Friday, August 24, 2012

Finding the Time for Balance

Sunrise over the Potomac River
First of all, let me be clear, the 4:45 AM alarm never gets easier. Ever. But a couple of years ago I got some great advice from time management guru Terry Monaghan who told me to pick the 5 most important things on my to do list and block off 2 hours of uninterrupted time on your calendar to get them done.  The 5-7AM work block emerged, and I'm all the better for it.

But I'm a morning person, and not everyone is. My business partner Tanya Cummings is certainly not (but she's getting better!) and I often wake up to emails from her sent just a few hours before. But she gets energized after she puts the girls to bed and does great work then.

The point is, not all business gets done between 9AM & 5PM. Certainly if you're working in a larger organization you're bound to core hours and corporate policy, but I think the amazing thing about Momentum Resources' success over the last 5 years is that 7 women with a combined 16 children have grown a company that works around OUR schedules.

But that's the work piece, and the whole point of our business is balance. How on earth do you spend the time you want with your family? Respond to your manager's emails in a timely manner? Squeeze in some exercise? No matter where you are in life there are never enough hours in the day.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but for me the key has been the early alarm. I am exhausted by 9:30pm, I watch practically no TV, but I'm getting in the things that are most important to me right now. 3 days a week I meet neighbors for a run, the other 2 days I dedicate to early, uninterrupted work hours. I eat breakfast with the boys and put them on the bus every day. And then I head to work.

Lessons Learned:

  • There will always be more work to do, emails to answer, calls to return. Prioritize and let it go.
  • Be accountable. I won't hit the alarm snooze if I know 3 ladies are waiting on me to run on the corner.
  • Block off the most important things on your calendar. This includes family meals and exercise.
If you want to hear more early morning success stories, check out How to Be Successful Before Breakfast.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pausing to Look Back

I have been lucky enough to tag along on my husband's annual work trip to Vermont three out of the last four years while my children spend the week at their godparents. This arrangement allows for a little work, a little fun, and lots of good food.

Each year I'm there I like to explore different parts of the Green Mountain State, trying challenging hikes, bike climbs we don't get in Washington, D.C. and generally looking for perspective and outdoor solitude that I can't get in my crazy daily life.

This year I went down to the village of Stowe to climb Mount Mansfield, the tallest peak in the state. Not an experienced hiker, I followed the advice of a nice couple in the parking lot who told me to just hike straight up, right under the gondola. Sure there was a gravel path with switchbacks, but that would take much, much longer!

So hiked I did, one vertical step at a time, till I was completely winded.As I stopped to catch my breath I looked back at how far I came. Wow! I did that! I turned back to look at the summit, still very far away, but again- wow- I did that. And if I've come this far, I can certainly make it to to the top.

Maybe it was all that clean mountain air but I was making all kinds of business-hike analogies, that we're sometimes so focused on the end-game that we don't pause - even for a moment- to see how far we've come. That sometimes the gravelly path that goes from side-to-side gets you to the same place in better shape (and certainly more fun!) than head-down white knuckling it up to the top.

Just as I was stopping to jot some of these thoughts down on my iphone, I got a call from one of my business partners, Whitney Forstner, with some big, big news. We debuted on Inc. 500's Fastest Growing Companies List at a stunning #156. 

About to turn 5 years old, Momentum Resources is a great idea with a strong team, clients we love, and incredible candidates that just want better balance in their lives. It is the result of hard work, blood, sweat and tears (and other unnamed bodily fluids from our combined sixteen children across a team of 7) and right now, we're taking a moment to look back on how far we've come.