One of the questions we hear so often on this blog and social media is an inquiry as to how we possibly do “it all”. Run the site, write books, do the podcast, do interviews, travel, all while Stacy has a demanding job and Matt runs the household containing 3 of our own active boys. We realize the question is rhetorical… but for the sake of offering some advice Stacy’s written down her personal mantra.
Here’s the answer: it’s not easy.
I know, 99% of you were looking for a fix-it-fast button, perhaps you were hoping for an Amazon link to Hermione’s Time Turner. Unfortunately, such things do not exist. What I can say is that if you do what you love, you try hard, you do it with people you like and make the absolute best of your situation you will set yourself up for success – and that’s the best you can hope for. Everything else is meeting the right people at the right time and hoping things fall into place. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but for the incredibly successful people I know in life, that’s pretty much how they got to be where they are, too.
How to Be Efficient
Before we go over the specific tips, let’s look at a typical day in the life of Stacy. This will all help you understand how, practically, she applies the 10 Tips.
7am – wake up, snuggle Matt and get caught up on mail and social media from the sleeping hours
7:30am – snuggle boys, who all pile up in our bed until we begrudgingly all get up
7:45am – Stacy begins to get ready for work and the boys get ready for school and Matt goes off to make Stacy’s Soup
8:40am – Stacy leaves for work, boys leave for school
9:00am – Stacy arrives at work after putting her make-up on in the car and either catching-up on paleo podcasts or having calls in the car.
All Day – Stacy works. When she uses the restroom or eats lunch she catches up with Matt, answers requests from the team or responds to social media.
5:00pm-ish – Stacy leaves work and (usually) heads to NOVA to train. Monday and Wednesday are StrongMan days, which takes longer so she’s not home until later. Tues/Thur/Fri used to be CrossFit days and are now just more Strong training (competition in March!) but for less time. She may skip once a week to go get a manicure or come home early to spend time with the boys – and allow her body time to recover if the day before was particularly intense.
7:30pm – Stacy gets home just in time to put the boys to read stories and tuck the boys in bed. On non-StrongMan days she’s home by 7pm and then we all have dinner together before the boys go to bed.
7:45pm – Stacy eats dinner, 1-on-1 with Matt.
8:00pm – Stacy and Matt work. Sometimes she works more on her day-job work before she can work on PaleoParents stuff. Often there’s a TV show like Mindy Project or Modern Family on in the background. If we watch House of Cards or The Black List or Game of Thrones or Walking Dead, however, we hold hands and don’t work through that.
10:30pm – Stacy puts fish face on, climbs into bed and crashes hard immediately – sleeps like a rock!
Stacy’s 10 Tips
Take your smart phone with you to the restroom. No, really. You’d be shocked at how many texts and e-mails you can shoot off while on your way to and from… or during! My best work is done answering hundreds of e-mails during pedicure time or while I’m catching up on Project Runway. We even got a Treadmill Desk so that we could get some physical exercise during our excessive screen time! There’s not a moment that goes by where Stacy isn’t doing two things. She has conference calls with the Team and the publisher on her way to and from her full time job. She has lunch meetings for this blog or catches up with family and friends during lunch breaks for her day job. When she’s home, she comes behind Matt while he’s cooking, discussing the boys’ day, tasks that need to be completed or other issues while grabbing his tooshie, complimenting his food, and putting away things for him to make his clean-up time shorter.
Stacy’s list making is re-donk-u-lous. Her lists are all around the house, instant messages, text messages, e-mails and there’s even a board in our kitchen for the whole family to make lists! This is because her brain might explode at any minute and it’s a mechanism to brain-dump in a useful way. These lists can be things that accumulate over time, like what to get the next time we go to Costco, or they can be lists needed for an imminent event – like vacation.
Usually the lists are for poor Matt and the team. To-do lists are highly underrated, in my opinion. You would be SHOCKED to see the number of spreadsheets, lists and tracking tools we use to manage this site – between guest post scheduling, the calendar of planned posts, recipe ideas, short links we track, vendors for giveaways, people we owe reviews, etc… it would be way too much not to keep track of in an organized fashion. If you have a list you know what needs to be done and you can tackle it, one-by-one, feeling accomplished along each step. If you don’t have a list you’ll forget things or stall out, accidentally finding yourself on Pinterest or Etsy for 3 hours… that, my friend, is not efficiency and when you’re trying to “do it all” ain’t nobody got time for that.
It’s simple: when you’re with someone or something, BE WITH THEM. This is the toughest for me as I am the queen of multi-tasking and want to use my phone. All. The. Time. 10 minutes for story time after I get home from working out and before the boys go to bed is sometimes all I get with them. And I am so grateful for those 10 minutes.
Even if the most you can do is spend a half-hour with someone and it feels like not nearly enough time to really commit to being with them – you owe it to yourself and them to really, truly be with them. Matt & I make time to spend together, even if our “date night” is simply carryout bunless burgers that I pick up on my way home from working out and we only spend a half-hour together (sans electronics) before we get back online to blog, that is enough time for a connection.
Both Mark Sisson and Chris Kresser, in their books, The Primal Connection and Your Personal Paleo Code, make note of the importance of the human connection to our health and well-being, so prioritizing being present and enjoying that mental and physical connection with others will enable you to be your best self.
People, tools, whatever it is – when someone or something comes along that will help, take advantage. For us that’s the team, shortcuts in the kitchen with some pre-made paleo goods in our pantry, and a lady who deep-cleans our home every other week. You’ll notice that there are a lot of authors to blog posts on the site, that’s because it’s not just me (despite what many of you think)! There’s a team of people who help run the engine that is this website, and if it weren’t for them we certainly could not do it all!
Also, please note, my husband is a HUGE “resource” in our family. Matt is the caretaker for the kids, the home chef for both blog/book recipes as well as making daily meals. He does the boys’ homework with them, takes out the trash, does the laundry, and mows the lawn. He is AWE-MAZE-ING. We are a true partnership, and certainly I could not do all that I do without him doing his, either!
One of the best ways to spend more time with people is to have them join you doing things you love! That’s why Aimee, one of Stacy’s closest friends, does our photography. That’s why Courtney does the eBook. That’s why Katy is our assistant. That’s why all 3 ladies travel and do events with Stacy. They like each other!
Stacy also encourages friends and family to do things that she enjoys and talk business, it’s killing 2 birds with one stone: she gets to hang out AND gets to do the thing she wants. Sometimes it’s mani/pedis together, sometimes it’s inviting people over for dinners where recipes are tested, most often it’s working out with friends ♥
Sometimes you won’t make deadlines, that’s OK. Just tell the person! Give a heads-up, for Pete’s sake. Sticking your head in the sand or pretending the issue doesn’t exist won’t actually help solve the problem. If you communicate to someone that you won’t make the deadline and you work together to come up with a work-around (either push the deadline back or get some help to get it finished) then everyone wins. If you say nothing and simply fail to deliver, no one wins. Being honest and forthright will be a tremendous asset in all that you do. People like those they can trust, and when you become dependable you become trustworthy.
You may also need to follow-up and remind people who you’ve asked to do things. I have a bad habit of yammering off a bazillion things I want done all at once (see above: lists). Then the poor person who receives the requests is often left overwhelmed and completely unable to do them all at once. So keep that list yourself, and if you haven’t seen things be done, follow-up. Nicely. Some people call this “managing” but I like to think of it as communication. I like to be a team. Although what I’m describing are key components for leadership, I’ve found after years of leading teams that the best way to succeed is to motivate by example. Be the change you want to see. Set the standard. Be nice, be thorough, be complete – it’s just as much your responsibility to see those items are completed as it is the person you assigned it to. The idea of “fix it and forget it” only works if you actually fix it, not just tell someone else to and assume it has been. You know what assuming does… right?
Learn to Laugh & Get Over It
Despite your efforts, no matter how hard you try, you will. NEVER. be. perfect! Get over it. That stress will be the death of you (literally). You have to learn to love what you do, forgive yourself for the things you cannot and apologize for things you weren’t able. This is why you make lists, do what you love, communicate with people and try to set yourself up for success as best you can. But when you arrive 15 minutes late to everything (like me) or forget a child’s friend’s birthday party (like me) or a friends’ baby shower (like me) because your brain is overflowing with all the things it need to do – forgive yourself. Get over it. LAUGH. Take a deep breath.
I personally have surrounded myself with friends who understand my frustrations. I’m able to vent with them, giggle about silly things I see or read, and then get over it. If it weren’t for the ability to “get over it with them” it would build and stress me out and be a major problem for my long-term health and wellness.
Marry Your Business Partner
Or perhaps it’s better worded as be friends with the people you “work” with. Then, when you’re spending time “working” it actually feels like hanging out! You’ll notice that all of the people on our “team” are personal friends of ours. That’s not an accident. It’s not easy to draw the line at being a friend and a boss, but once you learn the person’s strengths and are able to use them to benefit the business at hand, it can only help. Of course, there’s no better friend than your spouse – Matt & I are best friends and although we carve out time to ensure we spend time together 1-on-1 doing nothing but enjoying one another’s company, the majority of our time is spent with the boys or working on the blog/business.
Do What You Love and Do What You’re Good At
Then you’ll WANT to do it. This blog and the entire business that is Paleo Parents is a hobby for Matt & I. We do it because we love it and we want to do it. If it became too much or we wanted to quit, for whatever reason, we could. That said, we enjoy working on it, we push ourselves to do more for you all because we want to make a difference. We value the work we do and therefore want to do it; we’re willing to make sacrifices in our lives accordingly. If you’re doing something you can’t stand, you’re going to be much less efficient simply because you won’t be driven to work!
Ignore the Haters
Inevitably, in any task worth doing, you will expose yourself. This could come in a variety of forms, but the more vulnerable you make yourself, the more real and raw you are, the more of an impact you can have connecting with others who see themselves in you. It is this connection that builds a “trusted partnership” with your customers, and often the foundation for success.
I remember when we started getting “haters” on this blog and social media and people astutely said, “That’s how you know you’ve made it!” And it’s sad, but true. Instead of letting it get to you… remember this: these individuals really deserve our pity. Can you imagine living a life so boring, awful, and depressed that your favorite activity is going around to place you know will make you frustrated only to spew off negativity? Have patience, they’re probably eating grains. Also, they’re not worth a second of your time… but it will take you a while to realize that – and that’s OK.
When You’re Overwhelmed: Get a Pedicure and Lift Heavy Things
There’s a reason my best work is done answering hundreds of e-mails during pedicure time: I get to feel the stress melt off from both clearing my inbox and being taken care of by someone else. Find an activity that makes you happy, relieves stress and helps you out. Perhaps it’s yoga, perhaps it’s swimming, perhaps it’s lifting 400 pounds. Whatever your activity of relief is, MAKE THE TIME FOR YOURSELF – it will pay you back in dividends.
p.s. Don’t forget the base rules:
- Eat Right
- Move Your Body
- Bone Broth Heals