weekly newsletter and put considerable thought into what I write each week. This seems to give the greatest connections with my audience and results in the most sales.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I love to run, long distance running and I often use it as a form of productive meditation. This means I will head for a run and have one problem or issue that I intend to focus on. This becomes the only thing I try to focus on until I have a solution. Just like in meditation, the mind will wander off, I just acknowledge that and bring myself back to the problem at hand. I find I come up with creative and practical solutions while doing this.
What are you reading or listening to at the moment?
- I am currently reading Grit by Angela Duckworth. It is helpful for me personally and for me as a parent to encourage grit in my kids.
- I am currently listening to Subtle Disruptors Adam has so many wonderful guests who are all doing their thing to make the world a better place. I find it super inspiring and educational.
And what are you cooking?
- I am currently cooking – lots of things! I love to make my own food from scratch as much as possible. Current favourites are dukkah, kimchi, kombucha and fresh salsa.
How do you maintain a sense of balance while running your business?
I have a personal goal and a business goal, depending on what is happening I tilt my time to where it is needed most. It is rare for weeks to be perfectly balance with half my time spend on family and half spent on business. For example the last two weeks have been very full with work, but I will then work maybe only 1 -2 hours for the next couple of weeks as we go into school holidays.
I have learnt to switch off from work when I am not in “work time” and most importantly controlling my use of my smartphone so I am not “working” 24/7.
What are you looking forward to?
Regular sunshine! I adore summer and love being able to spend time outside in the sun. I am really looking forward to more days of lots of sunshine.
What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone wanting to go into their own startup?
When you are working on something you love, it is very easy to devote too much of yourself to it at the expense of other areas of your life. To be sustainable in the longer term you need to learn to manage not just your time, but your energy and your attention also. Set boundaries for yourself in these three areas that are your “normal” knowing that there will be some exceptions, but aiming to stick to them as much as you can.
What’s your purpose – in your business and/or in life?
The purpose of my business is to help mothers to become more planned and present in their families. I have a personal single goal that I focus on each year, this year it is to invest in my relationships with family, friends and community to bring joy and connection. But I haven’t documented what my life purpose is. It is something that I am working on at the moment though!
* I’m recommending this course as someone who is participating myself. This is not a sponsored post.